The Candy Corn Saga

candy cornCandy corn has been on my list of things to draw for quite some time. Every fall I buy a bag, take it home, pour it into a glass bowl, and just…look at it. It’s colorful, repetitive, roundish. It’s oh so cute and ridiculous. I play with it. I hold it. If someone asks, I even share it.

candy corn flower

candy corn weaving

I have no profound things to say about candy corn, no grand meditations or metaphors to overanalyze. I just think it’s visually compelling. And I don’t believe that it’s edible — it smells nice, but you probably won’t find me lurking in the kitchen, munching on the stuff. (It’s a bit too “candle-y” for my tastes). But like beads, gems, snowflakes, and cable knit sweaters, it delights my little eyeballs. And it comes in such mass quantities!

Well, this year, I finally got around to doodling it.candy corn doodles

Or, er…I MEANT to just doodle it.

But, as often happens with art projects, it took on a life of its own. With a few blobs of watercolor here and a couple pen-marks there, a certain trajectory was established. Choices were made, and there was no turning back.

And so I traveled on a journey:img_2068 img_2107 img_2133
img_2141 img_2149 img_2180

And ultimately ended up here:ink and watercolor candy corn illustration by Jacque Oman Clinton
And now I think I’m done with candy corn. For a long, long time.

🙂

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Fall Fashion: Sweater Vests…FOR BIRDS! (An Illustration)

It’s that time of year when the birds start to look a little…chilly.

Poor guys. I see them in the morning, all fluffed up and huddled together on the telephone wires. Their jabbering fills the frosty air while I sit indoors, drinking my coffee, feeling cozy and warm.

If I was a better knitter, I’d knit tiny sweaters for them all.

"Fall Fashion Line: Sweater Vests for Sparrows" illustration of birds on telephone wires wearing sweaters, by Jacque Oman Clinton. So Cute!

“Fall Fashion Line: Sweater Vests for Sparrows”, ink and watercolor, 2016

That’s all I’ve got. Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend, my chickadees.

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Life at Life’s Pace

I seem to have entered a new and illuminating phase of young adulthood in which I’m constantly learning all sorts of obvious and handy lessons about “time”.

Particularly, I’ve had to learn and relearn with embarrassing regularity that things take as long as they take. I often forget that. No matter what “superfoods” I eat, no matter how much preparing and planning I do, no matter HOW much I wrack my brain trying to find a way — it’s simply unrealistic to think that I’ll ever figure out how to do all the things. (Especially since my list of  “things I want to do” seems to grow exponentially – See graph below:)

Things I Want to Do

I get cocky and try to make time operate against its nature, hoping that if I construct my lifestyle in a particular way, I’ll be so efficient and perfect that I’ll be able to bang things out and keep up with my runaway thoughts. There won’t be a list of “things I’m going to do next” because — BAM!– I’ll already be ON it. Things that take a long time WONT because I’ll be…simply amazing.

HAH. Yeah, right.

Of course, chasing that dumb fantasy makes me exhausted, bummed, extremely self-critical and — ironically — UNINTERESTED in doing ANYTHING. It quite effectively removes the joy from everything.

So forget it, I’ve got a new plan. I’ll try to find the pace that life — with all its inconsistencies and surprises and human foibles — deems appropriate. I’ll regard all-or-nothing thoughts like “I’m going to do ALL of ___(insert major project, enlightenment, or life achievement)___ on ____(insert day)___ !” as red flags marking the road to unhappiness/burnout. When I see them, I’ll choose a more mindful path —a path that honors the virtue of “keeping on keeping on”, not at rat-race speed, but at a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other tempo that allows life (and time) to operate how they will. And I’ll remember that always…ALWAYS!!!…I need to be patient.

This is fresh on my mind because this week, I finally started painting the walls of my new art studio. Earlier this month, my husband tore up the carpet and put some lovely laminate boards on the floor. Slowly, I’m getting closer to having my new work space up and running. But alas, despite my magical thinking, I didn’t paint my entire studio in one day. Instead, I painted some yesterday. And I painted some today. And I’ll probably paint some tomorrow. And that’s how it’s going to go.

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installing laminate flooring

painting the walls

painting the walls

And truthfully? I’m happy with that pace, because it left time and energy for lots of other good things. Things like playing with my niece, laughing with my family, baking apple cake, planning upcoming collaborative projects with people, reading good books, and watching the sky turn to Fall. And drawing candy corns, pretzels, and other happy things (of course).

ink and watercolor illustration of candy corn by Jacque Oman Clinton

watercolor and ink Candy Corn – in progress

Oktoberfest themed illustration by Jacque Oman Clinton

Oktoberfest snacks, anyone?

Bavarian Apple Torte - 'tis the season!

Bavarian Apple Torte – ’tis the season!

So it’s all good. And it’s all in good time.

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

I have one last sliver of summer to share before we move on to FALL!:

One night in August, my dad sent me this photo so he could brag about the delicious, summer-y dinner he and my mom made…

one night in August, my dad sent me this photo to brag about the delicious dinner he and my mom made.

How tragic that I was not there to partake in the feast. So naturally, to console my lobster-lovin’ self, I did the next best thing…Lobster & Corn

…and drew it.

The end.

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To be an unassuming chronicler of life

Artists — be they writers, photographers, painters, musicians, or other – have different goals and reasons for why they create. Some claim their craft is a way of bringing fantasy to life, or of probing the subconscious.  Others say they make art to express specific ideas, to explore certain topics, or to give a voice to the voiceless. Some want to make the world a more beautiful place. And many don’t know why they create, they just know that “they must”.

I’ve slowly been making my way through the book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In it, I came across some words about the poet Mark Strand that really hit home for me.

“Patiently watching and listening to events unfolding around him, alternating between passionate involvement and sardonic detachment, [Strand] has found the pattern that best fits the predilections of his consciousness: to be an unassuming yet precise chronicler of life.”

“His craft” Mikkahily says “is to express in arresting and accurate language what he has learned from witnessing life”.

“Some artists get so involved in their creations that they lose their appetite for raw experience, but Strand welcomes ordinary life—puttering in the yard, having meals with the family, going on hikes, lecturing, even shopping.”

After all, “…the enterprise of writing makes sense only within the context of a broader, more mundane reality.”

Ah, to be a chronicler of life. Yes. That’s what it is.

Mundane, patterned, repetitive, unpredictable, beautiful, heartbreaking, changing, simple, complex, amazing life. I want to draw it all. Every day, forever.

Fall Walking - Crunching on Leaves

An old fall-y watercolor and ink illustration from my Illustration Friday days. It reminds me of back-to-school. Fall — such a poignant season of life!

In a field

I am the absence

of field.

This is

always the case.

Wherever I am

I am what is missing.

 

When I walk

I part the air

and always

the air moves in

to fill the spaces

where my body’s been.

 

We all have reasons

for moving.

I move

to keep things whole.

– Mark Strand (Keeping Things Whole)

 

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Happy Thanksgiving! (and an illustration of FOOD)

This week’s post comes to you early because on Friday, I’ll be kicking back in the glorious company of my FAMILY, and because today is practically Friday, anyway.
Thanksgiving Illustration

Here’s a photo of the actual page from my sketchbook, in case you are interested. For the final image above, I got rid of the little black olives that were hanging out with the pickles in the bottom right corner.Thanksgiving Sketchbook

Does anyone else’s family have an obligatory PICKLE PLATTER at Thanksgiving? I highly recommend it, if you don’t.

Happy Thanksgiving! There is, indeed, much to be thankful for!

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The Last of the Wildflowers: Crown Vetch

This is crown vetch, wild flower extraordinaire:Crown Vetch Sketch

I was delighted when I first saw it begin to bloom early this summer. Yay flowers! Yay earth! Colors! Woot!

And when I saw that it was still blooming last week – in NOVEMBER – I was thoroughly impressed. Despite the fact that the tree’s leaves are nearly gone, the vetch was still standing all a’straggly by the side of the road. Way to go, Vetch! You outlasted them all (except for the dandelions that I’m STILL seeing around. Good job to you guys, too).

Yes. I talk to flowers. They spark my curiosity and excitement. I like learning about them and watching them, keeping track as they come and go. When you spend that much time interacting with something, you start to regard it as a sentient being. Who knows? Maybe the vetch is talking to me, too.

Now it seems the vetch has finally gone to sleep for the winter. Goodnight, my legume friends. And so ends another season.

That’s all for now. Until next week, I bid ye well. And leave you with the loving reminder to stay curious, stay open, and stay away from windowless buildings. Don’t let SAD get you down!

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The Halloween Post

For the last few weeks, I’ve been busy working on several new commissions (Christmas is coming before you know it – this time of year starts to get BUSY!) but I’ve still got a few Halloween-y doodles to share with you. Scribbling out pictures like these helps me stay balanced and awake while I’m working on projects for other people. The change of pace keeps me from turning into a robot and keeps my mind flexible. And it gives me a few minutes to take a break from the “serious” stuff to play! (Don’t get me wrong – I’m having a blast working on the commissioned projects! But it’s still nice to take a few minutes, each day, and make something spontaneous).

You may have seen these earlier this week on Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram.
Cat, Quilt, Spider

Sketchbook Therapy: Fall DoodleFall Tree DoodleFall Town DoodleFall Playing Cards

In addition, I feel the need to re-post these 3 gems from previous Halloweens. I mean, watching kids having fun is really what makes Halloween special, right? Who doesn’t love a good dose of nostalgia? Thank goodness we still live in a world where, once a year, it’s perfectly acceptable to fill an entire pillowcase with candy from strangers 🙂

James the DragonCreatureNaomi Butterfly

 

Hope you have a Happy Halloween!

 

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Pumpkin Patch Illustration

I haven’t had a chance to go pumpkin picking this year. But that’s okay, because I have this, which I made a while back…Pumpkin Patch Illustration

Looking at it makes me FEEL like I’m at the pumpkin patch. Until I get out there to do it for real, escaping into this picture does the trick.

After all, one of the reasons I got into illustrating in the first place was for the fantasy fulfillment it provides. Illustrating is a way of making life the way I want it to be and to explore the things I’m curious about. I can draw the world however I want it! Go wherever I please! Try whatever activities I might not actually be able to do in real life (like ride a gondola in the Alps with a hedgehog wearing a sweater)! I may not have the time to sew an entire quilt, or buy a chameleon and carry him around on my shoulder, or make enough pickles to fill an entire root cellar (shall I continue?) — but I can draw these things, and that makes life feel unlimited, in a way. Illustration gives me the power to create whatever dream world I want to visit and to have the adventures I can’t have in real life. Oculus rift? Ha! I already have access to virtual reality: I can draw! (*not bashing the Rift or anything…it’ll probably be amazing, as long as it doesn’t give me motion sickness…)

This pumpkin patch, with the crows and the kid in the blue sweater, is one of my favorite illustrations that I’ve made. It just…makes me feel good. Sometimes, that’s what art should be for.

(Prints are available at both Etsy and Society 6).

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Black Cat Halloween Illustration

Cat on a Pumpkin Stack

I know I say it all the time: Being human is so strange. I put hours and hours into intricate paintings, but repeatedly find that at the end of the day, what I’m most proud of are the simple illustrations I did during my breaks.

Hard work is so satisfying.

And yet, simplicity is so refreshing.

I guess the two balance each other out. The relationship between complex and simple creates a marvelous mechanism that keeps life from getting dull. I’m so happy I live in a world where I can dabble in both!  And I love seeing the things that other people produce from both these states of mind.

Some examples:

Steve Light‘s complex illustrations in Have You Seen My Dragon?  (I am obsessed with this book!) are the best. I love them as much as I love Jon Klassen‘s simple ones in “I Want My Hat Back” (also obsessed).

And in what other world can you appreciate both Cersei Lannister’s hair and Larry David’s bald head in equal measure? (Larry David makes fun of himself, so I think I’m allowed to, too).

Yeah, it’s all just. so. great!

Happy Friday, y’all. Go out and live your gloriously complex and simple lives. And don’t forget to share your experiences, big and small, with the rest of us along the way.

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