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.

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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

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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!

cats on a ledge

A Creative Life, animals in art, cat portrait, Cats in art, creative thinking, drawing as thinking

In my town and region I find a lot of cafes, pubs and bistros that have – for the lack of a better term – ledges as tables.  These are swaths of 8 to 12 inch deep “tables”, just big enough to put a coffee cup with a saucer and perhaps a paperback book.  Or they’re just large enough for a drink and a small plate of food.

Many of these ledges run along a wall and the edge of a room. Some ledges run down the center of a room and still others run along a window.  The ledges vary in length according to the space – I’ve seen as many as 18 people sitting along one ledge – but the ledge is rarely deeper than 12 inches.

It’s especially interesting to walk on a busy street and pass by a window and there, inside the eatery, facing the sidewalk, a number of people sit reading, eating, drinking and talking to each other.  I also find it fun to be one of the eatery patrons perched at the window and merely inches from the front of me and my 8 inches of ledge is the whole world passing by!

So I was thinking of such ledges today when I was drawing Burmilla cats.  Burmilla’s have impossibly big eyes. All the better for watching the world go by from your cat-perch at your favorite ledge!

burmillacatsledge

the art of pumpkin biscuit production

A Creative Life, artist book, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, functional art, illustration, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, kitchen art, words and pictures

I’ve spent part of the weekend and most of today illustrating a new recipe for the unconventional cookbook “Kim Cooks Sue Draws”.  Chef Kim Mahan said that this is one of her popular easy-to-do recipes for her cooking school – and we had to have it in the book.  Since the recipe as typed up by Chef Kim was titled “Pumpkin Biscuits” and this is October… my mind went to, well, you’ll see:

PumpkinBiscuitsDesign72

Fortunately Chef Kim Mahan has a sense of humor and didn’t mind a Pumpkin making people-shaped biscuits!  Whew!  In fact it sparked a whole conversation between us about how humor and fun in the kitchen helps a good-food experience happen. And that food is more than just bodily nutrition – beautiful (and fun) looking food feeds our spirits too. Chef Kim went on to talk about her efforts to make her cooking classes fun and relaxed for this spirit-feeding reason.

She talked about her concepts better than I’m able to describe here. Sigh. I wish I’d been able to write notes as quickly as she talked!

Anyway, I’ve a few more things to do, like photograph the artwork after it dries, before I can turn this artwork into cards, prints and tea towels.  You can get a hint of what will happen with this “Pumpkin Biscuits” recipe art by looking at our cookbook “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” on this website here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/

And now, after looking at recipes all day I’m hungry. Go figure.

an unconventional cookbook artist book

A Creative Life, Art Licensing, artist book, artistic inspirations, comfort food, creative thinking, food for thought, functional art, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, kitchen art

Followers of my artwork already know that I like to play with the book format. Does a book always have to be bound on one edge? I don’t think so. It also doesn’t have to be conventional-book-shaped. With this in mind I’m working with Chef Kim Mahan (www.class-cooking.com) to create an unconventional cookbook titled “Kim Cooks Sue Draws”.  More details here:  https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/

Here’s the logo-label I drew using ink and color pencil. (and yes, this is a caricature of the Chef Kim and me)

KImCooksSueDrawsLable72

Our book is not, and will not be, conventionally bound. In fact it might not be called a “book” by some people because it has recipes as tea towels, art prints and greeting cards.  Eventually individual recipe-cards will be available (curated by the Chef for particular purposes) for home cooks to use on clipboards or under refrigerator magnets.

Though “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” is not bound along a spine it is a collection of related thoughts connected together in an obvious way. Which, in my opinion, is what a “book” really is.

So “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” is another artist book from me – and I’m lucky that Chef Kim is willing to play with me in this unconventional way. We both see this “book” as a set of playful yet practical artworks that you can use at home to cook, eat and share with people you love.

If this cookbook is to be considered “bound” in any way it would be on this website https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/  – I use the word “bound” here to signify “collected together in one spot”.  I’m sure the Chef will have additional places to put “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” both online and in her classroom.

The Chef and I are in the appetizer-days of this project and we have a full multi-course menu of plans… oh boy do we have plans! Please stay seated at the table… more yummy to come!

feline fuzzy

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Cats in art, creative thinking

It’s finally begun raining regularly here in the Pacific Northwest and I love it. Today the rainy cool air made me think of contentment and fur.

Here’s artwork of Persian cat that is drying on my worktable. The cat’s name is “Harold”.

WorkingOn1Cat72

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.

TRBOCCover72

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.

TRBOCopen172

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.

TRBOCopenspread72

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.

TRBOCspread72

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!!

progress on public art piece

A Creative Life, art commissions, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, fine art, public art, publications - publishing, visual thinking, words and pictures

In my last blog posts I’ve been talking about one of my current projects: I’m doing an illustration, a public art piece and giving a speech for Salmon Creek Journal and Washington State University.

Here are a series of photos, covering a several week span of time, showing my progress. In general my process was to do short spurts of work on one area, let it dry, come back do a bit more…slowly building over time.  My sweetie randomly came in to my studio and took these photos as I worked.

First I took all of my character/species/size research and the characters I developed from my research (detailed in my last blog post here) and I laid out my crowd shapes using a watercolor pencil. Then I begin to fill them in. Since I’m taking my own advice about drawing crowds (blog post with that info is here) I’m beginning with one of my main characters and the crowd shape that character is in.  That’s what you see in the photo below.

AtWk1

I’m using watercolor pencils, watercolor and ink on handmade paper. It’s risky – one stray bit of ink and – crikey! I’m living dangerously and loving it! In the photo below I’m filling in more characters.

AtWk2

Now (below) you can tell I’ve been working a while. It’s getting (pun intended) crowded. So to help myself make sure I’m putting additional characters in the correct spots – since things are getting tighter – I’ve taped some of my preliminary character sketches above where I’m working on the finished artwork so I can work from them. You can see some of my preliminary drawings at the top of this photo below.

AtWk3

In the next photo all of the characters are now in place and I’m starting to work on the background. This doesn’t mean the characters are finished. It just means I’ve gotten them to a certain point of development. As I work on the background I’ll pop back to work on a characters details, colorings and shadings to make it more distinct.

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Below, you can see my progress on the background. There is, however, a lot more work to be done.

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And here I’m going to stop posting on this project for a while as I’ve now caught up with Amanda The Editor.  I’ll post more later about this project when possible.

You can see some of Amanda’s posts about this project via the following links that contain details about the event where I’ll be speaking (including a bit of a statement from me) as well as a call for additional submissions for the magazine: https://orgsync.com/26883/news_posts/230672 and https://orgsync.com/26883/forms/275549