Remember the top secret commission for the Caplan Art Designs Gallery that I worked on from December 2022 to Feb 2023 and successfully kept mum about? I can reveal it now because the Gallery said the client has now gotten it as a February birthday gift!!! Wahoo!!! And happy birthday!!!
Here’s a video look at it… I titled it “The Boxer Box”. It is a 3d sculpture, an 8 inch wooden cube, that I painted with acrylic.
And here are some still photos of the box.
And here’s a look at each box face!
Here is one of the photos of Ari, the Boxer himself, that I worked from. What a delightfully handsome gentleman Ari is!!
Gosh this project was so much fun!!! Can I admit now that the hardest part of the whole thing was keeping the secret??!!
I’ve been thinking lately of how important the ability to imagine is. What if “let’s pretend…” is one of the most useful skills to cultivate all of one’s life? Besides being lots of fun to do using your imagination is an essential mental health skill. I quote from this article “So when you choose to develop your imagination and your ability to focus and direct your imagination, you gain the ability to guide and shift and direct your emotions as well. And when you have the ability to direct your imagination and modulate your emotions, then you also have the ability to influence the neurochemicals in your brain and in your body, too. Like all things mental, this ability is learned, and, like all things learned, this ability is made proficient through repetition. You do not learn to read overnight. You learn to read through repetition. Repetition makes proficiency.”
A new painting in my Odditerrarium series portraits (see last post) is titled “Pretending”. It’s 10 x 8 inches and made with gouache and ink on board. It is for an exhibit via Caplan Art Designs later this year.
A close up view…
I’ve also made progress on a new book for Storyberries that I had begun in my last post – the cat reaching thought I was telling you about got some color.
In thinking of how important imagination is I’ve also been thinking of the scope of it: imagination is first a personal skill, then it becomes something shared with friends, then it is something shared with the wider public – even intergenerationally – and that cycles back to us personally. And it does this cycle as long as we’re alive. Art and imagination are an ongoing conversation we have over time with ourselves, our friends and our community… and most importantly with life itself.
So I’m proud to see in this article that one of my art projects, the paintings in the photo behind Amy Russell, the executive director of the Curtis Children’s Justice Center is still on the walls there! That’s one of my public art projects that I’m most proud of doing. Keeping kids safe and developing good mental health coping skills are causes I care deeply about – and I think art can help with that. Long ago when I was a small child living in Oklahoma I was on the recieving end of child abuse in my biological family and had my own memorable encounters with police officers, social workers etc. The art on the walls in all of the buildings and the drawings on boxes of animal crackers helped me almost as much as the kind people who tried to help. Fast forward to today – the idea of having one place for a child to go for assistance is phenomenal and I’m glad and grateful for the existence of the Curtis Children’s Justice Center and I’m grateful for the kind people who help the children who need their services. I am deeply honored to have my artwork on their walls. https://www.columbian.com/news/2022/mar/26/childrens-justice-center-child-abuse-up-since-covid/
An art collector friend sent me these photos (below) of a art commission I had done for them over 10 years ago – it has been reframed and is in this gorgeous private place!!
I did this collage of handmade paper to tell a very personal and delightful story of a lovely family!
The pet portraits are some I have done of this same family’s pets over the years – they got reframed too and don’t they look nice?!
I just adore getting to love people throughout the years with my artwork!!
My artist heart is happy and full ❤ !! Thanks so much to my friend for sharing this with me!!!
Three kids are the apples of this art collectors eyes and I did these paintings to represent the specialness of each kid… the kids are all grown up now and still cherished! Since I’d posted the art collections (above) of my fine art earlier on my social media that are still loved all these years later… this art lover and I wanted to share these beloved apples!! So much love worthy of sharing!!! ❤❤❤
A friend gave us these flowers this week…
….I painted them in my sketchbook and posted my page on my social media…
…. another friend saw my sketchbook page online and asked me to make an art print of it. So I got out my big camera and did that! As you can see the colors and details show up even better now! You can see more about the print here.
My wife saw a unique mushroom in our yard and showed it to me. I looked carefully and photographed it and began a drawing in my sketchbook – then the next morning I finished it.
Then we got to visit some very special friends and a special cat and dog! Here I am being honored by the cat.
Here’s my wife being honored by the dog.
On the wall behind our friends is a collection of my artworks. Sharp eyes may recognize the cat and dog from our laps in some of the portraits on the wall.
One of our friends is the author and historian Pat Jollota – you can see some of her books here – she’s an amazing storyteller. If someday I can tell stories half as well as she does I’ll be proud.
I brought to our gathering some illustrations I’ve made and an idea for a holiday gift book. Together all of us imagined what my illustrated characters might be saying to each other. It was a fun party game that will become an actual book that I hope other people will have fun imagining with too.
My adopted Dad’s favorite quote is by Anatole France and I put it in my sketchbook along with a drawing this week. It was in keeping with my thoughts about “let’s pretend…”.
I hope your week is full of the kinds of imaginings and let’s pretend games that fill you with pleasure and happiness. See you next Monday.
This week I finished the dog painting you saw in my sketchbook and on my easel in my last post. The cow is still active in the field of my imagination as is a wee bird. More on that later in this post.
Here’s the completed dog portrait titled “Being exquisite”. Like the dog portrait in my last post this new one is 8 x 10 inches and uses that nifty new brush technique (last post)! I’m having such fun with all of these tiny details!
Like the fur between his eyes and the nose… below are two photo views so you can see.
And the details of the dandelions! Oh that was fun!!
This past week has been filled with gluing the cow artwork pages onto a piece of paper cut 4.25 inches x 4 feet long and folding it so that it zigzags into panels 4.25 x 6.25 inches in size. Plus the week was spent making a slipcase for my book which can be called a leporello, a concertina or an accordion format. Everything was made from scratch: raw archival book binders board, white flat paper and glue. When the story pages are folded they’re almost 1 inch thick so the slipcase accounts for that. Below are photos of the slipcase and the concertina book.
For more details on the Leporello, Concertina or Accordion style folded books here’s a good link https://wp.me/p4va0m-gU
Here’s a reference book I’ve used for years when I’m constructing books and making boxes from scratch. I altered methods described in this book to make the cow book slipcase. The book is Books Boxes and Portfolios by Franz Zeier
Behind these analog scenes I’ve been working on the digital files for a printed version of “How the cow went over the moon”. In pre-pandemic days I’d have made this one handmade book and sent it to a gallery like the 23 Sandy who would have exhibited it and sold it to a private collection or to a public collection. For example the UCLA Fine arts library has one of my books, so does the Bainbridge Island Art Museum.
Then the pandemic happened and I began making reproductions of my books available via Blurb which can print then mail my books directly to the buyer. That seemed a more pandemic safe way to share my artist books. It is also why I say that I approach self-publishing from a fine art perspective.
When I did the first printed book, Alphapets, in early 2020, I was contacted by Storyberries who wanted to distribute the ebook version. Well it’s been so much fun to make my books available in an on-demand way (my books are only printed when they’re ordered) and even more fun to share with readers on Storyberries that this fun is now factored in to my book designs.
For example: as I’ve been making the digital files for the printed book (and for Storyberries) I took the photos below of the handmade books with a piece of candy to show scale. I did this because it might amuse readers to see the original books in the printed book version. And perhaps help the younger readers be aware that books are made by people just like them.
This week I’ve also been talking with Storyberries and – dear blog reader you’re getting this news first – they’ll be making an “art experimental” story category for my work!! How fun is that? I so wanted arty quirky books when I was a kid… and now I’m making them and getting to fill a whole childrens book category with ebook versions of my artist books!!! I’m over-the-moon excited and yes that pun was intended! 🤣
As I wrote in my last post I’ve been reading The Annotated Arabian Nights and I sat up and took notice when the annotation mentioned a literary genre called “mirrors for princes”. So as a companion to my “How the cow went over the moon” book message (?) about not being too serious and remaining down-to-earth I’ve been thinking of the importance of remembering joy.
So here’s a look at what will be the second wordless poem in the printed book. This poem is titled “Tiny notes to the sun”
This book too is a leporello format but instead of a slip cover it’s got hardback covers. This book is 2.25 inches square when closed and opens out to 20 inches in length.
The photos below that have a peppermint candy in them are the pics I’ll put into the printed book version because it might amuse people to see them too.
As I mentioned earlier I’ve been working simultaneously on the book layout and design for the printed version of “How the cow went over the moon” … and I’m using visual elements of the original artist books … here’s a look. 👇
This week the Caplan Art Designs Gallery sent photos of my 3d box project “All the Chances” in it’s new space! And look, the client’s pet rabbit approved!!
And someone else sent me photos of their dog approving the dog portrait I painted and the way the Aurora Gallery framed the portrait! So glad their dog approved!!
Here below is the framed portrait on the dog’s “Clancy art” wall!! Isn’t that sweet?! A whole wall!! Wow!! This makes my artist heart so happy!!
In the coming days Kidz Stories plans to read my book “How to draw a dragon” out loud on their YouTube channel and, since it’s a coloring book, they’re hosting a color-along!! I’ll post a link to the video when I have it. In preparation to help kids to be able to color-along I’ve made my coloring book a free download here on my portfolio page!
I hope your week is full of your favorite colors and comforts. See you next Monday.
Having recently finished, framed and delivered the last of my fine art commissions that are intended as holiday gifts (so no spoiler pics exist of my recent artwork) my thoughts turn towards my own holiday.
I’ve made no secret, on this blog, of the fact that I like books. So even tho I am not living in Iceland, and have never visited, I adore their tradition of Jolabokaflod and my spouse and I observe our variation of it! Here’s how it goes: Within the weeks before Dec 24 we visit locally owned independent bookstores and buy books. Dec 24th we cook, share food, drinks and books! Dec 25th is spent reading and reheating leftovers. This is our current holiday book stack:
Books are also created by me – hand drawn, illustrated, indie published etc. – and given as gifts. Because you follow me here’s a link, with free previews, to the book my spouse and I jointly made for our Jolabokaflod gifting this year. I’ll post more about this kitchen sketchbook in the future but for now the link will be my early holiday present to you!! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more.
I’ve been busy working on fine art commissions which are someone’s holiday gift. So instead of talking about that – below is access to a “Reading All Year” calendar I made, and fun socks and playing cards, bookmarks, puzzles, drink coasters and such…yes, it’s all design play using my own fine art about reading and pets. Art is for making people smile – and I like sharing smiles with fellow book lovers and pet lovers. https://www.zazzle.com/s/sueclancy
Dec 7th during my pop-up shop at Vintage Books https://www.vintage-books.net/ from noon to 4 I’ll be doing some “live drawing”; I’ll work in my sketchbook and if anyone wants a small portrait of their pet I’ll happily do one using a phone photo as inspiration.
These portraits I’ll do at the pop-up shop are what I call “quickie sketches” – less complex than the portraits I’m often commissioned to do via the Caplan Art Design Gallery or the Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery – more like what I do in my sketchbook and still a fun gift for the holiday. Each portrait I do will take about 20 minutes more or less. A command performance art piece! (What fun!!!)
Since I’ll be doing these portraits on-site at the Vintage Books bookstore I’m currently in the process of testing my portable art kit to make sure I’ll have everything I need. A dear friend let me come to her house with my art kit and do a practice session – on her kitchen table – with a pic of her dog on her phone! (pictured in this post)
I’m using my ink pens, my Pentel Water-Brushes (to minimize the need for a water source) color pencils and my gouache colors on handmade paper. During the practice session I discovered I need to pack a few more items – like more paper towels, some wax paper… – so I’ll practice some more between now and Dec. 7th!
Most of my artwork is me telling visual stories inspired by data from my real-life. A kind of “creative nonfiction”. When I do art commissions the client provides the life-data and I tell their story. A kind of “biography”. Elements from a persons real-life are woven into the portrait of their dog or cat. I love helping people tell their stories!
Like this commission I recently finished… pictured below… the coffee cup is special to the owner, the tee-shirt logo is important… and of course the dog looks like their very special dog, Potter.
I had such fun drawing this dog – (those ears!!!) – and working with the client who commissioned this portrait. They gave me such good data to work with!
“Potter” by Clancy (ink and gouache on handmade paper)
If you’re curious about some of my other commission work you can see them here.
I’ve enjoyed, this season, being commissioned to create several portraits of pets which included many elements that reflected the pet owners too! Thank you for the privilege of making something special for you and your loved ones – that was the wonderful gift you gave to me this Holiday season!
You can read juicy details about one of my commissioned portraits of two cats here.
And there is a wonderful newspaper article in my local paper, The Columbian, about commissioning a portrait from an artist and how it can become a treasured family heirloom – and how a portrait by an artist is different from a photograph. It’s true, at least by my experience, that people really do treasure portraits of pets and people that they know. Btw: portraits can be commissioned any time of the year – not just during Holidays.
As it may still be possible that some gifts have not yet been unwrapped in 2018 here, for your amusement, are a few commissioned portraits that I did in the past (and are thus safe to post!):
You can see more about my portraits, information about how to commission one, as well as more examples of my work on this page.
Thank you also for your support and encouragement of my work throughout the year! Happy Holidays and my best wishes for a Happy New Year!
Around the edges of doing a cat portrait commission and Chef Carosi’s illustrated recipe I’ve done some wine label artwork to be used by Burnt Bridge Cellars for their 2018 Holiday Wine. To meet the winery’s request for art that was “festive but not religious” I used 5 writing techniques along these lines to generate visual art ideas:
Freewriting: I wrote and doodled in my sketchbook concepts that called to my mind a social festive season not attached to religion. This also meant writing down the religiously associated concepts so as to avoid them!
Listing: I wrote a list of items one would buy when planning a casual social event. I doodled some of the items too. I also looked up some event-planning websites and went to a local party store and browsed – adding to my list.
Clustering: I selected a verb/adverb from my free-write or a verb related to an item from my list and wrote further associations that came to mind when thinking of that word.
Thesaurus/Dictionary/Encyclopedia/Google: I looked up words like “party”, “festival”. I looked up historical references to past well-known holiday parties. I read poetry that mentioned parties or was associated with the Holidays. (Twas the Night...) I thought of, and researched, holiday fashions such as the “ugly sweater”.
Consider the Audience/Project Purpose: After I had done the above 4 techniques, in a wild free-wheeling way, I looked at what I had written/doodled from the point of view of the Burnt Bridge Cellars winery and what they wanted to accomplish with the label art during the Holiday season.
Then I created several images based on the above brainstorming sessions:
Cat A List by Clancy
“Celebrate!” by Clancy
Then I sent the above artwork in for the winery owners consideration.
Here below is the artwork they chose and how it looked on the bottles:
The winery was pleased with my work – and has said that their customers were too! (Whew!)
The Holiday Wine inside the bottles is very good (I’ve tasted it!) and I feel like I got to participate in a collective effort to add enjoyment to people’s Holiday Season! What fun!
P.S. I originally got the idea to use writing techniques when generating visual art ideas from reading a book by Umberto Eco titled “Confessions of a Young Novelist“.
Because I’ve been asked to I’m including in this blog post the entire interview with me for the Salmon Creek Journal 2018 issue titled “Angles We Have On Things: A Conversation with Sue Clancy” by Amanda Flynn. I asked permission to post this and it was generously granted. (The people at the Salmon Creek Journal – SCJ – magazine love you!)
Salmon Creek Journal, a literary journal, is a publication of the Washington State University Vancouver and is generally available around campus and a few other places in the Pacific Northwest. (Yes, it’s very like a limited artist book production!) When I mentioned online that this interview coming out I was contacted by fans of my work who live in far-from-the-PNW places, Ireland, England, New Zealand and Australia, asking me to make it accessible to them. So here goes.
Here’s what the printed 9.5 tall x 8.5 wide x .5 inch thick magazine looks like with my coffee cup beside it:
The interview is primarily about “Heroes’ Journey”, a public art piece I did for WSUV at the end of 2017 – and also a conversation about living the creative life. My artwork is reproduced handsomely in the magazine but since I can I’ll include the digital file of “Heroes’ Journey” here:
And below is a series of photos of pages 94 through 101 that make up the interview. I’ve photographed the pages rather than re-type the text of the interview because I think the visual layout and the flow of images and text are an intrinsic part of the interview. I’m thinking the photos are large enough that you’ll be able to zoom in and be able to read but in case you prefer to have a pdf file (at a higher resolution) you can freely download that here – SalmonCreekJournalInterview
Amanda Flynn did an excellent job with the interview questions – they were fun questions for me to think about and answer, she was fun and easy to work with – and I’m proud to have been a small part of this magazine issue. I thank her and the current SCJ editor Alex Duffield for permission to post this (and I thank them both, and the SCJ staff, for loving my fans with me!).
Of course the magazine has a lot more to offer than just the stuff about me and my work. I’ve enjoyed a number of the poems, essays and photographs by artists like Cory Blystone, Jehoon Jung, Richard Boneski III and Joseph Colombo and many others. Like an artist book this Salmon Creek Journal issue is more than just a collection of random entries, it builds to whole concept, the form and content are symbiotic, with the magazine becoming an art object in its own right.
I’m hoping that eventually the staff at SCJ will create a digital version of the entire 2018 edition so that you’ll have access to more of the work. They did a digital version of the 2017 issue on their website here – so I have reason to hope. [Update: They have now done the digital version!! You can see it here: http://www.salmoncreekjournal.com/salmon-creek-journal-2018/ ]
Thank you again to Amanda Flynn, Alex Duffield, the SCJ staff and everyone at WSUV for this delightful opportunity! And thank you, my dear fans, for your interest in my work and your desire to see this interview! I hope you’ve enjoyed it.