Art events are collaborative acts of community. I hold on to that thought whenever I’m tired as I am now prior to an art opening. I focus on the fact that while I might be a visible part of my upcoming art exhibit I am just one part: there’s the Burnt Bridge Cellars winery and all of the local people who have made the wines, there’s the chef who’ll make the dinner, the musicians who’ll play, there’s the Caplan Art Designs Gallery who organizes things and there are my friends and the public who will come and eat and drink and look at my art. Then there are extended friends who can’t come in person to the exhibit but who will read and comment and share my artwork online. This is a large community of whom I am honored to be an active part! We are all doing this fun thing together! That thought sustains me as I finish packing up the artwork for delivery on Tuesday and as I create one of the last videos and the webpage that the gallery, the winery and my friends can use to share the fun!
Here’s one of the boxes full of my artwork.
Here’s the most recent video in which I talk about what inspired my exhibit.
Anyhoo, all of this reminds me of the similarities between beetles and artists which I wrote about in a recent newsletter. To sum up the newsletter briefly: beetles work towards the health of our soil and artists work towards the health of our society.
To relax and restore myself I’ve been playing with my art supplies with no thoughts of anything beyond having fun. We got new inks from the Birmingham Pen Company and had a lot of fun playing! https://www.birminghampens.com/
This is one of the books I’m enjoying reading in the evenings.
I haven’t had much time to try new cooking methods but my rice cooker has gotten quite a yummy workout. I have tried numerous “new to me” recipes that are variations on rice plus vegetables plus herbs and spices themes. To save some time occasionally I’ve used frozen chopped vegetables and canned beans. I’ve really appreciated the toss everything into the rice cooker press the cook button and walk away aspect of using a rice cooker. That has made meals easy and has sustained us.
While my overworked rice cooker has given us some tasty meals I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what the chef makes during my opening! I’m especially looking forward to seeing everyone in person and reading your comments online! Thank you in advance!
I’m posting this blog early this week as Monday is Memorial Day. I’ll leave you with a poppy…
I hope your week is pleasant! See you next Monday!
We had a fun visit this week with our wonderful Fairy Goddaughter, the very best Goddaughter since once upon a time! We had a delightful conversation about books and she gave us this one by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
It’s a delightful cheerful sort of poetry book. A restorative way to begin and end a day. What a beautiful gift and even better is having a wonderful Goddaughter to share life and books with!!! 💙💚
Also this week some bunny made a Mysterious Mural – https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/mysterious-mural-2 It’s a small 16 page artistbook story about the creative process that I made using fountain pens and gouache on one sheet of handmade paper for the encouragement in it. Details at the link above.
Knowing how you feel, what you think and being able to talk clearly about it is an important skill to cultivate. This is true for everyone and especially true for anyone trying to do anything creative.
Creativity comes from a regular habit of observing the world and listening to yourself to your own thoughts and feelings. Creativity comes from trusting your own voice. Creativity comes from cultivating your attention, deepening the depths of your thoughts and playing with the possibilities there. Creativity, even humanity itself, relies upon individuals having an active inner life.
Basically this week I’ve been thinking a lot about how it’s helpful for mental health’s sake, to somehow make time everyday- at least 5 minutes- to check in with your five senses, to explore your own thoughts and have therapeutic conversations with yourself. Pens and paper are so useful for such inner conversations. My friend Neera also discusses this in her email newsletter and kindly mentioned me and my morning sketchbook efforts!
Speaking of my sketchbook efforts: This week on my sketchbook newsletter I finished sharing my entire book “C” and will begin sharing sketchbooks D and E soon.
I’m enjoying publishing my sketchbooks sequentially, warts and all, in a Substack email format – A.M. Sketching. I see it as a creative art project. I can share digitally whatever I’ve created in real life in a reader supported way – via both paid subscribers and free subscribers. The Substack format enables me to share my creations directly in an ebook or other downloadable format on a regular basis with people who have said (by subscribing) that they want to see my stuff. This way of publishing feels more sustainable both environmentally and creatively. Substack also feels like a more sane, humane platform for authors and artists and readers …fewer trolls… so far.
Anyhoo, the creative arc for creating a one of a kind artist book, printed book editions, fabric design productions and fine art prints can take multiple weeks or months of time. (And can be expensive to produce.) To create a one person fine art exhibit – 20 or more paintings in a themed group – can take a year. You see evidence of these long creative arcs here in this blog. So it’s nice to have my email newsletter that goes a bit faster and the dollars and support I get there gives me the encouragement I need to sustain my longer arcs. The support I get here on WordPress is valuable too – and I heartily thank you for it – yet I’ve never figured out, successfully, how to share downloadables here on WordPress. So I do my actual books and downloads on Substack where it’s easy. On the other hand WordPress doesn’t have word count limits as Substack does so here on my blog I can write in more depth about my creative life and why I created something. But then again WordPress can be buggy, cumbersome, with gremlins… Some pros and cons to both publishing platforms. The main thing I’m discovering is that it’s less expensive for me to share my actual work via an email newsletter on Substack and as a result of both its ease of use and less expense I’m able to share more of my art – and that itself feeds my soul!
And on my Substack newsletter I shared a Rabbit… more about that in a second…
To be healthy mentally we all need to regularly see beauty, we need gentle humor, we need to see patterns in our world and even to attempt to make them with our own hands.
Humans need rhythms as I’ve mentioned in recent blog posts. We simply, physically, need times when we can wander slowly, aimlessly and hear ourselves feel and think. Throughout our lives in order to have satisfied minds we need to repeatedly test what we think we know and what we think we like. Reading novels, writing and doodling are easy ways to give ourselves time to mentally wander and play.
And yes sometimes finding the time to mentally wander feels impossible in these days of 24-7 information onslaught, when our days seem so full of activities that it’s difficult to find moments of quiet respite … While thinking about that I drew in my sketchbook a pig with wings, hovering in the quiet air doodling…
That sketch led to my finished painting titled “When Pigs Fly”. It’s a tall skinny size, 18 inches tall by 8 inches wide. Eventually (the long arc of creativity again) it will be in fine art exhibits via Caplan Art Designs later this year.
Even though it’s hard sometimes to wrangle time for them the repeatable motions like walking and reading and doodling are reliably accessible, more accessible than a vacation cabin in the woods. And besides vacations we need regular mundane ways we can enable ourselves to hear ourselves think. This physical brain fact about the value of quiet and repeated motions as a self-care technique is related to why adult coloring books are a “thing” – coloring is another rhythmic activity that gives us space to calm and connect to ourselves.
Toward that notion this week I hand drew a coloring page and set up my artwork so that it can be downloaded and printed via my email newsletter. Alongside the coloring page I told a personal story… here’s where the Rabbit mentioned earlier comes in…
Teaser: As a deaf kid I had “Easter Bassets” from my mishearing of the word basket. My coloring book drawing in my newsletter was inspired by my Easter basset memory… you can download my drawing page to do coloring yourself or to read my personal story. Here’s the link: https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/leggs-easter-bassets-and-rabbits
Yes, I grew up and learned about the “k” language sounds … but I still like to think of the Basset Hound as the delivery system for treats this time of year … the rabbits may have done the egg decorating but the eggs got to you via the hounds !!
Now you know!
Here’s what the coloring page looks like. Again the actual download is here.
Also in the same Substack newsletter is a link for a book I wrote and illustrated for Storyberries titled “This Rabbit” – its about rabbits liking things – and as I mentioned knowing what you like is a skill to cultivate all of your life. (Watch out! More rabbits!)
I hope you can see how I’m experimenting with using both the Substack and WordPress platforms- more to the point I hope you’re enjoying what you see from me in both places!
Speaking of enjoying things – here is a photo of books I particularly enjoyed this week: one is a list of things the author Barbara Kipfer likes. I enjoy trying some of her preferences that are new to me. I also enjoy the reminders of things I’ve enjoyed in the past. The book on Zentangles is a wonderfully relaxing doodle prompts book.
A pleasant digression: A fun thing happened when we were at the Powell’s bookstore on Hawthorne street in Portland this week. In the poetry section where I was browsing was another adult, also browsing. With that adult was a kid sitting on the floor at their adult’s feet. The kid, maybe 10 or 11 years old, was looking, with a furrowed brow, at 8 books from a series, looking from one book to another in fairly rapid succession. After a bit of that activity the adult leaned down, picked up one of the books, looked at the price tag then at the array of 8 books and said “Let’s get them all.” The kid’s jaw dropped. “Really?” “Yes!” Said the adult. “Ooooh!!” breathed the kid scooping up the 8 books and hugging them. Big grin from the adult hero of the day.
Below are the used books we hugged home ourselves. Bread and poetry in our future! Both bread making and short poetry involve patterns and rhythms…
Here’s a novel I’m currently reading. It’s just relaxing and fun.
The text below was on a bookmark found in one of the used books we bought …it made me laugh.
I hope your week is has as many pleasing patterns and rhythms as possible.
See you next Monday.
P.S. if you’re curious about the books mentioned in this post you can find them here on Bookshop.org which benefits small independent bookstores.
Needless to say I’ve been carefully balancing my time between work on the commission for Caplan Art Designs and time for rest and playing towards the art exhibits scheduled for this year. The commission has a firm deadline and I’m steadily on schedule. In order to stay on schedule I’ve let go of much of my social media. If I haven’t responded to you this is why. Anyway, around the commission priority comes work towards a new painting series.
As I mentioned last week extra paint from the commission gets used on another painting in progress. This way I don’t get distracted from the commission and am still making progress towards future exhibits. Last week I was working on this painting and this week I finished it.
As I mentioned on my recent email newsletter I’ve been reading and thinking about time. Specifically time and creativity. Human brains simply need time in order to put ideas together. Here’s some of what I’ve been reading. (Details about the books are available here https://bookshop.org/shop/clancy)
Yes, despite being busy I’m still carefully making time to read every day. It’s how I maintain my creative focus, enthusiasm and fun. Same with my sketchbook work which I share via my email newsletter.
A book – whether a library book or a personal notebook/sketchbook – occupies time in uniquely personal ways. The reader moves through time and space as they page through a book at their own pace and magically whole worlds, memories and ideas are built letter by letter, word by word, page by page in the readers mind!
As I say on another page of my website the definition of an “artist book” is “… a book conceived as an art object. It reveals a story over time and space using a combination of content and art techniques in a way that directly involves the viewers participation. “
Books and artwork both use time – time itself – as a creative technique!!! These thoughts about time and the book format also lead me to thinking more about handwriting, hand created art, handmade books and the value of the handmade in this Artificial Intelligence, rush rush, hurry hurry, often prefabricated and canned world. Can both handmade paintings, handmade books and handwriting be analogous to homemade cooking? What does it mean to be real? To be authentic? To be human? To be a time bound being that exists in space?
There is no one grand answer to any of these questions (that would be too hedgehog-y – in reference to the book “The Hedgehog and the Fox” by Isaiah Berlin) but all of this is in my mind as I work. You’ll see some evidence of my musings on these topics in the upcoming illustrated short story about an alien in outer space on my email newsletter…🤣… but I digress.
I hope you too are being mindful of your time this week. It’s a precious resource. Thank you for sharing time with me. See you next Monday.
I’m taking a winter break and will resume this blog after the new year. Did you find your gift book? Hope so. Here’s a video flip-through…
My wife and I made a list of 14 books we’ve loved and collaborated on a short first person sentence (because that was easy) description of our thoughts and feelings about each book. Then I took the book list and illustrated the list, on a sheet of handmade paper folded into an accordion book, using color inks and color pencils. After the artwork was finished I made an ebook version of “Portraits of Loved Books” that can be downloaded for free here https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/a-gift-book-for-you
This week my new hearing aids came in! Besides the new aids I got kisses from Gus the Labrador! The hearing aid fitting went very well and I’m amazed at how good I hear with the new aids! As per directions I’m keeping a journal about my adjustment to my new perceptions. Did you know that freezers and refrigerators make sounds when you open and shut them? Rice cookers too make bub-bub-bubbling noises when they’re cooking. Who knew?!
Needless to say I’ve been thinking about perceptions in the mornings when playing in my sketchbook. Here are some pages.
It occurs to me that having words and metaphors for our perceptions of the world is a big reason to read and read widely. Having ready access to language helps us think, be creative and to be fully human. After all a main quality of human beings is our use of words and pictures/symbols.
This human use of words and pictures is also why we want 5 working senses – and that’s including assistive devices like eye glasses and hearing aids – so we have the ability to grasp images and words. I tell you it’s been a treat to hear my wife’s voice after the last 3 hearing-aid-less weeks!
Which gets me to wondering – what if books are assistive devices for our minds? In that case having a personal reading program takes on a new meaning. In the past I’ve shared my own ongoing use of the Ray Bradbury Reading Program (and here’s a great article about the Bradbury Challenge) but today I want to share a great article I read listing 14 ways to get out of a reader slump! It’s good to keep these 14 ways handy just in case. Two of my favorite ways to get over a slump are 1) read short things and 2) to remember that I don’t have to read the whole thing – I can stop anytime and switch to something that’s more fun. Yes, there’s value in persistence with a difficult topic but if I find myself dreading to read something then I consider switching. It’s important to my creativity to maintain my enthusiasm for my reading program.
BTW here’s what I’m currently reading. It’s lighthearted fun. And it pairs well with that fluffy yellow throw pillow on the couch and a mug of hot chocolate.
Speaking of gifts and holidays I’ve decided this holiday season to publish, via my email newsletter, many of my stories and sketchbook pages in a hybrid step between my creative process and a printed book (or ebook) publication. Kind of like an advance release book of the month club. On this WordPress blog I talk generally about my creative life. Well, on my email newsletter I’m primarily living/doing my creative life. For example I share my creativity from both my poetry/story sketchbook (the orange book in the photo below) and my art sketchbook (the black book) directly to people’s email. (You can get more info or sign up here.)
Since sensory perception is on my mind I’ve written a related story called “The Key” that I’ll share in one of my upcoming email newsletters for my paid subscribers. In the photo below you see the beginning of my story handwritten in my poetry sketchbook and beside it you see an in progress illustration for the story.
My newest book, Patchwork Poems, is doing well on Storyberries.com!! Look at that number of story reads! Barely a week old and my book has been read over 4000 times!
This week I took some copies of Patchwork Poems to the Aurora Gallery for their shelf of 14 other book titles written and illustrated by me! Some of my framed art is in this photo and to the right of the book I’m holding up you can see the book shelf!
I was a bit nervous at first about hearing in the large Gallery space but I did just fine! I tell you these new hearing aids are amazing!
I hope your week is full of pleasant perceptions. Thank you for reading and viewing my work! Happy Thanksgiving!
Last Wednesday when I delivered 20 paintings from my Odditerrarium series to Burnt Bridge Cellars 4 had already sold and before Friday 2 more sold via Caplan Art Designs! Many nice comments have been said about the exhibit too! Thank you all!
Here’s a photo of some of my art spread out on a table ready to be hung for display. A package of books is ready too.
Burnt Bridge Cellars is a large space and my 10 x 8 inch works filled it pretty well. There are more photos of the installation on my portfolio page here – below are a few pics to give you a sense.
There’s another area in the winery with more of my artwork and a basket holding copies of my book “Odditerrarium: a fine art album and nonsense poem”. (Copies are also available via mail here.)
Later this month the Caplan Art Designs Gallery will pickup the sold artwork and ship/deliver the artwork sold from this exhibit to the new owners. Between now and then I’ll make more art in this vein, beginning “Odditerrarium Too”, which will be exhibited in October at the Caplan Gallery!
I wrote in my last post about the Beat Generation and that I was expecting a book about the women of that era. The book came! It’s titled “Women of the Beat Generation” by Brenda Knight. The writings of Helen Adam and Diane di Prima are particularly fascinating; Adam’s use of rhythm and rhyme and di Prima’s ideas about the value of imagination. Diane di Prima’s “Rant” is wonderful and here’s a link so you can read it too. I am inspired by how the women of the 1960s and 1970s worked together, began their publishing their own and each other’s work, how they encouraged and supported each other, including the men, and generally persevered despite many obstacles. Working and sharing together is really potent stuff.
This cooperative encouraging spirit was in my mind when some of my friends told me that they want to be sure to get all of my posts – especially the ones with my sketchbook pages – and social media feels too random to them. So I’ve decided to send my sketchbook pages directly to people who want them via weekly emails using Substack. It will be nice to have a place focused on my sketchbooks. I’m thinking I’ll send these emails on Fridays. If you’d like to get my sketchbook pages via email please subscribe here https://sueclancy.substack.com/
This blog focuses on what’s behind the scenes in my creative life and I share my sketchbook here now and then to (hopefully) show how it fits into my work on the current project. The emails via Substack will be some of my sketchbook pages, a real-time looking over my shoulder, so to speak, at my developing ideas as they happen without a firm context. Perhaps weeks or months later you might see a sketchbook page, published earlier in Substack, pop up in this blog because it illustrates how I got to a place in the current project that I’m sharing about. For example if I had been on Substack months ago while working on my Odditerrarium project an email subscriber would have seen an email somewhat like this – even now this was a great way to share some of the sketchbook pages related to my current Odditerrarium series.
Anyway the Substack emails will be devoted to my sketchbook pages – which people seem to also enjoy and want a reliable source for! Isn’t that fun?
All of this sharing; this blog, my social media and now Substack is me attempting to follow this advice thumbtacked to my studio wall…
… and echo, at least a smidge, the cooperative spirit of the women I’m reading about in “Women Of The Beat Generation”.
Anyway, we’ll see how it goes with “Clancy’s Coffee with a Green Dragon” – perhaps it will also be a way to eventually do serials of my books? I hope you’ll consider joining me over there too – https://sueclancy.substack.com/
I hope your week is filled with lots of low-level ecstasy and an abundance of imagination. See you here next Monday.