an open Fur Suit of Happiness

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, cat portrait, Cats in art, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art

Last night was the opening of my art exhibit “The Fur Suit Of Happiness” at Caplan Art Designs in Portland Or. Lots of people came. Many nice things were said about my artwork. Many good questions were asked. Several people used the “M” word when referring to my artwork and I still get a warm fuzzy feeling when I hear such evidence that people “get” my work! The “M” word is “metaphor” or “mythology”.

And yes, the work of Joseph Campbell has inspired much of my artwork!

During the opening last night I found it was helpful that I had just given a speech the day before (blog post about the speech here) – so I still had my “talking shoes” on.  There have been openings where I’ve gone to a gallery directly from my work in my studio – with a slight pause to change clothes – at such times I get to the gallery and find I’ve almost forgotten the English language. Or any language but pictures. And I need a few minutes to “find my words”.

Didn’t have that trouble last night! I was almost chatty Cathy!  Here are a few pics:

And one of our friends came to see my new work and gave me a whole sack full of sheet music for my future collaging pleasure!! Wow!!!

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Here is a photo of what the gallery wall of my artwork looked like without people standing in front of it. The pedestal in the photo holds a portfolio of 50 of my small ink dog art pieces.

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The way the owner of the Caplan Art Designs gallery arranged the wall proved to be a wonderful way to help people zero in on details within my work. The over-stimulation seemed to help the viewers focus.  One person had an epiphany while looking at the wall saying to me “Oh! I get it! You’re talking about human behavior metaphorically with your dogs and cats!”

I almost hugged them. But I didn’t because I’d never met them before last night. Wow! They used the “M” word!

Swoon.

 

the cats of happiness

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, cat portrait, Cats in art

During the evening of Oct 5 at Caplan Art Designs my exhibit titled “The Fur Suit Of Happiness” opens. There are some cats in this one. Lots of dogs too… but I’m working towards a new book of cat-art….and I’ll resume that work after this exhibit opening.

Anyway, here are a few of the new cats that are framed and displayed in the exhibit:

 

The Fur Suit Of Happiness

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, kitchen art

Today, after delivering one piece of artwork (see the last post here), I’m packing up 24 of my art pieces to be delivered to Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com . Oct 5th, First Thursday, during the evening is the opening of my new exhibit The Fur Suit Of Happiness.

Here’s a picture of some of the artworks ready to be loaded into the car. Yes, there are both dogs and cats in this exhibit!

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Here’s the exhibit statement:

The Fur Suit Of Happiness by Clancy

What if being happy isn’t a fleeting feeling to pursue. What if happiness is something to accept? I’ve been watching dogs and cats. They seem to specialize in enjoying a patch of sunlight, a walk in the rain, a warm comfortable lap and a good dinner. They seem to accept and be happy with very small things. I can learn something from this. This exhibit is me taking notes.

the rough bark of culture

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, creative thinking, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, handmade books, handmade papers, mental health, visual thinking, words and pictures

This coming Friday at the Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery (www.gierek.com) an experimental art exhibit of mine titled “The Rough Bark Of Culture” opens!

Yes, there are dogs. Lots of dogs. About 24 of them. Dog art that is. Clancy style.

The experimental part of this exhibit is that instead of being 24 works framed and hanging on the wall like a typical art installation – I’ve added my artist book thinking to my fine-art exhibit idea.  Which means my entire exhibit is intended to be an intimate experience.  Think curling up with a book. Or playing with a deck of cards.

Lucky for artist-me the gallery owner is willing to be playful.

Here’s what gallery-visitors will find: a box that looks like a leather bound book. I made the box and covered it with my hand dyed paper, paper that I’ve given a rough physical and visual texture. I designed the cover and the spine and various elements so that it appears like a book.  When closed this book-box measures 9 inches tall 7 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep. When you open the top “cover” it opens out to be 14 inches wide.

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Below are a couple of different angle-views of the cover so you can see the spine has the typical book-markings and that the edges of the box are painted to look like book text block “pages”.

Inside the book-box cover is a handwritten statement that puts my art-object-exhibit in a context.

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Then further inside there are 24 individual hand created dog art pieces done in my ink on handmade paper style. Each artwork is in an archival sleeve so that a viewer can flip through the box-contents like a book. (there’s even a ribbon to help people lift out the ‘pages’) Or the viewer can take out the pages and lay them out on a table and re-sort them.

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Below is some of my thinking behind the exhibit – including my resource book list. I referred to some of this book-research-resource mining in an early blog post here.

General exhibit thoughts for “The Rough Bark of Culture” by Sue Clancy

It is said that humans are the only animal that laughs, cooks (using heat and spices/herbs), develops music, creates art, writes/collects/organizes/shares information across time and space, sorts things numerically and devises elaborate rules for playing games simply for amusement. The ability to read and absorb information via symbols in pictorial and written form is also a uniquely human ability.

Humans are curious, they experiment, seeking novelty and creativity. Wanting enthusiasm – not boredom – they play. Play is part of being human. Play is also an essential component of being creative.

Creativity, communication and organization are attributes of being human. But in modern times it can be hard (rough) to carve out time to play, to be creative, to sort and organize information – to do those very things that make us human.

This exhibit is about what makes us human.

Why dogs? Dogs are enthusiastic about being alive – that’s why I’ve chosen them as my character “actors” in my artwork.  It’s a way of remembering that humans have the ability to create the world around them in ways that make life more comfortable, more fun – so that we can be more enthusiastic about being alive.

Reference material:

“Wonderland: How play made the modern world” by Steven Johnson

“The Creative Spark: How imagination made humans exceptional” by Agustin Fuentes

A quote I used as a guiding light – so to speak:

“To imagine is everything. To know is nothing at all.” Anatole France

Exhibit statement (which means I neatened up for handwritten inclusion in my book-box the thoughts outlined above):

It is said that humans are the only animal that; laughs, cooks (using heat and spices/herbs), specially crafts beverages, develops music, creates art, writes/collects/shares information across time and space, sorts things numerically, reads books/information in order to learn and devises elaborate rules for playing games simply for amusement. Humans sometimes share with dogs an enthusiasm at being alive – seeking novelty and creativity rather than boredom.  Unlike a dog, humans are able to plan and organize our time. We can defer gratification. Yet modern life sometimes makes it hard to carve out time to be creative – rough to do the very things that make us human; play.  This exhibit is about remembering to be human and enjoy life.

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If you want a flavor, a hint, of what this exhibit is like there’s my conventionally printed and bound book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” – https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

Creating a conventional book on this exhibit topic helped cement my idea that I also wanted my viewers to be able to physically “play” with my artwork. Even so – I’m proud of the printed and bound book too. It’s playfulness of a different sort. And able to be more widely available than a one-of-a-kind-art-exhibit in a gallery can be. Having both kinds of play available – the team kind or the individual kind – are important to me.

And speaking of teams; it’s almost time for me to go meet up with friends for a book-store browse and then to go to happy hour! Adult team play! Yippeeee!!

drawing more dogs in the winery

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, Sue Draws Dogs

Next week at Burnt Bridge Cellars the evening of the 27th I’ll be doing another art demo and signing copies of my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy”.  This means that you can drink wine while watching me draw dogs in permanent ink.

I’ve a whole exhibit’s worth of artwork hanging in Burnt Bridge Cellars. My exhibit is titled “Dogs In The Winery” and in this post are a few examples of what you’ll see at the exhibit.  The new artworks I’ll make on the 27th while you watch will be like the black and white ones you see in this post – and in my book “Dogs By Sue Clancy” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

More relevant links:  www.burntbridgecellars.com  www.caplanartdesigns.com

paws for coffee and art

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, drawing as thinking, fine art, visual thinking

Here’s another new artwork for my upcoming exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars http://www.burntbridgecellars.com  – it’s titled

Paws For Coffee by Clancy – 16 x 12 x 2 inches – hand dyed paper, found paper and acrylic on cradled board.

Here’s what inspired it: I can sometimes get so busy that I forget to take time to be present in the moment, to pause and smell the coffee. This is me – remembering.

The diamond motif is because I was thinking of the maze-like labyrinth quality that a busy life sometimes has.  I chose a dachshund character for that breeds digging ability, chosen as an inspiration for me to “dig out” from the (a)maze-ing world what’s really important to me.

Paws For Coffee by Clancy

Paws for Coffee By Clancy 16 x12 x 2 inches Hand dyed paper, found paper and acrylic on cradled board

Labrador dog art in the winery

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, Art Licensing, artistic inspirations, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, sketchbook

As you know from other posts I’m getting ready for a one-person fine art exhibit to open June 2nd at Burnt Bridge Cellars www.burntbridgecellars.com.  For this art exhibit I’ve been meditating, you might say, on how important it is to practice enjoying ordinary life. When I have a glass of wine I’m reminded to breathe, taste and savor everything – not just the wine.  I chose a Labrador dog as my “character” actor in my art (pictured) because a Labrador’s restrained-alert-excitement reflects how I feel while tasting some wines.

Here’s one of my artworks for the show:

Lad72

Lad by Clancy – 30 x 22 inches – sumi ink on handmade paper

On my website page https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/ you can find a link to a sketchbook titled “Glad to Be Alive Sketchbook – drinks and music edition 2017”  where you can download, for free, my sketches that inspired this work.

You can also see some greeting cards with this image – and others – here https://society6.com/sueclancy

art exhibit statement in pictures

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, dog portrait, drawing as thinking, fine art, pattern design, public art, published art, sketchbook, visual thinking, words and pictures

I’ve been working on an exhibit statement for my upcoming one-person exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars http://www.burntbridgecellars.com/ via Caplan Art Designs http://www.caplanartdesigns.com/index.htm and making it as visual as possible. Here’s what I’ve come up with (with slight variations for my on-line only audience):

Dogs In The Winery by Sue Clancy

I’ve been inspired by many of the drinks, restaurants and music events in Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest. Whenever I am inspired I make notes in my “running around loose” sketchbook – real-life observations – that often end up on a page looking like this:

CestLaVie

Back in my studio I run those notes through my imagination and do a new sketch, in black and white, that uses elements of what I’d seen in real life but transforms that real-life data symbolically. In this way, my work becomes a visual story about enjoying something. For me drawing is thinking – and storytelling. My newly imagined art-sketch becomes something like this:

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Pierre by Clancy (ink on handmade paper)

Then I add to my story concept thoughts of color, patterns and textures – to create a surface design on handmade paper that reflects my thoughts/feelings. In this step, I’m designing and creating hand-made patterns onto handmade papers using a number of techniques. Each pattern is designed to be another story element.

I put together the real-life data – my re-configured imaginary sketch idea and my color/pattern surface design thoughts – by cutting shapes out of my handmade papers and literally gluing the cut paper pieces together to create my fine artwork.

To show you what I mean here is a picture of me making a surface pattern design on handmade paper:

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Sue Clancy creating a pattern on paper using a stencil-paste paper technique

And here I’m using an Xacto knife cutting out shapes from paper that was previously dyed:

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Cutting dyed paper into a shape

The end result is a multi-layered fine art piece in color – like what you see in this exhibit or that you can see on my website fine art page https://sueclancy.com/fine-art/ Or like this finished fine art piece titled “Café Paix”

cafepaix72

“Café Paix” by Clancy – 14 x 11 inches – hand dyed paper, handmade paste paper and acrylic on cradled board

This exhibit shows a progression of my artistic thoughts about life in the Pacific Northwest – a visual story collection – with various dogs as symbolic characters. For me a dog represents an exuberance, a gladness, about being alive and is a fitting representative for pleasant life experiences.

You can download, free, 18 pages from my “running around loose” sketchbook – the real-life data that inspired this exhibit from my website here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/  I’ve titled this (free eBook) sketchbook “Glad To Be Alive Sketchbook – drinks and music edition 2017”.  Direct link to the free eBook here: https://sueclancy.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/gladtobealivedrinkmusiced.pdf

The imaginative art-sketches developed from the “Glad to be Alive…” sketchbook can be seen in the printed book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” (available in this exhibit or via Amazon and other booksellers or here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy ). If you are able to visit my art exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars I’m sure you can identify (in “where’s Waldo” puzzle fashion) which sketchbook page led to which black and white art-sketch and which of those became color fine artwork.

For a “mind map” of my thinking process see the diagram here: https://sueclancy.com/2017/05/16/mind-map-of-a-clancy-art-exhibit/

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

 

 

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