Dragons, margaritas, a toad and a garden

A Creative Life, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, books, creative thinking, fine art, Gifts, household surrealism, illustrated gifts, illustrated recipe, Odditorium, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

Progress was made this week on my “How To Draw A Dragon” childrens book project. Here’s what my studio looks like when success happens.

Yes, doesn’t that look a whole lot like what my studio looked like in my last post and the post before that?

Being creative is like cooking – you get one meal cooked and cleaned up then it’s time for another meal. It’s the slog – long live the slog! Hooray for the slog! Okay so the word slog can have a negative connotation… I also call it a a good working rhythm! There’s a wonderful article about slogs aka work, talent and audacity from The Painters Keys. [Spoiler: it’s not the talent so much as the willingness to see it through]

Here’s some of my more finished than unfinished Dragon pages. I still have to ink all of the poem text and fill in certain visual elements on many of the pages but the entire book has been penciled!! Feels like an accomplishment… which I celebrated (more on that later in this post)! Anyway here are some of the mostly inked pages!!

If you recognize some of the pages, well that’s because I go through the book penciling. Then I go through the book inking this bit then I go through the book inking that bit then I go through the book….

See what I wrote earlier about slogging. Writers most obviously slog – you hear about novelists working on a draft of a novel for years, decades even. You hear about it taking years to rewrite and edit a novel. The same is true of my visual artistic life too. But the public doesn’t often hear about the slogs of a visual artist. I’ve written in the past about the similarities I see between art and writing – what I write here today is of a piece with that idea. Anyway, I find that it helps to celebrate small milestones of creative projects.

I penciled the entire How To Draw A Dragon book!! Yippee! So I celebrated by having margaritas with my spouse on our backyard patio. I also did a small painting in color. I’ve been thinking of of color as I have been working on “How to Draw A Dragon” a black and white line drawn book for other people to color. Indulging in both an adult drink and some gouache paints was decadent!!

And while I was painting the light outside changed but I kept painting.

“Perfectly Natural And All” by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches- ink and gouache on board

While this looks like a complete painting done during the duration of a drink – and it is – but it is also only one piece of my much larger Odditorium exhibit. You might say this is like novelist writing one decent short paragraph during the time it takes to drink a margarita. A paragraph is not a novel. One painting is not an exhibit.

On another day this week my spouse snapped a photo of me drawing in my morning sketchbook. Below the photo you can see what I was sketching.

The next morning I got one of my small art boards and re-sketched my thought. This is what I love about keeping a sketchbook – I can explore thoughts messily in my sketchbook then later pick the thought I really like and re-explore and repeat with variations. I can try it in different sizes, art mediums and colors. This way there’s no pressure to get it right the first time. And I get to play with a group of fun thoughts as long as I like. Some might call it “flitting about” but I call it normal creativity. (See also my last post) Can you see how similar the visual art creative process is to the writers process of rewriting? Below I basically “rewrite” my thought.

I’m thinking this artwork will be fun on a mug for a gardener to use. There I go again dedicating a gift for someone – whether they ever see it or not. I mentioned doing this gift making / dedications in my last post. This mug and a card with the same artwork are on my Zazzle shop now.

I’ve even thought about color when eating this week – inspired by a recipe in my kitchen sketchbook Favorites So Far.

page from Favorites So Far – https://www.blurb.com/b/9759759-favorites-so-far

Below is one of the books I’ve been reading in the evenings before bed titled Nature’s Palette. My spouse gave it to me for my birthday earlier! Do you notice that some botanical and zoological drawings look sortof coloring book-like? Well in part that’s because long ago books were illustrated using etchings which were often colored by hand before being bound into a book. And from my past experience as a biological illustrator often both black line drawings and color drawings are needed for the same plant – so color is filled in (so to speak) after one has an accurate line drawing. Is it really any surprise that I’ve been thinking of color and coloring books lately?

I hope your week is full of color and delights for your senses. See you next Monday.

Of beermats, bears, books, poems, crocodiles and garden garlic scapes

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, books, children's book, creative thinking, drinks in art, fine art, functional art, household surrealism, life of the mind, poetry, travel art and writing, travelogue, visual story, visual thinking, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

“Warning” by Jenny Joseph is one of my favorite poems. I particularly like these lines “…and hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes…”. But I hadn’t read that poem or thought of it in a while (you can see the entire poem here).

Earlier this month I received the prospectus for a “reclaimed canvas” art exhibit upcoming at the Aurora Gallery. (This is the project I hinted at in my last post.) The Reclaimed Canvas is an art exhibit asking the gallery artists to paint on something not normally used as a canvas or surface for painting. So I began this new project by rummaging around my studio for a not-typical thing to paint on. Look what I found – boxes of pens, pencils and beermats!

Suddenly I remembered the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph…. and had a good chuckle at myself. Of course I reread the poem and laughed some more.

Before we visited, and later moved to, the Pacific Northwest I didn’t think I liked beer. But here in the Pacific Northwest there are locally owned microbreweries and the beer is worth taste testing – and both the brewpubs and the beers often reflect the region in which they’re located. So having a beer in one of the microbrew pubs includes a bit of regional history and personal stories. Often there’s beautiful scenery too. Oh, and did I mention that the beer tastes surprisingly good?

As I looked through my collection of beermats in my pencil box I thought of poetry and word play in general. I also remembered our various visits to the brewpubs whose beermats I had in hand. I evaluated the qualities of the beermats themselves as a possible canvas for a painting.

Here’s the beermat I chose for my new painting project – the first photo shows the front of the beermat and then the next photo shows the back of it.

Bouy Beer is in Astoria Oregon and the brewpub sits right on the water. When entering the pub you can walk over a large glass floor. Through the glass floor you can often see the sea lions lounging on the pier beneath. We’ve enjoyed sitting in the pub on the waters edge, watching ships and marine wildlife. Sitting there, with a beer, I’m aware of the intimate connection this one spot has with the entire world: international ships come and go as do migrating whales, geese and sea lions. I love the way it is both a unique place with it’s own regional quirks and yet it openly, joyfully, participates in a wider world. It’s a wonderful reminder that one can be fully ones particular self while also being fully within, and open to, a diverse world. The food menu at Buoy Beer is also an enchanting fusion of world cuisines… but I dangerously digress. I have so many good memories of this particular pub and look forward to each visit. Oh, and they brew really good beers!

Anyway, for an animal character to use in my painting on the Buoy Beer beermat I thought about having a sea lion drinking beer, a great blue heron drinking beer, a whale drinking…. eventually, after a number of sketchbook drawings, I settled on the character of a bear. My main reasons for choosing a bear is that I could do a wordplay title for the finished art … but also the shape of bear, physically, could evoke the feeling and the relaxing-into-hybernation pose that I associate with the flavor of one of my favorite beers when it’s seasonally available at Bouy Beer.

Here’s a sketch I did when exploring my thoughts.

And below is the painting I did on one of the 4 inch round coasters I had collected during one of our trips to Bouy Beer (which I kept in a pencil box with the rest of my beermat collection – ūü§£). I painted on the coaster with gouache and have titled it …wait for it… “Bear, Matt”

The back of my “Bear, Matt” painting has the title and other data written by hand.

I did seal the beermat with a clear primer before I began painting on it and when my painting was finished and dry I varnished the artwork. Plus the art will likely be framed at the Aurora Gallery. So what was once an ephemeral throw-away object now will potentially last quite a bit longer.

I think of this new project as fitting in with my recent household surrealism thinking: a mundane object was thought about in a new way.

With this thought, given my sense of humor, I simply couldn’t resist turning my original painting “Bear, Matt” back into ephemeral beermats. So on my Zazzle shop I made round paper coasters – beermats – that are copies or art prints of my original “Bear, Matt” artwork! The back of these printed coasters is blank. That’s one way you can tell the copy from the original. You can get these here.

https://www.zazzle.com/bear_matt_paper_coaster-256396249111967834

After finishing “Bear, Matt” and delivering the original to the Aurora Galley a few days ago – I visited, in masked-up person, another favorite local independent bookstore called Daedalus Books. This bookstore is especially alluring for me with my interests in literature, fine art, poetry, books about books, artist books, literary studies, culture, history and philosophy. You can see how tempting it was… in the photo below is my book haul!

Another new project in progress contains a crocodile. In the photo below you can see my orange poetry sketchbook and my crocodile poem written by hand. Also in the photo is a binder that holds my drawing attempts, book dummies and poem drafts. Yes, I’m working on a new children’s book. I plan to update this blog over the coming weeks with my progress…

My spouse’s garden has lots of garlic scapes and some radish greens so the memorable meal this week was the pasta with radish greens and garlic scapes recipe below!

Hope your week is full of fun memories and your own collections of beermats, pencils and pens!

See you next Monday?

The minutest concerns: poems, love, books and odd balls

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, books, fine art, household surrealism, magic realism, mental health, Patch La Belle, poetry, sketchbook, This Rabbit, Uncategorized, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

This week in household surrealism I’ve been thinking of love. Love in the sense of the poetry, the food, the care for and cleaning of things, generally creating a gentle environment for ourselves and others. Perhaps an environment also filled with souvenirs of loving moments as I wrote in my last post.

My recent children’s book This Rabbit was about knowing what you like. Well, this week I’ve been thinking about how it can take practice as adults to remember to let ourselves love openly, wholeheartedly and to unabashedly enjoy things.

Among these thoughts is the fact that tulips are in bloom when I live in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a photo from my spouse’s garden.

In the morning sometimes I read a bit of poetry while having my breakfast and coffee. The photo below is a poem by Mary Oliver, from “New and Selected Poems Vol 1”, I see this poem as talking about wholeheartedly living life. A life well lived is lived bit by bit in thousands and thousands of mundane moments. Many of those moments (even in pre-pandemic times) happen at home.

Letting oneself wholeheartedly enjoy and love little parts of daily life – why is that so hard? Perhaps as adults we get caught up in the “gotta do’s” as I call them. We sometimes almost chain-smoke, metaphorically, one gotta-do duty after another forgetting that love and pleasure is often part of the reason we do things. By contrast it feels good to pay attention to whatever interests you and revel in that focused moment. This wholehearted enjoyment is a way to be gentle  and loving to yourself and the people you love. Anyway, I thought of that while I doodled in my sketchbook.

Then I worked several days in a row to flesh out my thought using acrylic paint on cradled board. Yes, this is another piece destined for upcoming art exhibits at Burnt Bridge Cellars and at Caplan Art Designs.

Below is the finished painting I titled “The Minutest Concerns”.

The label on the bottle of cleaning fluid the mouse is using in my painting is actually a bit of collage. I’ve been using a falling apart copy of Jan Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice as my collage source. (See my last posts here and here for details)

As I worked I also thought about and reread a passage in a book I illustrated titled “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit“. The passage reads “love is clarity of perception and accuracy of response”. 

Basically, in the bigger universal sense, things are okay, you are okay, and it’s okay to relax and enjoy just being yourself and liking and loving the world around you.

For example this photo below is part of my world that I love; I love picking up one of the books and reading a bit, I love just looking at the books on the shelves and I even love dusting them. Of course I confess that often I get distracted and stop dusting to read ūüėĀ

I love having lots of books so much that it feels like heaven. So I did this drawing and made a print of it…just in case someone else feels the same way. (This is part of the gift making I talked of last post) Even if I’m the only person who feels like this making a drawing and a print was a fun way to fully enjoy and love the feeling.

Books are all we know of heaven – an art print by Clancy –https://society6.com/product/books-are-all-we-know-of-heaven4207368_framed-print?sku=s6-18617343p21a12v52a13v54

I also love the challenge of cooking. It took me a while to figure it out but I can now reliably make meatballs to store in the freezer for use whenever the odd meatball is wanted with pasta or rice or roasted vegetables.

Here’s my recipe as written in my kitchen sketchbook. Yes, this is another souvenir of love! Books and sketchbooks are the best souvenirs!

My sketchbook page will still be there long after the meatballs have all been eaten! Plus I can share this sketchbook page with people and thereby share the love.

That’s part of what I love about poetry, books, gardens and art they each nourish one’s spirit and are shareable. They’re part of how we know we’re loved and part of how we love other people and how we remember to love ourselves and the world around us. They’re part of how we connect emotionally with each other.

A dear friend loaned me this book “The 3000 Mile Garden”. It’s a wonderful almost voyeristic view of two people sharing their love of food and gardens with each other. And we readers get to see their intimate exchange of letters! The book has hand drawn maps and photos too! It’s a fun evening read.

These are the sorts of thoughts that inspire me as I work on my new household surrealism fine art series that I’m titling “Odditorium”. In addition to the art itself I’m also working on an exhibit statement- which is kindof like the synopsis on book covers – a short paragraph or two to interest viewers and help them understand what I’ve created. Wish me luck at crafting the sentences?

Anyway, I hope this week that you’ll remember to allow yourself to love whatever is commonplace in your world. See you next Monday?

P.S. my book Patch La Belle is going to be featured on Kidz Stories And More – and I’m excited!! I will update my social media and this space when I have a link to share… Here’s the link to the read-aloud video they made!! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rOyqdg0WUjQ

dogs strawberries and cookbooks

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, Books In Art, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, food in art, kitchen art, reading in art, still life, visual story

My wife’s garden has at least 100 strawberry plants in it. They currently are in bloom. My favorite dessert is strawberries and shortcake. I only have this dessert in the summer on account of trying to be sensible. Nonetheless I’ve been anticipating “strawberry season” and making new artwork about it.

DogberrysStrawberryTreats72

Dogberry’s Strawberry Treats – by Clancy – 20 x 16 inches – acrylic on board

I chose a Bassett Hound as my character because of the breeds easy-going relaxed nature. It’s the way I think of the Pacific Northwest summer.

As I’ve been doing for this series of artworks I’ve spoofed two of my own still life paintings in the background of the above painting titled “Dogberry’s Strawberry Treats”. Below are the two still life’s I’ve spoofed:

JunesTreasure72

June’s Treasure – by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

ItMustBeJune72

It Must Be June – by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

Since we have so many strawberry plants – and get lots of produce from them – besides sharing strawberries with neighbors and friends and making strawberry shortcake desserts I’m often looking at cookbooks for ideas of what else to do with an abundance of strawberries.

My one-person art exhibit, which opens the first Friday in June at Burnt Bridge Cellars, is book and reading themed. So naturally, for the exhibit, I had to have a painting with cookbook and a Bassett Hound cook consulting a book while working with strawberries.

And yes, in the exhibit I’ll have all three of the above artworks displayed. I’m hoping that sharp-eyed attendees of my exhibit will connect-the-dots so to speak and see the correlation between the paintings, sort of an in-person story-puzzle effect; the ability to walk about (glass of wine in hand) finding the related art pieces and identifying the story-theme for each.

But whether or not people catch any of the correlations between my paintings I’m hoping the exhibit will be as fun for visitors to see as it’s been for me to create.

Lettuce Peas

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, collage, fine art, illustration, poetry, words and pictures

Was contacted¬†this morning by¬†one of my gallery owners, Barney, of Downtown Art & Frame, in Oklahoma to tell me that my work “Lettuce Peas” had sold! This work was a highly experimental piece, different from the “typical” work I do. For this project I worked with Judy Sullens, a writer, and created this words+art piece inspired by and based on¬†her¬†word-play. ¬†Judy’s original poem was titled “Gardener’s Prayer”. ¬†I took Judy’s words and created an original cut-paper illustration in my style and wrote out her poem by hand using¬†pen and ink calligraphy.

Technically this piece is an original “broadside” as it would be called in the book-arts world. ¬†And normally I¬†might¬†have submitted it for exhibit¬†in a book-arts kind of gallery like the 23 Sandy Gallery. ¬†But, Barney, who runs a frame-shop-gallery in Oklahoma saw the piece in my studio here on the West Coast, liked it and wanted to frame it and exhibit it along with the other artwork of mine he was selecting¬†for delivery to his gallery.

I do my best¬†to keep my gallery-owners happy so I agreed. All the art he requested got shipped – including “Gardener’s Prayer”. He was happy. I was happy. Judy was happy.¬†¬†Then life went on.¬†

When he told me today that¬†the work had sold he also said of this piece “it’s a gem”. ¬†He talked of how much attention this particular piece had gotten, how the client who ended up buying it had come to ‘visit’ it multiple times before buying. He went on to say that he thought it might be a good idea for me to do more such things, maybe make a book of such poetic-artistic-meditations-on-daily-life.

So now I’m thinking about doing that. Over the many years I’ve worked with Barney he’s had a number of great suggestions for my art/career… so I take his suggestions seriously. And I think Judy will play poetry+art again with me … and I write poems sometimes myself… and¬†I’m also flirting with thoughts of collecting some other poet/writers very short thoughts (ideally word-play) about some aspect of daily life.

My question is how to go about it? ¬†Must ruminate more on this topic… Please share your comment/thoughts too.

Anyway here is the “Gardener’s Prayer”:

gardenersprayer72

Poem by Judy Sullens. Art (cut handmade paper) and Calligraphy by Sue Clancy.