paint to learn a pomegranate salad

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, food in art, kitchen art, small things, still life, visual thinking

At a friends house recently we were served a spinach and pomegranate salad. It was yummy and something like this recipe here.  As I ate I realized I’d never looked properly at a pomegranate.  I also realized I didn’t know cut one open. So later, back at my studio, I found an instruction video here – then I got some pomegranates and began looking and painting.  This is what I did:

OhSeeds72

“Oh Seeds!” – by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – gouache and acrylic on board, framed.

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“Shared Seeds” – by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – gouache and acrylic on board, framed.

After the paintings were done (and the pomegranates added to my salad) I submitted the artwork for consideration to the gallery. They were accepted so I framed them and delivered them along with 10 other small pieces for a “Small Works Holiday Group Exhibit” at Caplan Art Designs the months of November and December.  www.caplanartdesigns.com

All in all not a bad way to learn how to make a salad!

 

stirring occasions

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, fine art, kitchen art, small things, still life, visual thinking

As a long-time coffee lover I’ve been recently learning about tea. More than half of the world drinks tea and/or has some kind of tea ceremony. As far as I can tell the philosophy of tea is basically a way of valuing mundane life – in a somewhat carefully curated way. The ordinary as a source of stimulation, of stirring inspiration.

In making this piece I’ve deliberately used multiple perspectives – visual oddities – to emphasize the many ways there are to approach, value and appreciate a personal moment of pleasure in daily life.

Perhaps not surprisingly I’ve titled it “A Stirring Occasion”.

AStirringOccasion72

A Stirring Occasion by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

I confess that I’ve recently been reading a number of titles from the British Library Crime Classics. (here’s a link https://poisonedpenpress.com/series/british-library-crime-classics/) They’ve a number of books sorted by “impossible crimes” “locked room mysteries” and other detective mystery themes.

And I also thought about the concepts “bone china”,”dogs with bones”,”seize the day” and “stirring/stimulating/interesting”…

So as I worked on my artwork I designed yet another “impossible object” because I wanted to depict that feeling of dynamism within mundane pleasures.

As you know I’ve done “impossible objects” before when it suits the artistic concept – most recently my cat portrait titled “Alpha Betty” (past blog posts about that here and here and the finished art here) which has an “impossible book” reflecting the multiplicity of language.

Anyway – If you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ll see some of my recent tea adventures…

from my kitchen sketchbook

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, comfort food, kitchen art, Not-So-Sketchy-Food, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, visual thinking

It’s been hot and I’ve been busy – so my cooking activities have been of the quick-fix-no-stove sort. To catch you up here’s the last kitchen sketchbook post: https://sueclancy.com/from-my-kitchen-sketchbook/

And here are some recent recipe gouache and ink sketches from my kitchen sketchbook (BTW: when we ran out of fresh strawberries I substituted frozen blueberries in the “Dessert Anatomy” sketch)

Here’s another artist’s helpful blog post that tells how to make a sketchbook in 5 minutes: http://www.magicofcreativity.com/how-to-make-a-sketchbook-in-just-5-minutes/

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:

cover_2

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?

mundane matters

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, still life, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures

It took some doing but I finished the painting I was working on in my last post (here). I’ve titled it “A Novel Morning”.  It is 24 inches by 18 inches – acrylic and gouache on board.

ANovelMorning72

The text in the painting was paraphrased from Dona Leon’s book “Death at La Fenice” – the first book in her Commissario Brunetti series.  I adjusted the text for artistic reasons too numerous to write about in detail here – mainly because I’m lazy about typing words in a row – the gist being that I wanted to convey visually what I find alluring in Leon’s novelistic work; i.e. I love the food connection.

And I included the Powell’s bookstore receipt in the painting because one of my favorite things to do is go to a local bookstore, find a new-to-me novel, visit the in-bookstore coffee shop and consider the author/book carefully.  That’s my idea of heaven.

the art of the mundane

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, fine art, still life, visual thinking, words and pictures

I’ve been reading a lot of novels by Donna Leon lately. Her Commissario Brunetti series. My wife and I had watched many of the movie versions, I got hooked and sought out the novels. As a result I’ve realized how often the detective mystery is solved by something mundane, trivial and even disposable. The clue that resolves the crime may be found in the wilted flowers in the office, the food take-out container, the receipt in a wallet – or something else really mundane.  In Leon’s work the city, the food, the objects are characters in their own right. They certainly add to my perception of her protagonist Guido Brunetti and his cases.

These thoughts led me to thinking about how historians and archeologists both spelunk in the log-books, the diaries and the trash heaps of history to find the clues about life in the past.

And then there’s the concepts of wabi-sabi and hygge…

Amongst all these thoughts I had my cat’s exhibit open at Burnt Bridge Cellars. One of the benefits of doing one-person shows is that I get to see a years worth of my own work all at one time. As I looked around I realized that I’ve focused on creating my characters; the eyes, the fur, their animal-body-shape in people clothing and not as much on the stuff, the objects, they hold.

So I want to see if I can tell a visual story with “just stuff”. A still life basically. But I still hope to tell or imply a visual story. By doing this I’ll be practicing depicting the details of drinks, food and physical objects better so they can become “characters” in their own right. Kind of like what Leon does in her novels. Then eventually I hope to put my object-characters together with my animals…

Anyway, here’s me working on one:

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the stories behind the cats

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, fine art, visual thinking, words and pictures

This coming Friday, June 1st at Burnt Bridge Cellars my cat portrait exhibit “Purrsuits of Pleasure” opens. Because I don’t think artistic inspiration needs to be mysterious I include the story behind each art piece. The text illustrates, so to speak, my visual images.

Here are some of the artworks in the exhibit:

And here are some of the stories that illustrate them as they’ll be posted on the walls in the exhibit (of course readers of my blog have seen more details than what’s included below… but then you’re special):

Purrfecting Happy Hour by Clancy

I’m part of a feral happy-hour group; between 7 and 14 of us get together once a month somewhere local for happy hour. Often the trays of drinks that arrive at our table look like a collection of fine jewels.

Purrameters of Pie by Clancy

In several local cafés, bistros and pizzerias I’ve discovered that I can get either a savory or sweet pie of almost any size: small hand-pies, “personal” pies, pie slices, medium and large pies and “family size” pies. The trouble is deciding which size to get.

Strad O’Various by Clancy

Going to music events during the winter is a delightful way to combat any “rainy-day blues”. This last winter I particularly enjoyed seeing the crowd, and some musicians, bustling in for a concert in their colorful coats and scarves.

Cat A List by Clancy

Wine tastings – and being friends with Mark at Burnt Bridge Cellars – have opened my eyes to the subtle differences between wines from one year to the next, how type of grape, the weather, water and soil affect the flavors. Small things can be a catalyst.

Alpha Betty by Clancy

The local libraries and bookstores are, for me, a large treasure-toy box. Which got me thinking of how we select books according to our interests. The libraries and bookstores also have books available in a wide variety of languages – and its fun to see them too. This got me to thinking about the alphabet. Each language has its own – and when we say “the alphabet” we immediately think of our native tongue whatever it is. Likewise, when we think of “good books” we think in terms of our own interests and preferences. But when we’re aware of bi-lingual people and the multiplicity of this world – perhaps we are better able to remember that our languages and personal preferences are just frames of reference. And that frames are adjustable.   So what frame of reference would a cat have? A mouse obsessed one of course!

Purrfect Entertainment by Clancy

My friend Kevin and I were talking about local music, feral cats and handmade musical instruments. Specifically, we talked about the “found object” instruments we were both aware of in the Southeastern parts of the U.S. – guitars made out of cigar boxes or banjos from cookie tins. Our conversation drove me to the library to research “handmade music instruments in the Pacific Northwest”.  I discovered a long tradition of using local wood scraps to hand-craft musical instruments. The native woodgrain was often a prominent decoration. These instruments were works of art not at all like the “found object” instruments of the SE.  I also discovered that here in the PNW playing music in public, on porches, patios, anywhere outdoors was, and still is, the norm during “nice” weather. There has also been a strong connection between music, food and community no matter what the weather. But I could only get so much into one painting.

the catalyst for Cat A List

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, fine art, visual thinking

I live in wine country and wine tastings are part of the culture. It’s common to hear comments like “2013 was a very good year for Pinot Noir!” Which means I’ve had my eyes opened to the fact that the same grape variety can taste differently from year to year.

This has prompted me to read books about Pacific NW wine and wine making in general.  It’s amazing how many tiny little things can affect a wine’s flavor; the soil, the slope of the land, whether it’s near water, how warm/cool the temperature average is, the amount of rainfall and of course bugs and animals. Too much wind, or smoke from wildfires can also affect the grape and the taste of the wine.

And there’s the effect of the winemaker, the maker’s many small choices add up: the harvest date chosen, the fermentation temperature, the choice of what kind of barrel or tank to ferment in, the type of cork and bottle to use – and many thousands of other minute mundane decisions.

It seems to be a combination of both art and science.  Which makes me even more curious about wine and more appreciative of the wines I drink.

So rather than writing an essay about what I’ve learned and my thoughts and feelings about it – I’m creating a visual story of a curious cat character – who is investigating a wine list. I did a “vine” background pattern because, you know, grape vines… and I chose a brindle cat breed because wine making is subtle blending of many different elements.

SueWithCatAList72

And here is the finished piece:

CatAList72

“Cat A List” by Clancy 30 x 24 x 2 inches Hand dyed, hand stenciled paper and acrylic on cradled board

I’ve titled it “Cat A List” for reasons alluded to above, plus the definition of the word ‘catalyst’ and because I’ve learned that, just like professional fine artist’s, wine makers typically only offer their “A List”, the selection of what they think is their best work, to the public.  And this best-of list can vary from year to year.

Which makes this region the perfect place for this wine-curious cat (aka me) to live!

 

community creatures and why a book too

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, ebook, fine art, Narrative Art, visual thinking

Here are more pages from my “Running Around Loose” sketchbook – link to the ebook here – and the fine art pieces they inspired. These are in a current exhibit, titled “Community Creatures” at The Anstine Gallery.  I don’t think an artist’s life has to be too mysterious – so I show my sketchbooks when I can in whatever formats I can; ebook, hard-copy book, photocopied pages thumbtacked on a wall. Whatever works for that particular exhibit.  Besides I’ve been told that people enjoy seeing my sketches too – and for me that’s reason enough to do the “extra” work. I enjoy demonstrating the fact that “artistic inspiration” can come from very mundane sources. Anyway, I’m sure you can see the connections between the sketches and the artwork in this post. 

The Anstine Gallery’s facebook page is here https://www.facebook.com/The-Rebecca-Anstine-Gallery-336799326827686/.

More about my ebooks and artist books available at www.sueclancy.com

running around loose art exhibit

A Creative Life, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, ebook, fine art, public art, visual thinking

Soon I’m delivering artwork to the Anstine Gallery – an art gallery located in a governmental building in Vancouver WA. – for a one woman exhibit titled “Community Creatures”.  Since it’s in a government building I’m taking the opportunity to celebrate, with artwork, aspects of the community I love.

I’ve titled the exhibit “Community Creatures” because the characters I’ve used for all of the fine art pieces range widely: there’s a frog, a longhorn steer, a peacock, a seahorse, a rabbit and of course some dogs and cats. Each character, and the actions depicted in the artwork,  represents some aspect of the Vancouver community that I appreciate.  As I’ve run around loosely enjoying things I’ve documented them in my sketchbook. Then I’ve pulled elements recorded in my sketchbook for fine art.

So I’m also sharing my sketchbook, the words-and-pictures behind the fine art, in two ways: one as a hand-sewn book that will be in the exhibit, and as an ebook (here) titled “Running Around Loose” that people can download and have on their phone when they go to my exhibit. Or if they can’t come to the exhibit they can still enjoy the show – via my sketchbook.

For example here is one of my sketchbook pages.

BurntBridge

And below is one of my artwork, titled “Massive Mastiff Munching” that flowed from the above sketchbook page and other pages like it. For example I’m also combining (as documented in other sketchbook pages) the “tapas”, or small plates, way of eating that many places offer – including the winery mentioned in the above sketchbook page.

MassiveMastiffMunchingA72.jpg

You can probably see several connections between the sketchbook page and the artwork.

I suppose with the art and the book combined the entire exhibit could be called “Community Creatures… Running Around Loose” – and I like the humor of that, but I’ve left the phrases separate in order to distinguish between the exhibit and the book. Anyway, hopefully everything I’ve done will make people smile.

I’ll post more about this exhibit and my thinking in the coming days – but just now I’m hoping that our recent snowfall won’t interfere too much with delivery day.  The local independently owned (imagine that!!)  newspaper, The Columbian, has headlines for yesterday and today: “Snow sticks around; School districts announce closures, later starts today with messy commute likely” and “A Day to take off; snow, ice prompt school closures, delays in services in Clark County”.  It is snowing as I type this … so I’ll be in touch with the exhibit curator and we’ll see….