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.
A friend asked how I maintain creativity while doing a commission. My reply: a schedule and lots of joy breaks. I deliberately make the mundane magical. Especially via joy breaks.
Joy breaks, also called “Joy Snacks“, is purposefully taking time to recognize and savor small pleasures. Think of the old fashioned coffee breaks office workers were allowed within a work day but for me now it’s a scheduled “check in” with whatever seems pleasant to me at regular intervals throughout a day. It’s allowing myself to fully feel the pleasure I feel however small the feeling may be. I add a corollary that it’s also avoiding killjoy thoughts – including those U.S. Southern style self depreciating cynical put downs of my own pleasures. It’s taking time to make note of a memorable moment in my journal/sketchbook each day. Yes, notes of things I’m grateful for but also just things I enjoyed and the surprising things that pleasantly caught my attention during the day. It’s also taking a moment to maintain awareness of what is within my control and what isn’t – a crucial thing to remember during creative deadlines – while allowing myself to relax and let go of some things in the Stoic philosophical manner.
In a technical/physical sense while doing an art commission (my current one is for the Caplan Art Designs Gallery) there are times I need to wait for parts of the commission to dry before doing other parts. There are also times when I have extra paint that I mixed for the commission leftover. So part of the mundane creativity task is to monitor the commission as it dries – to stay on task – and yet also use up any excess paint. This week I did a painting of a pig titled “Red Eye Gravy Train”… (details of the painting, the related limerick and a view of my sketchbook is on my Substack https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/early-starts )
I had mixed a pink color for my commission and had a wee bit leftover so I added a bit more of the white and used it on “Red Eye Gravy Train”.
During another days work on my commission I was mixing a particular shade of light blue and the tube of blue suddenly smooged out too much color in a gush. So I had a huge amount of leftover blue color to deal with.
So I consulted my sketchbook for ideas and with a watercolor pencil quickly drew a design and filled in with the extra blue paint (and the wee bit extra green too).
Even after painting that there was still extra blue paint left so I covered two boards edge to edge with the blue till the paint was used up. No clue at this point how I’ll use these new blue boards…but that’s what creative thinking is for!
Since I’ve been so busy working we’ve had lots of beans and rice for our lunches. I have a keeper of my precooked magic beans in the fridge so I toss a scoop or two in on top of the rice in my “push here dummy” rice cooker, to quote my adopted Mom’s phrase for simple kitchen appliances.
I add spices, freshly chopped onions and other vegetables to vary the dishes from meal to meal, press the cook button and head back to the studio to work some more.
Even though these beans and rice bowls I make are simple and cooked in a busy-artist-hands-free-cooking way they still feel like homemade comfort food. (My beans and grains bowl recipe/strategy can be found in my kitchen sketchbook “Favorites So Far“)
I like handwritten works, homemade food and just about anything made by hand. So I enjoyed this post by Austin Kleon about how AI (and algorithms) can’t kill anything worth keeping.
And I admit to getting a joy snack style chuckle from this article about today’s teenagers going luddite and ditching social media and smartphones in favor of handmade real life!
The additional poetry book title by Andrea Gibson, the new favorite poet I wrote about last post arrived this week! I love it that it looks handwritten. I know it’s a font…but I like the look. Gibson’s words feel so true to my own experiences and the semi-handwritten hand illustrated look adds a sense of comradeship for me.
Speaking of handwritten poetry… I read a fun article about a park ranger who got creative and made a free little library style kiosk for poetry in the park!
One of the most delightful joy breaks was this video of what happened when a girl gave a street musician a coin.
And I hope today’s post itself gave you a small joy break. Remember to take breaks and notice pleasant things. See you next Monday or thereabouts.
Almost exclusively I used to do unique books as art objects that were displayed in art gallery exhibits. My one-of-a-kind books were then sold and that was that. Well, in 2020 after the pandemic began the galleries closed to the public and I began publishing my artist books in an on-demand way. My book is printed at the time it is ordered and mailed to the buyer. I did this so I could still share my visual stories and they could still be fairly unique i.e. not printed in large quantities. And as my portfolio page attests that’s the way I’ve now done twelve different artist book projects. As the galleries have adapted to the pandemic since March 2020 allowing the public to handle one-of-a-kind books, wisely I think, hasn’t come back into vogue.
When making a printed version of my original artist books I try as best I can to maintain the look of the original work. I do very little – or ideally absolutely no – digital manipulation of my content. At most some text is typed. I even prefer to handwrite as much as possible. It’s important to me that people – especially kids – get to have a wide variety of homemade or handmade comforts whether it’s dinners, cookies, fine art or books.
Anyway, in the case of my new “How the cow…” book I typed the about the book and the dedication page text. But those pages and the covers are the only typed text. (I’ve learned the hard way that having these pages typed rather than handwritten helps the book be found via a search.)
I also scanned the handmade pattern I used for the cow book slipcase and the found sheet music I used for the tiny notes book cover. I scanned my handwritten text summary for the cow story. I did digitally “erase” the page number marks on my handwritten text because those numbers did not apply to the printed book. Other than erasing the pages numbers the handwritten page is the same in the printed book as it is in the original.
With those very few digital documents in my 28 page book layout I created end papers of a sort to flank or wrap each story within the printed book. The original artist books are themselves covered with these patterns.
The scanned blue bubble pattern was the basis for the printed book cover.
As you can see the covers of both the original book and the printed version are similar.
The artwork in the cow story is just a bit smaller in the printed version than the original. But as you can see the colors are a very close match! Also the printed book is conventionally bound so I set up my layout like a comic book rather than in the folded concertina form of the original. I don’t yet know of any printer who prints and mails concertina style books. The two illustrations per page layout allowed me to fill the seven inch square printed pages. (In the photos below the original handmade book is at the top)
The “Tiny Notes” original artwork is reproduced at a much larger size in the printed book. The original book is 2.25 inches square. The printed book is 7 inches square. Again the colors printed are pretty close to what’s in the original!
So you can see the scales of the books in relation to a human. My spouse took these photos of me and the books…
The original concertina format cow book unfolds to four feet long. Almost as tall as me!
The original concertina tiny notes book is only 20 inches long unfolded.
You can see more of these book pages and details on my portfolio site. I’ve no idea if these original artist books will someday go to an art gallery even for display under glass.
For now I’m having fun making books intentionally for printing and mailing directly to people. It may sound odd to say this but this new way of sharing my books feels more personal and I feel like many more people are able to see and own my work this way.
This week my coloring book poem “How To Draw A Dragon” was read aloud on Kidz Stories And More !!! You can see it here https://youtu.be/EUVeDjqiz30 When we were discussing the creation of this video Kidz Stories and I decided to make my book pages so they could be downloaded for free so kids could color along with the video! The download is available here and the directions are also in the video link. I’m seeing this as possibly another fun new way to share my artist books!
Also this week someone shared this photo saying how happy they are with a portrait I painted of their cat and how it has been framed by the Aurora Gallery!! That makes me happy!!!!!
My spouse mentioned the current news about book banning and that one of the titles banned is “A Light in the Attic” by Shel Silverstein. We have that book in our dining room poetry collection. It’s a favorite! Hearing that news led to both of us looking up what other books we have on our shelves that are banned. It was a fun scavenger hunt of sorts! 🤣 Turns out we have a large number of banned titles throughout our book collection. Two shelves in our dining room alone yield 4 books/authors who have been banned… even as recently as 2022.
Here’s one of the articles we read about banned books. Naturally we got online and ordered more banned books from our local independent bookstore. 😁 One of the banned books I tried to order was Maus by Art Spiegelman (here’s an article about that book) but all of my usual indy bookstores were sold out! But there were other banned books available which we happily bought.
I’ll leave some memes about book banning here just in case someone wants one.
I hope your week is similarly filled with subversive literary delights and some homemade comforts.