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.
Olives are one of the many ways adults know they are loved. Grapes too. But I’ve been thinking about olives. Olives to eat. Olives in Dirty Martini’s. And how if you say “olive hue” it sounds a lot like “I love you”.
Olives have to be picked from the olive trees carefully – then preserved and processed – lots of work is done just so we can enjoy them. In all of their salty, brine-y, yummy glory. There. I feel loved. Don’t you?
Anyway here’s artwork I did recently while these thoughts ran around my brain (brine?) jar:
Allegedly you can grow olives here in the Pacific Northwest. There is at least one local bar that serves drinks with “Local Oregon Olives”. (Note to self: Explore this more.)
Speaking of drinks – one of my favorites is the “Dirty Martini”. With extra olives of course. Here’s a drawing I did of my currently favored recipe:
This weekend I caught up on the news – and this poem and illustration came to me:
The Little Brat
By Sue Clancy
Clueless Jack Horner
stood in a corner
eating a stolen pie
saying “Oh what a good boy am I!”
His classmates had cried.
His teacher had sighed.
But Jack, little Jack, didn’t ask “why?”
Instead he said “What a good boy am I!”
As he ate the pie…
As he stood in the corner…
Clueless: Jack Horner.
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:
I do better now, writing words-in-a-row, than I did once upon a time. Reading text has never been a problem for me – but speaking, and writing. Whew! Lets just say good speech therapists, theatre-acting coaches and writing class instructors are worth their weights in all the precious things in the world combined. As a kid practicing speaking by reading aloud from a comic book or a picture book felt less intimidating than reading aloud from a text-only book.
Even today I enjoy visiting art museums and galleries and looking at the artwork first, reading the labels last. I enjoy looking at coffee-table books with big glorious pictures – forming my own thoughts first – reading the words later.
Nowadays I read plenty of books cover to cover that have text only, no pictures at all. I even give demo’s and talk in front of 200 or more people without as much as a blink. (Wish my 10 year old self, who threw up at the thought of giving an oral book report, could see me now!)
So it has become a philosophical point to ponder with me – when is text important? When is an image important? When to have the words? When to have the pictures? How much of either?
For example I love it that signs for the restrooms are often pictograms. You can “read” them no matter what your language – or your linguistic skill level. Much of our international travel culture utilizes visual maps and non-verbal way-finding signs for things like hospitals, airports and government buildings – using pictograms rather than single language dependent text.
As I’ve worked on a new artist book containing my cat themed fine art I’ve thought a lot about whether or not to have text along with the images. If text – how much? Text located where in the book?
When I did my book “Dogs” I had the text at the end – and didn’t include much of it there either. The majority of the book is images.
On the one hand I spend quite a lot of time coming up with the titles for each of my artworks and it seems almost a shame to not list the titles. But I’ve often noticed – at museums and galleries – that people read the label-wall-text and sometimes forget to look at the pictures.
So sometimes I deliberately create text for use in my fine art gallery exhibits… just to be contrary. I’ve even created whole artist books with text and sketches to accompany my fine art exhibits. But sometimes I omit text completely and rely on my art images alone, the curious can ask the person running the gallery for more info. In this way I purposefully encourage people to verbally-talk with each other. Which way I go – words and/or pictures – often depends on the exhibit.
Like I say for me the words and pictures question is an ongoing, almost daily, one.
People seem to enjoy my Dogs book as it is – largely without text. And I’ve noticed that I’ve sold that book fairly well in non-English speaking countries. People of all ages seem to like it. So….
“Cats by Sue Clancy” will be largely wordless too. Here’s what the cover will look like:
The book is square, 7×7 in, 18×18 cm and 22 pages – full color. Here’s an early-reader link to the book http://www.blurb.com/b/8837851-cats In fact “Cats” has even fewer words than “Dogs” does – but more pictures in full color.
I’m sure I’ll continue to have this words and pictures discussion with myself in every book and every art exhibit I create. But I’m curious about your thoughts: do you look at words first? Or pictures first? What are your thoughts about wordless books?
I’ve finished my sketchbook for the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project, packed it up and put it into the postal slot. But before I did that I created an ebook version of the book – and a video. I was going to post more photos of work-in-progress and such – but I’ve gotten very busy so… you can download-to-own an ebook version here. And below is the video…
As you know I’ve been playing with my new gouache paints in my various sketchbooks and art papers, practicing for my work on “Time Tavern”, a book I’m doing for the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project. https://www.brooklynartlibrary.com/ Now that I feel I have gouache skills under my belt – it’s time to work on my wordless story “Time Tavern”.
Here are some pages in progress:
The gouache is working well on the paper – and I’m getting the bold colors I’d wanted! Now, to keep at it….
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And I’m grateful for you. Thank you for following my blog, and my artwork on social media. Thank you for coming to my art exhibits. Thank you for buying my fine art, my books, scarves and my other designs. Here, as a “Thank you” is a downloadable, printable artist book. In the pdf file below I’ve also included instructions for folding the 8 page book. Yes, you can color my book first if you like.
Here is an image of the book folding instructions – I’m including them in this post as a way of giving you a clue as to what the above pdf file will be giving you.
And because many of you have asked for more from me – I’ve been slowly creating a way for you to access my sketchbooks and artist books via subscription. This will allow me to make available new artist books as I create them. You can see what I mean here: https://www.patreon.com/sueclancy
Thank you again for your support and encouragement of my artwork!