My new exhibit this year is titled “Dear Readers” and is book/reading themed. As I’ve worked this last year towards this new one-person fine art exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars, that will open June 7 in Vancouver WA, I’ve written lots of hand-written notes in my sketchbooks, on random slips of paper, on post-it notes in the margins of newspaper articles. I wrote down as many thoughts as possible – including quotes from books I’ve read – and kept them together in a binder. When it came time to write my exhibit statement I could reread all of my notes and pull from them.
Here’s a pic of my binder and one of my sketchbooks. And my pen.
Below is the finished “Dear Readers” art exhibit statement – text I wrote that pulled from the data pool in my binder and sketchbooks. This statement will be put on the wall somewhere within my exhibit:
By Sue Clancy
I’ve been thinking about the interconnectedness of everything in life. These thoughts led me to the concept of nested ideas; how one thing leads to another, one food or drink pleasure can lead to another new pleasure in a similar way that one enjoyed book can lead to another new book.
I’ve also thought of how much the written word in general has enhanced our pleasure in and understanding of the sensual world by enabling connections to be made between elements and people across time and space.
So, in this exhibit I’m using the printed-and-bound book as a symbol for “the written word” in its myriad of formats. And I’ve deliberately, whimsically, played with the one-thing-leads-to-another-everything’s-connected concept by including spoofs of my own artwork, my still life paintings, within my other paintings that have dog characters in them. The titles of the still life paintings, the titles of the dog character paintings, the titles of the humans with pet’s paintings all correlate.
Each artwork in my exhibit is related in some way to at least one other artwork in this exhibit. I leave it for you to puzzle out which is connected to which – and in what way.
And yes, you can read my exhibit like you would a mostly wordless comic.
I’ve been thinking about cookbooks and bartending books. And parties. It’s becoming the season here in the Pacific Northwest for drinks with friends outside on patios and decks.
On one of my walks I saw a beautiful Pointer dog. The dog dovetailed with my thoughts about bartending books which give “pointers” – pun intended – for drink mixing.
Here’s the painting those thoughts inspired – titled “Party Pointers”.
Party Pointers by Clancy – 16 x 20 inches – acrylic on board
As I’ve been doing with this “readers series”, my body of work for my upcoming one-person exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars, in the background of “Party Pointers” I’ve spoofed several of my own still life paintings. You can see a few of the original still lifes here and I’ll post some over on my Instagram page.
Hope you’ll also get to sit outside and have an adult beverage with a fun companion or two!
Here’s a page from my sketchbook that relates to a recent blog post: https://sueclancy.com/dogs-strawberries-and-cookbooks/
Been thinking about tea and coffee. And poetry. As readers of my blog know I often read a bit of poetry in the mornings with my coffee. And novels with my tea in the evening. Or vice versa. This bit of my mundane life inspired this painting below along with the thought that Dachshunds like to dig… and writers and readers often “dig” for meanings…
Leaves And Grounds: Poems for the Canine Soul – by Clancy – 20 x 16 inches – acrylic on cradled board
Naturally (organically?) I’ve included, in the painting above, 2 spoofs of my own still life work. Each of the still lives relate to the theme of “Leaves and Grounds: Poems for the Canine Soul”. The titles of the still life’s, in my mind at least, add more information to this “Leaves and Grounds….” painting.
As you can tell I’m still thinking of the nesting ideas concept I’m working with for this body of work (“Readers” is my working title) for an upcoming one-person exhibit.
Here, below, are my still life paintings that are spoofed in the painting above:
A Stirring Occasion by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – acrylic and gouache on board
“A Novel Morning” – by Clancy – 24 x 18 – acrylic and gouache on board
I’m currently working on yet another nesting aspect related to this concept of leaves, digging and poetry… but that will be another post. Btw: if you follow me on Instagram occasionally I post what I’m currently reading.
One of the many things I love about the Pacific Northwest are the indie bookstores and all of the people I see reading. Almost every time I’m in town I see people reading printed books in coffeeshops, in cafes, in the park, in the library, in line at the post office, waiting for the bus and even while walking down the sidewalk.
For example here’s a sketchbook page (left side) I did just after passing by the lobby of one of the downtown apartment-plexes. There’s a lobby on the first floor and a guy was sitting in a chair reading with his dog on his lap. (I added the cat – just for fun.)
I did the other page (on the right) on the same walk, but just after walking past a café window where a lady was having a dessert and coffee. The book she was reading was about the same small size as her cake! So I had to note that!
Below are several more pages from my “running around loose” sketchbook (a book I take with me when I go to town) as well as a few from my “kitchen sketchbook” (a book I keep in my kitchen at home to doodle in while I wait for water to boil etc.)
from Clancy’s Running Around Loose Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Running Around Loose Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Kitchen Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Kitchen Sketchbook
These pages – and my many other sketchbook pages full of readers and books – have been feeding my current “reading and books in art” fine art series that I’ve been posting about in my last several posts. This series of paintings is for an upcoming exhibit. Plus books are a fun topic for me to use in my artistic practice to, well, practice.
I’m still thinking hard about my notion of nesting ideas (like the way one book refers to another book etc.) and this week I’ve added a twist; in past years to accompany my fine art exhibits I’ve included ebook versions of my sketchbooks. What if this year, instead of an ebook, I did a limited edition printed book? And what if it was a book that collected some of my sketches of human readers and possibly included some of my poems/short stories? So that the poem/story related to the human reader, what they might be reading and also to the fine art? It would be a way for me to include the story alluded to within my recent painting Epic Tales Of The Pug King for example.
Hmmm… I’ll keep thinking. And I’ll probably post some of my human reader sketches/illustrations here too and see what you think.
Oh, and to add another layer to my nesting-ideas concept, over on my Instagram page I’m occasionally posting books I’m currently reading.
Recently I was in a local coffee shop and a coffee cup was silhouetted beside a rainy window. Steam rising from the cup. Such a simple thing but I began thinking of how many stories begin with simple things and grow, cumulatively, until they become epics.
Like Pug dogs. So small yet so large in personality especially as they mature.
Here’s a painting I did that was inspired by these thoughts. I’ve titled it “Epic Tales of The Pug King”.
Epic Tales Of The Pug King – by Clancy – 16 x 20 – acrylic and gouache on board.
I wrote the story that’s ‘printed’ in the book depicted in the painting and hand-lettered it, with brush and acrylic, into place on the page-within-the-painting.
My wife came into my studio, saw my work-in-progress and said “What’s the rest of that story?”, saying that she wanted to turn the Pugs page for him and continue reading. Then she challenged me to write the rest of the story.
Right this minute I’m enjoying the visual pun – that the Pug’s epic story-poem, ahem, is really, really, short. Plus the setting and my character, the Pug dog, are not particularly grand as the word “epic” would imply.
And that’s in keeping with my feeling that the most important elements of this world are actually the mundane ones, the humble ones. Daily life and the qualities of it can have more impact on a person than the grandest once-in-a-lifetime vacation might.
I love this quote from Annie Dillard “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”
I’ve been thinking about how reading books is similar to playing dominos or sharing a meal with friends. In all of these activities we practice cooperating with others and peaceably bringing forth the world together.
Here’s a limerick poem I wrote and illustrated that playfully reflects my thoughts:
original poem and illustration titled “There Once Was A Tom Cat…” by Clancy
This poem and illustration somewhat relates to my nested-ideas concept that I’m working with for my upcoming fine art exhibit. And this poem (along with others) could become an artist book to accompany my exhibit but I’m still playing around and not sure where all of this is going. This is one of the things I like about being an artist; getting to practice being flexible, playing and letting things unfold as they will.
Kind of like reading a novel, playing a game or sharing a meal with friends allows us to practice “letting things unfold…”.
On a technical note: To create the above poem and illustration I used pen and ink and gouache on a greyish off white handmade paper. It looks sharp in real life, and the paper is a dream to work on, but the scan accented the grey color of the paper more than the naked eye perceives in person. The scan looks good enough, I’m not unhappy … however, note to self; use white paper for things that will be scanned and leave this lovely greyish handmade paper for fine art stuff that will be photographed and not scanned.
I’m still learning!
On one of my walks near the Columbia River I had the pleasure of seeing, then meeting, a mutt. She was a beautiful white and buff longhaired dog, larger than a Labrador, stockier than a Greyhound and hairier than a Golden Retriever. I asked the owner what breed she was and the owner didn’t know. The dog and human had rescued each other. The dog was friendly, beautiful and let me make drawings of her in my sketchbook.
Fast forward to my currently in progress reading and books in art series – and the wonderful mutt I’d met made an appearance:
“Meditations For The Metrosexual Mutt” by Clancy – 16 x 20 inches – acrylic on cradled board – image copyright 2019
Yes, in “Meditations For The Metrosexual Mutt” I’ve spoofed a famous painting by James Whistler along with two of my own still life paintings. If you look at the titles I’ve used for each of my paintings you’ll get a hint about my theme…
“Life’s a bowl of cherries, stems pits and all” – by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – acrylic and gouache on board
The still life, pictured below, is on the deep cradled edge of “Meditations for the Metrosexual Mutt”, where it will only be seen if you’re able to see my work in person.
“Gala” by Clancy – acrylic and gouache on board
The selection of Whistler’s famous painting to spoof was deliberate as the art history around Whistler’s work is part of my meditation on life, beginnings, origin stories etc.
I imagined that the dog in my painting is reading a book titled “Meditations For The Metrosexual Mutt” – which is why I used that as the title for my work.
As you can tell I’m still thinking about “nesting ideas” and stories within stories…
Here’s a new painting in my “reading and books in art” series. I confess that I love printed dictionaries, thesaurus’s and puzzle/game related books. In my art studio resource shelves I have 8 dictionaries, 3 thesaurus’s and 5 puzzle/game related books. Art idea gold-mines in my opinion. Naturally a Boston Terrier would consult one of these books…
“The Arf Thesaurus” by Clancy – 16 x 20 inches – acrylic and gouache on board —- image copyright 2019
The puzzle in the painting is actually work-able – at least somewhat – if you could get the Boston Terrier to move his arm. It was fun to imagine a puzzle related to sounds (words?) a dog makes.
If you look in the upper corner of this painting you’ll see that I’ve spoofed another painting that I did earlier.
“Good Morning” – by Clancy – 11 x 17 inches – acrylic and gouache on board – image copyright 2019
As I’ve worked toward this exhibit theme of reading and books in art I’ve become aware again of my love of words so I’ve also been experimenting with abecedarian poems, nonsense poems and made up words. This is in conjunction with thinking about constructing some artist books related to my upcoming reading and books themed art exhibit.
Still noodling about this concept of nesting-ideas-within-nested-ideas I’d mentioned in my last post. We’ll see where it goes.
And yes, I love it when I take the time to sit and work a crossword puzzle. I’m not up to The New York Times puzzle level yet. Someday perhaps. I’ve known two people who could do the Sunday NYT puzzle in ink. They impressed me enough with their level of education/smarts that I started on the bunny-slope level of crosswords. They inspired me reading more widely too. I like to think I’ve gotten a little better at puzzling since then.
Do you like crossword puzzles?
I’ve begun a new series of fine art pieces intended for exhibits later this year. (Yes, I’ve a deadline dragon) And I’ve been thinking of how when I walk into a library or bookstore I feel like I’m entering a galaxy. Words and ideas that are interrelated with other words and ideas, like an array of planets and stars, or like nesting dolls or stuffed vegetables.
Also in my thoughts; the way I can experience something first hand but when I read about that same experience in a book I have a delightful momentary shock of recognition and I better understand my experience.
So I’m exploring these thoughts, as best I can, within my new series.
Here’s one of my new pieces:
“Good Smells: A Memoir of A Lifelong Pursuit” by Clancy – image copyright Sue Clancy 2019
You’ll notice, I’m sure, the “nesting” ideas of the coffee and mints. There’s a real still life, also by me, which is spoofed within the above painting that I will also include in my upcoming exhibit. I love the idea that a viewer could find the real-life painting that is referred to within another painting – sort of a “find the image” puzzle exhibit.
Here’s a picture of the still life referred to in the painting above:
“After Dinner” by Clancy – copyright Sue Clancy 2019
I’m also thinking it’ll be fun to also include at least one artist book version of an imaginary book depicted in one of my paintings – so the viewer could look at the painting and then leaf through a copy of the book depicted in the painting. But we’ll have to see how that works out.
Posting progress as I go… thanks for staying tuned.