the art commission Innocent

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, collage, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art

A couple of clients have a Schnauzer and a Labrador retriever – they asked me (via the Caplan Art Designs gallery www.caplanartdesigns.com) to do a dual portrait while also reflecting the owners work/personal life! I have a series of questions I ask (about color preferences etc. details) – I also request photos of the dogs. I was lucky enough to actually meet these dogs in person. Earlier in this blog you got to see my “practice” sketches for the dog breeds in this commission.  After receiving the answers to my questions and photos of the dogs I created 2 pencil drawings to the scale of the proposed finished work.  I also created a number of hand dyed paper swatches to show the proposed color scheme.

Here’s a photo of me dying some paper blue.  I did several layers of this blue color on the paper in order to build up the “proper blue” that best matched the client’s preference.

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To keep this document brief I’ll not show photos of me creating the 20 base colors I created for the “swatch sampler” – so multiply the above photo 19 times at least.

Once the papers were dry – we met and the clients chose one of the two pencil sketches. Small adjustments were made in the color scheme and the drawings. And additional research was done. For example, I studied what vest collars are like, what wing-tip shoes look like, where cuff-links are on a cuff and gold pocket watches how they sit in a pocket and how the chain drapes.  I asked about and investigated what a “bar” in court looks like. I researched how the sleeve of a judges’ robe hangs.

I also “filled in” the other colors of hand dyed paper I’d need to produce the finished painting.  Where a section in a painting will read as “blue” there may be as many as 5 different shades of blue papers which are collaged/layered together.  Where a paper may read as “blond wood grain” there may be multiple layers of color applied to each paper that forms the various tones within the shape.  Yes, it’s complicated and takes a lot of pre-planning and research.

Once all of the papers are done and dry (there are now over 50 pieces of hand dyed paper) I begin cutting out shapes. Here I have cut out the overall shape of the Schnauzer’s head and paw out of a greyish-blue dyed paper. A light pencil marks the future placements of other pieces of darker grey paper and or lighter white-grey paper.

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At this point I’m cutting and gluing together all of the various shapes from the various “base” papers to form the overall characters and aspects of scenery.  With an Xacto knife I cut the needed shape positioning it using tweezers. Then I would adjust the position – often several times – before gluing it together. Then I would press the glued papers flat and let them dry.

As I constructed the Schnauzer character I got excited and focused – and I forgot to take photos of the steps of construction.  As I worked kept laughing, imagining the Schnauzer lawyer saying “My client is innocent, I tell you, innocent. My client, the Great Dane you see before you, could not have possibly reached down to such a low table to eat the 4 hams, 5 chickens and the pot roast which is alleged to have been on that table. It was beneath him to have…”

There is a lot of “back and forth” work to get the shapes and positions correct – to adjust the colors and layers. Here is a succession of photos to give you an idea of the test-adjust-test routine.

In the photos below you’ll see my original pencil drawing – which I’m using as a guide.

The Judge’s glasses are made of two pieces of paper: I cut the glasses frames out of a “gold” paper and glued them onto a white paper which acts as the “lenses”.  All elements within the artwork are cut hand dyed papers which interlock.

And so it goes – back and forth – building up each element in both 3 dimensional space as well as 2 dimensional. For example, the watch in the Schnauzer’s pocket is a complete watch – with numbers on it – even if you don’t see all of it in the finished artwork. Behind the suit coat lapels is the entire vest… the tie actually fits under the white shirt collar. The flag is several different colors of paper pieced together and actually hanging from a pole (a cut piece of gold paper).  If you could tell the Schnauzer to move over you’d see the entire “bar” he is standing in front of and behind those is the entire “bench” on which the Labrador judge sits.

Once the “base papers” have been assembled into each element needed for the overall artwork I glue them onto the cradled board.

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I pre-planned for how the various shapes “wrap around” the 4 edges of the board. This way the judges bench actually looks/feels like a 3D bench. All we don’t see are the witness boxes. The flag extends to the side and top edges of the painting. The judge’s arm continues on one edge. As you can see in the photo the floor extends over the bottom edge.

When these base papers are glued on they are pressed flat – and left to dry several days under weight.

Then the excess paper hanging off the edges is trimmed away with my Xacto knife and the now blocked-in painting is put on my easel. There many more cut pieces of paper layered on at my easel – many of them are very tiny pieces of paper, the size of a fingernail or smaller, others are tissue paper thin allowing the underlayment to show through – these papers are cut with my Xacto knife carried to the easel then glued into place.  More building up of paper layers until each element within the artwork has more tonal ranges and dimension. For example, the Judges glasses got more highlights and shadows glued onto them – they went from being made out of 2 pieces of paper to being made out of 6.  The Schnauzer’s eyebrows and whiskers are layered on. And so it goes…

Once again – even though it took quite a bit of time – I got so focused and excited about what I was doing that I forgot to photograph the various steps I did between the above photo and the finished artwork pictured below. (The finished artwork is protected by varnish.)

So here is the finished piece (details of size and media below the photo).

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 “Innocent, I tell you….”

By Clancy

Size 10 x 10 x 2 inches

Media: Hand dyed paper, handmade paste paper, book cloth and acrylic on cradled board

Lettuce Peas

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, collage, fine art, illustration, poetry, words and pictures

Was contacted this morning by one of my gallery owners, Barney, of Downtown Art & Frame, in Oklahoma to tell me that my work “Lettuce Peas” had sold! This work was a highly experimental piece, different from the “typical” work I do. For this project I worked with Judy Sullens, a writer, and created this words+art piece inspired by and based on her word-play.  Judy’s original poem was titled “Gardener’s Prayer”.  I took Judy’s words and created an original cut-paper illustration in my style and wrote out her poem by hand using pen and ink calligraphy.

Technically this piece is an original “broadside” as it would be called in the book-arts world.  And normally I might have submitted it for exhibit in a book-arts kind of gallery like the 23 Sandy Gallery.  But, Barney, who runs a frame-shop-gallery in Oklahoma saw the piece in my studio here on the West Coast, liked it and wanted to frame it and exhibit it along with the other artwork of mine he was selecting for delivery to his gallery.

I do my best to keep my gallery-owners happy so I agreed. All the art he requested got shipped – including “Gardener’s Prayer”. He was happy. I was happy. Judy was happy.  Then life went on. 

When he told me today that the work had sold he also said of this piece “it’s a gem”.  He talked of how much attention this particular piece had gotten, how the client who ended up buying it had come to ‘visit’ it multiple times before buying. He went on to say that he thought it might be a good idea for me to do more such things, maybe make a book of such poetic-artistic-meditations-on-daily-life.

So now I’m thinking about doing that. Over the many years I’ve worked with Barney he’s had a number of great suggestions for my art/career… so I take his suggestions seriously. And I think Judy will play poetry+art again with me … and I write poems sometimes myself… and I’m also flirting with thoughts of collecting some other poet/writers very short thoughts (ideally word-play) about some aspect of daily life.

My question is how to go about it?  Must ruminate more on this topic… Please share your comment/thoughts too.

Anyway here is the “Gardener’s Prayer”:

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Poem by Judy Sullens. Art (cut handmade paper) and Calligraphy by Sue Clancy.

Sue’s art speech text

A Creative Life, animals in art, Art Apparel, art commissions, art exhibit, art gallery, collage, fine art, psychogeography, visual story, words and pictures

On Oct 1st I gave a short talk during my fine art opening at the Daily In The Pearl arranged by Caplan Art Designs.  Since I’d recently written a blog post titled “on writing and giving speeches” I thought it only fair to share with you the text of my speech along with photos. This is a rough approximation of what I said as I can’t re-create the ad-libs and audience participation – it was a fun lively evening! Anyway here goes:

Speech given Oct 1st 2016 by Sue Clancy

Thank you for coming!

I create mixed media handmade paper collage.  I start off with white handmade paper and I give that paper color and pattern using a variety of art techniques; I dye the paper, I stencil it, I print on it, I marble it and use a variety of other methods. This is the “mixed media” aspect of my work.

Here are a few scraps of papers I’ve done so you can handle them, along with a postcard containing photos of me in action.

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Paper samples Sue Clancy handed out during her speech; the paper on the far left is an example of the white paper she starts out with – the other 3 are examples of color/pattern she’s given the white paper

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Postcard Sue made, and handed out during her speech, that shows photos of her giving paper color and pattern.

Once the papers are dry I take an X-acto knife and cut shapes out of them. Then I take the cut-paper-shapes and glue them together to make my art images. There are layers of paper glued on top of other papers. Yes, tweezers are involved.

In “The Read Hat” I cut the chihuahua’s head, 4 paws and tail out of a medium brown paper – then other smaller shapes of darker/lighter brown papers were cut to make his face. The clothes the dog wears was cut out of a green dotted paper, the books out of yellow papers – and so forth – until the image was finished.

That’s my construction method.

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“The Read Hat” By Sue Clancy 14 x 11 x 2 inches Hand dyed paper, handmade paper, hand stenciled paper, found paper and acrylic on cradled board

My ideas and the pattern designs within them come from my life. Take “The Read Hat” as an example again; 5 different life experiences went into this concept.

  • I saw some wet, weathered flyers stapled on some telephone poles during a walk on Hawthorne Street in Portland Or. the pattern of letters overlaying each other transparently made me think about the clarity and legibility of information. (This inspired the background of this artwork.)
  • I met a Chihuahua who has the habit of collecting most things found at floor level onto his dog bed. Yet he still showed a preference for some things over others.  So I began thinking about how I have to select which information in the world to spend time trying to understand since it is impossible to “collect all” the available information.(This inspired my choice of a Chihuahua character)
  • On a trip to the Oregon Coast I drove through Oregon wine country. The hills rise and fall so in several places I had an almost aerial view of the Oregon vineyards. (That inspired the green dotted pattern the Chihuahua is wearing.)
  • The “aerial view” of an Oregon vineyard reminded me of my favorite self-indulgence; I like to put on my pj’s early of an evening, have a glass of wine and read a book for an hour or so before bed. (This is why the character is wearing pj’s and not some other sort of outfit)
  • When I indulge myself this way I often take off my hearing-aids so as to completely relax and focus on what I’m reading. My deafness made me think of how important language is as a framework for understanding the world. Language is a container, a hat, that holds knowledge.

This is generally how I work: pattern designs become symbols in a visual story. When I do special commissions I use this visual story method too – only instead of my life experiences inspiring the pattern designs and story symbols it’s your life experiences that do that.

The titles I give my artworks, the “blurbs” and statements I write about them – or about my  exhibits – are clues to my personal thoughts.  But my use of pattern design symbolically and my use of the Animals in Art genre (it’s a classic genre of fine art like ‘still life’ or ‘landscape painting’) takes my work beyond the personal and into the mythological story or fable.

So this summer when a San Francisco company contacted me about licensing my designs for use as scarves, bags and other apparel I saw a chance to extend my ‘pattern designs as symbols’ concept into the real world. You can see my full apparel collection here: http://www.shopvida.com/collections/sue-clancy

Using the same pattern design in multiple symbolic ways – in different fine artworks, in art apparel and in artist books – is my way of thinking about aspects of nature, culture and other things in contemporary life. Thank you!

Here’s a photo of me giving the above speech.

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Sue Clancy giving a short speech about her artwork

 

pug a cherry

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, collage, fine art, handmade papers, psychogeography

In a recent blog post titled “art inspired by ice cream” I wrote about the unusually hot weather here in WA and posted pictures of some in-progress-artwork, describing my working process and that it was inspired by (ahem) ice cream. Well, here is the rest of that story:

After thinking of the cool pattern of the marble walls in my local post office in Vancouver on the aforementioned hot day I went for an ice cream cone. My ice cream was ‘marbled’ creamy vanilla with dark chocolate swirls.  While walking around with my dripping cone, thinking of snow covered mountains, snow falling, skiing – you know, cool thoughts – a cute pug dog and his friendly person passed by – they were a “cherry” capstone to a very good – tho hot – day out and about.

That’s the full description of the inspiration behind this piece that I’ve just finished and titled “Pug A Cherry On Top”.  I’m sure you can see why I titled it that.  Anyway, it’s destined for my upcoming one-person exhibit in October (2016) at Caplan Art Designs (see the events page at www.caplanartdesigns.com).

I created it with my cut hand dyed, hand marbled papers and… the full description is below if you want it… here’s the art.

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Pug A Cherry On Top By Sue Clancy 7 x 5 x 1.5 inches Hand dyed paper, hand marbled paper, ink and acrylic on cradled board

pattern design inspired by Propstra Square

A Creative Life, art techniques, collage, pattern design, psychogeography

I’ve been working on new fine art and as I’d mentioned in my last blog post it’s been unusually hot here in WA so things are taking longer to dry. So rather than do anything constructive like sort out my sock drawer I went and did some sketches in a local Vancouver park. The park, Esther Short Park, has an area within it called Propstra Square. This park has been called “Vancouver’s living room”. And it is! This is one of the many things I love about living here!  Here’s a link for official details about the park http://www.cityofvancouver.us/parksrec/page/esther-short-park-0

When I was there wandering around sketching it seemed that if seen from above the brickwork in Propstra Square would have a plaid or window-pane check pattern. So I sketched the square itself and several “closeup” looks at the brickwork pattern – and got all artistically inspired: wouldn’t it be fun if someone could “wear the square”? My imagination started firing on all pattern design cylinders.

Here’s a photo, taken at my studio, of my sketchbook and to the left in the photo is a tile I created in prep for doing some new apparel designs.  The tile is a collage made with my cut handmade, hand dyed papers, and a bit of color pencil and watercolors.

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Sue Clancy’s sketchbook page of Esther Short Park and Propstra Square in Vancouver WA. Also pictured is the “tile”she was working on in prep for doing an apparel design inspired by the Propstra Square brickwork.

When the tile was finished I photographed it and uploaded it to my Art Director at VIDA. Some computer magic happened somewhere in San Francisco and – Abracadabra – here below is a photo of one of my apparel designs – I trust you can see the relationship between my sketchbook scribble above and the scarf below? If not, please get another cup of coffee and look again. I’ll wait.

If your coffee kicks you into super high gear (Where do you get that super strong coffee stuff? Do tell!) and you just gotta see more of my pattern design apparel work – you can see more at this link: http://shopvida.com/collections/sue-clancy

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Apparel design by Sue Clancy inspired by Propstra Square in Vancouver USA – you can see more of Sue’s designs here: http://shopvida.com/collections/sue-clancy

art inspired by ice cream

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, collage, fine art, handmade papers, psychogeography, sketchbook

As I mentioned in my last blog post – there’s been a rare hot day or two here in Washington. In addition to drinking ice tea and thinking cool thoughts I’ve also eaten ice cream. You are shocked I can tell. But wait – there’s more! The two flavors I had were swirled together in a marble-like pattern – and there were candy sprinkles on top! So guess what I did… yep, before the ice cream melted I sketched the two patterns in my sketchbook.

Back at my art studio I marbled a piece of paper using the Suminagashi Japanese paper marbling technique. When the paper was dry I cut it in the shape of a mound of ice cream. You can see a bit of that paper in the edge of the photo to the left – and then the same paper glued on the board on the right. Then I cut other shapes out of other papers I’d made into a pug (a patron saint of ice cream… right?)… and in the photo to the right you can see me gluing on the sprinkles in a pattern.

I’m loving the contrast of the two random patterns; one swirled and one dotted! The glue will have to dry, more layers glued on… basically lots of work to be done before this fine art collage is finished. So my next blog post or two will probably be about something else – then I’ll post again about this project…anyway, whenever this ice cream piece is done I’ll come up with a fun title, photograph it, do the paperwork – and then it will likely go to Caplan Art Designs for my exhibit October 2016 (see the events page at Caplan Art Designs  www.caplanartdesigns.com)

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Sue Clancy working on a fine art collage inspired by ice cream – and cherries and sprinkles…