absurd things on rainy days

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Books In Art, Cats in art, Dogs in Art, magic realism, mundane and magical moments, pattern design, reading in art, sketchbook, travelogue, visual story, visual thinking

For this new painting I’ve combined several thoughts together: rainy day activities, the contrast between rainy Pacific Northwest and the Southwestern (USA) desert region (Arizona), and the Bonneville Dam’s fish ladder. I’ve found the fish ladder fascinating – here’s a video of it – and have done some fun sketching at the Bonneville Dam  trying to capture the patterns I see.

I enjoy the patterns the fish form as they flow by.  I also enjoy the patterns of the needles/leaves on cactus and succulents which seem visually similar, in my eyes, to the “flow” of the fish as seen from various angles.

Yes, I spend a lot of time thinking about visual fractals in general and specifically fractals in nature

Plus the absurdity of comparing fish with cactus tickled my funny bone. At any rate those were some of my thoughts as I created this gouache painting I’ve titled “100 Things To Do On A Rainy Day”.

100ThingsToDoOnRainyDay300

“100 Things To Do On A Rainy Day” by Clancy – 11 x 14 inches – ink and gouache on board

pie in the sky

A Creative Life, animals in art, Art Word Combinations, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, Dogs in Art, fine art, food in art, magic realism, reading in art, visual story

Been thinking of how people can focus too much on things that are unlikely to happen and forget to see what really is possible – such as enjoying the here-and-now moments. I’ve also thought of related quotes and phrases: “Life is not a dress rehearsal” and “Take tarts when tarts are passed” and “If not now, when?”.  These thoughts baked in my brain pan a while and out came this painting I’ve titled “Pie In The Sky”

PieInTheSky300

Pie In The Sky – by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – ink and gouache on board

recipe illustration ready for garnishing

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, comfort food, food in art, illustrated recipe, illustration, kitchen art, publications - publishing, published art, recipe illustration, sketchbook suppers, visual story, words and pictures

I’ve finished the handwritten ink work and the illustration painting for the recipe I’ve been doing for Chef Sebastian Carosi. (Past blog post re here) Now I’ll begin the photography and scanning processes to get it ready for print publication and etc. projects the Chef wants to do.  The get-my-hands-messy art part is done. Now to do the keep-hands-clean graphic arts part…

FinishedChefRecipeOnEasel72

The original artwork of the recipe, the physical painted with gouache and written in ink on hot-press watercolor paper recipe, will stay in my studio in an archival sleeve in a portfolio. At least for a time. It’s the digital files of this art we’ll work with.  The artwork will stay with me just in case the Chef needs it re-scanned it for an un-foreseen-at-this-moment application.

This is a different approach from my fine art where once the artwork is finished I photograph it then frame it or otherwise make it ready for gallery exhibits – and off the physical fine artwork goes to it’s life in the galleries and then (hopefully) to a happy home with a collector.

In some ways this recipe artwork that will stay in my studio archives may likely be more widely seen by the public, because of publication, than many of my fine artworks.

It’s a curious thing this creative life. But I love it!!

 

recipe illustration progress plus studio secrets

A Creative Life, art techniques, illustrated recipe, illustration, kitchen art, recipe illustration, words and pictures

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?

SueWorkingChefCarosiSoup

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.

MahlStickEnd72.jpg

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.

books and creativity

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, food for thought, food in art, mental health, still life, Sustainable creativity

It’s been my experience that one’s reading is the fertile soil from which all other creativity grows. So I find books like this one, “1000 Books To Read Before You Die” by James Mustich, an essential art studio tool.

The Mustich title is especially useful as it’s more like a restaurant guide than most “read-this” books; the suggested titles are sorted alphabetically by author, there are readable book note details about the genre/subject, when it was written, and other notable works by the author are listed. A “further reading” section about the author’s life and work or on the book’s subject is included. There’s a “try this” section listing other books by other authors suggested for the reader if they enjoyed the featured book. Helpfully “adaptions” of the featured title are also noted: films, plays, musical compositions and audio books. Hints are given whether you could read the book “in a sitting” or not. There is also a section of Mustich’s book that lists books sorted by genre/section: my favorites (so far) are “Lol”, “Mysterious Matters”, “Soul Food” and “Animal World”.

I find all of this pre-sorted book sorting helpful by making it easier to find books related to my creative topic. For example I’ve been reading books about objects lately since I’ve been doing some still life paintings. So yes, that has meant reading Marcel Proust and John Ruskin among other authors.

As you know I’ve been doing both food themed fine-art paintings as well as several food-recipe illustrations – so reading mystery novels that have food in them has been a good way to keep the “creative fun” going in my head while I wait for paint to dry.  BTW, I found an online source for culinary themed mystery novels; https://www.cozy-mystery.com/blog/cozy-mystery-authors-with-culinary-themes-part-1.html)

One of my favorite things to do is sit for an hour or so before bed and read with my beverage of choice handy.  If you follow my Instagram page occasionally I post what I’m reading and what I’m drinking.  While it looks (and often feels) like pure indulgence I’d say that my time spent reading is one of the most important things I do to develop and maintain my creativity.

Anyway, here’s a photo of the book by Mustich – alongside one of my favorite wines by Burnt Bridge Cellars. And, don’t worry, I was sharing the bottle of wine with my wife… 😉

1000BooksToRead

1000 Books To Read Before You Die by James Mustich

BTW, a local newspaper had a wonderful interview with James Mustich about what books did and didn’t get included in his “1000….”.  Oh, and here’s a link to a local bookstore for more info about the book itself.

paint to learn a pomegranate salad

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, food in art, kitchen art, small things, still life, visual thinking

At a friends house recently we were served a spinach and pomegranate salad. It was yummy and something like this recipe here.  As I ate I realized I’d never looked properly at a pomegranate.  I also realized I didn’t know cut one open. So later, back at my studio, I found an instruction video here – then I got some pomegranates and began looking and painting.  This is what I did:

OhSeeds72

“Oh Seeds!” – by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – gouache and acrylic on board, framed.

SharedSeeds72

“Shared Seeds” – by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – gouache and acrylic on board, framed.

After the paintings were done (and the pomegranates added to my salad) I submitted the artwork for consideration to the gallery. They were accepted so I framed them and delivered them along with 10 other small pieces for a “Small Works Holiday Group Exhibit” at Caplan Art Designs the months of November and December.  www.caplanartdesigns.com

All in all not a bad way to learn how to make a salad!

 

coffee and conversations with friends

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, ebook, still life, story, words and pictures

I’ve been thinking of how essential friendly conversations are – and remembering a story Dr. Bob Hoke* once told. It went like this.

Once upon a time there was a king who was very busy from morning until evening chairing meetings and making decisions. When the king went home in the evening he wanted perfect silence; he didn’t talk to his very beautiful queen or his servants and he didn’t allow them to talk either. A no-talking policy reigned whether he was home or not. His queen was very unhappy and his servants didn’t stay in his employ long – even though the king was very rich and the queen and servants didn’t lack any material thing.

Eventually he noticed that his poorly paid chief advisor had a very happy wife. The advisor also had servants who had been in his employ for decades despite the fact that the advisor couldn’t pay them as well as others might.

The king attributed his advisors success in these relationships to sheer luck. One day the king demanded that the advisor swap. The advisor’s wife and servants went to live with the king. The king’s queen and servants went to live with the advisor.

A year went by. And the king noticed that most of the advisor’s former servants had left the king’s employment (despite their higher wages) and the advisor’s wife was now sad all the time. The king was also aware that his queen now laughed most of the time and his former servants, now in the poorly paid employment of the advisor, had stayed the entire year.

The king called his advisor and demanded “How have you done this?”.

“Your highness, almost every night I spend time asking everyone how their day had gone. I ask them how their children are. I listen to their hopes and dreams. I ask them to tell me stories and jokes. I tell them stories and jokes. I tell them about my day, my hopes and dreams.  Neighbors and friends often drop by to visit – whether I’m home or not – and we offer the visitors what little we have to eat or drink. We accept what they offer us. We also visit other people.” replied the advisor.

The king reversed the swap and though it took some time he eventually became a good conversationalist with his queen and current servants (who began to stay in his employ longer).  Above the entrance to his home, to help him remember, the king had a sign painter paint this phrase: “To be a good conversationalist is to have a good life.”

That’s the end of the story as I recall it. As I was remembering the story I painted this:

CoffeeWithFriends72

“Coffee With Friends” – by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches- acrylic and gouache on board

*Dr. Bob Hoke is the psychiatrist for whom I compiled and illustrated “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” (link to that book here https://store.bookbaby.com//bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit )

The story in this post was not included in the First Aid Kit because both Dr. Bob and I thought the “wife swapping” story element would be distracting within the book – even though it is a way within this particular story to demonstrate the point about conversation.

Ah well.

And in this still life artwork I experimented – swapped you might say – using a color I don’t use often: turquoise instead of the color I was tempted to reach for first. I feel I’m broadening my color-conversation skills at least.

finished art of a peel

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, cat portrait, Cats in art, fine art

Here’s the finished artwork I was working on in my last blog post art-of-a-peel. I’ve titled it “Purrfecting Happy Hour”.  Now… on to the next painting…

PurrfectingHappyHour72

Purrfecting Happy Hour by Clancy 36 x 24 x 2 inches (h x w x d) Handmade paper and acrylic on cradled board

art of a peel

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, cat portrait, Cats in art, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, fine art, sketchbook

I’ve been busy lately working on a new fine art piece that has an orange peel in it. And a cat of course. Here’s a picture of me at work…

ClancyAtWorkPurrHappyHour72.jpg

Between 7 and 14 of us get together once a month for happy hour in one of our local pubs, and the trays of drinks that arrive at our table often reminds me of a jewelers tray. So I’m trying to capture that festive feeling in my painting.

This has meant, as I’ve worked on my composition (the to-scale drawing you see to the right in the above photo), a practice of sketching various drinks in my kitchen sketchbook. I used ink and gouache in my sketchbook – and I’m using acrylic in the painting. Below is the first sketchbook practice drawing; the drink recipe, an orange hot toddy, turned out very well in the real-life tasting of it – the drawing in my sketchbook of the orange-peel didn’t turn out so well.

OrangeToddyBest72

But I remembered the phrase “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first” from my book, Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit, and kept going.

In other sketchbook pages I tried more orange-peel attempts and here below is the last sketchbook orange-peel drawing – and the drink recipe that I decided to use within the painting.

FlatironMartini72

Below is a close-up photo of the drinks I’ve put in the painting – including the one with the orange peel:

TrayDetail72.jpg

I’ll post a photo of the finished art when its, well, finished – there’s still more to do on the cat.

burnt lunch and an arts education

A Creative Life, art techniques, fine art, illustration

Back in the 1980’s when I declared my intention to be a fine arts major at university I was told that an arts education wasn’t much use in life. I disagreed then and now after up-teen years as a professional artist (with a BFA!) I still disagree. I’ve used, and benefited in multiple ways from, my arts education – particularly from drawing and painting techniques. For example – just yesterday I burnt my lunch. The food was seared to the bottom of the pan as if I’d welded it on.  But thanks to my drawing and painting professors (and a high school art teacher before them) this was no problem! I simply took my plastic food scrapper and used “cross hatching” and “stippling” techniques as if I was doing a drawing using a large chunk of graphite on paper. I employed the sharp edge of my plastic scrapper as if I’d been assigned to do a delicate “scratch-board” illustration.  I “scumbled” small circles with the duller edge of my plastic scrapper as if it was a stiff ox-hair paintbrush – and voila! An artistically cleaned pan! Thanks art teachers!

Here are the drawing/painting techniques described in this post - just in case...

Here are the drawing/painting techniques described in this post – just in case…