the art of the mundane

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, fine art, still life, visual thinking, words and pictures

I’ve been reading a lot of novels by Donna Leon lately. Her Commissario Brunetti series. My wife and I had watched many of the movie versions, I got hooked and sought out the novels. As a result I’ve realized how often the detective mystery is solved by something mundane, trivial and even disposable. The clue that resolves the crime may be found in the wilted flowers in the office, the food take-out container, the receipt in a wallet – or something else really mundane.  In Leon’s work the city, the food, the objects are characters in their own right. They certainly add to my perception of her protagonist Guido Brunetti and his cases.

These thoughts led me to thinking about how historians and archeologists both spelunk in the log-books, the diaries and the trash heaps of history to find the clues about life in the past.

And then there’s the concepts of wabi-sabi and hygge…

Amongst all these thoughts I had my cat’s exhibit open at Burnt Bridge Cellars. One of the benefits of doing one-person shows is that I get to see a years worth of my own work all at one time. As I looked around I realized that I’ve focused on creating my characters; the eyes, the fur, their animal-body-shape in people clothing and not as much on the stuff, the objects, they hold.

So I want to see if I can tell a visual story with “just stuff”. A still life basically. But I still hope to tell or imply a visual story. By doing this I’ll be practicing depicting the details of drinks, food and physical objects better so they can become “characters” in their own right. Kind of like what Leon does in her novels. Then eventually I hope to put my object-characters together with my animals…

Anyway, here’s me working on one:

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community creatures and why a book too

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, ebook, fine art, Narrative Art, visual thinking

Here are more pages from my “Running Around Loose” sketchbook – link to the ebook here – and the fine art pieces they inspired. These are in a current exhibit, titled “Community Creatures” at The Anstine Gallery.  I don’t think an artist’s life has to be too mysterious – so I show my sketchbooks when I can in whatever formats I can; ebook, hard-copy book, photocopied pages thumbtacked on a wall. Whatever works for that particular exhibit.  Besides I’ve been told that people enjoy seeing my sketches too – and for me that’s reason enough to do the “extra” work. I enjoy demonstrating the fact that “artistic inspiration” can come from very mundane sources. Anyway, I’m sure you can see the connections between the sketches and the artwork in this post. 

The Anstine Gallery’s facebook page is here https://www.facebook.com/The-Rebecca-Anstine-Gallery-336799326827686/.

More about my ebooks and artist books available at www.sueclancy.com

purrfecting pie

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, kitchen art

I’ve noticed in my travels around the Pacific Northwest that you can get savory or sweet hand pies to-go from food carts, a medium sized “personal pie” in restaurants, a slice of pie, a whole pie or a serve-yourself-family-style pie. I’ve also heard from several sources that a flaky pie crust is hard to make from scratch.

I’m currently discovering that it’s also a challenge to paint a flaky pie crust.  Here’s a picture of me working at it:

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I’m using a “color shaper”, a rubber wedge shaped brush, to remove the top layer of color to reveal the color underneath. An attempt to make the pie in my painting look like a browned pie crust top that has cracked to show the yummy goodness inside.

I’ll keep working on this piece but first I’ll let it dry a bit and go have some dinner… for some reason I’m hungry.

finished Abyssinian cat with alphabet

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, creative thinking, handmade papers, pattern design, visual thinking

Here’s the finished Abyssinian cat portrait with an alphabet pattern background – reflecting my thoughts of multi-lingual book readers, alphabetic “framing” of thoughts and… well, if you look at my last several blog posts you’ll see my thinking as I’ve worked on this one.

It’s titled “Alpha Betty” and is 20 x 24 inches.

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I’m particularly pleased with how the alphabet “shows through” subtly all over this piece with varying degrees of transparency or opacity – like our varying degrees of awareness of the linguistic framing of our thoughts.

You can see more of my cat-related thoughts in my ebook “Various Cat Sketches” here: https://sueclancy.com/shop/

 

Abyssinian cat portrait with alphabet

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, fine art, handmade papers, pattern design

Having been inspired by all the multi-lingual book readers I see in the Pacific Northwest – combined with the alphabet-as-frame-of-reference thoughts I’d shared in my last blog post, and my on-going collection of cat-related thoughts – I’ve been working on a portrait of an Abyssinian cat. The cat will be reading a  mystery called “M is for Mice”. (What else would a mouse obsessed cat read?) I’ll probably title my painting “Alpha Betty” when I’m done.  Below you can see my progress along side my to-scale drawing. I’ve still more work to do. Especially on the mouth area on the cat – and of course on the book.  This work is 20 inches tall by 24 inches wide.

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You can see more of my cat-related thoughts in my ebook “Various Cat Sketches” here: https://sueclancy.com/shop/

 

from my Various Cat Sketchbook

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artist book, Cats in art, creative thinking, ebook, sketchbook, visual thinking

I’ve just finished making an ebook – 34 pages derived from my hand drawn, hand written, sketchbook on the topic of cats. It’s titled “Various Cat Sketches by Sue Clancy” – and can be found here on my Art Ebook Shop page.  Warts, scribbles, mistakes and all have been included – so you can see how my mind works – and for your amusement. I worked in ink, watercolor and gouache. In this post are a few pages from the ebook. Enjoy!

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four topic sketchbook keeping

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, ebook, kitchen art, psychogeography, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, Sustainable creativity, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue, visual thinking

Oh I’ve had an excellent question asked of me! Here’s the question: “Do you keep separate sketchbooks for different subjects/projects/media or do you use one sketchbook for all sorts of art experiments and ideas?”

My answer:  I used to keep one sketchbook but I found it hard to find the bit of research I needed because I’d have to flip through the whole book to find something.  Now I keep sketchbooks by topic.

Here is one of my “kitchen sketchbooks” – recipe inspired art – where I am inspired to draw by a recipe I’m cooking. This book is 5 x 4 inches in size, sewn binding and paper that can handle ink and water-media.  This way my favorite recipes are all in one spot – and when I have an ingredient I can flip through this one book to find a recipe that I know works and that my family likes.  This sketchbook, additionally, is my “testing ground” for ways to combine food, drink and art together – ways to interpret food/drink artistically.  This sketchbook is also a place where I’ll try new-to-me art media or methods. I’ve been trying gouache lately and I posted a few pages from this book the other day https://sueclancy.com/from-my-kitchen-sketchbook/ – Here’s what the outside of my current kitchen sketchbook looks like:

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I have been working on a new series of fine art paintings with Cats as the main characters. So I have one sketchbook that collects my cat related painting practice and research. In it I’ve been studying cat shapes and experimenting with lines, colors. I’ve also experimented with combinations of collage, ink and water-media. This sketchbook is called “Various Cat Sketches” and is 8.5 x 11 in size, with a sewn binding. Here, below, is what the outside of it looks like. I’ll post more of it’s pages on this blog soon because it will contribute to an upcoming fine art exhibition

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Another current sketchbook is my “Running Around Loose” book. This is the sketchbook that fits in my small go-sketching bag and is 3 x 5 inches, with a sewn binding, water-media ready paper in a landscape format. In this book I record my observations of the world around me; places I go, people I see, food or drink I have. It could easily be called a travel sketchbook  but I call it my “running around loose” book because that’s what I try to do as I run around town with this book – be loose and free with my lines, colors and thoughts. Here, below, what this book looks like. I’ll post more of it’s pages here too.  (I’ve posted my last sketchbook like this as an ebook titled “Glad To be Alive” available for download here)

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And the 4th topical sketchbook is called “The Forked Tale: thoughts about creative life”.  This one is a hardback book 6 inches tall by 8 inches wide and over an inch thick. In it I’ve collected my thoughts, readings, quotes etc. about this business of being creative.  I’ve shown pages from this book to friends before who enjoyed it and found it helpful. But recently my friend Liesl was over for dinner and asked me a question about art-studio furniture. We kept talking about aspects of living a creative life and eventually I got out this book and shared it with her. She very strongly encouraged me to publish this book. So I will. After all she’d brought a very good wine to dinner. Here, below, what the outside of this sketchbook looks like.

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Yes, this method of sketchbook keeping helps me to organize and find things but keeping topical sketchbooks is also helpful when I only have a short span of time to work. I can select a topic and can get right to it because I don’t have to wonder what topic to paint/work on. 

Thanks for the question! I’d not thought to do a blog post outlining this method of mine before!

time to gouache

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, Dogs in Art, sketchbook, The Sketchbook Project, visual story

As you know I’ve been playing with my new gouache paints in my various sketchbooks and art papers, practicing for my work on “Time Tavern”, a book I’m doing for the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project. https://www.brooklynartlibrary.com/  Now that I feel I have gouache skills under my belt – it’s time to work on my wordless story “Time Tavern”.

Here are some pages in progress:

The gouache is working well on the paper – and I’m getting the bold colors I’d wanted! Now, to keep at it….

 

staying wet in the Pacific Northwest

A Creative Life, art techniques, Sustainable creativity

I’ve been loving having independent art supply stores near where I live in the rainy Pacific Northwest – and on a recent trip to get more gouache colors I bought a “stay wet” palette. The theory of the thing, according to the art supply store clerk, was that water based paints wouldn’t dry out as fast. I bought one…

MastersonPallette

…and I’ve been using the same palette now for several days! Less paint waste! And I’m able to work in even better “short bursts”. All I have to do is pop the tight fitting lid off and dip my brush in and paint. Sometimes I spray a “mist” of water on the palette to add more moisture. Then when I’m done painting I put the lid back on.

Now I’m thinking “Where has this palette been all my life?”. Going to have to go back to the art supply store to get a second one.  Thank goodness for the local art supply store clerks who really know their stuff!

in the gouache

A Creative Life, art techniques, dog portrait, fine art

Here’s “Mandolin Man”, a piece I finished that tests my new red gouache color. On the musicians neck strap you can most clearly see the new red I’d mentioned in my last post. I also used the red as a “mixer” in the brown of the Labrador fur – so it’s more of a dark red brown. I also played with the opaqueness of the gouache – and tried to leave some colors “transparent” in places too.  I’m enjoying working in gouache. Of course “Mandolin Man” also has ink and color pencil (besides the gouache) and is on vintage sheet music.

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