Creating “Bailey At The Lake” By Sue Clancy
(this art commission project was handled by the Downtown Art & Frame gallery in Oklahoma)
Almost 9 years ago I did an art exhibit and someone saw it. Almost 9 years later they remembered my artwork and contacted me wanting me to do a portrait of their dog! (Lucky me!) After conversation and photos were exchanged I did 2 sketches and some color samples. They selected one of my sketches and they liked the color scheme so I got started on the art!
I dyed handmade papers – first for the color samples and then I dyed still more handmade papers for the “nuances” of color papers that would be cut up make up each element within the artwork.
Here’s a photo of me dying paper. Each handmade paper starts out white – the colors and patterns you’ll see I put onto the white paper using various processes. This paper dying process was repeated with many different colors using several different paper-dying techniques. Only one photo of this process is here so I can keep this document brief.
Below is the “basic” color scheme that was approved. Then I set about making dyed papers that were the same colors but shades lighter or darker than each of these. So about 26 papers got dyed. (and a few extra)
Each paper was much larger than the area I intended to use it for because I layer multiple pieces on top of each other to build up the color.
When all of the dyed papers were dry I cut out the overall basic shapes from each “local color”
I glued each of those cut paper shapes to each other – and generally began the layering process….
Some paper layers go on top, others interlock with each other, some go behind and others on top of what’s on top – basically I design for both 2D and 3D space. To create this art work, I use an Xacto knife to cut out the shapes I need – sometimes scissors. A tin tray holds the cut pieces – and I use a miniature spatula and several kinds of tweezers to position the paper shapes in the correct position…. Lots of archival glue and glue brushes are used… then a roller to roll it all flat.
Then I glue the basic cut paper shapes onto the board – layering what goes behind first and slowly building up.
When all of the “base papers” are on the board it is allowed to dry for several days. Then I begin to layer more cut dyed paper shapes on top of what is dry on the board. This next photo is of me starting that layering process – adding the cut paper “nuances” of color and shape.
And so it goes for quite some time… I’m skipping ahead now and the following photo shows how it looked when I had gotten it to a stage where it had to dry a few days before I could do more detail work. And yes, in this photo below you can see the sketch that got approved – and some of the many photos of the real-life dog that the client sent to me for reference.
Once the above stage was dry – I cut and layered in more cut paper shapes. While working I looked a lot like I did in the earlier photo: tweezers and cut paper in one hand a glue-y glue brush in the other. I would cut the shapes I needed out of the correctly colored paper using an Xacto knife, lay those cut paper pieces in a tin tray, step to my easel use the tweezers to pick up the cut paper piece, load my brush with glue and apply … and so it went. But I’m keeping this document brief… so please repeat in your mind, a gajillion times, that earlier photo of me with tweezers and glue.
In the photos below you can see that I’ve layered on many more nuances and details since those photos above.
As you can see my dyed cut paper shapes go around all 4 edges of the board.
The above stages have to dry a while before I can do any finishing touches.
Well, I got so excited when things were dry that I got right to work and finished the artwork without taking any more progress photos. Ah well.
Here it is finished:
“Bailey At The Lake” By Sue Clancy
6 x 6 inches – Hand dyed paper, handmade paper, handmade paste paper and acrylic on cradled board.
2 thoughts on “fine art commission Bailey At The Lake”
You have a great deal of organisational skill, patience, and dexterity that I am in awe and admiration of. The resulting portrait is completely charming. I love the facial expression and that part of the bikini is layered above and part layered below the papers representing the water. I am sure the people who commissioned the portrait are thrilled to bits with it.
Thanks Laura! I loved jigsaw puzzles when I was a kid – so it’s fun for me to design fine-art that is as much like the process of doing a puzzle as possible. Keeps it fun! As you so kindly noted: the bikini is layered… and the water… puzzle!!!! 😉 And thank heavens the clients who commissioned this portrait are very happy with it!!