I have always enjoyed the kinship between visual art and the written word. Both disciplines similarly use plot, character and a story! As a way to develop my fine art designs i have actively read and studied creative writing (in addition to art, art techniques etc.) since college. So imagine my delight to find that I’m not the only one who thinks this way! Check out this awesome article titled “The Writing of Art” by Ben Shattuck http://www.themorningnews.org/article/the-writing-of-art
Additional commentary here: http://therumpus.net/2015/10/on-art-and-writing/
Some time ago I observed that when people visit art galleries or art museums they often have one hand on their smart phone or tablet. While at a gallery or museum people collect brochures, booklets, books and “artist monographs”. They sit and read the booklets and look things up on their phones. They lean in and look at any text near the artwork. If there are scan-tags or headphones or videos or website references – those get used. It’s called an “interactive exhibit”.
And yes, people do still look at the art without any ‘media aids’. Here’s a picture the gallery owner at Caplan Art Designs snapped and shared with me of a kid who spent a lot of time just looking at one of my artworks in the gallery.
Yet the media aids seem useful. So about a year ago I thought “I want to create an ‘interactive exhibit’!” and set about doing it. The first step was to propose such a thing. My agent at Caplan Art Designs was enthusiastic about my idea and arranged for my exhibit to be located at The Daily Cafe in The Pearl where people could ‘enjoy good food’ while looking at my artwork about enjoying things!
As I worked to create a new body of artwork for this exhibit, titled “Paws to Enjoy”, I kept a sketchbook and a journal writing each thought, no matter how silly, as it related to my theme: pausing to enjoy things.
As readers of this blog you know I’ve been posting these sketchbook pages over the course of the year. Some of the pages looked like this:
Some looked like this:
You can find more of such past posts of my sketchbook pages by scrolling down a page and clicking on the + sign which will reveal an archive list.
My point being that halfway through my year of creating new artworks towards a body of work that could be in this current exhibit I had a LOT of sketchbook pages. So I selected a grouping of my sketchbook pages and some images of my finished fine art and created an eBook using Book Baby http://www.bookbaby.com/ My criteria for what went into the eBook was that it had to be fun, useful to the reader and would somehow show, by association, how my creative thought pattern works. The book would be relevant to the current art exhibit but also reflect “how I think” in a more general sense.
I titled my eBook “Coffee, Table, Book” because (spoiler alert) I enjoy coffee, food on tables and books and those are often my artistic inspirations. This fit with my current art exhibit theme nicely – and covers my general artistic thinking (and contains some recipes!).
For my book cover I created a scribbly sketchbook style cover because I wanted to emphasize that this eBook contains my sketchbook pages, the collected thoughts behind my fine artwork. Here’s the cover art:
Because I hoped that people would use their smartphones while looking at my physical artwork my eBook file is in several downloadable formats. The book is obtainable via my website or via Amazon and many other places that sell eBooks. If the reader sets the Portrait Orientation Lock feature “on” in their smart phone or tablet it’ll be fun viewing as “artistically intended”. Here is a direct link for the book: http://my.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book
A side benefit of doing this eBook has been that the gallery has been able to share it with their clients. Once I realized that the gallery was using the book to help explain my complicated artwork I posted on my website www.sueclancy.com a downloadable pdf file that would help explain my art technique using pictures. For simplicity’s sake that pdf file is here: AboutPreyingForPeas
The gallery shared that file with clients and other things that I posted on Facebook and Twitter (see my Home page for links). So that became another aspect of “interactivity” – as I posted (and still do) on my Facebook page, photos like this of me working:
All of these elements have been useful as communication aids for the gallery, as upcoming exhibit “teasers”, and as an interactive part of my current exhibit.
The exhibit “Paws to enjoy” actually went up on the walls October 1 2015. I’d been working towards it since before July in 2014. The exhibit looks like this (it’ll be up until Nov 2nd 2015):
There are a few other walls with more of my artwork on them too!
Anyway, as I’d alluded to earlier the gallery promoted the exhibit before it opened. I did too. Someone who saw an image of one of my new artworks online contacted the gallery and bought it before the exhibit opened. As the exhibit progressed people contacted the gallery, contacted me, talked with the cafe owners – basically there’s been lots of “interactivity” both before and during the exhibit! And as I’d hoped, people have used their smart phones to interact with my artwork! Here are just two of the comments:
“Hi Sue! We LOVED your exhibit! The artwork looks wonderful on your website, but seeing them in person was a very different experience. They’re so vibrant, and you can get more of a feel of the depth and layers of materials. WOW! Thanks so much for letting us know about the exhibit. P.S. The food was good too.”
“We took our 2 grandchildren to lunch at the cafe and the youngest one (age 3) kept looking at your artwork, pointing and saying “doggy”, “rabbit” or “kitty”. I don’t think he’d ever noticed art on the walls before. The older one enjoyed your art too. Thank you.”
I heard from a lot of local (Pacific Northwest) people and from people all around the world – thanks to Facebook, Twitter and this blog. Many people said that they’ve enjoyed getting to “see more” or “follow” my exhibit online and via my eBook. My agent at Caplan Art Designs even extended the time my exhibit was displayed at The Daily Cafe due to the exhibit popularity!
All in all my exhibit “interactivity” experiment has been a success! Now i want to do an even better job of creating interactive exhibits in the future…
As promised in my previous blog (http://sueclancy.com/2015/10/13/with-dog-as-my-co-pilot/) here is the not-too-long awaited interview with Lorna Lee!
I met Lorna as part of a fundraiser for the Ridgefield Community Library. Lorna taught a 5 week writing class for the library and since I’m a big fan of libraries and always on the prowl for stories to illustrate I took the class. Yes, I have high hopes of having stories of my own to illustrate someday. Plus it raised money for a library! Viva Libraries! Yippee authors, artists and fun times with words and pictures! Hip, hip, hooray! But enough of context – let’s get to the interview.
Sue Clancy (artist): What book would you like to shamelessly promote here – along with a flattering sketch of you that I’d draw and post along with this question? (Any photos I could use as a reference for my sketches?)
Lorna Lee (author): You’d think I would be well beyond shame, having written a memoir that reveals just about every secret I ever had, but I’m not. So I’m here to sheepishly (but earnestly) promote said memoir and first book I ever wrote: How Was I Supposed to Know? The Adventures of a Girl Whose Name Means Lost. And, yes, “Lorna” really does mean “lost.”
Sue: How did you come to write the book? Did you just wake up one morning and think “Hey, I’ll torture myself with words and punctuation for a few years?”
Lorna: Ah, if only it had been that easy…This memoir took me a lifetime to write, but that makes sense, doesn’t it? Here’s what I mean. As I little kid, I knew I wanted to write a book; but what kind of book would I write? I had no clue. As I grew up and had some rather unpleasant experiences, mostly with male bosses, I decided my book would be titled, “Little Men, Big Problems.” I haven’t written that one…yet. The story of how I came to write the memoir is really in the memoir, so I don’t want to spoil the book for all of you who will surely want to read it. Let’s say I looked at my life after having been through some very rough times and realized that maybe showing how I use humor and a positive perspective to navigate this often challenging journey we’re all on might help people who are struggling. So I decided to tell my truth with humor and compassion. That took a few years. I could write a book about that!
Sue: What is your favorite part of that book? Why is that your favorite?
Lorna: Oh, that’s hard. That’s like asking, “What’s the favorite part of your life?” I love the beginning for two reasons. I struggled with how to start my memoir. You’d think this would be easy, right? It’s about me, so start at the beginning. Nah. Too obvious. When I decided to start with my first, then second, close-encounter-of-the-personally-electrifying-kind with lightning, I knew I struck (pardon the pun) gold. Opening with a story of being hit (or almost hit) by lightning twice is a great hook and it sure explains a lot about all that comes after.
Sue: How about a quote from your book to post after this question mark? (Or if not a quote from your book will you say something silly or clever here about yourself, your book, the writing/creative process?)
Lorna: There are so many clever and poignant moments in the book. How can I pick just one? I’ll let you ponder something I continue to discover, meaning I need to relearn constantly: no matter how bad (or good) things are at this very moment, you can count on the fact that things are going to change. Accept this, and you don’t have to go seeking out peace; peace will find you. Someone please remind me of this next time I’m frustrated!
Sue: Do you have any visual descriptions of people, pets or places within your book? Were the visual elements easy or hard to write?
Lorna: I describe the “Broken House” in more detail than any other place and I describe me more than any other person. Because I include photographs at the beginning of each chapter, I give readers visual cues. I wanted the other people in my memoir to remain as anonymous as possible. Also, I find that readers enjoy conjuring up their own notions of places and people, so giving them a few details is enough—they color within the lines the way they wish.
Sue: What did you do to keep your creative juices flowing as you worked on your book?
Lorna: I never forced myself to write like some writers do. When the words wanted to come, I let them flow—golly, I couldn’t stop them! But when they were hiding, there was nothing to do but wait.
Sue: Are there any illustrations in your book? If so, who did your illustrations? Got a photo of the page with your favorite illustration?
Lorna: No illustrations, just photographs. Gee, if I had known you then…
Sue: Good thing we fixed that huh? But, since you didn’t know me then, who did your books cover design? Got a photo of your book?
Lorna: My “husband” (we’re not technically married because my divorce agreement bars me from marrying anyone until I turn 67—long story) learned PhotoShop so he could create the cover based on a photograph of me when I was four years old.
Sue: Good job “husband”! Where/how can people get a copy of your book?
Lorna: Both paperback and electronic versions of the book are available at Amazon. To learn more about the book and for links to Amazon, visit the page on my website devoted to the book: Lorna’s Voice, How Was I Supposed To Know? A Memoir (http://lornasvoice.com/how-was-i-supposed-to-know-a-memoir)
Sue: Besides yourself do you have any favorite authors?
Lorna: Oh yes! Haven Kimmel wrote a very funny memoir inspiring me to finally write mine (A Girl Named Zippy). Laura Hillenbrand writes historical nonfiction as if she were writing action-packed fiction. She, too, has chronic fatigue and both of the books have been made into movies (Sea Biscuit and Unbreakable). I imagined that I, too, would be a chronically fatigued famous author. I’m still imagining. Ann Patchett writes fiction and is a wordsmith extraordinaire. I marvel at her command of words and phrases to paint a mood or movement. Her most famous work is Bel Conte. Finally, I love, love, love Stephen King’s mastery at telling a compelling, complex tale. I prefer his more down-to-this-earth work (Misery, The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers).
Sue: Do you have any favorite animals or colors? Are they in your book?
Lorna: All of my adoptees, which is to say every animal companion I’ve ever had the privilege to share my life with, are my favorites. Not all of them made it into the memoir: the bevy of stray cats and a few dogs who were more family dogs than “Lorna soul mates.” I love horses and donkeys but never had the honor of being a mom to one. Colors? I love all colors—can’t pick just one or even a few.
Sue: What is your idea of a good meal after you’ve been working hard all day writing? Is there any food described in your book?
Lorna: I’m vegan, so it’s going to be veggies, grains, beans and fruits. My favs? Again, too many to list—I don’t like to be limited! They vary by season and mood. And, yes, there is a food mentioned in the book. Meatloaf. Odd, right? Well, I wasn’t always vegan and this was one amazing and memorable meatloaf!
Sue: Any past or current pets you’d like to share with me and your other adoring fans? If you share a photo can I draw a sketch of the pet and post it with this question?
Lorna: The pets that have a special place in my heart are (in order of appearance in my life): Humphrey, Wolfer, Jazzy, Reggie, and Scrappy.
Sue: Any other website, CB radio handle or Smoke Signal Stream you’d like to share?
Lorna: My personal (and zany) website is Lorna’s Voice, (www.lornasvoice.com ) so named because for most of my life I did not dare speak my mind for fear of making waves that might drown me. Now I know I’m quite buoyant! I’m also integrally involved in the Ridgefield Community Library and the Friends group. I built their website (www.folridgefieldwa.com) as part of their efforts to raise awareness and support for their new library building project.
Sue: Thank you for this interview and for all you are doing for the local library! All the best of luck to you personally and, of course, to the Ridgefield library!
Lorna: And thank you, Sue! This has been a delightful interview. I’m looking forward to having you over to my place soon to talk about your talent and projects!
Sue: Wahoo! See you later then!
To Market! To Market! To write a …
I went to Powell’s bookstore to see Margaret Atwood speak about her new book “The Heart Goes Last”. Here is the sketchbook page I did during the event. The quotes are my perception of what she said – some adult supervision of my accuracy in the quotes may be required.
Here is a juicy link to Margaret Atwood’s website http://margaretatwood.ca/
Her Twitter feed is fun too https://twitter.com/MargaretAtwood
And people with better hearing than I’ve got may enjoy this link: https://soundcloud.com/beaks-and-geeks/margaret-atwood
If you haven’t been able to tell from the above – yes, I had a great time at Margaret Atwood’s event at Powell’s! http://www.powells.com/
Books as art. Art as books. Fine art as illustration. Illustration as fine art. Writing as art…. And along such blurred lines here is a wonderful post
Here’s a photo of one of my own efforts along similarly blurred lines:
Some of my artwork illustrates a blog post by Kathy Temean about poetry! https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/life-poetically-speaking/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WritingAndIllustrating+%28Writing+and+Illustrating%29 – and there’s some nice juicy links in that blog about writing, illustrating and (ahem) poetry! Have fun!