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!
I worked today on some British Shorthair cats. I picked this breed because I enjoy British comedy. Silly reason I know. Anyway drawing this breed of cat was a challenge. When is a British Shorthair not a Tabby? The shape of the head, ears…. so many nuances are different. I had to pay close attention to fine details of the breed – I did research – so I kept my overall-artwork composition similar and simple. I used Sumi Ink to do this practice with. Not sure I’ve ‘got it’ yet on drawing British Shorthairs so I’ll try again another day. Still as far as general-cat-art goes I’m pleased with my work. Now I’ll go make some dinner and see if I can talk my Sweetie into watching another British comedy with me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Below, you can see my progress on the background. There is, however, a lot more work to be done.
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
I can now talk publicly 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! The unveiling of the public artwork, and my speech, will be in October. And the magazine illustration will flow from that. Here’s how it all began:
You know I’m deaf right? Well some time back now at one of my local libraries I gave a drawing demo and signed copies of my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy”. During the demo, (picture me wearing an apron, ink brush in hand, art materials surrounding me on a table and an ever flowing/ebbing group of people watching and asking me questions) a woman walked confidently up to my table. To my Deaf ears she said “I’m glad to see you! My name is Amanda Xbmlsnn and I’m the editor for Whelngfm Fumeek Ourmrnal magazine. I’d like to talk to you about fmesryulm tjosun. Are you on social media?” I replied “Yes, I’m on social media. My cards have my contact info. What did you say…” “Great!” said the lady, grabbing one of every card I had on the table “I’ll contact you!” Off she went. Someone else asked me a question and the rest of the day flew by with a whooshing sound.
A few hours later when the day was done my sweetie came to help me pack up my art materials to leave the library. “How did your day go?” she asked. “Very good – but, darn my ears, I met an editor from a magazine and I didn’t hear her name or even the name of the magazine!!” I said feeling slightly frustrated. Sweetie, knowing that editors are some of my favorite people on the planet, commiserated with me. Feeling somewhat soothed I sighed “I’ll just have to hope she gets in touch with me.”
We went out for a restorative dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening.
When I next checked my computer I had an email, a Twitter message, a Facebook message and an Instagram message all from Amanda The Editor of Salmon Creek Journal!
There was a lot of subsequent discussion via messages, but in short, the magazine (Salmon Creek Journal – SCJ) wanted to select one community submission to feature in both a gallery showcase and their 2018 print issue – and my work was what they wanted to be the “one community submission”! The projects relates to a program called “Dis(covering)ability” – so me being Deaf was a virtue…
We arranged for a face to face meeting at the Washington State University (WSU)campus. I brought my camera and took about 45 photographs for my own use as I created my artwork. I took lots of handwritten notes as Amanda The Editor and several other people talked about the campus, about their project and what artwork they hoped for from me. (My kind of artwork; my use of elements of a physical place etc. was what they wanted! And they wanted me to come give a speech…) Sweetie came with me to the meeting and took notes too. (After such meetings Sweetie and I compare our notes and many of my hearing gaps are nicely filled in!)
Here are a few of the photos I took during the meeting. Sharp-eyed followers of this blog will probably see a correlation between these pics and my finished artwork – which I’ll post eventually. (I mustn’t get ahead of Amanda The Editor in the posting/promo about this project. So I’ll be following her lead on when to post what…)
Since the students are the focus of the SCJ magazine and of the WSU campus – and the focus of the event “Dis(covering)ability” itself – I focused on creating an artistic design that emphasizes the people yet has a flavor of a specific to WSU place. I also wanted to imply a story in my wordless way of movement, of the discovery of sky’s-the-limit ability.
During our meeting on campus I was told that most of the WSU students first experience of campus is on a tour. They said that the fountain was a regular meeting place for students. As we walked about campus during the project meeting I saw lots of squirrels chasing each other, and birds flying about. I noticed that many of the buildings had a similar brick/tile pattern. All of these observations – and many more – were recorded in my notes.
Back at my studio I looked through my photos and my notes – and Sweeties notes – and I began drawing thumbnails for an overall design. Then I did research to determine the average-height of the characters to be included in the artwork and designing the overall crowd shape. (In my last post, here, I wrote my tips for drawing crowds.)
Here are a few photos of me at work:
In this pic I’m consulting one of my “animal encyclopedias” and comparing height of various species and listing/drawing a possible grouping. (Yes, that’s my dachshund on my lap ‘helping’ me work.)
In the pic below I’m developing some of the characters that I’d settled on in the first photo. I did lots and lots of drawings of characters in order to settle what they’d be wearing, how they’d stand, who they’d be standing next to and what kind of expression they might have on their face.
Days, if not weeks, went by filled with regular work like what is photographed above. My “SCJ/WSU” sketchbook for this project is, by now, almost completely full of notes and sketches.
Here, for fun, is another page of sketches:
As per my arrangement with Amanda The Editor I kept in touch with her and sent almost daily photos of my progress. Some of which she posted on the SCJ social media pages – and others she kept for possible posting later.
So I’ll stop this blog post here for now and see what Amanda The Editor does next. Besides it’s almost time for my supper. But before I go here is a photo, taken during our on-campus meeting, of Sweetie, Me and Amanda The Editor.
I’m playfully experimenting again. I’m combining several things: my thought that knowing how to cook is an essential artist survival skill, my not-so-secret desire to illustrate a cookbook and the fact that I’ve been asked to do my fine artwork (dogs and food!) as prints for sometimes messy home kitchens.
So I’m collecting my kitchen art efforts together and publishing them on a web page – https://sueclancy.com/pattern-design/kitchen-tales/ — as you can see I’m doing a series of individual prints instead of printing a series of images in a traditional book. This way people can mix and match to their liking.
The same with tea towels and napkins… can recipes become something useable like a towel? Can I tell visual stories, that you can wipe your hands with, about enjoying food and drink? It’ll be fun to try!
And lucky for me I have a chef friend – Chef Kim Mahan of http://www.class-cooking.com – who wants to experiment with non-traditional cookbook notions too! We will do some practicing in public – on my blog as well as on the above mentioned web page.
Here’s a framed print… you saw progress towards this image in earlier posts.
People attending my fine art opening at Burnt Bridge Cellars have told me that they enjoyed seeing my free ebook sketchbook as part of my exhibit and several have asked me: “What does your sketching kit look like?”
Here’s a picture of it.
The bag is new to me recently – but this is the contents of my “running around loose” sketching kit: a mechanical pencil, an eraser, ink pens, a small watercolor set, color pencils and my bound sketchbook. The sketchbook is 5 x 3 inches. My new bag measures 9 inches by 7 inches and about 3.5 inches deep. My old bag was bigger but had the same contents as above plus half the library and the kitchen sink. This new smaller bag weighs much less because the only “extra” thing I add to it is my sunglasses.
I call this my “running around loose” kit – because I take it along with me wherever I go and make 5 minute or less drawings with it. This name also distinguishes it from my studio sketchbook – which is a different breed ….
You can download, for free, my recent “running loose” sketchbook here: https://sueclancy.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/gladtobealivedrinkmusiced.pdf
Other sketches – and artist books by me can be seen here https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/
In my last post I mentioned that I was looking through my sketchbooks for drawings I’ve done of restaurant waiters and posted one sketch. Then, inspired by one of the sketches I found in my various books, I drew this finished drawing using ink and watercolor on handmade paper. By ‘finished’ I mean it could be framed and hung as it is.
Posting about this got me to thinking about how I define the term “sketching”. Some people might call the drawing posted above a “sketch” because it is done using a fairly loose and simple style. But I don’t call it a sketch and here’s some of why…
Sketches are: Drawings made on-site that capture and document observed surroundings.
Sketches are: Drawings that communicate a thought/feeling/story that reflects the reality the sketcher perceives at the moment (however accurate the drawing may/may not be).
Sketches are: Drawings that can serve as a reminder of observations and thoughts. As in the drawing and writing is legible enough that I, or someone else, could recognize and understand what I’ve observed even though the sketch/drawing doesn’t contain as much detail as a more finished artwork may have.
Sketches are: Drawings that are documentations of one’s day (auto biographical data) – a personal visual diary collecting both words and images reflecting the associative thoughts of the sketcher at that day/time.
Sketches are: Drawings that are studies in preparation for later more finished artwork. Practicing to “get a particular shape right” etc.
Sketches are: Drawings where the sketcher is “working out” thoughts and ideas along a theme or series concept.
Sketches are: Drawings that are done in a bound book (usually) and not intended for framing or display.
In my last post I mentioned a new project I’m working on – “Bear Salad”. Well, in general my new project is a series of art-prints art-illustrations related to the kitchen.
The evolution-tree of this new project goes like this:
When I was in art school I learned from some of my older-wiser fellow art majors how vital being able to cook (and mix your own drinks) was to survival in business as an artist.
Since my college days my hobby has been cooking. Specifically easy-to-fix meals that are often one-pot or two-bowl wonders. As a busy professional artist I don’t have lots of time to do multi-dish crazy-complicated menus but I also want my food to be “artistic”. I want it to be colorful and look good on a plate – and taste yummy. Why leave my artistic creative self in the studio? Why not bring my eye-for-color, texture and pattern into my kitchen – and add the art of flavor?
I love and collect cookbooks – especially the visually beautiful ones. Additionally I take cooking classes for fun and relaxation. I have secretly harbored a desire to write, illustrate and design a cookbook. (You can see evidence of this in my ebook “Coffee, Table, Book” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book)
Consequently food and drink has been a theme in my fine artwork for years. It’s been such a constant theme that I’ve gotten requests, as I did again recently, asking if I have “…art prints with dogs and food?”
It seems that people want my lighthearted colorful art for their kitchens but some people are afraid to put an expensive original artwork in a place where cooking-mess sometimes happens. So I’d begun a series of art prints for kitchens. You can see this here: https://society6.com/sueclancy/prints
As I’ve mentioned I take cooking classes… well most recently Chef Kim Mahan of http://www.class-cooking.com has kindly let me illustrate some of her recipes and kitchen tips! So you’ll be seeing more of these illustrations a little along as part of my new kitchen-art project. I’ve turned Chef Kim’s recipe for “pear salad” into a kitchen print called “Bear Salad”. Here’s a link for the giclee art print – https://society6.com/product/bear-salad_print#s6-7068429p4a1v45
Here is my finished illustration of “Bear Salad” – and yes, I’m still playing with words and pictures – My goal is to create a series of lighthearted visually fun kitchen art pieces that just happen to be practical too.
P. S. – My experience of life as a professional artist has proven that my art school peers were correct; knowing how to cook and mix drinks has been a vital business-of-art survival tip!
While my art exhibit is up the months of June and July at Burnt Bridge Cellars www.burntbridgecellars.com I’m starting some new art/illustration projects…. here’s my work table:
I’m working with ink and watercolor to illustrate a recipe – and to think about it…
More about this project later – my hand and arm is tired now.