agatha and art

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, Narrative Art, words and pictures

I’ve been reading “Appointment With Death” by Agatha Christie. By page 7 I was rooting for the murderer to go ahead and kill.  It’s the villain who deservedly gets killed in this story. While reading I realized that I so strongly disliked the villain and rooted for her demise because of her cumulative (negative) effect upon other (positive) characters more than any one thing the villain said or did.

I realized again that in visual fine art a viewer reacts to the subject of the artwork because of the cumulative effects of the objects, colors, and shapes that surround the subject as much as they react to the subject itself.

There’s an art technique called “positive and negative space in art” where you pay as much attention to the negative spaces, the blank “air” spaces, that surround a subject as you pay to the positive spaces of that subject.

In reading this particular book by Agatha Christie I realize at a deeper level why the writers technique of “show don’t tell” is also true in fine art – we best understand, or perceive, a subject, from the surrounding elements.

DeathAndWater72

books and creativity

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, food for thought, food in art, mental health, still life, Sustainable creativity

It’s been my experience that one’s reading is the fertile soil from which all other creativity grows. So I find books like this one, “1000 Books To Read Before You Die” by James Mustich, an essential art studio tool.

The Mustich title is especially useful as it’s more like a restaurant guide than most “read-this” books; the suggested titles are sorted alphabetically by author, there are readable book note details about the genre/subject, when it was written, and other notable works by the author are listed. A “further reading” section about the author’s life and work or on the book’s subject is included. There’s a “try this” section listing other books by other authors suggested for the reader if they enjoyed the featured book. Helpfully “adaptions” of the featured title are also noted: films, plays, musical compositions and audio books. Hints are given whether you could read the book “in a sitting” or not. There is also a section of Mustich’s book that lists books sorted by genre/section: my favorites (so far) are “Lol”, “Mysterious Matters”, “Soul Food” and “Animal World”.

I find all of this pre-sorted book sorting helpful by making it easier to find books related to my creative topic. For example I’ve been reading books about objects lately since I’ve been doing some still life paintings. So yes, that has meant reading Marcel Proust and John Ruskin among other authors.

As you know I’ve been doing both food themed fine-art paintings as well as several food-recipe illustrations – so reading mystery novels that have food in them has been a good way to keep the “creative fun” going in my head while I wait for paint to dry.  BTW, I found an online source for culinary themed mystery novels; https://www.cozy-mystery.com/blog/cozy-mystery-authors-with-culinary-themes-part-1.html)

One of my favorite things to do is sit for an hour or so before bed and read with my beverage of choice handy.  If you follow my Instagram page occasionally I post what I’m reading and what I’m drinking.  While it looks (and often feels) like pure indulgence I’d say that my time spent reading is one of the most important things I do to develop and maintain my creativity.

Anyway, here’s a photo of the book by Mustich – alongside one of my favorite wines by Burnt Bridge Cellars. And, don’t worry, I was sharing the bottle of wine with my wife… 😉

1000BooksToRead

1000 Books To Read Before You Die by James Mustich

BTW, a local newspaper had a wonderful interview with James Mustich about what books did and didn’t get included in his “1000….”.  Oh, and here’s a link to a local bookstore for more info about the book itself.

stirring occasions

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, fine art, kitchen art, small things, still life, visual thinking

As a long-time coffee lover I’ve been recently learning about tea. More than half of the world drinks tea and/or has some kind of tea ceremony. As far as I can tell the philosophy of tea is basically a way of valuing mundane life – in a somewhat carefully curated way. The ordinary as a source of stimulation, of stirring inspiration.

In making this piece I’ve deliberately used multiple perspectives – visual oddities – to emphasize the many ways there are to approach, value and appreciate a personal moment of pleasure in daily life.

Perhaps not surprisingly I’ve titled it “A Stirring Occasion”.

AStirringOccasion72

A Stirring Occasion by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

I confess that I’ve recently been reading a number of titles from the British Library Crime Classics. (here’s a link https://poisonedpenpress.com/series/british-library-crime-classics/) They’ve a number of books sorted by “impossible crimes” “locked room mysteries” and other detective mystery themes.

And I also thought about the concepts “bone china”,”dogs with bones”,”seize the day” and “stirring/stimulating/interesting”…

So as I worked on my artwork I designed yet another “impossible object” because I wanted to depict that feeling of dynamism within mundane pleasures.

As you know I’ve done “impossible objects” before when it suits the artistic concept – most recently my cat portrait titled “Alpha Betty” (past blog posts about that here and here and the finished art here) which has an “impossible book” reflecting the multiplicity of language.

Anyway – If you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ll see some of my recent tea adventures…

coffee city

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, fine art, small things, still life

I’ve been thinking lately about how much our lives are reflected in the objects we own, save, give away or dispose of – and the many mundane moments out of which a life is made. Perhaps choosing carefully what we focus on, choosing what encourages our “better angels”, choosing what becomes mundane is what makes for a good life.

These thoughts began when I was having coffee at one of my downtown coffee shops, staring at the highly polished surface of the ceramic coffee cup which reflected the surrounding city-scape. It was an ordinary moment that elevated my spirit. I carried it in my mind back to my studio where, to savor the feeling, I created this:

CoffeeCity72

Coffee City – by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

 

angles we have on things: a conversation with clancy published in the salmon creek journal 2018 issue

A Creative Life, art commissions, artist book, Artist interviews and profiles, creative thinking, public art, publications - publishing, published art, words and pictures

Because I’ve been asked to I’m including in this blog post the entire interview with me for the Salmon Creek Journal 2018 issue titled “Angles We Have On Things: A Conversation with Sue Clancy” by Amanda Flynn. I asked permission to post this and it was generously granted. (The people at the Salmon Creek Journal – SCJ – magazine love you!)

Salmon Creek Journal, a literary journal, is a publication of the Washington State University Vancouver and is generally available around campus and a few other places in the Pacific Northwest. (Yes, it’s very like a limited artist book production!) When I mentioned online that this interview coming out I was contacted by fans of my work who live in far-from-the-PNW places, Ireland, England, New Zealand and Australia, asking me to make it accessible to them. So here goes.

Here’s what the printed 9.5 tall x 8.5 wide x .5 inch thick magazine looks like with my coffee cup beside it:

SCJcoverCoffee72

The interview is primarily about “Heroes’ Journey”, a public art piece I did for WSUV at the end of 2017 – and also a conversation about living the creative life.  My artwork is reproduced handsomely in the magazine but since I can I’ll include the digital file of “Heroes’ Journey” here:

HeroesJourney72

And below is a series of photos of pages 94 through 101 that make up the interview.  I’ve photographed the pages rather than re-type the text of the interview because I think the visual layout and the flow of images and text are an intrinsic part of the interview. I’m thinking the photos are large enough that you’ll be able to zoom in and be able to read but in case you prefer to have a pdf file (at a higher resolution) you can freely download that here – SalmonCreekJournalInterview

Pg94n95r72Pgs96n97r72Pg98n99r72Pg100n101r72Amanda Flynn did an excellent job with the interview questions – they were fun questions for me to think about and answer, she was fun and easy to work with – and I’m proud to have been a small part of this magazine issue. I thank her and the current SCJ editor Alex Duffield for permission to post this (and I thank them both, and the SCJ staff, for loving my fans with me!).

Of course the magazine has a lot more to offer than just the stuff about me and my work. I’ve enjoyed a number of the poems, essays and photographs by artists like Cory Blystone, Jehoon Jung, Richard Boneski III and Joseph Colombo and many others. Like an artist book this Salmon Creek Journal issue is more than just a collection of random entries, it builds to whole concept, the form and content are symbiotic, with the magazine becoming an art object in its own right.

I’m hoping that eventually the staff at SCJ will create a digital version of the entire 2018 edition so that you’ll have access to more of the work. They did a digital version of the 2017 issue on their website here – so I have reason to hope. [Update: They have now done the digital version!! You can see it here: http://www.salmoncreekjournal.com/salmon-creek-journal-2018/ ]

Thank you again to Amanda Flynn, Alex Duffield, the SCJ staff and everyone at WSUV for this delightful opportunity! And thank you, my dear fans, for your interest in my work and your desire to see this interview! I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

(Oh, and for additional amusement, here’s the post I did the day back in February that the interview actually happened – https://sueclancy.com/interview-about-my-public-art-at-wsu-vancouver/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

art of a peel

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, cat portrait, Cats in art, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, fine art, sketchbook

I’ve been busy lately working on a new fine art piece that has an orange peel in it. And a cat of course. Here’s a picture of me at work…

ClancyAtWorkPurrHappyHour72.jpg

Between 7 and 14 of us get together once a month for happy hour in one of our local pubs, and the trays of drinks that arrive at our table often reminds me of a jewelers tray. So I’m trying to capture that festive feeling in my painting.

This has meant, as I’ve worked on my composition (the to-scale drawing you see to the right in the above photo), a practice of sketching various drinks in my kitchen sketchbook. I used ink and gouache in my sketchbook – and I’m using acrylic in the painting. Below is the first sketchbook practice drawing; the drink recipe, an orange hot toddy, turned out very well in the real-life tasting of it – the drawing in my sketchbook of the orange-peel didn’t turn out so well.

OrangeToddyBest72

But I remembered the phrase “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first” from my book, Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit, and kept going.

In other sketchbook pages I tried more orange-peel attempts and here below is the last sketchbook orange-peel drawing – and the drink recipe that I decided to use within the painting.

FlatironMartini72

Below is a close-up photo of the drinks I’ve put in the painting – including the one with the orange peel:

TrayDetail72.jpg

I’ll post a photo of the finished art when its, well, finished – there’s still more to do on the cat.

finished Abyssinian cat with alphabet

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, creative thinking, handmade papers, pattern design, visual thinking

Here’s the finished Abyssinian cat portrait with an alphabet pattern background – reflecting my thoughts of multi-lingual book readers, alphabetic “framing” of thoughts and… well, if you look at my last several blog posts you’ll see my thinking as I’ve worked on this one.

It’s titled “Alpha Betty” and is 20 x 24 inches.

AlphaBetty72

I’m particularly pleased with how the alphabet “shows through” subtly all over this piece with varying degrees of transparency or opacity – like our varying degrees of awareness of the linguistic framing of our thoughts.

You can see more of my cat-related thoughts in my ebook “Various Cat Sketches” here: https://sueclancy.com/shop/

 

cat thoughts with alphabets

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, handmade papers, pattern design

I’ve been thinking a lot about cats; how they have their own “spaces” or territories. How each has its own frame of reference. My cat Hawkeye, for example, thinks that fleece throw blankets are unreasonable objects and seems offended when a fleece throw is on my lap. But a woven, cotton blanket is a thing of sense and reason in his opinion.

This got me to thinking about the alphabet. Each language has its own – and when we say “the alphabet” we immediately think of our native tongue. Sometimes this presumption can be dismissive of other languages and alphabets. But when we’re aware of bi-lingual people and have a general awareness of the multiplicity of this world – perhaps we are better able to remember that these frames of reference are just that, frames. And that frames can be adjusted.

I’m imagining a mouse-obsessed cat and her frame-of-reference, her possible reading preferences… and creating an all-over alphabet pattern on handmade paper. I speak both English and American Sign Language. I’m more fluent in English so I’m using the English alphabet to make my pattern.

StencilForAlphaBetty272

Now this paper will have to dry a while. So I’ll work on a to-scale drawing of my thoughts for the next several days. And I’ll practice drawing cats. You can see more of my cat-related thoughts in my ebook “Various Cat Sketches” here: https://sueclancy.com/shop/

 

from my Various Cat Sketchbook

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artist book, Cats in art, creative thinking, ebook, sketchbook, visual thinking

I’ve just finished making an ebook – 34 pages derived from my hand drawn, hand written, sketchbook on the topic of cats. It’s titled “Various Cat Sketches by Sue Clancy” – and can be found here on my Art Ebook Shop page.  Warts, scribbles, mistakes and all have been included – so you can see how my mind works – and for your amusement. I worked in ink, watercolor and gouache. In this post are a few pages from the ebook. Enjoy!

EarsEyes

Absynnian1

ColorFurVar

 

four topic sketchbook keeping

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, ebook, kitchen art, psychogeography, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, Sustainable creativity, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue, visual thinking

Oh I’ve had an excellent question asked of me! Here’s the question: “Do you keep separate sketchbooks for different subjects/projects/media or do you use one sketchbook for all sorts of art experiments and ideas?”

My answer:  I used to keep one sketchbook but I found it hard to find the bit of research I needed because I’d have to flip through the whole book to find something.  Now I keep sketchbooks by topic.

Here is one of my “kitchen sketchbooks” – recipe inspired art – where I am inspired to draw by a recipe I’m cooking. This book is 5 x 4 inches in size, sewn binding and paper that can handle ink and water-media.  This way my favorite recipes are all in one spot – and when I have an ingredient I can flip through this one book to find a recipe that I know works and that my family likes.  This sketchbook, additionally, is my “testing ground” for ways to combine food, drink and art together – ways to interpret food/drink artistically.  This sketchbook is also a place where I’ll try new-to-me art media or methods. I’ve been trying gouache lately and I posted a few pages from this book the other day https://sueclancy.com/from-my-kitchen-sketchbook/ – Here’s what the outside of my current kitchen sketchbook looks like:

MouthpieceFourCover72

I have been working on a new series of fine art paintings with Cats as the main characters. So I have one sketchbook that collects my cat related painting practice and research. In it I’ve been studying cat shapes and experimenting with lines, colors. I’ve also experimented with combinations of collage, ink and water-media. This sketchbook is called “Various Cat Sketches” and is 8.5 x 11 in size, with a sewn binding. Here, below, is what the outside of it looks like. I’ll post more of it’s pages on this blog soon because it will contribute to an upcoming fine art exhibition

VariousSketchesCover72.

Another current sketchbook is my “Running Around Loose” book. This is the sketchbook that fits in my small go-sketching bag and is 3 x 5 inches, with a sewn binding, water-media ready paper in a landscape format. In this book I record my observations of the world around me; places I go, people I see, food or drink I have. It could easily be called a travel sketchbook  but I call it my “running around loose” book because that’s what I try to do as I run around town with this book – be loose and free with my lines, colors and thoughts. Here, below, what this book looks like. I’ll post more of it’s pages here too.  (I’ve posted my last sketchbook like this as an ebook titled “Glad To be Alive” available for download here)

RunningLooseCover72

And the 4th topical sketchbook is called “The Forked Tale: thoughts about creative life”.  This one is a hardback book 6 inches tall by 8 inches wide and over an inch thick. In it I’ve collected my thoughts, readings, quotes etc. about this business of being creative.  I’ve shown pages from this book to friends before who enjoyed it and found it helpful. But recently my friend Liesl was over for dinner and asked me a question about art-studio furniture. We kept talking about aspects of living a creative life and eventually I got out this book and shared it with her. She very strongly encouraged me to publish this book. So I will. After all she’d brought a very good wine to dinner. Here, below, what the outside of this sketchbook looks like.

ForkedTaleCover72

Yes, this method of sketchbook keeping helps me to organize and find things but keeping topical sketchbooks is also helpful when I only have a short span of time to work. I can select a topic and can get right to it because I don’t have to wonder what topic to paint/work on. 

Thanks for the question! I’d not thought to do a blog post outlining this method of mine before!