As you know from a recent post (here) I’ve been working on a new recipe illustration project for Chef Sebastian Carosi. I’ve spent the most time designing a character who is doing the recipe “action”. It was a challenge to create a cannabis leaf character with “hands” holding things. But I did it! A photo of my progress is below…
When I’d illustrated Chef Kim Mahan’s recipes and we did a cookbook signing event together the question I was most often asked was “How do you keep your hand steady to handwrite all the recipe text?” The answer is shown in the photograph below that also shows my progress on the current recipe project for Chef Carosi.
Can you see what it is?
Yes. A mahl stick. That’s my big studio secret. It steadies my hand both for painting and writing.
However I do something with my mahl stick that I’ve not seen anywhere else. I added a piece of foam pipe insulation that floats freely on the stick – so my wrist slides easily back and forth along the stick as the stick is held steadily in a position. When I’m writing text I need to be able to move my wrist a little along but stay on the same line. When painting sometimes I need to make a long stroke. Either way the foam moves smoothly with me down the length of the stick held in one place.
My mahl stick is hand made. You can buy a mahl stick but I find it easy enough to DIY.
To make mine I cut a small 2 inch portion of foam pipe insulation, taped it to the end of a 36 inch dowel rod, then wrapped that end, completely covering the taped 2 inch foam bit, with a scrap of canvas tying it to the rod so that no canvas fabric ends trail/drag.
The remainder of the foam pipe insulation, about 12 inches in length, was slipped onto the dowel rod. In the photo below you can see the wrapped end of my mahl stick and see how loosely the foam pipe insulation wrist rest is on the rod. The other end (36 inches away!) has a hole drilled in it and a cord looped through it. It hangs on one of my art easel knobs when not in active use.
Okay. So the only time my mahl stick is not in active use is when I’m eating, reading or sleeping! Lol!
And now you know.
Thumb Use – By Clancy –
Sissy had extra-large thumbs.
So she cleared the table of crumbs
saying “What else can you do,
in the absence of stew,
but make excellent use of your thumbs?”
gouache illustration by Clancy
As you know I’d illustrated some of Chef Kim Mahan’s recipes. Well another chef – Chef Sebastian Carosi – saw the work I’d done for Chef Mahan and asked me to come to a photo shoot today. So I went and drew pictures of Chef Carosi’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – as it was being professionally photographed.
I took my favorite waterproof ink pen, my watercolors and some paper. I drew and painted – a lot – while dodging to keep out of the way of photographers, assistants and Chef Carosi, who was doing last minute soup garnishing just prior to placing a beautiful bowl of soup under the bright photographic lights.
Here’s a couple of pages of what I did – and a bit of the equipment I did it with:
I did many more drawings than what is shown in the photo. During a break the Chef and I talked about what I’d done… He liked my “soup as a sunset” visual story/metaphor. But he really likes my hand-written recipes and characters. So in my studio I’ll do a redesign and create a “character” out of one of the ingredients and hand-write the recipe data.
We finished up the photoshoot (and I did more drawings) and then we all ate soup.
Oh my!!!! Smooth, creamy, earthy… like a hug for tummy and soul. Now how to translate THAT into artwork???
Anyway here’s a link to Chef Sebastian Carosi – he likes to use locally sourced ingredients, some from his own garden, some foraged from the local PNW landscape and some purchased from local companies like Jacobsen Salt and Fairwinds. There was also a local cheese that we sampled. I meant to look at the wrapper or at least ask again for the name of the cheese maker. But in the fast-paced photoshoot food-illustration event I forgot.
Still it’s been a delightful day of drawing soup and soup ingredients and meeting new people! What fun!
Will draw more soup tomorrow…
Update: The cheese I referred to above was from Ferndale Farmstead
This weekend I caught up on the news – and this poem and illustration came to me:
The Little Brat
By Sue Clancy
Clueless Jack Horner
stood in a corner
eating a stolen pie
saying “Oh what a good boy am I!”
His classmates had cried.
His teacher had sighed.
But Jack, little Jack, didn’t ask “why?”
Instead he said “What a good boy am I!”
As he ate the pie…
As he stood in the corner…
Clueless: Jack Horner.
(Illustration, by Clancy, for the poem “The Little Brat” by Clancy.)
One of the first illustrations I did for the unconventional cookbook “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” was called “How to Cut Onion” – and it has been very popular. People have written in to tell me how helpful it was. I told Chef Kim Mahan about this response and she said “Great! How about illustrating roasting garlic?”
Since this cookbook is still “in progress” and I am a garlic loving fiend, naturally I agreed. Up until now my method has been to take fresh garlic, pull off a clove, smash it and use a knife edge to peel the skin off. Pain in the you-know-where. Fortunately my Sweetie doesn’t mind the peeling-garlic job so we have garlic often despite my garlic-peeling laziness.
Here’s the chef’s garlic-y instructions as I’ve illustrated them. I loved the way the Chef talked about “eating more garlic so as to keep vampires away”!
And to think Sweetie and I’ve been doing it the hard way all these years! Lol! I’ve now learned a new kitchen trick. Scary! Once again I realize how much I learn about the world during my process of making art.
You can see the “How to Cut Onion” illustration here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/
I’ve been very busy working on illustrations for the cookbook “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” and have not had much time for posting here but I had to take a sec today to share my progress on this one. It’s been a challenge to draw a flower doing a hula-dance while wearing a macaroni lei – and try to honor the Aloha spirit at the same time. But I’m pleased with what I’ve done – and Chef Kim Mahan says she is too. Whew!
Here’s one of the recipe illustrations I’ve been working on for Chef Kim Mahan’s cookbook. I had lots of fun putting a chicken in Speedo swim trunks! Lol!
You can see more about this project here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/
I’ve now taken the finished artwork I did for Chef Mahan’s Pumpkin Biscuit recipe and done the hocus pocus necessary to make art-prints and greeting cards from it.
If you hover over the above photos or click on them you’ll see a link that takes you to the site where you can read more about them and order some.
The tea towels take a bit more slight-of-hand trickery to create a digital file for production – as it’s intended for printing on cloth and not paper. So as I have time – using my method of working in short spurts that I’ve blogged about before – I’ll work that magic and a tea towel with this artwork will quietly appear on the “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” page here https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/
I’ve been pleasantly amused that the tea towels have been popular in Europe whereas the greeting cards and prints are more popular in the United States. Personally I giggle when I wipe my hands on a recipe-tea-towel. It’s been fun to see my art-prints on the Chef’s cooking school walls. And it’s a treat to mail a recipe as a card with a handwritten note inside. It’s all fun but mostly I’m delighted that my artwork is helping the Chef share her easy-to-cook recipes in a wider way.
As followers of my blog know: I think that knowing how to cook is an essential survive-thrive-as-an-artist skill and I’m lucky to get to learn more about cooking by working with the Chef on this art project! What fun!
Now what’s for lunch?
p.s. if you have trouble seeing the links under the photos here they are:
I’ve spent part of the weekend and most of today illustrating a new recipe for the unconventional cookbook “Kim Cooks Sue Draws”. Chef Kim Mahan said that this is one of her popular easy-to-do recipes for her cooking school – and we had to have it in the book. Since the recipe as typed up by Chef Kim was titled “Pumpkin Biscuits” and this is October… my mind went to, well, you’ll see:
Fortunately Chef Kim Mahan has a sense of humor and didn’t mind a Pumpkin making people-shaped biscuits! Whew! In fact it sparked a whole conversation between us about how humor and fun in the kitchen helps a good-food experience happen. And that food is more than just bodily nutrition – beautiful (and fun) looking food feeds our spirits too. Chef Kim went on to talk about her efforts to make her cooking classes fun and relaxed for this spirit-feeding reason.
She talked about her concepts better than I’m able to describe here. Sigh. I wish I’d been able to write notes as quickly as she talked!
Anyway, I’ve a few more things to do, like photograph the artwork after it dries, before I can turn this artwork into cards, prints and tea towels. You can get a hint of what will happen with this “Pumpkin Biscuits” recipe art by looking at our cookbook “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” on this website here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/
And now, after looking at recipes all day I’m hungry. Go figure.
Hanging out at a bookstore yesterday with friends I happened to spot the book “Making Stuff and Doing Things: DIY guides to just about everything!” edited by Kyle Bravo https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/1400
This book is now in it’s 4th edition and there’s one chapter by me titled “Why Make A Zine or Artist Book?”.
Back in 2003, if I remember correctly, my work was included in the first edition. Rereading my work now in the new 4th edition I’m still proud and honored to be included! It really is a useful-in-creative-life book – I’m not just talking about my own chapter.
Here’s a teaser hint of some of the book contents in addition to mine.
And here’s a teaser page spread from my chapter within this useful book:
Sharp readers of my blog will probably notice that I’ve used one of the book-stitching techniques I mentioned in “Making Stuff…” on my current project “Time Tavern” (here’s a link to some Time Tavern posts; stitching the book here and more progress here.)
And here’s a panoramic photo of me along with Sweetie and one of our friends (the 4th friend was taking the photo) outside the bookstore Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland Oregon. http://www.annieblooms.com/