Here are the 6 pieces I created last night during my 3 hour demo at Burnt Bridge Cellars. I worked on these dog portraits while people talked, drank wine, watched me work and asked me questions. One of the staff at the winery took a brief moment to watch and said “Oh! Each of your pieces have either a glass of wine or a wine bottle in them!” I grinned and said “Yes, I’m aware of where I am!” And everyone laughed. It was a fun evening! Thanks again everyone!
Sweetie and I did a short road trip to Mount St. Helens in Washington. We hiked around, saw a lot of birds. Sweetie heard the birds singing and said they were quite a musical chorus. At the visitor’s center people “danced” about getting photos in front of the mountain. I drew this in my sketchbook using ink and watercolor:
Then at the visitor’s center we went into the Mount. St. Helens gift shop. From past experience we’ve learned that their collection of books for sale on the topics of botany, zoology and biology is a gold mine. Several books come home with us each trip. This time was no exception. One of the titles that came home with us is “Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains.” by Daniel Mathews.
On page 429 I read (about birds caching food) “Phenomenal ability to remember precise locations evolved separately in the chickadees and the jays that cache food for winter, and in many migrating species. Some of these species have nonmigratory or noncaching relatives whose powers of recall don’t amount to diddley squat. Another kind of memory that must be worth holding on to is a male warbler’s memory of conspecific males’ songs. As long as each singer remembers his neighbor’s song from the year before, and stays on his own territory, both are spared a fight. They remember songs from year to year as they return from Central America to reclaim their old haunts.”
That got me to thinking about the traveling troubadours of ancient times. And from that thought I migrated (pun intended) to thinking of how, here in the Pacific Northwest, there is a “new” tradition of traveling musicians who give what is called “living room concerts” in private homes. The home-owner hosts the musicians, putting them up for a night or two, and invites a number of family and friends to come to a concert. A certain amount of money is collected per attendee and most of that money goes to the musician. The musician also sells their CD’s and what not during the evening.
I’m quite addicted to this ‘living room concert’ tradition. I find that even though I’m deaf I can “hear” the music better in a small intimate setting. There are also several local small independent theatres – and there’s fairly good hearing there too. My point being that the music I’ve heard since we’ve lived here in the Pacific Northwest has inspired a lot of my recent artwork. And I suspect this trend will continue.
The concept of a birds ability to remember where they put their food also made me think about the seasonal offerings at the local Pacific Northwest restaurants. When I say “seasonal offering” I mean it. There’s a short time when a certain fruit or veg is available at the local farms so the pubs and restaurants will offer special dishes that use that fruit/veg and then when it’s gone. It’s gone.
We’ve lived here long enough now that I’m beginning to remember, for example, what pubs will offer the “fresh asparagus ‘fries’ ” during peak asparagus season. I’m also remembering which farmers market stands sell the freshest berries and apples. I love the seasonal randomness it’s like a perpetual surprise party but the ability to remember what is ripe during what season is helpful to know.
Needless to say I’ve been artistically inspired by the food. And that’ll prolly (as they say here) continue too.
There’s something about memory and food and music…. something that I just itch to make fine art about. So stay tuned. (pun intended again)
I strongly believe in taking care of oneself as a way of sustaining creativity. Keeping a go-to list of “things that feed your soul” and regularly using it can help maintain ones artistic battery. One item on my list, well okay two items, is cooking food and listening to music. So I also strongly believe that music belongs in the kitchen and dining room. Belongs there loudly.
Luckily I now live in a part of the country where I have friends who both play musical instruments and cook! I also now live in a city that holds music concerts in the park – a park ringed with food carts, restaurants and pubs/breweries – all of them cooking something that smells delicious. Picnics are often brought to these park concerts – baskets full of mouth-watering food and wine or beer.
To celebrate this music-plus-food life I’ve created some tea towels and dinner napkins with a music motif.
Now I’ll give you three guesses as to what I’m happily doing this evening.
Oh, and here are the direct links to information about the above pictured tea towels and napkins:
I’m playfully experimenting again. I’m combining several things: my thought that knowing how to cook is an essential artist survival skill, my not-so-secret desire to illustrate a cookbook and the fact that I’ve been asked to do my fine artwork (dogs and food!) as prints for sometimes messy home kitchens.
So I’m collecting my kitchen art efforts together and publishing them on a web page – https://sueclancy.com/pattern-design/kitchen-tales/ — as you can see I’m doing a series of individual prints instead of printing a series of images in a traditional book. This way people can mix and match to their liking.
The same with tea towels and napkins… can recipes become something useable like a towel? Can I tell visual stories, that you can wipe your hands with, about enjoying food and drink? It’ll be fun to try!
And lucky for me I have a chef friend – Chef Kim Mahan of http://www.class-cooking.com – who wants to experiment with non-traditional cookbook notions too! We will do some practicing in public – on my blog as well as on the above mentioned web page.
Here’s a framed print… you saw progress towards this image in earlier posts.
In my last post I mentioned that I was looking through my sketchbooks for drawings I’ve done of restaurant waiters and posted one sketch. Then, inspired by one of the sketches I found in my various books, I drew this finished drawing using ink and watercolor on handmade paper. By ‘finished’ I mean it could be framed and hung as it is.
Posting about this got me to thinking about how I define the term “sketching”. Some people might call the drawing posted above a “sketch” because it is done using a fairly loose and simple style. But I don’t call it a sketch and here’s some of why…
Sketches are: Drawings made on-site that capture and document observed surroundings.
Sketches are: Drawings that communicate a thought/feeling/story that reflects the reality the sketcher perceives at the moment (however accurate the drawing may/may not be).
Sketches are: Drawings that can serve as a reminder of observations and thoughts. As in the drawing and writing is legible enough that I, or someone else, could recognize and understand what I’ve observed even though the sketch/drawing doesn’t contain as much detail as a more finished artwork may have.
Sketches are: Drawings that are documentations of one’s day (auto biographical data) – a personal visual diary collecting both words and images reflecting the associative thoughts of the sketcher at that day/time.
Sketches are: Drawings that are studies in preparation for later more finished artwork. Practicing to “get a particular shape right” etc.
Sketches are: Drawings where the sketcher is “working out” thoughts and ideas along a theme or series concept.
Sketches are: Drawings that are done in a bound book (usually) and not intended for framing or display.
I got some new-to-me kinds of watercolors. Chinese watercolors to go along with my Sumi ink. So I had to play with them. Here’s my test case below.
Feels good to just play around with my art supplies – kind of like eating mac-n-cheese right out of the pan while wearing pajamas and watching a movie.
After I was finished it turns out that I like the yellow spoon drawing best because after attempting the green and the blue spoon drawings I learned that applying the sumi ink last makes for the boldest lines.
Yep. I highly recommend playing around with ones art supplies as a way to refresh and sustain creativity. I’ve not seen this important sustainable creativity business method discussed much in the business-of-art books. It oughta be…
My business-of-art model goes like this:
- Play around with my materials often. Both new materials and old ones. Experiment. Make a mess.
- Focus on what I’m doing instead of how well I’m doing it. Focus on the fun.
Another way of describing my business-of-art model goes like this:
Like happiness good artwork often happens while we’re doing something else.
My current fine art exhibit is still up and available during the Burnt Bridge Cellars winery hours (www.burntbridgecellars.com) and will be through the end of July. I’ve designed it as an experiment in layers of story – layered like a lasagna. Judging by responses and comments, both to me and to the staff at Burnt Bridge Cellars, people have been having fun with my experiment!
Layer 1 – as I worked toward this exhibit, starting well over a year ago, I took notes on my experiences of ordinary daily life and recorded them in my sketchbook. You can see this sketchbook as a free ebook here: https://sueclancy.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/gladtobealivedrinkmusiced.pdf
Layer 2 – I spun my sketchbook notes through my imagination creating characters (dogs) that helped me describe my thoughts and feelings about ordinary life visually and metaphorically. I created a series of sumi ink pieces on handmade papers – dogs drinking, playing musical instruments and etc. Some of these pieces got framed and are in my exhibit. Others became part of a printed book titled “Dogs by Sue Clancy”. You can see that book at the exhibit or via this link here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy
Layer 3 – I created a series of items aka “illustrated things”; scarves, napkins, tea towels, phone cases and many other items that relate to this exhibit – return full circle to the “ordinariness” of life – these items are available via the links found here https://sueclancy.com/pattern-design/
Layer 4 – A group of 17 of my artworks are hung on the walls at the winery. But in addition to the artwork itself which can be viewed up close in person I wrote short “blurbs” – very short descriptions of what inspired the artwork. You can literally walk around (wine glass in hand) the exhibit “reading” my story of living my life. Additional details – the layers above – are there if people want to see more.
Here are four of my artworks along with their stories that you could read on the wall next to my artwork at Burnt Bridge Cellars:
Click on the above images to see the title I’ve given them and then find the story below –
Maestro Houndsinger by Clancy
I attended several musical concerts and noted a consistency of a moment, that moment, just before the music started, when the conductor, the soloists, the performers took a deep breath. All performance, all of life, starts with a breath – and that’s what I wanted to remember – to breathe.
Surround Sound by Clancy
I’ve gotten to hear some “hairy” (complex) guitar music. I’ve also enjoyed seeing locally hand-crafted music instruments. I’ve also thought of the local music and musicians that I’m honored to know personally – those I get to hear in small places, like cafe’s and homes – where I get to be surrounded by their music, love and friendship… all of these thoughts are combined in this piece.
Paws For Coffee by Clancy
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.
Pup Fiction by Clancy
I was thinking of how curiosity and imagination are the “muscle” and “bones” of a healthy mental life. Perhaps curiosity, imagination – and coffee – are what makes us human?
What exactly was my experiment you ask? I wanted to create an exhibit that would have something (actually several somethings) for my friends and fans who are not able to come in person to my exhibit – and also to give people who are able to come to my exhibit in person an extra treat. As in while they’re waiting for their friends to meet-up at the winery they can down-load my sketchbook to their phone, or read blog posts like this one https://sueclancy.com/2017/05/16/mind-map-of-a-clancy-art-exhibit/ that describe my creative process or look at a printed book of my dogs… Of course they can look at my fine art on the walls and imagine themselves enjoying the simple ordinary things in life.
And have I mentioned that the wine at Burnt Bridge Cellars is very good?
In my last post I mentioned a new project I’m working on – “Bear Salad”. Well, in general my new project is a series of art-prints art-illustrations related to the kitchen.
The evolution-tree of this new project goes like this:
When I was in art school I learned from some of my older-wiser fellow art majors how vital being able to cook (and mix your own drinks) was to survival in business as an artist.
Since my college days my hobby has been cooking. Specifically easy-to-fix meals that are often one-pot or two-bowl wonders. As a busy professional artist I don’t have lots of time to do multi-dish crazy-complicated menus but I also want my food to be “artistic”. I want it to be colorful and look good on a plate – and taste yummy. Why leave my artistic creative self in the studio? Why not bring my eye-for-color, texture and pattern into my kitchen – and add the art of flavor?
I love and collect cookbooks – especially the visually beautiful ones. Additionally I take cooking classes for fun and relaxation. I have secretly harbored a desire to write, illustrate and design a cookbook. (You can see evidence of this in my ebook “Coffee, Table, Book” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book)
Consequently food and drink has been a theme in my fine artwork for years. It’s been such a constant theme that I’ve gotten requests, as I did again recently, asking if I have “…art prints with dogs and food?”
It seems that people want my lighthearted colorful art for their kitchens but some people are afraid to put an expensive original artwork in a place where cooking-mess sometimes happens. So I’d begun a series of art prints for kitchens. You can see this here: https://society6.com/sueclancy/prints
As I’ve mentioned I take cooking classes… well most recently Chef Kim Mahan of http://www.class-cooking.com has kindly let me illustrate some of her recipes and kitchen tips! So you’ll be seeing more of these illustrations a little along as part of my new kitchen-art project. I’ve turned Chef Kim’s recipe for “pear salad” into a kitchen print called “Bear Salad”. Here’s a link for the giclee art print – https://society6.com/product/bear-salad_print#s6-7068429p4a1v45
Here is my finished illustration of “Bear Salad” – and yes, I’m still playing with words and pictures – My goal is to create a series of lighthearted visually fun kitchen art pieces that just happen to be practical too.
P. S. – My experience of life as a professional artist has proven that my art school peers were correct; knowing how to cook and mix drinks has been a vital business-of-art survival tip!
While my art exhibit is up the months of June and July at Burnt Bridge Cellars www.burntbridgecellars.com I’m starting some new art/illustration projects…. here’s my work table:
I’m working with ink and watercolor to illustrate a recipe – and to think about it…
More about this project later – my hand and arm is tired now.
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.