may the fourth edition be with you

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, functional art, graphic narrative, illustration, publications - publishing, published art, words and pictures

Hanging out at a bookstore yesterday with friends I happened to spot the book “Making Stuff and Doing Things: DIY guides to just about everything!” edited by Kyle Bravo  https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/1400

This book is now in it’s 4th edition and there’s one chapter by me titled “Why Make A Zine or Artist Book?”.

Back in 2003, if I remember correctly, my work was included in the first edition. Rereading my work now in the new 4th edition I’m still proud and honored to be included!  It really is a useful-in-creative-life book – I’m not just talking about my own chapter.

Here’s a teaser hint of some of the book contents in addition to mine.

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And here’s a teaser page spread from my chapter within this useful book:

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Sharp readers of my blog will probably notice that I’ve used one of the book-stitching techniques I mentioned in “Making Stuff…” on my current project “Time Tavern” (here’s a link to some Time Tavern posts; stitching the book here and more progress here.)

And here’s a panoramic photo of me along with Sweetie and one of our friends (the 4th friend was taking the photo) outside the bookstore Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland Oregon.  http://www.annieblooms.com/

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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!!

reading books making art eating popcorn

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, creative thinking, food for thought, Sustainable creativity, The Sketchbook Project, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures

Below are some books I’m currently reading that are “feeding” many of my upcoming art projects. That’s art exhibits, illustration projects and yes even my sketchbook work for The Sketchbook Project I blogged about last post.  Even though it may seem that I produce a random variety of things – there’s a uniformity to my randomness and it begins with what I read. I see all of the things I make as telling a visual/tactile story about being human, enjoying life and living well.  And to help me develop my visual story I read…

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In case you can’t see all the titles in the picture they are:

“Wonderland; How play made the world” by Steven Johnson

“Books for Living” by Will Schwalbe

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

“The Foundations of Mindfulness” by Eric Harrison

“Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel

All of these books relate to themes I’ve been working with artistically for some time now:

How being willing to try new foods, to eat diverse foods, has helped us develop biologically as physical human beings. And how it helps us still.

Playing music, playing games, “playing” with our food – each kind of play in it’s own way has helped humans as a species develop and maintain physical and mental structures as individuals – and also social structures as communities. This is still true today. When we do not take time to play we hurt ourselves and each other.

Reading books (and writing them) has helped us – as a species – to pass on information so that each generation doesn’t have to completely reinvent the world from scratch.  This ability to collect information, and learn from it, informs our abilities to play – to playfully combine/recombine things – helping us to develop and maintain our mental skills.

Which leads me to mindfulness. Mindfulness for me is the human ability to pay attention, to focus attention and also to have a state of open/non-judgmental acceptance – curiosity even. This is essential to developing, having and keeping our human ability to imagine and be creative.  Mindfulness is part of being able to play and learn…and being able to play and learn is a way of being mindful. And for me, keeping a sketchbook, making art, is at it’s heart an exercise in playful mindfulness – but more about that in another post.

The novel by Esquivel is included in my current reading list because woman does not live by non-fiction alone.

Now please pass the popcorn. Thank you.

On giving art demonstrations

A Creative Life, art techniques, Authors, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, published art, words and pictures

On Saturday I’m participating in a “Words and Pictures Festival” at my local library.  I’ll be signing two of my book titles (more about my books here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/ ) and doing some of my dog drawings and talking about how I create my images. I’ll talk about my ideas, show my tools and discuss methods.

The challenge for me is the talking-while-drawing part of the demo equation. So to help myself I’ve done a video of me drawing… this way I can watch myself and think of what I need to talk about.  When you watch the video do you have questions that you’d like me to answer?

 

 

business of art book review

A Creative Life, Authors, books, business of art, Sustainable creativity

Long ago, in what seems now like a galaxy far away, I organized a business of art seminar series called the Artist Survival Kit.  It was part of my work on the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s board. I also wrote a quarterly column on business of art topics for the magazine Art Focus Oklahoma. Part of my work included reading and reviewing published books about the business of being an artist.

Then I “retired” from doing all that and went on with my life as a fine artist and author/illustrator. Of course I continued to regularly read books on business topics.

Warp-speed ahead to the Pacific Northwest: when any two local artists get together we talk shop – creativity and business stuff – which includes discussions about books we’re reading. And the more-abundant bookshops and libraries here have impressive selections of business-of-art books sitting right there on a shelf!  (Imagine that!?!) Which brings me to this book I just finished titled “Real Artists Don’t Starve” by Jeff Goins. (and yes, that’s my coffee cup in the photo)

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My thoughts about “Real Artist’s Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins are below in random order:

It’s worth a read no matter where you are in your art career and worth keeping on your studio shelves for that moment when you need an “I can do this” boost.

I love the easy-to-read quality to the writing, how he clearly explains concepts about business in ways that don’t send your creative self whimpering into a corner.

I love it that he emphasizes thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur. Particularly on page 147 where he writes “Some artists tend to think making money is either a system you sell out to or something to be avoided altogether. But in reality, it’s neither. If you don’t make money, you won’t have any art to make. We must seek to better understand the business of being an artist. Ignoring this reality is the fastest route to stop creating all together. To be an artist is to be an entrepreneur. We must learn to embrace this tension and the beauty that comes from it.”

Yep – that sums up exactly what I tried to teach all those years ago in Oklahoma. But I think Jeff does a much better job of explaining things than I did – pictures being my preferred medium to words-in-a-row. Jeff Goins is much better at the words-in-a-row.  So I’m very glad he wrote this book and I’m glad to recommend it.  I’m also grateful that I now live in a place, in an artistic scene, where it was possible to  “happen on” to it.

As Jeff Goins writes on page 91 “As artists, we want to be where we feel understood. We want to live in places where our work and way of life are encouraged.”

After reading this book I certainly feel encouraged! Now I’m going to go create something.

(Oh, by the way, I sometimes post tid-bits about art related books on my Goodreads page…)

animals in my art

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Authors, psychogeography, visual story

Last evening I was looking up something in a book called “Drawing Masterclass” and I read this (again): “Animals as subject matter for the visual arts have a longer history than any other subject. The first images drawn by the human race depicted the animals that were hunted for survival [cave paintings]…. There is no period in art when animals have not played a major role.”

In my fine art animals become characters; my creative process is much like the way a novelist creates a character, a compilation of authorial thoughts and observations  – a “collage” of them you might say – merged into one person/character within their story. I create anthropomorphic animal characters because I see humans as part of the natural world and the natural world as part of humanity.  I’m inspired by both nature and culture.

So when I do animal portraits, people are there too.  When I do a portrait of a particular dog, for example, a particular person (someone, or several someone’s I saw in real life) is also reflected.  It becomes a visual story of that animal and that person. I define “story” as a plot where there is some surprise. The surprise in one of my visual stories might be the realization of how a human can be like a dachshund.

For example in my artwork titled “Happy Hour” (see image below) inside I sometimes feel happy and excited like my dachshund Rusty looks when he is bouncing around wagging his tail and dancing for his supper. (Places and objects enter in to my visual story creation too but that’s another discussion.)

My gallery agents often explain to clients that I create (as special commissions) portraits of pets as their pet owners; an imaginative merging of pet and person.  And that’s true.

Here, so you can see what I’m talking about, are some of my animal portraits currently available at either Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com and at Joseph Gierek Fine Art www.gierek.com  – please contact each gallery for more details.

loving dead feminists

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, graphic narrative, visual story, words and pictures

Recently I took some of my artist books to the 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland Oregon. While I was there I saw the “Dead Feminists” exhibit by Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary.  I’m talking exquisite hand drawn lettering, illustrations and printmaking employed as a way of celebrating women!  And this exhibit also exists in a book titled Dead Feminists: Historical Heroines in Living Color published by Sasquatch Books.

Naturally I bought a copy.

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My copy of Dead Feminists – you can get your own here: http://www.deadfeminists.com/

The book – which you can purchase via their website  http://www.deadfeminists.com/ and probably by book-sellers where-ever – is a wonderful nesting, interlocking set of artistic ideas.  There’s the historical stuff about women (those dead feminists) who have done exceptional work towards advancing women’s rights. There’s the stuff about how artist’s Spring and Chandler worked to create the lettering, illustrations and the print production. Then there’s the stuff about what non-profit organizations (often women’s orgs) benefited from the sales of Spring and Chandler’s artwork.

It’s a beautiful depiction of how an artist (and a woman in whatever profession) can do her best work and benefit her community both immediately and in the future.

The book is a powerful reminder that we are each an essential contributor to life as we know it – or hope to know it.

Thank you Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary for your wonderful work! And thank you 23 Sandy Gallery for sharing it!

Now that I’ve finished reading this book I’ll go fetch my socks from where-ever they went when they were blown off.

the universal drawer

A Creative Life, Authors, illustration, visual story, words and pictures

Here’s my recent effort at flash fiction – with illustrations by me of course.

The Universal Drawer

By Sue Clancy

“Papadopodada” said Nanotzee, said to an adult Alienatzoa who was holding a copy of The Universal times in his four hands. “Papadopodada!” Nanotzee insisted.

“Hmmm?” grunted the adult voice from behind The Times and far far away.

“Papadopodada… where did you get this?”  Nanotzee was looking at the Milky Way Galaxy which lay in chest of drawers.

Nanotzee was doing what all young Alienatzoa do – go through their adults private drawers asking personal questions.

(If you could hear them talking their words would sound a lot like this: “Gooartohozee.  Nanhumota Behoobustic”  and so forth, hard for us Earthlings to understand.)

A corner of The Times folded down and one of 3 eyes peered over it. “Oh. My Papadopodada gave that Universe to me for care and feeding when I was about your age. He thought it would be good for me to take responsibility” said the voice behind The Times.

Those words didn’t make much sense to Nanotzee who pulled the drawer all the way out, carried it and set it on a table carefully.  After looking with three eyes a while, reading the labels and admiring the colors, Nanotzee got out the Spectacularizer.  The Spectacularizer makes things appear larger than they really are. A Spectacularizer looks a lot like this.

illustration of a "Spectacularizer" for a story called "The Universal Drawer" by Sue Clancy

illustration of a “Spectacularizer” for a story called “The Universal Drawer” by Sue Clancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Wowweezowee!” exclaimed Nanotzee peering through the three eye pieces and adjusting the Spectacularizer’s knobs, buttons and lenses, making the wonderful even more spectacular.

Eventually Nanotzee said “Papadopodada…one rock, labeled Earth, has a lot of little beings all over it. Is that normal?“  A few nanoseconds later Nanotzee added “And why is your universe so big? Mine is only half this size.”

The Times folded in half.  All three of the adult Alienatzoa’s eyes appeared above the fold. “Well… it’s all a matter of perspective.”

(What the adult Alienatzoa really said was “Garbledee garbledum harumphado.”  But that speech took several light years to reach Earth’s atmosphere and it is likely that much was lost in translation.)

Here below is the only known image of an Alienatzoa:

illustration for "The Universal Drawer" a flash fiction story by Sue Clancy

illustration for “The Universal Drawer” a flash fiction story by Sue Clancy

 

illustrated pie guy

A Creative Life, Authors, illustration, poetry, words and pictures

Creating an illustrated poem today…

Such A Nice Guy (poem and illustration by Sue Clancy)

Such A Nice Guy (poem and illustration by Sue Clancy)

Here’s the text all typed out:

Such a nice guy

by Sue Clancy

Hey silly Sally,

You gonna eat that pie?

Or you gonna sit

with your head in the sky?

You better be careful

with your head so high

that a bird don’t hit your nose

and not be able to fly.

He might fall

into your blueberry pie.

So I’ll do you a favor and eat that quick

’cause I’m such a nice guy.

watery sketchbook page

A Creative Life, Authors, sketchbook, words and pictures

Draw every day even if it’s only a glass of water. – Sue Clancy

Today’s sketchbook page and an attempt to remember a quote by a famous writer/author I recently heard/read somewhere:

Sue Clancy's sketchbook page with a drawing of a glass of water and a small puddle on the table. Plus some ruminations on writing/famous author's...

Sue Clancy’s sketchbook page with a drawing of a glass of water and a small puddle on the table. Plus some ruminations on writing/famous author’s…