I’ve been thinking lately about how much our lives are reflected in the objects we own, save, give away or dispose of – and the many mundane moments out of which a life is made. Perhaps choosing carefully what we focus on, choosing what encourages our “better angels”, choosing what becomes mundane is what makes for a good life.
These thoughts began when I was having coffee at one of my downtown coffee shops, staring at the highly polished surface of the ceramic coffee cup which reflected the surrounding city-scape. It was an ordinary moment that elevated my spirit. I carried it in my mind back to my studio where, to savor the feeling, I created this:
Coffee City – by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – acrylic and gouache on board
In my town and region I find a lot of cafes, pubs and bistros that have – for the lack of a better term – ledges as tables. These are swaths of 8 to 12 inch deep “tables”, just big enough to put a coffee cup with a saucer and perhaps a paperback book. Or they’re just large enough for a drink and a small plate of food.
Many of these ledges run along a wall and the edge of a room. Some ledges run down the center of a room and still others run along a window. The ledges vary in length according to the space – I’ve seen as many as 18 people sitting along one ledge – but the ledge is rarely deeper than 12 inches.
It’s especially interesting to walk on a busy street and pass by a window and there, inside the eatery, facing the sidewalk, a number of people sit reading, eating, drinking and talking to each other. I also find it fun to be one of the eatery patrons perched at the window and merely inches from the front of me and my 8 inches of ledge is the whole world passing by!
So I was thinking of such ledges today when I was drawing Burmilla cats. Burmilla’s have impossibly big eyes. All the better for watching the world go by from your cat-perch at your favorite ledge!
I’ve been inspired by all the coffee here in the Pacific Northwest and enjoying going to the cafe’s and coffee shops with my sweetie. And yes, we’ve been buying coffee beans from local roasters and “trying it at home”.
Here’s a café inspired pattern design that I’m in the process of creating using a brush and walnut ink.
Spent a self indulgent morning drinking Irish coffee and reading newspapers, magazines and books – and discussing what I read with my sweetie. Life doesn’t get better that that! I also collected the dishes. Meaning that I went through my various sketchbooks and collected drawings I’d done of coffee cups. Drawings I’d done when we went to various coffee shops or happy hours and had coffee drinks. In my fine artwork I often depict my dogs or cats drinking coffee or tea – so I thought it’d be good to have a collection of “dishes” all in one place to pull from when it’s time to make fine art.
Here’s one page of my coffee cup collection. There are many more pages filled with cups … but one page will give you the idea.
page from Sue Clancy’s sketchbook
Here below is a “raw” sketchbook page from which I collected one of the coffee cup shapes that was collected into one of my other “all cups together” sketchbook pages – but the above cups came from “raw” sketchbook pages too. I say “raw” pages because these small sketchbooks fit in my pocket and are drawn on the fly as life happens. I’ll refine them or re-draw them later.
page from Sue Clancy’s “raw” pocket sketchbook
Living here in the Pacific Northwest I’ve been fascinated with the variety of coffee drinks available as well as the kinds of cups the drinks are served in. Did you know that there are some 44 different coffee drink types? I didn’t until I started noticing. I’ve not tried them all yet but I have learned to ask my barista questions. Learned a lot that way! And of course while I’m drawing in my sketchbook I write down the recipes as told to me – and then, if I try to make it at home I’ll note in my sketchbook my favorite mix. I think of it as part of my on-going “know thyself” self-education program. The recipes make their way into my fine art too – just less obviously. Here’s my favorite recipe for Irish Coffee.
recipe for Irish Coffee made as Sue Clancy likes it