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?

coffee and conversations with friends

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

I’ve been thinking of how essential friendly conversations are – and remembering a story Dr. Bob Hoke* once told. It went like this.

Once upon a time there was a king who was very busy from morning until evening chairing meetings and making decisions. When the king went home in the evening he wanted perfect silence; he didn’t talk to his very beautiful queen or his servants and he didn’t allow them to talk either. A no-talking policy reigned whether he was home or not. His queen was very unhappy and his servants didn’t stay in his employ long – even though the king was very rich and the queen and servants didn’t lack any material thing.

Eventually he noticed that his poorly paid chief advisor had a very happy wife. The advisor also had servants who had been in his employ for decades despite the fact that the advisor couldn’t pay them as well as others might.

The king attributed his advisors success in these relationships to sheer luck. One day the king demanded that the advisor swap. The advisor’s wife and servants went to live with the king. The king’s queen and servants went to live with the advisor.

A year went by. And the king noticed that most of the advisor’s former servants had left the king’s employment (despite their higher wages) and the advisor’s wife was now sad all the time. The king was also aware that his queen now laughed most of the time and his former servants, now in the poorly paid employment of the advisor, had stayed the entire year.

The king called his advisor and demanded “How have you done this?”.

“Your highness, almost every night I spend time asking everyone how their day had gone. I ask them how their children are. I listen to their hopes and dreams. I ask them to tell me stories and jokes. I tell them stories and jokes. I tell them about my day, my hopes and dreams.  Neighbors and friends often drop by to visit – whether I’m home or not – and we offer the visitors what little we have to eat or drink. We accept what they offer us. We also visit other people.” replied the advisor.

The king reversed the swap and though it took some time he eventually became a good conversationalist with his queen and current servants (who began to stay in his employ longer).  Above the entrance to his home, to help him remember, the king had a sign painter paint this phrase: “To be a good conversationalist is to have a good life.”

That’s the end of the story as I recall it. As I was remembering the story I painted this:

CoffeeWithFriends72

“Coffee With Friends” – by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches- acrylic and gouache on board

*Dr. Bob Hoke is the psychiatrist for whom I compiled and illustrated “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” (link to that book here https://store.bookbaby.com//bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit )

The story in this post was not included in the First Aid Kit because both Dr. Bob and I thought the “wife swapping” story element would be distracting within the book – even though it is a way within this particular story to demonstrate the point about conversation.

Ah well.

And in this still life artwork I experimented – swapped you might say – using a color I don’t use often: turquoise instead of the color I was tempted to reach for first. I feel I’m broadening my color-conversation skills at least.

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:

DSC_0022.jpg

 

 

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.

angles we have on things: a conversation with clancy published in the salmon creek journal 2018 issue

A Creative Life, art commissions, artist book, Artist interviews and profiles, creative thinking, public art, publications - publishing, published art, words and pictures

Because I’ve been asked to I’m including in this blog post the entire interview with me for the Salmon Creek Journal 2018 issue titled “Angles We Have On Things: A Conversation with Sue Clancy” by Amanda Flynn. I asked permission to post this and it was generously granted. (The people at the Salmon Creek Journal – SCJ – magazine love you!)

Salmon Creek Journal, a literary journal, is a publication of the Washington State University Vancouver and is generally available around campus and a few other places in the Pacific Northwest. (Yes, it’s very like a limited artist book production!) When I mentioned online that this interview coming out I was contacted by fans of my work who live in far-from-the-PNW places, Ireland, England, New Zealand and Australia, asking me to make it accessible to them. So here goes.

Here’s what the printed 9.5 tall x 8.5 wide x .5 inch thick magazine looks like with my coffee cup beside it:

SCJcoverCoffee72

The interview is primarily about “Heroes’ Journey”, a public art piece I did for WSUV at the end of 2017 – and also a conversation about living the creative life.  My artwork is reproduced handsomely in the magazine but since I can I’ll include the digital file of “Heroes’ Journey” here:

HeroesJourney72

And below is a series of photos of pages 94 through 101 that make up the interview.  I’ve photographed the pages rather than re-type the text of the interview because I think the visual layout and the flow of images and text are an intrinsic part of the interview. I’m thinking the photos are large enough that you’ll be able to zoom in and be able to read but in case you prefer to have a pdf file (at a higher resolution) you can freely download that here – SalmonCreekJournalInterview

Pg94n95r72Pgs96n97r72Pg98n99r72Pg100n101r72Amanda Flynn did an excellent job with the interview questions – they were fun questions for me to think about and answer, she was fun and easy to work with – and I’m proud to have been a small part of this magazine issue. I thank her and the current SCJ editor Alex Duffield for permission to post this (and I thank them both, and the SCJ staff, for loving my fans with me!).

Of course the magazine has a lot more to offer than just the stuff about me and my work. I’ve enjoyed a number of the poems, essays and photographs by artists like Cory Blystone, Jehoon Jung, Richard Boneski III and Joseph Colombo and many others. Like an artist book this Salmon Creek Journal issue is more than just a collection of random entries, it builds to whole concept, the form and content are symbiotic, with the magazine becoming an art object in its own right.

I’m hoping that eventually the staff at SCJ will create a digital version of the entire 2018 edition so that you’ll have access to more of the work. They did a digital version of the 2017 issue on their website here – so I have reason to hope. [Update: They have now done the digital version!! You can see it here: http://www.salmoncreekjournal.com/salmon-creek-journal-2018/ ]

Thank you again to Amanda Flynn, Alex Duffield, the SCJ staff and everyone at WSUV for this delightful opportunity! And thank you, my dear fans, for your interest in my work and your desire to see this interview! I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

(Oh, and for additional amusement, here’s the post I did the day back in February that the interview actually happened – https://sueclancy.com/interview-about-my-public-art-at-wsu-vancouver/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Tavern traveling

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, artistic inspirations, Dogs in Art, ebook, graphic narrative, public art, The Sketchbook Project, visual story, words and pictures

I’ve finished my sketchbook for the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project, packed it up and put it into the postal slot. But before I did that I created an ebook version of the book – and a video.  I was going to post more photos of work-in-progress and such – but I’ve gotten very busy so… you can download-to-own an ebook version here. And below is the video…

 

from my kitchen sketchbook

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, comfort food, food for thought, kitchen art, Not-So-Sketchy-Food, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, words and pictures

Around the edges of working on cat portraits I’ve still been working with gouache. Specifically I’ve been testing it in my bound sketchbooks. Here are several pages, created with gouache and ink, in my current “kitchen sketchbook”.  I have a series of kitchen sketchbooks, they are all small, around  3 by 5 inches, and I give each book a silly name. These books contain drawings of a recipe I was then-currently cooking – or a depiction of something I was drinking and eating. The following pages are from my “Mouthpiece Four” kitchen sketchbook.  I have ambitions of publishing these sketchbooks… but that’s another blog post topic.

unconventional cookbook progress

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, business of art, functional art, illustration, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, kitchen art, published art, Sustainable creativity, words and pictures

We are nearing the dessert stage of the unconventional cookbook “Kim Cooks Sue Draws”; meaning that all of the recipes have been illustrated, a short-cookbook-run has been sent to the printers and we’re waiting for delivery. I’m a mite nervous that it will arrive okay, that the printing will look good, that Chef Kim will be happy with it… but all I can do at this point is breathe and hope. 

Both Chef Kim Mahan and I have shown the work-in-progress to friends and each of us have heard that people enjoy the “playful and practical” qualities of it, that it’s not intimidating like some cookbooks can be, that it makes people want to cook. So overall I’m hopeful for the reception of this artist book and that it will be a useful helpful thing for Chef Kim to have in her classroom and available on her website www.class-cooking.com for her far-flung fans.

Personally I feel good about the artwork I’ve done and I feel that this project concept fits well with my general artistic thoughts (I dislike the word “mission”): that artwork can be both playful and practical, that “fine art” can be helpful to living life well, that the ability to cook is an essential survival skill for artists and other creative people.

Anyway, our “dessert stage” progress also means that all of the  unconventional cookbook recipe illustrations are now available as art prints and greeting cards and can be seen here: https://society6.com/sueclancy/collection/unconventional-cookbook

I know the prints and cards look good. I’ve seen them in person.

The short-cookbook-print run (the delivery I’m waiting somewhat impatiently for and slightly worrying over) that will be sold as a full “cookbook”, is a collection of 15 recipes,  as single cards that will be slipped into one envelope with these labels on the outside:

When we get the print run then Chef Kim and I will sort the books by hand and we’ll probably ask our loving, tolerant, patient and wonderful spouses to help us. There’s only 90 of the books on this first print run so we’ll be able to quickly to get them ready for an event the Chef is doing.  Some of the cookbooks will also be available via the Chef’s website www.class-cooking.com – and I’ll put a link here too when the books are ready.

As you may know from my previous posts this cookbook is not a traditional bound along one edge kind of book – it’s a collection of recipe cards; you can put one of the recipe cards under a magnet on the fridge while cooking from it, you could loan one to a friend, you can frame a recipe-card as “kitchen art” or mail one via snail mail. (This book design is also why the cards will need the hand-sorting mentioned above.)

My hope is also that people will smile and laugh when they see some of the recipe illustrations, that they will collect them and display them for a continued boost of humor.  I really like laughter and firmly believe that laughter belongs in kitchens and dining rooms.

Here is a link to a post from the “appetizer days” of this project – which describes more about my ideas and intentions behind this project: https://sueclancy.com/2017/10/18/an-unconventional-cookbook-artist-book/

I’ll let you know when the delivery finally happens and I’m breathing easier….

Thank you book and artist sketchbook subscriptions

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, artistic inspirations, Dogs in Art, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And I’m grateful for you. Thank you for following my blog, and my artwork on social media. Thank you for coming to my art exhibits. Thank you for buying my fine art, my books, scarves and my other designs.  Here, as a “Thank you” is a downloadable, printable artist book. In the pdf file below I’ve also included instructions for folding the 8 page book.  Yes, you can color my book first if you like.

ThankyouBookByClancy

Here is an image of the book folding instructions – I’m including them in this post as a way of giving you a clue as to what the above pdf file will be giving you.

FoldingInstructions

And because many of you have asked for more from me – I’ve been slowly creating a way for you to access my sketchbooks and artist books via subscription. This will allow me to make available new artist books as I create them. You can see what I mean here: https://www.patreon.com/sueclancy

Thank you again for your support and encouragement of my artwork!

https://www.patreon.com/posts/thank-you-book-15504687