cozy mystery story stuff

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, Cats in art, Dogs in Art, fine art, music in art, small things, still life, story, visual story

In September at Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com I’m doing a one-person fine art exhibit titled “Story Stuff”. And you can thank the literary genre of the “cozy mystery” for it.

You see I enjoy detective novels and movies. I particularly enjoy cozy mystery novels because I like the inherent premise in them that a regular person living an ordinary mundane sort of life can use reason and logic to resolve problems.

After reading and watching a gazillion mystery stories – I realized how often some small object; a receipt, a coffee bag, or a whiskey tumbler is the clue that solves the mystery. That thought inspired me to try telling visual stories with “just stuff”. So for this exhibit I’ve selected things from my daily life and arranged them in my imagination, along with color, light and texture, in such a way that the viewer can deduce a story; they can “read” my visual description of how things are and which things matter. The viewer becomes the story detective/character-actor.

In some of my works I’ve also invented a character-actor – a cat or a dog – who plays a more obvious part in the story. Anthropomorphic animals are a way to make it plain that the artwork is a visual story. These particular animal characters are created and chosen because their breed characteristics add elements to the tale. The viewer is still the detective – there’s just more actors on stage.

I’m merging fine art techniques, and fine art genres of “Still Life” and “Animals in Art”, with literary and mystery genre concepts. I also love food, drinks and books – they are the elements of everyday Pacific Northwest life which for me is the stuff of stories.

Here’s (ahem) a short story collection from my upcoming exhibit:

more cats book progress

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, cat portrait, Cats in art, fine art, published art

I’d written recently here about my progress towards making a 22 page full color book of my cat themed artwork. Well, I’ve gotten my “proof copy” in the snail-mail, showed it to Hawkeye my studio supervisor cat – and my wife, a cat-lover – and all of us approved of the print quality! Even Rusty, my studio supervisor dachshund, admitted that the cat art looked good.

I’ve photo’d a few pages so you can see for yourself:

What do you think?

Right now you can get a copy – either softcover (like in the picture) or hardcover – here: http://www.blurb.com/b/8837851-cats or via Amazon.   Later this year I’m to do a library event and I may have a few copies at that time to sell directly.  We’ll see…

But no matter how this particular cheese gets sliced I heartily thank you for your support of my projects.

cats book progress

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, Cats in art, Dogs in Art, Narrative Art, published art, travel art and writing, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures, writing

I do better now, writing words-in-a-row, than I did once upon a time. Reading text has never been a problem for me – but speaking, and writing. Whew! Lets just say good speech therapists, theatre-acting coaches and writing class instructors are worth their weights in all the precious things in the world combined. As a kid practicing speaking by reading aloud from a comic book or a picture book felt less intimidating than reading aloud from a text-only book.

Even today I enjoy visiting art museums and galleries and looking at the artwork first, reading the labels last. I enjoy looking at coffee-table books with big glorious pictures – forming my own thoughts first – reading the words later.

Nowadays I read plenty of books cover to cover that have text only, no pictures at all. I even give demo’s and talk in front of 200 or more people without as much as a blink. (Wish my 10 year old self, who threw up at the thought of giving an oral book report, could see me now!)

So it has become a philosophical point to ponder with me – when is text important? When is an image important? When to have the words? When to have the pictures? How much of either?

For example I love it that signs for the restrooms are often pictograms. You can “read” them no matter what your language – or your linguistic skill level. Much of our international travel culture utilizes visual maps and non-verbal way-finding signs for things like hospitals, airports and government buildings – using pictograms rather than single language dependent text.

As I’ve worked on a new artist book containing my cat themed fine art I’ve thought a lot about whether or not to have text along with the images. If text – how much? Text located where in the book?

When I did my book “Dogs” I had the text at the end – and didn’t include much of it there either. The majority of the book is images.

On the one hand I spend quite a lot of time coming up with the titles for each of my artworks and it seems almost a shame to not list the titles. But I’ve often noticed – at museums and galleries – that people read the label-wall-text and sometimes forget to look at the pictures.

So sometimes I deliberately create text for use in my fine art gallery exhibits… just to be contrary. I’ve even created whole artist books with text and sketches to accompany my fine art exhibits. But sometimes I omit text completely and rely on my art images alone, the curious can ask the person running the gallery for more info. In this way I purposefully encourage people to verbally-talk with each other. Which way I go – words and/or pictures – often depends on the exhibit.

Like I say for me the words and pictures question is an ongoing, almost daily, one.

People seem to enjoy my Dogs book as it is – largely without text. And I’ve noticed that I’ve sold that book fairly well in non-English speaking countries. People of all ages seem to like it. So….

“Cats by Sue Clancy” will be largely wordless too.  Here’s what the cover will look like:

cover_2

The front cover of the artist book “Cats by Sue Clancy” – http://www.blurb.com/b/8837851-cats

The book is square, 7×7 in, 18×18 cm and 22 pages – full color.  Here’s an early-reader link to the book http://www.blurb.com/b/8837851-cats  In fact “Cats” has even fewer words than “Dogs” does – but more pictures in full color.

I’m sure I’ll continue to have this words and pictures discussion with myself in every book and every art exhibit I create.  But I’m curious about your thoughts: do you look at words first? Or pictures first? What are your thoughts about wordless books?

the stories behind the cats

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, fine art, visual thinking, words and pictures

This coming Friday, June 1st at Burnt Bridge Cellars my cat portrait exhibit “Purrsuits of Pleasure” opens. Because I don’t think artistic inspiration needs to be mysterious I include the story behind each art piece. The text illustrates, so to speak, my visual images.

Here are some of the artworks in the exhibit:

And here are some of the stories that illustrate them as they’ll be posted on the walls in the exhibit (of course readers of my blog have seen more details than what’s included below… but then you’re special):

Purrfecting Happy Hour by Clancy

I’m part of a feral happy-hour group; between 7 and 14 of us get together once a month somewhere local for happy hour. Often the trays of drinks that arrive at our table look like a collection of fine jewels.

Purrameters of Pie by Clancy

In several local cafés, bistros and pizzerias I’ve discovered that I can get either a savory or sweet pie of almost any size: small hand-pies, “personal” pies, pie slices, medium and large pies and “family size” pies. The trouble is deciding which size to get.

Strad O’Various by Clancy

Going to music events during the winter is a delightful way to combat any “rainy-day blues”. This last winter I particularly enjoyed seeing the crowd, and some musicians, bustling in for a concert in their colorful coats and scarves.

Cat A List by Clancy

Wine tastings – and being friends with Mark at Burnt Bridge Cellars – have opened my eyes to the subtle differences between wines from one year to the next, how type of grape, the weather, water and soil affect the flavors. Small things can be a catalyst.

Alpha Betty by Clancy

The local libraries and bookstores are, for me, a large treasure-toy box. Which got me thinking of how we select books according to our interests. The libraries and bookstores also have books available in a wide variety of languages – and its fun to see them too. This got me to thinking about the alphabet. Each language has its own – and when we say “the alphabet” we immediately think of our native tongue whatever it is. Likewise, when we think of “good books” we think in terms of our own interests and preferences. But when we’re aware of bi-lingual people and the multiplicity of this world – perhaps we are better able to remember that our languages and personal preferences are just frames of reference. And that frames are adjustable.   So what frame of reference would a cat have? A mouse obsessed one of course!

Purrfect Entertainment by Clancy

My friend Kevin and I were talking about local music, feral cats and handmade musical instruments. Specifically, we talked about the “found object” instruments we were both aware of in the Southeastern parts of the U.S. – guitars made out of cigar boxes or banjos from cookie tins. Our conversation drove me to the library to research “handmade music instruments in the Pacific Northwest”.  I discovered a long tradition of using local wood scraps to hand-craft musical instruments. The native woodgrain was often a prominent decoration. These instruments were works of art not at all like the “found object” instruments of the SE.  I also discovered that here in the PNW playing music in public, on porches, patios, anywhere outdoors was, and still is, the norm during “nice” weather. There has also been a strong connection between music, food and community no matter what the weather. But I could only get so much into one painting.

Purrsuits of Pleasure

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

Friday June 1st at Burnt Bridge Cellars my fine art exhibit “Purrsuits of Pleasure” opens! I’ve done 17 pieces with cat characters in them. All cats! Nothing but cats! Last year I did all dog characters and the cat people said “Are you going to do an exhibit of cats?”.  Yes! My cat exhibit will be up for the months of June and July!

Here’s the exhibit statement:

As a human currently owned by a cat I’ve noticed that cats seek pleasures unashamedly, without the cost-benefit analysis that humans often do. It reminds me that it’s good to do something out of plain old delight without toting up the value of our actions or performing a posture. So, for this last year I’ve allowed myself to enjoy things around town like a cat would – but also making notes on the pleasure in my sketchbook*. I also read books and researched the many pleasurable topics I’d discovered. Back at my studio I created a series of cat characters, pattern designs and other elements in order to tell metaphorical stories about my delight in local pleasures.

*An eBook version of this sketchbook is available for download on this page here https://sueclancy.com/shop/ – and my cat practice sketchbook is available too.

Here’s a sample collection of my work in the show:

 

Purrfect Entertainment

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, music in art, visual story

My friend Kevin and I were talking about local Pacific Northwest music, feral cats and handmade musical instruments. We also talked about the “found object” instruments we were both aware of in the Southeastern parts of the U.S. – guitars made out of cigar boxes or banjos from cookie tins. Our conversation drove me to the library to research “handmade music instruments in the Pacific Northwest”. (I’ll post a picture of some of my book research on Instagram)  I discovered a long tradition of using local wood scraps to hand-craft musical instruments. The native woodgrain was often a prominent decoration. These instruments were works of art not at all like the “found object” instruments of the SE.  I also discovered that here in the PNW playing music in public, on porches, patios, anywhere outdoors was, and still is, the norm during “nice” weather. There has also been a strong connection between music, food and community no matter what the weather. But I could only get so much into one painting.

DSC_0009 (1)

Below is the finished painting I titled “Purrfect Entertainment”. I’m hoping you can see the woodgrain – both in the background and on the guitar.  It was a challenge to do the woodgrain pattern. And to get a “screen door” appearance too.

For my cat character I was inspired by a photo I happened across in an article about a feral cat rescue – the cat was white with grey-brown-ish markings, huge pink ears and dark blue eyes. The long-skinniness of the cat in the photo reminded me of some of the traveling musicians I’ve had the pleasure of hearing.

PurrfectEntertainment72

Purrfect Entertainment By Clancy 24 x 24 x 2 inches Hand dyed, hand stenciled paper and acrylic on cradled board

the catalyst for Cat A List

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, fine art, visual thinking

I live in wine country and wine tastings are part of the culture. It’s common to hear comments like “2013 was a very good year for Pinot Noir!” Which means I’ve had my eyes opened to the fact that the same grape variety can taste differently from year to year.

This has prompted me to read books about Pacific NW wine and wine making in general.  It’s amazing how many tiny little things can affect a wine’s flavor; the soil, the slope of the land, whether it’s near water, how warm/cool the temperature average is, the amount of rainfall and of course bugs and animals. Too much wind, or smoke from wildfires can also affect the grape and the taste of the wine.

And there’s the effect of the winemaker, the maker’s many small choices add up: the harvest date chosen, the fermentation temperature, the choice of what kind of barrel or tank to ferment in, the type of cork and bottle to use – and many thousands of other minute mundane decisions.

It seems to be a combination of both art and science.  Which makes me even more curious about wine and more appreciative of the wines I drink.

So rather than writing an essay about what I’ve learned and my thoughts and feelings about it – I’m creating a visual story of a curious cat character – who is investigating a wine list. I did a “vine” background pattern because, you know, grape vines… and I chose a brindle cat breed because wine making is subtle blending of many different elements.

SueWithCatAList72

And here is the finished piece:

CatAList72

“Cat A List” by Clancy 30 x 24 x 2 inches Hand dyed, hand stenciled paper and acrylic on cradled board

I’ve titled it “Cat A List” for reasons alluded to above, plus the definition of the word ‘catalyst’ and because I’ve learned that, just like professional fine artist’s, wine makers typically only offer their “A List”, the selection of what they think is their best work, to the public.  And this best-of list can vary from year to year.

Which makes this region the perfect place for this wine-curious cat (aka me) to live!

 

community creatures curated

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, fine art, mental health, Narrative Art, public art, sketchbook

Here are some pictures from the Anstine Gallery exhibit of my artwork titled “Community Creatures”.  I’ve noticed that adults sometimes become problem oriented, especially in certain professions. So I delight in, via the Anstine Gallery, bringing humorous art to a government building in Vancouver. Doing my small part to bring a smile to your day. All of my artwork in this exhibit is about what I enjoy in town. I’ve also included my sketchbook pages for your additional amusement.

My last post about this exhibit is here: https://sueclancy.com/community-creatures-running-loose-at-the-anstine-gallery/  – and it shows direct links between sketchbook pages and the fine art pieces.

My sketchbook “Running Around Loose in Vancouver WA” is available as an ebook here: https://sueclancy.com/product/running-around-loose-vancouver-wa-edition-1-by-sue-clancy/  I like to think that my sketchbook will be amusing even for people who can’t come to see the original fine artwork.

purrameters of pie

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, Narrative Art

Finished the artwork and titled it: “Purrameters of Pie”.  I decided on that title because (as my last blog post said here) I was thinking of all the various sizes of sweet or savory pies available here in the Pacific Northwest. And the tabby cat’s towel protected paws encircle the just-out-of-the-oven pie…

PurrametersOfPie72

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.