cats book progress

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, Cats in art, Dogs in Art, Narrative Art, published art, travel art and writing, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures, writing

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:

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The front cover of the artist book “Cats by Sue Clancy” – http://www.blurb.com/b/8837851-cats

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?

community creatures running loose at the Anstine Gallery

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, drawing as thinking, ebook, public art, sketchbook, travel art and writing, visual story

The art was delivered to the Anstine Gallery this morning. The snow I’d worried about in my last post wasn’t a problem! (Whew!) The Anstine Gallery is located in a government building in Vancouver so I’m doing what I often do – trying to make people in serious places laugh.

Adults in general, I find, tend to be focused on day-to-day problems and people in certain professions; in the medical field, in law and in city or county government, in addition to having the regular allotment of adult-hood type responsibilities have entire work-days filled with problem-solving.

So with this exhibit – titled “Community Creatures” I wanted to share humorous artwork that was based on what is, in my opinion, working well in Vancouver.

A community is made up of its social vitality. The physical structures of the place; sidewalks, multi-use buildings, zoning laws, environmental policies, parks, public art and so forth all impact – in a behind the scenes way – the social vitality of a place. I see the city/county as doing well because of what I observe when I “run around loose”.

Where we most often see, or are most easily aware of, social vitality is in the small businesses, I mean the honest-to-goodness personally owned business – where the owner actually works there.  So that’s where I started – I’ve recorded my experiences in my sketchbook of running around loose in Vancouver, then I created characters (the ‘creatures’) and a fine-art-visual-story that transformed my real-life sketches into a metaphoric or literary depiction of an element of life in Vancouver.

Here are a series of sketches paired with the artworks. I’m sure you’ll be able to see what relates to what.

Naturally there is crossover between the different sketchbook pages and each finished art piece. The above is just a sample. You can download my entire “Running Around Loose – Vancouver WA” sketchbook in ebook form here:  https://sueclancy.com/product/running-around-loose-vancouver-wa-edition-1-by-sue-clancy/

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:

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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

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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)

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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.

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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!

memory music mountains and living rooms

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, food for thought, music in art, sketchbook, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue, words and pictures

Sweetie and I did a short road trip to Mount St. Helens in Washington. We hiked around, saw a lot of birds. Sweetie heard the birds singing and said they were quite a musical chorus.  At the visitor’s center people “danced” about getting photos in front of the mountain. I drew this in my sketchbook using ink and watercolor:

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Sketchbook page by Sue Clancy

Then at the visitor’s center we went into the Mount. St. Helens gift shop. From past experience we’ve learned that their collection of books for sale on the topics of botany, zoology and biology is a gold mine. Several books come home with us each trip. This time was no exception. One of the titles that came home with us is “Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains.” by Daniel Mathews.

On page 429 I read (about birds caching food) “Phenomenal ability to remember precise locations evolved separately in the chickadees and the jays that cache food for winter, and in many migrating species. Some of these species have nonmigratory or noncaching relatives whose powers of recall don’t amount to diddley squat.  Another kind of memory that must be worth holding on to is a male warbler’s memory of conspecific males’ songs.  As long as each singer remembers his neighbor’s song from the year before, and stays on his own territory, both are spared a fight. They remember songs from year to year as they return from Central America to reclaim their old haunts.”

That got me to thinking about the traveling troubadours of ancient times.  And from that thought I migrated (pun intended) to thinking of how, here in the Pacific Northwest, there is a “new” tradition of traveling musicians who give what is called “living room concerts” in private homes.  The home-owner hosts the musicians, putting them up for a night or two, and invites a number of family and friends to come to a concert. A certain amount of money is collected per attendee and most of that money goes to the musician.  The musician also sells their CD’s and what not during the evening.

I’m quite addicted to this ‘living room concert’ tradition. I find that even though I’m deaf I can “hear” the music better in a small intimate setting. There are also several local small independent theatres – and there’s fairly good hearing there too. My point being that the music I’ve heard since we’ve lived here in the Pacific Northwest has inspired a lot of my recent artwork. And I suspect this trend will continue.

The concept of a birds ability to remember where they put their food also made me think about the seasonal offerings at the local Pacific Northwest restaurants.  When I say “seasonal offering” I mean it. There’s a short time when a certain fruit or veg is available at the local farms so the pubs and restaurants will offer special dishes that use that fruit/veg and then when it’s gone. It’s gone.

We’ve lived here long enough now that I’m beginning to remember, for example, what pubs will offer the “fresh asparagus ‘fries’ ” during peak asparagus season. I’m also remembering which farmers market stands sell the freshest berries and apples. I love the seasonal randomness it’s like a perpetual surprise party but the ability to remember what is ripe during what season is helpful to know.

Needless to say I’ve been artistically inspired by the food. And that’ll prolly (as they say here) continue too.

There’s something about memory and food and music…. something that I just itch to make fine art about. So stay tuned. (pun intended again)

coffee sketches become fine art

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, psychogeography, sketchbook, Sue Draws Dogs, travel art and writing

As you know I’ve been doing “coffee/tea cup research” lately. Here is a recent fine artwork I just finished titled “Café Paix”.  Paix is French for “peace”. I’m sure you’ll notice the cup.

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Café Paix by Clancy – hand dyed paper, handmade paste paper and acrylic on cradled board

One day my sweetie and I were on a busy urban street and we ducked into a café for a late brunch. There I was enchanted by the variety of people in the café – as well as outside on the street – and I thought “How wonderful it is to live in a such cosmopolitan region!

In my head I used the word “cosmopolitan” in the sense of “at ease with many different cultures”.  That dovetailed with the café menu (in front of me) which featured coffee drinks and foods from many different areas of the world.  So I made notes in my pocket sketchbook.

Later when I was back at the studio I did this finished sketch – which was a preliminary study for “Café Paix”:

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Pierre by Clancy (ink on handmade paper)

The sketch is currently at Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com and “Café Paix” will be there too for future exhibits after it has fully dried.

 

collecting coffee cups and recipes

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, fine art, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, travel art and writing

Spent a self indulgent morning drinking Irish coffee and reading newspapers, magazines and books – and discussing what I read with my sweetie. Life doesn’t get better that that! I also collected the dishes. Meaning that I went through my various sketchbooks and collected drawings I’d done of coffee cups. Drawings I’d done when we went to various coffee shops or happy hours and had coffee drinks. In my fine artwork I often depict my dogs or cats drinking coffee or tea – so I thought it’d be good to have a collection of “dishes” all in one place to pull from when it’s time to make fine art.

Here’s one page of my coffee cup collection. There are many more pages filled with cups … but one page will give you the idea.

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page from Sue Clancy’s sketchbook

Here below is a “raw” sketchbook page from which I collected one of the coffee cup shapes that was  collected into one of my other “all cups together” sketchbook pages – but the above cups came from “raw” sketchbook pages too.  I say “raw” pages because these small sketchbooks fit in my pocket and are drawn on the fly as life happens. I’ll refine them or re-draw them later.

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page from Sue Clancy’s “raw” pocket sketchbook

Living here in the Pacific Northwest I’ve been fascinated with the variety of coffee drinks available as well as the kinds of cups the drinks are served in. Did you know that there are some 44 different coffee drink types? I didn’t until I started noticing. I’ve not tried them all yet but I have learned to ask my barista questions. Learned a lot that way! And of course while I’m drawing in my sketchbook I write down the recipes as told to me – and then, if I try to make it at home I’ll note in my sketchbook my favorite mix. I think of it as part of my on-going “know thyself” self-education program. The recipes make their way into my fine art too – just less obviously. Here’s my favorite recipe for Irish Coffee.

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recipe for Irish Coffee made as Sue Clancy likes it

looking during lunch

A Creative Life, art commissions, artist book, ebook, psychogeography, sketchbook, travel art and writing

Doing some sketching on location for 2 different projects; one is a fine art commission project that has water and a sailboat in it (and a dog!). The other is a possible new artist book (maybe ebook?) that I spoke of in this “alive and sketching” post. Anyway… here are today’s sketchbook pages …

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“Warehouse 23” sketchbook page by Sue Clancy

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“sailboat on water” sketchbook page by Sue Clancy

alive and sketching

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, ebook, psychogeography, sketchbook, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue

I have an ancient Sufi saying posted on my studio wall “Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive”.  So when I go sketching I’m looking for things in the world that catch my eye, gives me an artistic thought or two – and yes, makes me glad to be alive.

Which dovetails nicely with the Thanksgiving season. I’m glad to be alive and to be able to be an artist – and thankful for living in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by so much natural beauty and so many artistically inspiring places, people, dogs, cats and things… food and drink too…

So I’m flirting with thoughts of publishing my sketchbook as an ebook/artist book. Here are two of the potential pages about a place I hiked called “Hamilton Mountain”.

What do you think?  To publish or not to publish. That is the question to take up after the holiday.

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Sue Clancy’s sketch on Hamilton Mountain (pen, ink and watercolor)

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Sue Clancy’s sketch of things found on Hamilton Mountain

 

chic chicory pattern design

A Creative Life, Art Apparel, Art Licensing, art techniques, artistic inspirations, psychogeography, travel art and writing

Recently, end of September or early October my wife and I went on one of our wander-walks – I had my sketchbook in hand. On Officer’s Row in Vancouver WA I walked through a field full of blue-purple flowers… here are some of the sketches I did that day.

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Sue Clancy’s sketchbook page of the overall view of the field on Officers Row.

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Sue Clancy’s sketchbook page – details of flowers seen on Officers Row

The field was full of flowers; a patch here was full of blue ones, a patch there was white, another one there was magenta….it reminded me of curling up under/on a color-block quilt having a hot chocolate and reading a good book with a comforting lap cat/dog.

Then my work and life in general went on at a very busy pace and all the while in the back of my mind I was remembering that cozy quilt-like pattern of flowers seen on our walk…and thinking of how best to re-create that comfy feeling within pattern design and how that could be used in my fine art, or as a scarf or…???

Probably after the last chicory flower had faded from the real-life field I finally found time to create a pattern. In my studio I played around, designing several patterns using the chicory flower as a motif. As I worked I thought of several of our friends who garden, who like to go for walks/hikes and the upcoming winter season so I decided to make my pattern design into a scarf. I’m thinking it might be cozy to be able wear “end of summer” flowers during winter.

I used some paper I’d previously dyed and cut out the flower shape with an Xacto knife and glued it together. Then I cut up that just-created flower and re-glued it together in such a way that my finished design will digitally replicate as an overall pattern on fabric.  The last step is to do a bit of detail here and there on the flower petals with my color pencils. Here are photos of two of my multi-step process of pattern design creation:

Here’s what the finished scarf design looks like -and it is available via this link http://www.shopvida.com/collections/sue-clancy :

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Scarf pattern design “Chic Chicory” by Sue Clancy http://www.shopvida.com/collections/sue-clancy

The pattern seems a bit lighter on the fabric – but that is because it is on a white/sheer type of fabric and the fabric type affects the “look” of the design. I do my best to keep in mind that this will happen when I’m creating my pattern design.

My Chic Chicory pattern turned out nicely … what do you think?

 

 

artichoke music sketches

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, psychogeography, sketchbook, travel art and writing

I sketch in order to find out what I want to say. I make fine art, artist books etc. in order to say it clearly. This means I sketch a lot. What I’m looking for when I go walking about with my sketchbook in hand is whatever “catches my eye”.  Often when I do sketchbook work I don’t know at that time what I’ll use it for. I’m just stocking my mental pantry. Other times I go out in the world looking for a particular thing to make sketches of for a project I’m working on.  Whichever it is, later, during a studio work-day I’ll flip back through a filled sketchbook for ideas or resource-images – much like a cook uses a collection of recipes.

Anyway, recently I was on a street in Portland Oregon and I was delighting in all of the dogs with their people. I drew this, first with pencil and then with an ink pen:

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Sue Clancy’s sketchbook street scene; people with dogs

As I walked further I passed a store called Artichoke Music which had gorgeous musical instruments that I could see from the window.  I went inside and asked if I could stay a while and sketch. “Why would we say ‘no’ to that? That’d be awesome!” said the guys working at Artichoke Music. So I sketched this (in pencil, then in ink pen):

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Sue Clancy’s sketches from Artichoke Music in Portland Oregon

Then I showed the guys at the counter what I’d sketched. “Oh that’s such fun!” they said and then they pointed out another delightful area in the store – so I drew this:

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More of Sue’s sketches in Artichoke Music

I promised them that I’d post my sketches to their Facebook and Twitter pages – so I’m doing that now. Thanks again Artichoke Music for letting me hang out and draw!!! You guys are awesome!!!

Followers of this blog, and my artwork in general, will probably not be surprised to hear that I’m now thinking a lot about dogs, and musical instruments…