sea stories

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, Books In Art, Cats in art, fine art, magic realism, reading in art, story, visual story

I live now within a 2 hour drive from the Pacific Ocean. I also live near a river that feeds directly into the sea. So it’s been fun to read and think about stories, both fiction and non-fiction, that have to do with water.  Books like: “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, “2000 Leagues Under The Sea” by Jules Verne, “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, tales about pirates, books about the Lewis And Clark expedition and of course the writings of Mark Twain.

And I often see people reading printed books in town and on beaches along the coast. Their facial expressions make me wish I could see what story they were reading. What if a book being read leaked out from the readers mind and into the world beside them?

These musings led to my gouache painting titled “Sea Stories”:

SeaStories300

“Sea Stories” by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – ink and gouache on board

absurd things on rainy days

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Books In Art, Cats in art, Dogs in Art, magic realism, mundane and magical moments, pattern design, reading in art, sketchbook, travelogue, visual story, visual thinking

For this new painting I’ve combined several thoughts together: rainy day activities, the contrast between rainy Pacific Northwest and the Southwestern (USA) desert region (Arizona), and the Bonneville Dam’s fish ladder. I’ve found the fish ladder fascinating – here’s a video of it – and have done some fun sketching at the Bonneville Dam  trying to capture the patterns I see.

I enjoy the patterns the fish form as they flow by.  I also enjoy the patterns of the needles/leaves on cactus and succulents which seem visually similar, in my eyes, to the “flow” of the fish as seen from various angles.

Yes, I spend a lot of time thinking about visual fractals in general and specifically fractals in nature

Plus the absurdity of comparing fish with cactus tickled my funny bone. At any rate those were some of my thoughts as I created this gouache painting I’ve titled “100 Things To Do On A Rainy Day”.

100ThingsToDoOnRainyDay300

“100 Things To Do On A Rainy Day” by Clancy – 11 x 14 inches – ink and gouache on board

Dear Readers exhibit prep

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art techniques, business of art, Cats in art, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, reading in art, still life, visual story

I’ve been busy getting the framing, wiring and labeling done for all of the artwork destined for my “Dear Readers” exhibit that opens June 7th, the first Friday, at Burnt Bridge Cellars. There are 28 new artworks by me for this one-person exhibit – titled “Dear Readers” – this photo only shows a fraction of the artworks, wrapped up, packed in boxes ready to be delivered. Lots more to do!

DearReadersExhibitPacking

I got my frames from a local independent frame shop called Aurora Gallery. Most of the rest of my art supplies came from a local (Portland Or) art supply called Artists And Craftsman.

The exhibit content, of course, came from my mind and personal life. More about that here and in my recent blog posts.

What did I eat and drink while doing all of this work? Well I’ve posted about that over on my Instagram page.

And yes, I carefully save and reuse packing material like you wouldn’t believe.

Or maybe you would.

 

Dear Readers exhibit pun

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, artist book, author illustrator, books, Books In Art, Cats in art, Dogs in Art, reading in art, Uncategorized, words and pictures

Since my upcoming fine art exhibit, opening June 7, at Burnt Bridge Cellars is titled “Dear Readers” and contains nested ideas – for the additional pun of it I’ll have some artist books available. So here’s a pic of a few of the books I’ll have at the exhibit.

BooksBySC

There’s my Dogs and Cats and a Cookbook I illustrated (with Chef Kim Mahan’s recipes). And yes – there’s a little tiny mini-guide to drawing dogs! How’s that for a visual pun in an art exhibit full of paintings of dogs reading?

There are also cats and food depicted in my artwork… and of course books! So my books relate to my artwork which relates to my books…

Basically I’ve had a lot of fun playing with nested ideas!

BTW the “How to Draw Dogs” mini-guide is only available via the Brooklyn Art Library in New York …. except for the few I’ll have in my exhibit in Vancouver WA. 

A link to my Dear Readers exhibit statement that explains my thinking behind this exhibit is here.

More generally about my artist books here.

And now to get back to work framing and labeling everything…

reading a dachshunds ode

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, Art Word Combinations, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, Books In Art, cat portrait, Cats in art, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, graphic narrative, illustrated poem, illustrated shorts, illustration, Narrative Art, reading in art, still life, visual story, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

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.

ItsMagic-PrintThisOne

It’s Magic – by Clancy – ink and gouache on paper

A Dog’s Ode To Spring
By Clancy

Oh, there’s sunshine
Glorious 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
Glorious sunshine
I’m here till you shout “get in!”

 

personalized portraiture pleasure

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commission, art commissions, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, Fine Art Commission

I’ve enjoyed, this season, being commissioned to create several portraits of pets which included many elements that reflected the pet owners too!  Thank you for the privilege of making something special for you and your loved ones – that was the wonderful gift you gave to me this Holiday season!

You can read juicy details about one of my commissioned portraits of two cats here.

And there is a wonderful newspaper article in my local paper, The Columbian, about commissioning a portrait from an artist and how it can become a treasured family heirloom – and how a portrait by an artist is different from a photograph.  It’s true, at least by my experience, that people really do treasure portraits of pets and people that they know. Btw: portraits can be commissioned any time of the year – not just during Holidays.

As it may still be possible that some gifts have not yet been unwrapped in 2018 here, for your amusement, are a few commissioned portraits that I did in the past (and are thus safe to post!):

You can see more about my portraits, information about how to commission one, as well as more examples of my work on this page.

Thank you also for your support and encouragement of my work throughout the year! Happy Holidays and my best wishes for a Happy New Year!

 

portrait commission of two cats

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commission, art techniques, cat portrait, Cats in art, fine art, Fine Art Commission, handmade papers, visual story

This time of year most of my art commissions are gifts and are top secret. No blogging about them. Well this time a couple asked me to create a double portrait of their two cats and since it’s a gift to themselves they’ve let me blog about it! (Happy Holidays to all of us!) Here’s how it went:

In September Sue and Dean asked me via Caplan Art Designs, my Portland gallery, to create a double portrait of their two cats.  They were pretty sure they wanted it to be 12 inches by 18 inches and on handmade paper to be framed.

A time to meet to discuss the commission was arranged and my wife, Judy, and I went to dinner at Sue and Dean’s house.  I brought an example of the 100% cotton handmade paper that I’d use at the size they’d requested and a few other sizes just in case. I also brought my camera, a note pad and an extra pen.

After we’d been there a short while the cats came out. So did my camera. As the cats got used to me, and over the evening, I took over 41 photos of them. Here are two of the photos I took.

I asked questions of the humans about the cats favorite places, toys and habits. I asked questions about the humans favorite places, drinks and memories. On my note pad I wrote down the answers. Where possible I photographed the answers .  For example on of my questions was: “What drink do you reach for most often when you want to relax? And what kind of glass do you have it in?” Here was the answer:

Drink

Generally we just talked about one thing and another. You know, dinner party talk. I asked questions, kept my ears open, and my notepad ready for recording things that might be relevant to the commission. I like to include in any pet portrait elements from the humans’ lives: favorite objects, drinks, food, anything that sparks pleasant memories. Helpfully, Sue and Dean both volunteered lots of information about themselves such as a favorite artwork that was meaningful to them.

backgoundart

They told of past travels that were particularly memorable. Famous people they’d met in Hawaii.  All kinds of things were talked about and without interrupting flow I asked  more questions  and made as many notes as I could. Without being too obvious I also looked around their house noting colors and patterns, writing those notes down too.  This is what I call the “data dump” phase of a commission. At this point I have no idea what information will be relevant for the final artwork.

We relaxed into the evening; just talking, having a very yummy dinner with a good wine. Slowly as Sue and Dean talked I began to get ideas…  The cats got comfortable too and began doing their “normal” behavior.

Ollie likes to sit in a basket that holds magazines. Tony likes to sit on the couch and watch Nature on television.  The cats behavior prompted me to ask which human had the magazine subscriptions (Sue did) and what magazines were favorites. Dean has worked in technological fields…so technological advances (including TV) were discussed..

Later in the evening I floated a general portrait concept: Ollie reading magazines and Tony watching TV…perhaps the basket Ollie likes so much could become a “table” in the artwork, perhaps…   They both seemed to like my concept direction. They verified the size of artwork they wanted. I said I’d send them, via the gallery, a sketch for their approval before I began the finished artwork. We enjoyed a bit more conversation (and wine) – I glanced at my notes and racked my brain to make sure I had all the data I needed – and then we said our good-nights.

In the driveway pulling away from their house about 9:30pm I texted the gallery owner with the gist of what size artwork Sue and Dean wanted etc. Then my wife, Judy, and I discussed the evening in the car as we drove home. I still had my note pad out and was writing notes in the moving car by flashlight. (Judy was driving.)

Occasionally it had happened during the evening that I was talking with Sue in one room while Judy was in another room talking with Dean. So Judy filled me in on what I’d missed.  At this point I am still in “data dump” mode. I have a rough direction for my design. But the details are very fuzzy. (Over the many years I’ve done special commissions this kind of uncertainty is normal and I trust it as a part of the process.)

The next day I went over my notes and began making 4 x 6 inch size thumbnail sketches.  Over several weeks I did this; going over my notes and photos, drawing possible poses of the cats, possible objects, considering composition and colors. I also showed my sketches to Judy discussing the possibilities. At one point Judy said that they had both talked of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Hawaii enough that she was sure that they were important. I agreed and adjusted my drawings so that a reference to those travels was emphasized. Slowly an idea began to come together in the small thumbnail size anyway.  What works visually at a small size doesn’t always work at a larger size but it’s a place to start.

On my easel I put the 12 x 18 inch handmade paper. Then I covered that with tracing paper and drew a grid (you can see it in the photo below). Then I put tracing paper over the grid and drew one of the thumbnail ideas to that scale.  Then another tracing paper was put over that and that drawing tweaked…. And so it went, with multiple tracing paper overlays and re-draws, for a week or more. Tweak, tweak, tweak, until I had something I felt good about.  The “good drawing” I sent to the gallery and to Sue and Dean for their approval. Here is what I sent:

MorehouseCommPreApprove72

They approved the drawing! Yippee! I did a happy dance and then I got serious about colors.

Upon arriving home after the dinner with Sue and Dean I had gotten out one of my interior design color swatch books. Flipping through the pages I found a couple of color spreads that I felt had the “vibe” of Sue and Dean’s house. I showed the pages to Judy to get her input.  With those interior design book pages as a rough guide along with my photographs taken inside their house I began mixing colors and making color notes.  I used my thumbnail drawings to play with color schemes too, painting blobs of color here or there. Anyway, here’s a photo of the interior design book page as well as a few pages of my sketchbook color notes. I did 6 pages of color notes but this one photo will give you the idea.

ColorPaletteBlends

As I decided on the colors I made pencil notes on the approved to-scale drawing where the colors would go. You can see some of this in the photo above.

Then I began on the finished artwork.  The actual painting took about 10 days start to finish. As I say often – the sketching/drawing/planning is where the bulk of creation happens.  I transferred the approved sketch/drawing to the handmade paper I intended to use for the finished artwork.  Then I began to make tiny adjustments to the drawing directly onto the handmade paper in prep for painting. I also discovered gaps in my visual data base.

For example I realized that I didn’t know what the back of a vintage TV set looked like. Not well enough to paint it in detail anyway. Fortunately there are some vintage shops where I live – so a few visits downtown with my sketchbook and the problem was solved!

I also realized that I had an opportunity to make a portrait of Sue and Dean on the front cover of the “magazine” that Ollie, the cat, would be reading in the finished artwork. So I asked for, and got, a picture of the couple that I could use as a reference photo.  From the photo I did several pencil drawings on tracing paper to design the magazine cover and to get the humans to look like themselves. I drew until I had a cover design and human portrait that worked. Here it is:

MagCover

Once I had the magazine “cover” drawing ready (drawn to the scale needed in the artwork) I transferred it to the appropriate spot on the handmade paper.  At another point I realized that I could include the stain glass windows I’d seen in their house as part of the “back cover” of the magazine. But I hadn’t gotten photos of the window when we visited for dinner. And neither Judy nor I could remember the exact details of the windows. So I contacted Amy at the Caplan Art design gallery and she helped fill in the missing data! Whew!

Here’s what the finished artwork “Ollie and Tony” looks like. I’ve photographed it as it was on my easel when I finished it, so you can see the four deckled edges of the handmade paper.  I used acrylic, gouache, watercolor and ink.

OllieAndTonywithdeckles72

I sent the photo of the finished art to Amy the gallery owner to let her know it was done.  Then I spray varnished the piece with a removable varnish that has UV protection in it.

When that was dry I contacted Amy and arranged for a time to deliver it to the gallery.  The date was set and the varnish dry so I slipped the artwork into an archival plastic sleeve and into a cardboard portfolio to protect the artwork from being bent on its travels between my studio and the gallery or between the gallery and the framer.  (It rains in the Pacific Northwest – so artwork needs all the protection it can get.)

We delivered the artwork to the gallery and as a nice surprise Sue and Dean were there!  Here we all are looking at the artwork and talking about it:

artdelivery

Amy will take the artwork to the professional framer the gallery works with and have the art floated on a neutral mat, with spacers so the artwork won’t touch the glass.  It will be given a simple black frame.

What a fun project!! I love getting to make highly personal and meaningful visual stories like this! Thank you!! And thank you, Sue and Dean, for letting me share it on my blog!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

 

still a character

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, cat portrait, Cats in art, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, food in art, Narrative Art, story, visual story

Here are a few of the artworks I’ve recently sent to Joseph Gierek Fine Art (www.gierek.com) for the upcoming Holiday Art Show.  I’m sure you’ll notice my “still life” object practice work now combined with characters. Yes, I’m trying to make every element count toward the visual story. You know, like a writer tries to make every word count.

opening story stuff

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, Cats in art, fine art, public art, still life, Sustainable creativity

I find that with each art exhibit I learn more about my own work. Last night, during the opening party for “Story Stuff” at Caplan Art Designs, I had multiple questions about my art techniques – in addition to conversations about the content within my artwork. As a result I realized that I’m an ancient art technique nerd. Many of my works in this exhibit utilize art techniques originating in the 19th century and earlier. I didn’t consciously set out to use so many old techniques – handmade paper, paper dying, and gouache to name a few – they just suited my content as I created it. Several different people commented that they thought my use of old techniques made my work “ethereal”.

Wow! New thoughts to think – and thank you to all of my fans for that! Thank you for all the stimulating conversations!

Quite a crowd ebbed and flowed throughout the evening. Here’s a photo from one of the moments. I’m wearing a red shirt.

What a fun evening!  Now, back to the studio to make more art!

cozy mystery story stuff

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, Cats in art, Dogs in Art, fine art, music in art, small things, still life, story, visual story

In September at Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com I’m doing a one-person fine art exhibit titled “Story Stuff”. And you can thank the literary genre of the “cozy mystery” for it.

You see I enjoy detective novels and movies. I particularly enjoy cozy mystery novels because I like the inherent premise in them that a regular person living an ordinary mundane sort of life can use reason and logic to resolve problems.

After reading and watching a gazillion mystery stories – I realized how often some small object; a receipt, a coffee bag, or a whiskey tumbler is the clue that solves the mystery. That thought inspired me to try telling visual stories with “just stuff”. So for this exhibit I’ve selected things from my daily life and arranged them in my imagination, along with color, light and texture, in such a way that the viewer can deduce a story; they can “read” my visual description of how things are and which things matter. The viewer becomes the story detective/character-actor.

In some of my works I’ve also invented a character-actor – a cat or a dog – who plays a more obvious part in the story. Anthropomorphic animals are a way to make it plain that the artwork is a visual story. These particular animal characters are created and chosen because their breed characteristics add elements to the tale. The viewer is still the detective – there’s just more actors on stage.

I’m merging fine art techniques, and fine art genres of “Still Life” and “Animals in Art”, with literary and mystery genre concepts. I also love food, drinks and books – they are the elements of everyday Pacific Northwest life which for me is the stuff of stories.

Here’s (ahem) a short story collection from my upcoming exhibit: