the art technique of attention

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I’ve been very busy getting ready for a one-person fine art exhibit at Caplan Art Designs that will open in September. (So my social media activity has slacked off lately.) Around the edges of creating new fine artwork, framing, paperwork and so forth I’ve been working towards a new print edition of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”.

This story from the First Aid Kit has been a good reminder of an art technique I try to practice daily – even when I’m busy:

Attention

Even when I’m very busy I practice taking a moment within my day, wherever I am, in the here-and-now and pay attention to my 5 senses. I try to let go of any preconceived conceptions, to just expand my awareness. I also include, in this exercise, paying attention to my free-associations and my imagination during my 5-senses check-in moment. I’ll note my sensory experience and “watch”, like you’d watch television, the memories, thoughts and associations that cross my mind as a result of the sensory experience.  I’ll often make notes in my sketchbook.

What I “get” for my payment – when I pay attention – is the power to choose what to focus on when I’m at my art easel working.

This practice of paying attention to both sensory input and the content of my mind –  is a version of what Betty Edwards wrote about in her book “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain” – in the section where she talks about chairs. How (and I’m paraphrasing) a drawing student first attempting to draw a chair will substitute their knowledge about chairs (4 legs, a square seat and back) and will draw a child-like symbol of a chair. One has to learn to see the shapes of the spaces around the chair as well as the shapes of the chair itself – what is actually seen (3 legs, a trapezoid shaped seat and back).

I find too often – especially when I’m busy – I’m substituting my “knowledge” about the world, my preconceptions, for what “is” in the world. So I find it helpful to practice seeing the shapes of spaces, so to speak, in my sensory experience of the world. And to see the shapes of spaces within my own mind.

Paying attention allows me to merge real-world phenomenon with my mental life and to choose to communicate, via art, in ways that are helpful, playful and fun.

Currently “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” only exists in e-book form. But as I said above, I’m working on that. This book has had such a profound impact on my own creative life that I want to have another print version around.

feature article in The Columbian about my art

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Here’s a link to an article written by Scott Hewitt for The Columbian about my art exhibit “Dear Readers” that is currently at Burnt Bridge Cellars! And a picture of the front page of the newspaper with a bit of my artwork on it and pictures of the other 2 pages.  I was relieved to see that my artwork reproduced so well in print. Even though by now I know very well how to create images for reproduction I still breathe a sigh of relief when I see them looking good in glorious color print. Anyway, here’s the newspaper link all spelled out: https://www.columbian.com/news/2019/jul/18/vancouver-artists-ties-together-dogs-books-in-whimsical-ways/

DearReadersColumbianArticleP1A

Both gouache paints and acrylic paints reproduce well (even in newsprint!) but to my eye the gouache reproduces best of all. But then gouache was originally created for use in illuminating manuscripts back in the days, around the 16th century, when all “books” were hand written, hand illustrated and hand bound – one at a time.

Acrylic, a medium that originated in the late 1940’s, tends to be shinier and more difficult to photograph and thus get a good reproduction quality image.

Have I mentioned lately that I really like gouache??

Dear Readers on view and my art opening jitters remedy

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All of the 28 artworks for my Dear Readers exhibit have been delivered to Burnt Bridge Cellars now – and hung. Over on my Instagram page you can see a fun pic of the curator looking at a table full of my artwork deciding what art goes where.  Here, just above the wine taps the winery uses to fill wine growlers, is the perfect place where the curator chose to hang my painting “Party Pointers”:

PartyPointersOverTapsI’ll try to post other views of the exhibit – most likely on Instagram – but don’t hold your breath for many more posts from me about Dear Readers – because I’ll be getting started on my tried and true opening party jitters remedy: getting on with other art projects.

Too often, early on in my art career, I had the “what if I throw a party and nobody comes” jitters during the week between art delivery and the opening party. That wasn’t helpful. Quickly I learned that starting on new artwork well before the official opening  for an exhibition is the best exhibit-opening-jitters and general exhibit-up-and-running-I-feel-naked-now remedy. My blog posts, from here on, are likely to reflect new projects I’m working on.  For additional views and information about my Dear Readers exhibit – which will run from June through the end of July – please watch the various Burnt Bridge Cellars social media pages.

Now that the Dear Readers exhibit is hung all that needs to be done, from my point of view, is to do laundry, dress reasonably and show up at the opening party June 7th. More details about the opening party, including the chef’s menu here.  So I’m focusing now on sharpening pencils, taking inventory of the art supplies, looking at my sketchbooks and starting new things.

Thank you again for all of your support and encouragement as I have worked on my Dear Readers exhibit!

 

Dear Readers exhibit prep

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I’ve been busy getting the framing, wiring and labeling done for all of the artwork destined for my “Dear Readers” exhibit that opens June 7th, the first Friday, at Burnt Bridge Cellars. There are 28 new artworks by me for this one-person exhibit – titled “Dear Readers” – this photo only shows a fraction of the artworks, wrapped up, packed in boxes ready to be delivered. Lots more to do!

DearReadersExhibitPacking

I got my frames from a local independent frame shop called Aurora Gallery. Most of the rest of my art supplies came from a local (Portland Or) art supply called Artists And Craftsman.

The exhibit content, of course, came from my mind and personal life. More about that here and in my recent blog posts.

What did I eat and drink while doing all of this work? Well I’ve posted about that over on my Instagram page.

And yes, I carefully save and reuse packing material like you wouldn’t believe.

Or maybe you would.

 

Dear Readers exhibit pun

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Since my upcoming fine art exhibit, opening June 7, at Burnt Bridge Cellars is titled “Dear Readers” and contains nested ideas – for the additional pun of it I’ll have some artist books available. So here’s a pic of a few of the books I’ll have at the exhibit.

BooksBySC

There’s my Dogs and Cats and a Cookbook I illustrated (with Chef Kim Mahan’s recipes). And yes – there’s a little tiny mini-guide to drawing dogs! How’s that for a visual pun in an art exhibit full of paintings of dogs reading?

There are also cats and food depicted in my artwork… and of course books! So my books relate to my artwork which relates to my books…

Basically I’ve had a lot of fun playing with nested ideas!

BTW the “How to Draw Dogs” mini-guide is only available via the Brooklyn Art Library in New York …. except for the few I’ll have in my exhibit in Vancouver WA. 

A link to my Dear Readers exhibit statement that explains my thinking behind this exhibit is here.

More generally about my artist books here.

And now to get back to work framing and labeling everything…

Dear Readers art exhibit statement

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My new exhibit this year is titled “Dear Readers” and is book/reading themed. As I’ve worked this last year towards this new one-person fine art exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars, that will open June 7 in Vancouver WA, I’ve written lots of hand-written notes in my sketchbooks, on random slips of paper, on post-it notes in the margins of newspaper articles.  I wrote down as many thoughts as possible – including quotes from books I’ve read – and kept them together in a binder.  When it came time to write my exhibit statement I could reread all of my notes and pull from them.

Here’s a pic of my binder and one of my sketchbooks. And my pen.

DataForExhibitStatement

Below is the finished “Dear Readers” art exhibit statement – text I wrote that pulled from the data pool in my binder and sketchbooks. This statement will be put on the wall somewhere within my exhibit:

Dear Readers

By Sue Clancy

I’ve been thinking about the interconnectedness of everything in life. These thoughts led me to the concept of nested ideas; how one thing leads to another, one food or drink pleasure can lead to another new pleasure in a similar way that one enjoyed book can lead to another new book.

I’ve also thought of how much the written word in general has enhanced our pleasure in and understanding of the sensual world by enabling connections to be made between elements and people across time and space.

So, in this exhibit I’m using the printed-and-bound book as a symbol for “the written word” in its myriad of formats. And I’ve deliberately, whimsically, played with the one-thing-leads-to-another-everything’s-connected concept by including spoofs of my own artwork, my still life paintings, within my other paintings that have dog characters in them. The titles of the still life paintings, the titles of the dog character paintings, the titles of the humans with pet’s paintings all correlate.

Each artwork in my exhibit is related in some way to at least one other artwork in this exhibit.    I leave it for you to puzzle out which is connected to which – and in what way.

And yes, you can read my exhibit like you would a mostly wordless comic.

Enjoy!

party pointers and books in art

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I’ve been thinking about cookbooks and bartending books. And parties. It’s becoming the season here in the Pacific Northwest for drinks with friends outside on patios and decks.

On one of my walks I saw a beautiful Pointer dog. The dog dovetailed with my thoughts about bartending books which give “pointers” – pun intended – for drink mixing.

Here’s the painting those thoughts inspired – titled “Party Pointers”.

PartyPointers72

Party Pointers by Clancy – 16 x 20 inches – acrylic on board

As I’ve been doing with this “readers series”, my body of work for my upcoming one-person exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars, in the background of “Party Pointers” I’ve spoofed several of my own still life paintings. You can see a few of the original still lifes here and I’ll post some over on my Instagram page.

Hope you’ll also get to sit outside and have an adult beverage with a fun companion or two!

Cheers!

dogs strawberries and cookbooks

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My wife’s garden has at least 100 strawberry plants in it. They currently are in bloom. My favorite dessert is strawberries and shortcake. I only have this dessert in the summer on account of trying to be sensible. Nonetheless I’ve been anticipating “strawberry season” and making new artwork about it.

DogberrysStrawberryTreats72

Dogberry’s Strawberry Treats – by Clancy – 20 x 16 inches – acrylic on board

I chose a Bassett Hound as my character because of the breeds easy-going relaxed nature. It’s the way I think of the Pacific Northwest summer.

As I’ve been doing for this series of artworks I’ve spoofed two of my own still life paintings in the background of the above painting titled “Dogberry’s Strawberry Treats”. Below are the two still life’s I’ve spoofed:

JunesTreasure72

June’s Treasure – by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

ItMustBeJune72

It Must Be June – by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

Since we have so many strawberry plants – and get lots of produce from them – besides sharing strawberries with neighbors and friends and making strawberry shortcake desserts I’m often looking at cookbooks for ideas of what else to do with an abundance of strawberries.

My one-person art exhibit, which opens the first Friday in June at Burnt Bridge Cellars, is book and reading themed. So naturally, for the exhibit, I had to have a painting with cookbook and a Bassett Hound cook consulting a book while working with strawberries.

And yes, in the exhibit I’ll have all three of the above artworks displayed. I’m hoping that sharp-eyed attendees of my exhibit will connect-the-dots so to speak and see the correlation between the paintings, sort of an in-person story-puzzle effect; the ability to walk about (glass of wine in hand) finding the related art pieces and identifying the story-theme for each.

But whether or not people catch any of the correlations between my paintings I’m hoping the exhibit will be as fun for visitors to see as it’s been for me to create.

reading a dachshunds ode

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As I mentioned regarding the “Leaves and Grounds: Poems for the Canine Soul” painting I wrote of in my last post here, below, is another artwork with a concept related to, nested within, the afore mentioned painting. Also in this post is a poem that I wrote that relates to the ‘Leaves and Grounds’ concept.

ItsMagic-PrintThisOne

It’s Magic – by Clancy – ink and gouache on paper

A Dog’s Ode To Spring
By Clancy

Oh, there’s sunshine
Glorious sunshine
Makes a dachshund want to roll!
Let me out
To run about
Compost is good for my soul!
Oh, the mounds
Of leaves and grounds
This dog’s heading for the pile!
Where the digging is best
I’ll make my nest
Don’t wait I’ll be here a while!
I may be groomed
But that’s all doomed
‘cause I’ll do what makes me grin!
Oh, the sunshine
Glorious sunshine
I’m here till you shout “get in!”

 

leaves and grounds reading

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Been thinking about tea and coffee. And poetry. As readers of my blog know I often read a bit of poetry in the mornings with my coffee. And novels with my tea in the evening. Or vice versa.  This bit of my mundane life inspired this painting below along with the thought that Dachshunds like to dig… and writers and readers often “dig” for meanings…

LeavesAndGroundsPoemsForTheCanineSoul72

Leaves And Grounds: Poems for the Canine Soul – by Clancy – 20 x 16 inches – acrylic on cradled board

Naturally (organically?) I’ve included, in the painting above, 2 spoofs of my own still life work. Each of the still lives relate to the theme of “Leaves and Grounds: Poems for the Canine Soul”.  The titles of the still life’s, in my mind at least, add more information to this “Leaves and Grounds….” painting.

As you can tell I’m still thinking of the nesting ideas concept I’m working with for this body of work (“Readers” is my working title) for an upcoming one-person exhibit.

Here, below, are my still life paintings that are spoofed in the painting above:

AStirringOccasion72

A Stirring Occasion by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

ANovelMorning72

“A Novel Morning” – by Clancy – 24 x 18 – acrylic and gouache on board

I’m currently working on yet another nesting aspect related to this concept of leaves, digging and poetry… but that will be another post.  Btw: if you follow me on Instagram occasionally I post what I’m currently reading.