progress on public art piece

A Creative Life, art commissions, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, fine art, public art, publications - publishing, visual thinking, words and pictures

In my last blog posts I’ve been talking about one of my current projects: I’m doing an illustration, a public art piece and giving a speech for Salmon Creek Journal and Washington State University.

Here are a series of photos, covering a several week span of time, showing my progress. In general my process was to do short spurts of work on one area, let it dry, come back do a bit more…slowly building over time.  My sweetie randomly came in to my studio and took these photos as I worked.

First I took all of my character/species/size research and the characters I developed from my research (detailed in my last blog post here) and I laid out my crowd shapes using a watercolor pencil. Then I begin to fill them in. Since I’m taking my own advice about drawing crowds (blog post with that info is here) I’m beginning with one of my main characters and the crowd shape that character is in.  That’s what you see in the photo below.

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I’m using watercolor pencils, watercolor and ink on handmade paper. It’s risky – one stray bit of ink and – crikey! I’m living dangerously and loving it! In the photo below I’m filling in more characters.

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Now (below) you can tell I’ve been working a while. It’s getting (pun intended) crowded. So to help myself make sure I’m putting additional characters in the correct spots – since things are getting tighter – I’ve taped some of my preliminary character sketches above where I’m working on the finished artwork so I can work from them. You can see some of my preliminary drawings at the top of this photo below.

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In the next photo all of the characters are now in place and I’m starting to work on the background. This doesn’t mean the characters are finished. It just means I’ve gotten them to a certain point of development. As I work on the background I’ll pop back to work on a characters details, colorings and shadings to make it more distinct.

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Below, you can see my progress on the background. There is, however, a lot more work to be done.

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And here I’m going to stop posting on this project for a while as I’ve now caught up with Amanda The Editor.  I’ll post more later about this project when possible.

You can see some of Amanda’s posts about this project via the following links that contain details about the event where I’ll be speaking (including a bit of a statement from me) as well as a call for additional submissions for the magazine: https://orgsync.com/26883/news_posts/230672 and https://orgsync.com/26883/forms/275549

public art a magazine illustration and a speech

A Creative Life, art commissions, artistic inspirations, business of art, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, public art, publications - publishing, visual story, visual thinking

I can now talk publicly about one of my current projects: I’m doing an illustration, a public art piece and giving a speech for Salmon Creek Journal and Washington State University!  The unveiling of the public artwork, and my speech, will be in October. And the magazine illustration will flow from that. Here’s how it all began:

You know I’m deaf right? Well some time back now at one of my local libraries I gave a drawing demo and signed copies of my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy”.  During the demo, (picture me wearing an apron, ink brush in hand, art materials surrounding me on a table and an ever flowing/ebbing group of people watching and asking me questions) a woman walked confidently up to my table.  To my Deaf ears she said “I’m glad to see you! My name is Amanda Xbmlsnn and I’m the editor for Whelngfm Fumeek Ourmrnal magazine. I’d like to talk to you about fmesryulm tjosun. Are you on social media?”  I replied “Yes, I’m on social media. My cards have my contact info. What did you say…” “Great!” said the lady, grabbing one of every card I had on the table “I’ll contact you!”  Off she went. Someone else asked me a question and the rest of the day flew by with a whooshing sound.

A few hours later when the day was done my sweetie came to help me pack up my art materials to leave the library. “How did your day go?” she asked. “Very good – but, darn my ears, I met an editor from a magazine and I didn’t hear her name or even the name of the magazine!!” I said feeling slightly frustrated. Sweetie, knowing that editors are some of my favorite people on the planet, commiserated with me. Feeling somewhat soothed I sighed “I’ll just have to hope she gets in touch with me.”

We went out for a restorative dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

When I next checked my computer I had an email, a Twitter message, a Facebook message and an Instagram message all from Amanda The Editor of Salmon Creek Journal!

There was a lot of subsequent discussion via messages, but in short, the magazine (Salmon Creek Journal – SCJ) wanted to select one community submission to feature in both a gallery showcase and their 2018 print issue – and my work was what they wanted to be the “one community submission”!  The projects relates to a program called “Dis(covering)ability” – so me being Deaf was a virtue…

We arranged for a face to face meeting at the Washington State University (WSU)campus. I brought my camera and took about 45 photographs for my own use as I created my artwork. I took lots of handwritten notes as Amanda The Editor and several other people talked about the campus, about their project and what artwork they hoped for from me.  (My kind of artwork; my use of elements of a physical place etc. was what they wanted! And they wanted me to come give a speech…) Sweetie came with me to the meeting and took notes too. (After such meetings Sweetie and I compare our notes and many of my hearing gaps are nicely filled in!)

Here are a few of the photos I took during the meeting. Sharp-eyed followers of this blog will probably see a correlation between these pics and my finished artwork – which I’ll post eventually. (I mustn’t get ahead of Amanda The Editor in the posting/promo about this project. So I’ll be following her lead on when to post what…)

Since the students are the focus of the SCJ magazine and of the WSU campus – and the focus of the event “Dis(covering)ability” itself – I focused on creating an artistic design that emphasizes the people yet has a flavor of a specific to WSU place. I also wanted to imply a story in my wordless way of movement, of the discovery of sky’s-the-limit ability.

During our meeting on campus I was told that most of the WSU students first experience of campus is on a tour. They said that the fountain was a regular meeting place for students.  As we walked about campus during the project meeting I saw lots of squirrels chasing each other, and birds flying about. I noticed that many of the buildings had a similar brick/tile pattern. All of these observations – and many more – were recorded in my notes.

Back at my studio I looked through my photos and my notes – and Sweeties notes – and I began drawing thumbnails for an overall design. Then I did research to determine the average-height of the characters to be included in the artwork and designing the overall crowd shape.  (In my last post, here, I wrote my tips for drawing crowds.)

Here are a few photos of me at work:

In this pic I’m consulting one of my “animal encyclopedias” and comparing height of various species and listing/drawing a possible grouping.  (Yes, that’s my dachshund on my lap ‘helping’ me work.)

CrowdSizeResearch

In the pic below I’m developing some of the characters that I’d settled on in the first photo. I did lots and lots of drawings of characters in order to settle what they’d be wearing, how they’d stand, who they’d be standing next to and what kind of expression they might have on their face.

CharacterDev72

Days, if not weeks, went by filled with regular work like what is photographed above. My “SCJ/WSU” sketchbook for this project is, by now, almost completely full of notes and sketches.

Here, for fun, is another page of sketches:

MoreCharacters72

As per my arrangement with Amanda The Editor I kept in touch with her and sent almost daily photos of my progress. Some of which she posted on the SCJ social media pages – and others she kept for possible posting later.

So I’ll stop this blog post here for now and see what Amanda The Editor does next. Besides it’s almost time for my supper.  But before I go here is a photo, taken during our on-campus meeting, of Sweetie, Me and Amanda The Editor.

3ofUs

 

 

fine art commission Bailey At The Lake

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Dogs in Art

Creating “Bailey At The Lake” By Sue Clancy

(this art commission project was handled by the Downtown Art & Frame gallery in Oklahoma)

Almost 9 years ago I did an art exhibit and someone saw it. Almost 9 years later they remembered my artwork and contacted me wanting me to do a portrait of their dog! (Lucky me!)  After conversation and photos were exchanged I did 2 sketches and some color samples. They selected one of my sketches and they liked the color scheme so I got started on the art!

I dyed handmade papers –  first for the color samples and then I dyed still more handmade papers for the “nuances” of color papers that would be cut up make up each element within the artwork.

Here’s a photo of me dying paper. Each handmade paper starts out white – the colors and patterns you’ll see I put onto the white paper using various processes. This paper dying process was repeated with many different colors using several different paper-dying techniques.  Only one photo of this process is here so I can keep this document brief.

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Below is the “basic” color scheme that was approved.  Then I set about making dyed papers that were the same colors but shades lighter or darker than each of these.  So about 26 papers got dyed. (and a few extra)

Each paper was much larger than the area I intended to use it for because I layer multiple pieces on top of each other to build up the color.

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When all of the dyed papers were dry I cut out the overall basic shapes from each “local color”

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DSC_0002 (4)I glued each of those cut paper shapes to each other – and generally began the layering process….

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Some paper layers go on top, others interlock with each other, some go behind and others on top of what’s on top – basically I design for both 2D and 3D space. To create this art work, I use an Xacto knife to cut out the shapes I need – sometimes scissors.  A tin tray holds the cut pieces – and I use a miniature spatula and several kinds of tweezers to position the paper shapes in the correct position…. Lots of archival glue and glue brushes are used… then a roller to roll it all flat.

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Then I glue the basic cut paper shapes onto the board – layering what goes behind first and slowly building up.

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OnBoard

When all of the “base papers” are on the board it is allowed to dry for several days.  Then I begin to layer more cut dyed paper shapes on top of what is dry on the board.  This next photo is of me starting that layering process – adding the cut paper “nuances” of color and shape.

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StillMorePaper

And so it goes for quite some time… I’m skipping ahead now and the following photo shows how it looked when I had gotten it to a stage where it had to dry a few days before I could do more detail work.  And yes, in this photo below you can see the sketch that got approved – and some of the many photos of the real-life dog that the client sent to me for reference.

DryingStage

Once the above stage was dry – I cut and layered in more cut paper shapes.  While working I looked a lot like I did in the earlier photo: tweezers and cut paper in one hand a glue-y glue brush in the other.  I would cut the shapes I needed out of the correctly colored paper using an Xacto knife, lay those cut paper pieces in a tin tray, step to my easel use the tweezers to pick up the cut paper piece, load my brush with glue and apply … and so it went. But I’m keeping this document brief… so please repeat in your mind, a gajillion times, that earlier photo of me with tweezers and glue.

In the photos below you can see that I’ve layered on many more nuances and details since those photos above.

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As you can see my dyed cut paper shapes go around all 4 edges of the board.

The above stages have to dry a while before I can do any finishing touches.

Well, I got so excited when things were dry that I got right to work and finished the artwork without taking any more progress photos. Ah well.

Here it is finished:

“Bailey At The Lake”  By Sue Clancy

6 x 6 inches – Hand dyed paper, handmade paper, handmade paste paper and acrylic on cradled board.

BaileyAtTheLake72

 

 

dogs in art but what about cats

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, Cats in art, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, published art

My book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” has now been available since Feb 17 2017 – and I’ve been getting a lot of very nice feedback! Including people asking me to do a portrait of their special dog! What fun! You can get info about my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” on Amazon or via this link: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

In addition to questions about dogs I’ve been asked is “Are you going to do a book of cats?”  The short answer is yes! It may be a year or more before I actually get it done because I’m very busy right now working on a number of dog portrait commissions and upcoming art exhibits that are already scheduled through 2018 – but I’m working towards a series of cat portraits already.  Here are a couple of recent ones:

the art commission Innocent

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, collage, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art

A couple of clients have a Schnauzer and a Labrador retriever – they asked me (via the Caplan Art Designs gallery www.caplanartdesigns.com) to do a dual portrait while also reflecting the owners work/personal life! I have a series of questions I ask (about color preferences etc. details) – I also request photos of the dogs. I was lucky enough to actually meet these dogs in person. Earlier in this blog you got to see my “practice” sketches for the dog breeds in this commission.  After receiving the answers to my questions and photos of the dogs I created 2 pencil drawings to the scale of the proposed finished work.  I also created a number of hand dyed paper swatches to show the proposed color scheme.

Here’s a photo of me dying some paper blue.  I did several layers of this blue color on the paper in order to build up the “proper blue” that best matched the client’s preference.

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To keep this document brief I’ll not show photos of me creating the 20 base colors I created for the “swatch sampler” – so multiply the above photo 19 times at least.

Once the papers were dry – we met and the clients chose one of the two pencil sketches. Small adjustments were made in the color scheme and the drawings. And additional research was done. For example, I studied what vest collars are like, what wing-tip shoes look like, where cuff-links are on a cuff and gold pocket watches how they sit in a pocket and how the chain drapes.  I asked about and investigated what a “bar” in court looks like. I researched how the sleeve of a judges’ robe hangs.

I also “filled in” the other colors of hand dyed paper I’d need to produce the finished painting.  Where a section in a painting will read as “blue” there may be as many as 5 different shades of blue papers which are collaged/layered together.  Where a paper may read as “blond wood grain” there may be multiple layers of color applied to each paper that forms the various tones within the shape.  Yes, it’s complicated and takes a lot of pre-planning and research.

Once all of the papers are done and dry (there are now over 50 pieces of hand dyed paper) I begin cutting out shapes. Here I have cut out the overall shape of the Schnauzer’s head and paw out of a greyish-blue dyed paper. A light pencil marks the future placements of other pieces of darker grey paper and or lighter white-grey paper.

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At this point I’m cutting and gluing together all of the various shapes from the various “base” papers to form the overall characters and aspects of scenery.  With an Xacto knife I cut the needed shape positioning it using tweezers. Then I would adjust the position – often several times – before gluing it together. Then I would press the glued papers flat and let them dry.

As I constructed the Schnauzer character I got excited and focused – and I forgot to take photos of the steps of construction.  As I worked kept laughing, imagining the Schnauzer lawyer saying “My client is innocent, I tell you, innocent. My client, the Great Dane you see before you, could not have possibly reached down to such a low table to eat the 4 hams, 5 chickens and the pot roast which is alleged to have been on that table. It was beneath him to have…”

There is a lot of “back and forth” work to get the shapes and positions correct – to adjust the colors and layers. Here is a succession of photos to give you an idea of the test-adjust-test routine.

In the photos below you’ll see my original pencil drawing – which I’m using as a guide.

The Judge’s glasses are made of two pieces of paper: I cut the glasses frames out of a “gold” paper and glued them onto a white paper which acts as the “lenses”.  All elements within the artwork are cut hand dyed papers which interlock.

And so it goes – back and forth – building up each element in both 3 dimensional space as well as 2 dimensional. For example, the watch in the Schnauzer’s pocket is a complete watch – with numbers on it – even if you don’t see all of it in the finished artwork. Behind the suit coat lapels is the entire vest… the tie actually fits under the white shirt collar. The flag is several different colors of paper pieced together and actually hanging from a pole (a cut piece of gold paper).  If you could tell the Schnauzer to move over you’d see the entire “bar” he is standing in front of and behind those is the entire “bench” on which the Labrador judge sits.

Once the “base papers” have been assembled into each element needed for the overall artwork I glue them onto the cradled board.

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I pre-planned for how the various shapes “wrap around” the 4 edges of the board. This way the judges bench actually looks/feels like a 3D bench. All we don’t see are the witness boxes. The flag extends to the side and top edges of the painting. The judge’s arm continues on one edge. As you can see in the photo the floor extends over the bottom edge.

When these base papers are glued on they are pressed flat – and left to dry several days under weight.

Then the excess paper hanging off the edges is trimmed away with my Xacto knife and the now blocked-in painting is put on my easel. There many more cut pieces of paper layered on at my easel – many of them are very tiny pieces of paper, the size of a fingernail or smaller, others are tissue paper thin allowing the underlayment to show through – these papers are cut with my Xacto knife carried to the easel then glued into place.  More building up of paper layers until each element within the artwork has more tonal ranges and dimension. For example, the Judges glasses got more highlights and shadows glued onto them – they went from being made out of 2 pieces of paper to being made out of 6.  The Schnauzer’s eyebrows and whiskers are layered on. And so it goes…

Once again – even though it took quite a bit of time – I got so focused and excited about what I was doing that I forgot to photograph the various steps I did between the above photo and the finished artwork pictured below. (The finished artwork is protected by varnish.)

So here is the finished piece (details of size and media below the photo).

InnocentITellYou72

 “Innocent, I tell you….”

By Clancy

Size 10 x 10 x 2 inches

Media: Hand dyed paper, handmade paste paper, book cloth and acrylic on cradled board

more schnauzer art practice

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, Sue Draws Dogs

Here’s more schnauzer practice (referring to my last blog post here) – this one is bigger (15 x 11 inches) and is more like the client’s dog I’m to feature in my fine art commission (via Caplan Art Designs). The commission is being done in color, using my cut handmade paper collage method, but I gotta get the shapes right first. So I’ve been practicing… https://sueclancy.com/2017/03/08/the-art-of-practice-and-a-story-inside/

Samson72

“Samson” by Clancy – ink on handmade paper

the art of planning

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, Dogs in Art, visual story

When I work on art commissions I cannot imagine telling a prospective client that “It’s gonna be great! Just Yuge! Believe me!” and then refuse to give any details regarding the project plans. I and each of my gallery owners describe in detail what the client can expect at every phase of the art project being asked of me and when they can expect it. Questions are answered as completely as possible as soon as possible.

The ability to unflinchingly describe plans for a project in easy-to-understand terms, to outline a proposal either verbally or in writing (or both), to answer questions, to give updates and to have “how-we-will-know-we-succeed” goal markers clearly marked is the very foundation of doing business. This is basic business plan/proposal 101 and expected of any person in business.

It is all the more important when the business is creative. Fine art (and all of it’s creative cousins) are notoriously subjective, mysterious and mystical – when viewed from the non-artists point of view. This means that clear communications about plans regarding artistic projects is crucial.  If the client can’t understand what you’ll be doing, and can’t explain it to their spouse or to their organization’s board – why would they commission you do do something artistic for their home, office or organization?

Since a certain U.S. president elect has been so vague regarding his plans for the country  I’ve begun to think that doing “basic business 101” and doing it well is an art and it may also be a revolutionary act.

So to aid, support and show solidarity with my fellow revolutionaries here are questions I ask myself that influence how I communicate my art project plan/proposals:

Why are you doing it/what do you hope to achieve? 

I like to help people preserve, via fine art, the story, the memory, of their life and relationship with their pet; dog or cat.  I often say that “I help people tell their stories visually”.  When talking with prospective clients I talk about this goal and a bit about how my art-making process works, how I use elements from the real-life of the client and dog. Since I work with a number of galleries many of the clients approach the idea of commissioning me to create something special for them already knowing this about my artwork process.

I (or the gallery) asks what the client hopes to get from my work, about the size of artwork the client wants and what fits in their budget.

What exactly will you be doing and approximately when?

During the first conversation we find out if the client wants one of my ink portraits, which has a more simple project plan/process, or if they want a color portrait.  Assuming  for the purposes of this blog that the client wants a color portrait then I (or my gallery owners) tell the client that I have a list of questions and a list of photos of their dog (for example) that I will need in order to create a full color portrait (like the color artwork you see here on my website).

Once those questions have been answered and the photos have been provided I’ll take about a month to create 2 designs for their approval.  A calendar date for our sketch-approval meeting is often set during this conversation. With the gallery as a mutual point of contact the client answers my questions and provides the photos of their pet.  After all of the answers/photos are received (usually within the first week) I set about creating 2 sketches to scale of the proposed finished work along with a set of “color swatches” to give them a tactile idea of my proposed color scheme.

Then, a month later, we meet (me, client and gallery owner) and I show my sketches and talk about the proposal.  Sometimes it’s happened that I deliver the sketches to the gallery and the gallery owner conducts the meeting (without me) to get approval from the client for one of the sketched proposals.  No matter who makes the presentation/proposal, I take care to label my sketches clearly, with color swatches taped into place so that everything is fairly self-explanatory. I allow the client to take a photo of the approved sketch at this time if they desire.

When doing public art commissions I’ve even included copies of the sketches or (as per request) color mock-ups that the client could then take and present to their organizations board.

When a sketch is approved I provide a date when the finished work will be delivered to the gallery.  I set this date far in advance of when I actually think it will be done – because sometimes there is weather that slows down drying time – so I would rather deliver something earlier than a client is expecting it than have to explain why it is late. And I tell the client I’m setting the delivery date out farther than I think it will be finished – and why I’m setting it that way.

Then I get to work.

The gallery is available if the client has any questions or wishes to have updates.  As I work photos of my project’s progress are taken. Those are provided to the gallery who shares them with the client.  At the end of a project I often use those “progress photos” and write a “how I made this” document that summarizes the entire project.

As you can imagine clear communication of plans and procedures  makes the process much smoother for everyone. Clients aren’t left wondering what I’m going to do to them instead of for them.

Here’s a photo of a commission I did some time ago now. The client was very happy with it! It’s titled “Preying for Peas”.  That title seems relevant just now.

preyingforpeas72

You can download a pdf “project summary” about the “Preying for Peas” project here:  https://sueclancy.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/aboutpreyingforpeas.pdf

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 …

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“Warehouse 23” sketchbook page by Sue Clancy

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“sailboat on water” sketchbook page by Sue Clancy

Molly

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, fine art, poetry, words and pictures

I’ve been busy working on art commissions – and some extra special “dog-drawing-for-Christmas” requests – none of which I can talk about in public ’cause, you know, they’re somebody’s present!  So I took a very short time off from being one of Santa’s elves and did this short-narrative poem plus illustration practice:

Molly – By Sue Clancy –

Molly sat combing her hair

Tangles she had here and there

It took some might

But she set it a-right

Then got dressed and went dancing somewhere.

molly72

illustration and poem “Molly” by Sue Clancy

animals in my art

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Authors, psychogeography, visual story

Last evening I was looking up something in a book called “Drawing Masterclass” and I read this (again): “Animals as subject matter for the visual arts have a longer history than any other subject. The first images drawn by the human race depicted the animals that were hunted for survival [cave paintings]…. There is no period in art when animals have not played a major role.”

In my fine art animals become characters; my creative process is much like the way a novelist creates a character, a compilation of authorial thoughts and observations  – a “collage” of them you might say – merged into one person/character within their story. I create anthropomorphic animal characters because I see humans as part of the natural world and the natural world as part of humanity.  I’m inspired by both nature and culture.

So when I do animal portraits, people are there too.  When I do a portrait of a particular dog, for example, a particular person (someone, or several someone’s I saw in real life) is also reflected.  It becomes a visual story of that animal and that person. I define “story” as a plot where there is some surprise. The surprise in one of my visual stories might be the realization of how a human can be like a dachshund.

For example in my artwork titled “Happy Hour” (see image below) inside I sometimes feel happy and excited like my dachshund Rusty looks when he is bouncing around wagging his tail and dancing for his supper. (Places and objects enter in to my visual story creation too but that’s another discussion.)

My gallery agents often explain to clients that I create (as special commissions) portraits of pets as their pet owners; an imaginative merging of pet and person.  And that’s true.

Here, so you can see what I’m talking about, are some of my animal portraits currently available at either Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com and at Joseph Gierek Fine Art www.gierek.com  – please contact each gallery for more details.