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.
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:
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.
Especially when I’m super busy working on a one-person art exhibit I rely even more on my sustainable creativity technique of “running around loose”. I define “running around loose” as going about my nearby surroundings like a child or a dog in a park; poking about and exploring as if there are no time constraints in the world. My cell phone gets turned off and shoved deep into the bottom of my bag. It is there only for emergency use on the scale of needing to call 911. I don’t use the GPS function on my phone either. “Running loose” involves getting lost, losing track of time and generally living by-guess-by-golly (no preconceived plan) for an afternoon into the evening.
I’ll bring my sketchbook and write, draw and paint but I do it with no agenda, no particular project in mind. The idea is to play like a child or a puppy. To observe my surroundings with curious, free-associative, eyes.
This is particularly helpful as a refresher when I’m coming down to the wire on an art exhibit. I’m to deliver all of the artwork for my upcoming one-person exhibit at the end of May – and before that there’s all the paperwork. So I’ve got to be fresh and remember why I’ve done all this artwork – and even get excited about it again.
I’ve been working toward this exhibit for about one year. I’m a bit tired by the time the exhibit nears. But it wouldn’t do to have a “well whatever” attitude here at the finish line. Thus my mega-recharge session.
Here’s what I did in my sketchbooks when I “ran around loose” recharging my batteries for a whole day in Vancouver Washington and Woodland WA :
I was particularly struck by the various colors of purple that I saw on the grapes I ate for a snack – and the many different colors of purple in the tulip gardens and lilac gardens in Woodland WA. Here are some sketchbook pages:
After running loose for a day I felt pleasantly tired but like I’d had a mini-staycation. Great recharge session!!
Links for where I “ran loose”:
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”.
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!
Here’s a page from my sketchbook that relates to a recent blog post: https://sueclancy.com/dogs-strawberries-and-cookbooks/
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.
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:
June’s Treasure – by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – acrylic and gouache on board
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.
Yesterday was a busy day full of play both in the kitchen and on a hike. Somehow in the mix I thought of a new-to-me way to combine my handwritten words and artwork on a page. Late last night I tried it in my sketchbook. Here’s what I did using ink and gouache:
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.
It’s Magic – by Clancy – ink and gouache on paper
A Dog’s Ode To Spring
Oh, there’s 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
I’m here till you shout “get in!”
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…
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:
A Stirring Occasion by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – acrylic and gouache on board
“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.
One of the many things I love about the Pacific Northwest are the indie bookstores and all of the people I see reading. Almost every time I’m in town I see people reading printed books in coffeeshops, in cafes, in the park, in the library, in line at the post office, waiting for the bus and even while walking down the sidewalk.
For example here’s a sketchbook page (left side) I did just after passing by the lobby of one of the downtown apartment-plexes. There’s a lobby on the first floor and a guy was sitting in a chair reading with his dog on his lap. (I added the cat – just for fun.)
I did the other page (on the right) on the same walk, but just after walking past a café window where a lady was having a dessert and coffee. The book she was reading was about the same small size as her cake! So I had to note that!
Below are several more pages from my “running around loose” sketchbook (a book I take with me when I go to town) as well as a few from my “kitchen sketchbook” (a book I keep in my kitchen at home to doodle in while I wait for water to boil etc.)
from Clancy’s Kitchen Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Kitchen Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Running Around Loose Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Running Around Loose Sketchbook
These pages – and my many other sketchbook pages full of readers and books – have been feeding my current “reading and books in art” fine art series that I’ve been posting about in my last several posts. This series of paintings is for an upcoming exhibit. Plus books are a fun topic for me to use in my artistic practice to, well, practice.
I’m still thinking hard about my notion of nesting ideas (like the way one book refers to another book etc.) and this week I’ve added a twist; in past years to accompany my fine art exhibits I’ve included ebook versions of my sketchbooks. What if this year, instead of an ebook, I did a limited edition printed book? And what if it was a book that collected some of my sketches of human readers and possibly included some of my poems/short stories? So that the poem/story related to the human reader, what they might be reading and also to the fine art? It would be a way for me to include the story alluded to within my recent painting Epic Tales Of The Pug King for example.
Hmmm… I’ll keep thinking. And I’ll probably post some of my human reader sketches/illustrations here too and see what you think.
Oh, and to add another layer to my nesting-ideas concept, over on my Instagram page I’m occasionally posting books I’m currently reading.
Recently I was in a local coffee shop and a coffee cup was silhouetted beside a rainy window. Steam rising from the cup. Such a simple thing but I began thinking of how many stories begin with simple things and grow, cumulatively, until they become epics.
Like Pug dogs. So small yet so large in personality especially as they mature.
Here’s a painting I did that was inspired by these thoughts. I’ve titled it “Epic Tales of The Pug King”.
Epic Tales Of The Pug King – by Clancy – 16 x 20 – acrylic and gouache on board.
I wrote the story that’s ‘printed’ in the book depicted in the painting and hand-lettered it, with brush and acrylic, into place on the page-within-the-painting.
My wife came into my studio, saw my work-in-progress and said “What’s the rest of that story?”, saying that she wanted to turn the Pugs page for him and continue reading. Then she challenged me to write the rest of the story.
Right this minute I’m enjoying the visual pun – that the Pug’s epic story-poem, ahem, is really, really, short. Plus the setting and my character, the Pug dog, are not particularly grand as the word “epic” would imply.
And that’s in keeping with my feeling that the most important elements of this world are actually the mundane ones, the humble ones. Daily life and the qualities of it can have more impact on a person than the grandest once-in-a-lifetime vacation might.
I love this quote from Annie Dillard “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”