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.

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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.

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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.

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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

public art a magazine illustration and a speech

A Creative Life, art commissions, artistic inspirations, business of art, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, public art, publications - publishing, visual story, visual thinking

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.)

CrowdSizeResearch

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.

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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:

MoreCharacters72

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.

3ofUs

 

 

Clancy’s 5 tips for drawing crowds

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, commonplace book, creative thinking, sketchbook, visual thinking

I’ve been so busy with other projects that I can’t talk about in public yet that I’ve not had time – not even 5 spare minutes – to work on my Time Tavern sketchbook. So to come up with a blog post update today I flipped through my sketchbook/commonplace book.

Crowds of characters feature prominently in one of my can’t-talk-about-it-much-yet projects – and are also part of my Time Tavern sketchbook too.  So as part of my work on these projects one afternoon, a month or so ago, I went through several of my art technique books to refresh my technical skills for drawing crowds. I wrote the various relevant pointers as well as my own thoughts in my sketchbook.

Here below is a picture of  my sketchbook page.

CrowdDrawingTips72

In case you can’t read my handwriting I’ll type it here – and tweak the text I wrote by hand in my book, based on my recent experience in drawing crowds for my various projects:

Five Crowd Drawing Tips:

  1. Start at the front of the crowd. Do the figures with the most detail that are upfront/closer. The looser and less detailed characters will read as “in the distance”. Try to capture the type of characters within the overall scene as that gives the viewer the flavor of the event/place.
  2. Focus on the crowd shape as a whole. See the crowd as a single abstract shape – or as several shapes put together. Select where to put the details so as to guide the viewers eye around the crowd-shape(s).
  3. Keep it within a perspective. Is the viewer standing within the same level as the people in the front of the crowd? Or viewing the crowd from above or below?  You won’t see the characters in the back of the crowd unless you are in an elevated position.  Find a character of “average height” to use as a measuring gauge for placing the other characters. Use the average height as a natural horizon line and/or an assist in creating the crowd shape.
  4. Use characters arms, bags, objects held, angle of the head and other elements as a way of showing movement and guiding the viewers eye around the crowd shape.
  5. Crowds will have a main set of colors – like at a sporting event, though maybe not that extreme – it is possible, helpful even, to lay down areas of color within the crowd shape and add details over that. Color placement can help move the viewers eye. If one particular character is the focal point or stands out in the crowd then use the most color and detail on them and leave the others more or less implied. The main set of colors within the crowd shape can guide the colors used within the setting/scene around the crowd too.

 

reading books making art eating popcorn

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, creative thinking, food for thought, Sustainable creativity, The Sketchbook Project, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures

Below are some books I’m currently reading that are “feeding” many of my upcoming art projects. That’s art exhibits, illustration projects and yes even my sketchbook work for The Sketchbook Project I blogged about last post.  Even though it may seem that I produce a random variety of things – there’s a uniformity to my randomness and it begins with what I read. I see all of the things I make as telling a visual/tactile story about being human, enjoying life and living well.  And to help me develop my visual story I read…

BooksReading72

In case you can’t see all the titles in the picture they are:

“Wonderland; How play made the world” by Steven Johnson

“Books for Living” by Will Schwalbe

“The Creative Spark; How imagination made humans exceptional” by Agustin Fuentes

“The Foundations of Mindfulness” by Eric Harrison

“Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel

All of these books relate to themes I’ve been working with artistically for some time now:

How being willing to try new foods, to eat diverse foods, has helped us develop biologically as physical human beings. And how it helps us still.

Playing music, playing games, “playing” with our food – each kind of play in it’s own way has helped humans as a species develop and maintain physical and mental structures as individuals – and also social structures as communities. This is still true today. When we do not take time to play we hurt ourselves and each other.

Reading books (and writing them) has helped us – as a species – to pass on information so that each generation doesn’t have to completely reinvent the world from scratch.  This ability to collect information, and learn from it, informs our abilities to play – to playfully combine/recombine things – helping us to develop and maintain our mental skills.

Which leads me to mindfulness. Mindfulness for me is the human ability to pay attention, to focus attention and also to have a state of open/non-judgmental acceptance – curiosity even. This is essential to developing, having and keeping our human ability to imagine and be creative.  Mindfulness is part of being able to play and learn…and being able to play and learn is a way of being mindful. And for me, keeping a sketchbook, making art, is at it’s heart an exercise in playful mindfulness – but more about that in another post.

The novel by Esquivel is included in my current reading list because woman does not live by non-fiction alone.

Now please pass the popcorn. Thank you.

Dogs in the Winery exhibit video

A Creative Life, art exhibit, Dogs in Art, fine art, public art, small things, visual thinking

Some time back I did a blog post about my experimental exhibit currently at Burnt Bridge Cellars. In that post (link here: https://sueclancy.com/2017/06/13/my-experiment-of-exhibiting-art-as-a-multi-layered-story-environment/) I talked about creating a multilayered story environment; I included links to a free ebook sketchbook I’d done – as well as to a printed book and I included a few images of the artwork along with some short story-like descriptions for them. I wanted to share something with all of my fans whether they could physically come to my exhibit or not.

Then life went on in a hectic busy way and well I’ve only just now gotten around to posting on YouTube the video I’d shot, quick walk through style, after we hung the exhibit.  Here it is:

Now all that’s left is for you to taste the wine… but as far as I know there’s no way to upload wine to everyone’s screen in a way that they can taste it. Sigh.

The next opening party for my exhibit is July 7th. http://www.burntbridgecellars.com

 

my experiment of exhibiting art as a multi layered story environment

A Creative Life, art exhibit, Art Licensing, artist book, artistic inspirations, business of art, creative thinking, Dogs in Art, fine art, public art, small things, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures

My current fine art exhibit is still up and available during the Burnt Bridge Cellars winery hours (www.burntbridgecellars.com) and will be through the end of July.  I’ve designed it as an experiment in layers of story –  layered like a lasagna. Judging by responses and comments, both to me and to the staff at Burnt Bridge Cellars, people have been having fun with my experiment!

Layer 1 – as I worked toward this exhibit, starting well over a year ago, I took notes on my experiences of ordinary daily life and recorded them in my sketchbook.  You can see this sketchbook as a free ebook here: https://sueclancy.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/gladtobealivedrinkmusiced.pdf

Layer 2 – I spun my sketchbook notes through my imagination creating characters (dogs) that helped me describe my thoughts and feelings about ordinary life visually and metaphorically.  I created a series of sumi ink pieces on handmade papers – dogs drinking, playing musical instruments and etc.  Some of these pieces got framed and are in my exhibit. Others became part of a printed book titled “Dogs by Sue Clancy”. You can see that book at the exhibit or via this link here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

Layer 3 – I created a series of items aka “illustrated things”; scarves, napkins, tea towels, phone cases and many other items that relate to this exhibit – return full circle to the “ordinariness” of life – these items are available via the links found here https://sueclancy.com/pattern-design/

Layer 4 – A group of 17 of my artworks are hung on the walls at the winery. But in addition to the artwork itself which can be viewed up close in person I wrote short “blurbs” – very short descriptions of what inspired the artwork.  You can literally walk around (wine glass in hand) the exhibit “reading” my story of living my life.  Additional details – the layers above – are there if people want to see more.

Here are four of my artworks along with their stories that you could read on the wall next to my artwork at Burnt Bridge Cellars:

Click on the above images to see the title I’ve given them and then find the story below –

Maestro Houndsinger by Clancy

I attended several musical concerts and noted a consistency of a moment, that moment, just before the music started, when the conductor, the soloists, the performers took a deep breath. All performance, all of life, starts with a breath – and that’s what I wanted to remember – to breathe.

Surround Sound by Clancy

I’ve gotten to hear some “hairy” (complex) guitar music. I’ve also enjoyed seeing locally hand-crafted music instruments. I’ve also thought of the local music and musicians that I’m honored to know personally – those I get to hear in small places, like cafe’s and homes – where I get to be surrounded by their music, love and friendship… all of these thoughts are combined in this piece.

Paws For Coffee by Clancy

I can sometimes get so busy that I forget to take time to be present in the moment, to pause and smell the coffee. This is me – remembering.

Pup Fiction by Clancy

I was thinking of how curiosity and imagination are the “muscle” and “bones” of a healthy mental life. Perhaps curiosity, imagination – and coffee – are what makes us human?

What exactly was my experiment you ask? I wanted to create an exhibit that would have something (actually several somethings) for my friends and fans who are not able to come in person to my exhibit – and also to give people who are able to come to my exhibit in person an extra treat. As in while they’re waiting for their friends to meet-up at the winery they can down-load my sketchbook to their phone, or read blog posts like this one https://sueclancy.com/2017/05/16/mind-map-of-a-clancy-art-exhibit/ that describe my creative process or look at a printed book of my dogs…  Of course they can look at my fine art on the walls and imagine themselves enjoying the simple ordinary things in life.

And have I mentioned that the wine at Burnt Bridge Cellars is very good?

 

 

Bear salad and artistic kitchens

A Creative Life, Art Licensing, artistic inspirations, business of art, drawing as thinking, functional art, kitchen art, sketchbook suppers, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking, words and pictures

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!

 

 

 

new art project Bear Salad

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, drawing as thinking, illustration, visual thinking, words and pictures

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:

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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.

paws for coffee and art

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, drawing as thinking, fine art, visual thinking

Here’s another new artwork for my upcoming exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars http://www.burntbridgecellars.com  – it’s titled

Paws For Coffee by Clancy – 16 x 12 x 2 inches – hand dyed paper, found paper and acrylic on cradled board.

Here’s what inspired it: I can sometimes get so busy that I forget to take time to be present in the moment, to pause and smell the coffee. This is me – remembering.

The diamond motif is because I was thinking of the maze-like labyrinth quality that a busy life sometimes has.  I chose a dachshund character for that breeds digging ability, chosen as an inspiration for me to “dig out” from the (a)maze-ing world what’s really important to me.

Paws For Coffee by Clancy

Paws for Coffee By Clancy 16 x12 x 2 inches Hand dyed paper, found paper and acrylic on cradled board