four topic sketchbook keeping

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, ebook, kitchen art, psychogeography, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, Sustainable creativity, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue, visual thinking

Oh I’ve had an excellent question asked of me! Here’s the question: “Do you keep separate sketchbooks for different subjects/projects/media or do you use one sketchbook for all sorts of art experiments and ideas?”

My answer:  I used to keep one sketchbook but I found it hard to find the bit of research I needed because I’d have to flip through the whole book to find something.  Now I keep sketchbooks by topic.

Here is one of my “kitchen sketchbooks” – recipe inspired art – where I am inspired to draw by a recipe I’m cooking. This book is 5 x 4 inches in size, sewn binding and paper that can handle ink and water-media.  This way my favorite recipes are all in one spot – and when I have an ingredient I can flip through this one book to find a recipe that I know works and that my family likes.  This sketchbook, additionally, is my “testing ground” for ways to combine food, drink and art together – ways to interpret food/drink artistically.  This sketchbook is also a place where I’ll try new-to-me art media or methods. I’ve been trying gouache lately and I posted a few pages from this book the other day – Here’s what the outside of my current kitchen sketchbook looks like:


I have been working on a new series of fine art paintings with Cats as the main characters. So I have one sketchbook that collects my cat related painting practice and research. In it I’ve been studying cat shapes and experimenting with lines, colors. I’ve also experimented with combinations of collage, ink and water-media. This sketchbook is called “Various Cat Sketches” and is 8.5 x 11 in size, with a sewn binding. Here, below, is what the outside of it looks like. I’ll post more of it’s pages on this blog soon because it will contribute to an upcoming fine art exhibition


Another current sketchbook is my “Running Around Loose” book. This is the sketchbook that fits in my small go-sketching bag and is 3 x 5 inches, with a sewn binding, water-media ready paper in a landscape format. In this book I record my observations of the world around me; places I go, people I see, food or drink I have. It could easily be called a travel sketchbook  but I call it my “running around loose” book because that’s what I try to do as I run around town with this book – be loose and free with my lines, colors and thoughts. Here, below, what this book looks like. I’ll post more of it’s pages here too.  (I’ve posted my last sketchbook like this as an ebook titled “Glad To be Alive” available for download here)


And the 4th topical sketchbook is called “The Forked Tale: thoughts about creative life”.  This one is a hardback book 6 inches tall by 8 inches wide and over an inch thick. In it I’ve collected my thoughts, readings, quotes etc. about this business of being creative.  I’ve shown pages from this book to friends before who enjoyed it and found it helpful. But recently my friend Liesl was over for dinner and asked me a question about art-studio furniture. We kept talking about aspects of living a creative life and eventually I got out this book and shared it with her. She very strongly encouraged me to publish this book. So I will. After all she’d brought a very good wine to dinner. Here, below, what the outside of this sketchbook looks like.


Yes, this method of sketchbook keeping helps me to organize and find things but keeping topical sketchbooks is also helpful when I only have a short span of time to work. I can select a topic and can get right to it because I don’t have to wonder what topic to paint/work on. 

Thanks for the question! I’d not thought to do a blog post outlining this method of mine before!

How to draw dogs guide published!

A Creative Life, animals in art, Art Licensing, art techniques, Dogs in Art, drawing as thinking, illustration, Sue Draws Dogs, The Sketchbook Project, visual thinking
My mini guide has been published!!!! It’s called “How To Draw Dogs” by Sue Clancy. I’m so excited about this – and can’t wait to see my printed copies!  Below is a photo I took back when I was creating the guide – before it got published. Then I forgot to post the work-in-progress photo… Anyway…
You can access the finished guide here:

my running around loose sketching kit

A Creative Life, art exhibit, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, sketchbook

People attending my fine art opening at Burnt Bridge Cellars have told me that they enjoyed seeing my free ebook sketchbook as part of my exhibit and several have asked me: “What does your sketching kit look like?”

Here’s a picture of it.


Clancy’s “running around loose” sketching kit

The bag is new to me recently – but this is the contents of my “running around loose” sketching kit: a mechanical pencil, an eraser, ink pens, a small watercolor set, color pencils and my bound sketchbook.  The sketchbook is 5 x 3 inches. My new bag measures 9 inches by 7 inches and about 3.5 inches deep. My old bag was bigger but had the same contents as above plus half the library and the kitchen sink.  This new smaller bag weighs much less because the only “extra” thing I add to it is my sunglasses.

I call this my “running around loose” kit – because I take it along with me wherever I go and make 5 minute or less drawings with it.  This name also distinguishes it from my studio sketchbook – which is a different breed ….

You can download, for free, my recent “running loose” sketchbook here:

Other sketches – and artist books by me can be seen here

of waiters and sketchy definitions

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, sketchbook, Sue Draws Dogs

In my last post I mentioned that I was looking through my sketchbooks for drawings I’ve done of restaurant waiters and posted one sketch.  Then, inspired by one of the sketches I found in my various books, I drew this finished drawing using ink and watercolor on handmade paper. By ‘finished’ I mean it could be framed and hung as it is.


Tomato Brisk by Clancy – 4 x 5 inches – ink and watercolor on handmade paper

Posting about this got me to thinking about how I define the term “sketching”.  Some people might call the drawing posted above a “sketch” because it is done using a  fairly loose and simple style. But I don’t call it a sketch and here’s some of why…

Sketches are: Drawings made on-site that capture and document observed surroundings.

Sketches are: Drawings that communicate a thought/feeling/story that reflects the reality the sketcher perceives at the moment (however accurate the drawing may/may not be).

Sketches are: Drawings that can serve as a reminder of observations and thoughts. As in the drawing and writing is legible enough that I, or someone else, could recognize and understand what I’ve observed even though the sketch/drawing doesn’t contain as much detail as a more finished artwork may have.

Sketches are: Drawings that are documentations of one’s day (auto biographical data) – a personal  visual diary collecting both words and images reflecting the associative thoughts of the sketcher at that day/time.

Sketches are: Drawings that are studies in preparation for later more finished artwork. Practicing to “get a particular shape right” etc.

Sketches are: Drawings where the sketcher is “working out” thoughts and ideas along a theme or series concept.

Sketches are: Drawings that are done in a bound book (usually) and not intended for framing or display.









off the coffee table

A Creative Life, art techniques, creative thinking, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity

Woke up today thinking about waiters, restaurants and cafe’s. So I’m looking back through my sketchbooks for drawings of waiters…. and thinking about designs for new fine art work. One of the sketchbooks I’m looking through is my “Coffee, Table, Book” – which has also become an ebook – along with some other sketchbooks for sketches like this:


I love having a resource collection of sketchbooks to pull from for new artwork ideas!!

Glad To Be Alive sketchbook by Clancy

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, drawing as thinking, ebook, visual thinking, words and pictures

I’m getting ready for a one-woman fine art exhibit held at Burnt Bridge Cellars and set up by the Caplan Art Designs gallery – and part of getting ready is writing an “exhibit statement”.  I prefer creating pictures to writing non-fiction/prose so I’m making my exhibit statement as visual as possible.  One thing I’ve done is collect some of my sketchbook pages into a free downloadable eBook.  This eBook relates to my exhibit… more about that in future posts.  Here are pages from my “Glad To Be Alive Sketchbook – drinks and music edition 2017″… you can see more information and download it from my artist book webpage here or via this direct link: GladToBeAliveDrinkMusicEd  – Enjoy!


from sketchbooks to dogs

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, ebook, Sue Draws Dogs

As you know from previous blog posts I was intending to publish another ebook of my  recent sketchbook pages oriented around the saying “Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive”.  I was even going to call it my “Glad to be Alive” sketchbook.  It was going to have scenery, people, food/drink, books, games and dogs…  you know, pages like this:


Sue Clancy’s “Glad to Be Alive” sketchbook page; ink and watercolor done on location.

Yeah, well that sketchbook publication ain’t happening.

The short explanation is “technical difficulties”.  The longer explanation is much much longer. So never mind. For now.

I still want to do the book. And I’ll still be posting pages from it here on the blog – and on my sketchbooks webpage  The mountain of technical difficulties will have to be conquered first before ebook publication and that’ll take some time. Because you know, fine art commissions and exhibits and only having 24 hours in a day.

In the mean-time tho there are my dogs! I’ve been half-working in spare moments towards the dream of a printed book – an artist book – of my dog drawings/portraits.  I thought that project was a year or so out. It was a distant dream. Or so I thought.  But it turns out that this dog-art-book project may be more do-able – with fewer technical issues. The creative life’s funny like that. Always throwing curve-balls. So I’m going to concentrate on a dog-book!

I’ll focus it around “pleasant things”, like I would have done the “Glad to be Alive” sketchbook… because dogs are very pleasant – and as characters dogs can be creatively combined with the various things I’ve enjoyed and sketched in my sketchbook.  And dogs certainly make me glad to be alive!

I’d have pages like this:


“Ponder” by Sue Clancy (brush and ink on handmade paper)

So… to publish my dog portraits as a print book?! Dogs in Art!! Animals in art !!!  That’s my genre baby!!!

Now what???!!

Oh yes, to cook supper tonight.



looking during lunch

A Creative Life, art commissions, artist book, ebook, psychogeography, sketchbook, travel art and writing

Doing some sketching on location for 2 different projects; one is a fine art commission project that has water and a sailboat in it (and a dog!). The other is a possible new artist book (maybe ebook?) that I spoke of in this “alive and sketching” post. Anyway… here are today’s sketchbook pages …


“Warehouse 23” sketchbook page by Sue Clancy


“sailboat on water” sketchbook page by Sue Clancy