studio sketchbooks and dogs

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, sketchbook

I’ve posted in this blog about my “running around loose sketchbooks” – sketchbooks that I carry with me and record my observations of daily life.  My studio sketchbooks are a different breed.  In these I’m using my imagination – like what is in “Dogs by Sue Clancy” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy  I make it a regular habit to play with my imagination like this.

I’ll be signing copies of this published version of my studio sketchbook Friday night during my art exhibit opening at Burnt Bridge Cellars.  My exhibit is called “Dogs In The Winery” and the fine artwork exhibited is like what’s in the book… only more so.

See also https://sueclancy.com/2017/07/01/my-running-around-loose-sketching-kit/

 

 

designing a creative life 3 ways

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, mental health, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking

“Art cannot be separated from life. It is the expression of the greatest need of which life is capable. And we value art not because of the skilled product, but because of its revelation of a life’s experience.” – Robert Henri (American painter).  

I’ve been thinking of that quote today – and thinking of the people who have told me that they want to “be more creative” but aren’t sure how to start or what to draw. I’ve been thinking of how easy it is now for me to find subject matter. But it wasn’t always so.

As a young art student one of my first college assignments was to “do a 4 foot by 4-foot painting in acrylic of any subject matter but it cannot be abstract.”  Well that was a stumper. What to paint?  My professor went on to tell my class about how we needed to look around our own lives, our own experiences and find subject matter there.

That helped somewhat but still… what to make art about? My college life seemed boring and un-dramatic. How to identify subject matter I cared about?

I muddled through the school assignment and over the years got better at coming up with subject matter. It took even more time for me to figure out that a system of “short bursts of creativity” worked best for me but here’s what I’ve learned on my personal quest for the fountain of continually-interesting-to-me artistic subject matter:

A.   Keep a daily sketchbook, 5 to 10 minutes of work at a time, in which I draw or write about anything that occurs during a day that “catches my attention”. No censorship. No “trying to make art”. Just make notes, doodles. Play. Note the fun stuff, the things I’m grateful for and things that make me laugh or feel curious.

B.  After several weeks or months of sketchbook work I look back through my book and notice any reoccurring themes and I list them.

C.  I select one of the themes and set a series of creative appointments with myself to do a “real drawing” of that theme using good art materials. The creative appointments are 10 to 20 minutes of work/play at a time. I purposefully keep these sessions short! Repeat the creative appointments (aka short bursts of creativity) until the drawing is finished.

Then I select that same theme – or a similar one from my sketchbook – and do another “real drawing” – trying to do an even better job of communicating my thought or feeling. Again, no censorship, no “trying to make great art” – just trying to draw as neatly as possible, to convey as clearly as possible what “caught my attention”.

I keep working in my sketchbook every day even when I have a creative appointment with myself. Both of these 10 minute activities go on behind the scenes of my very busy professional artist life – and this “short bursts” concept could work within anyone’s “too busy” life and add more ongoing creativity. (Also, this concept builds on my “designing habits” concept from an earlier blog post: https://sueclancy.com/2017/03/29/designing-habits-6-ways/ )

Here’s a visual-thinking-drawing I did that describes this in a different way:

ShortBurstsCreativeTime72

For me it has turned out that creativity is a lot like happiness – it follows me wherever I go.  Below is a cartoon I drew about happiness that explains this concept in yet another way – it’s from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

AHappyTail72

page from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

You can also see one of my published sketchbooks as an ebook here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book

designing habits 6 ways

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, mental health, Sustainable creativity

“Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive” – an old saying that Dr. Bob Hoke reminded me of often.  I’ve been thinking of that today – and thinking of how easy it is to form habits, how quickly these habits become the “air” we breath. This air becomes so normal that we soon think that things have “always been this way”.

As a professional artist my job depends on my “thought systems” – the quality of my ideas and how well I’m able to communicate them. I’ve modified Dr. Hoke’s saying above to “Stay close to anything that makes you want to be creative”.  My imagination is formed – fed – by my life experiences so I try to be careful what of my life experience becomes “normal”.  I do not, for example, keep mint candies in my house/studio as I know I have a hard time eating just one.  Similarly I purposefully create art studio habits that help me to happily achieve my goals:

  1. Keep favorite art supplies on hand, things I want to pick up and use.
  2. Leave some of the favorite art supplies or an in-progress project out on a work surface that I’ll see when I first walk into my studio. That way I get right to work.
  3. Keep a strict work schedule -be ruthless- decide what needs to be done/can be done within a day/work period and do it.  (And no, I’m not always perfect at this – it’s a goal) At the end of each work day I make a list of what needs to be done tomorrow. This list is broken into small achievable steps like “gesso boards” – that can be easily picked up/begun.
  4. Keep a list of quotes, photos (etc.) that stimulate my creativity/good habits – I post these encouraging items somewhere visible. It is best if it is something that makes me smile and want to do my best.
  5. Keep phones and other distracting items out of the studio for set periods of time. See number 3 above again. Rinse. Repeat.
  6. Keep a list of favorite people – think of them and make something each day with them in mind. Keep a list of favorite places, foods, music, movies, books – etc – and use them as a “guiding light” for creative efforts. (i.e. view them as a mentor, a source of encouragement, something that feeds my good wolf/your better angels, reminds me that it CAN be done.) Create habits of happiness – and happiness out of habits.

Flannery O’Connor once said “I’m a full-time believer in writing habits…You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away…Of course you have to make your habits in this conform to what you can do. I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.”

For me it comes down to doing my best to be aware of what I pick up and spend time on – and choosing carefully. Below is a cartoon I drew that puts this concept in another way – it’s from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

TheSnake

the easel has landed!

A Creative Life, fine art

My new Sorg Super 8 Easel arrived today! http://www.studioeasel.com/ I live tweeted this momentous occasion via Twitter: @artistclancy – to sum up: it was difficult to be patient and wait for the truck, the truck finally came, discovered that the box was crushed and punctured – some fear and trepidation as to what would be found inside the box (Would ‘my precious’ be damaged?) but it turned out all was well!! There was a quick cold-pizza break for lunch while I watched the easel assembly video instructions.  Then I was all wrenches, hammer and ratchet set – and with valuable assistance from Judy – the easel was assembled! Here are the as-promised-on-Twitter photos:

A big box came! My new easel!

A big box came! My new easel!

Oh no! The box is crushed and punctured in places! Will the easel inside be okay?

Oh no! The box is crushed and punctured in places! Will the easel inside be okay?

Whew! Everything looks okay! And all the easel parts seem to be here!

Whew! Everything looks okay! And all the easel parts seem to be here!

Sue Clancy posing with her new Sorg easel a'la a magazine model

Sue Clancy posing with her new Sorg easel a’la a magazine model

Sue Clancy putting one of her recent artworks on the new easel "to see how it'd work".

Sue Clancy putting one of her recent artworks on the new easel “to see how it’d work”.

I’m thinking the Sorg easel is going to work out just fine – it does allow me to move my artwork up and down much more easily – which was what I’d hoped for in this post here https://sueclancy.com/2016/04/27/easy-easel-eagerness/

 

easy easel eagerness

A Creative Life

I recently decided that I needed a new easel that would move up and down more easily. My current easel has two small “pins” that need to be unscrewed to allow the mast and the platform to move up or down.  As time has gone by those have gotten more and more difficult to work with – hard to unscrew, hard to keep level etc – and I don’t adjust the height of my work when I need to because it’s a pain to adjust things.  Which results in a pain in my neck, wrist or knees. So I eagerly looked for options and I’m happy to say that I’ve a new Sorg Easel ordered! http://www.studioeasel.com/ It was super easy to order this easel – David Sorg himself answered all my questions – and so I concluded that this easel is the one for me!  There’s an omg dream-worthy video of the Sorg Easel in operation on the studioeasel.com website.  I’m excited about the new easel and the possibility of being able to move my artwork up and down with a touch! Imagine that!?!  Here is a picture of me on my knees working at my old easel…

Sue Clancy working on a commission for the lobby of a children's center - using her current easel.

Sue Clancy working on a commission for the lobby of a children’s center – using her current easel.

Art is Love

A Creative Life, fine art, illustration

StudioPicBertrandRusselQuote

This photo shows what I see when I enter my art studio. It smells like freshly sharpened pencils, new paper, ink and archival glue. I feel a deep to-the-bone happiness here. On the wall above my stand-up desk (pictured) I have a quote: “One must care about a world one will never see.” – Bertrand Russell. Here in the photo is the place where I do my caring.

I work on average 8 hours a day making art of one sort or another. When it’s finished my art goes to galleries or publishers and from there it goes to the lobby of an organization or to a private client’s home or it is reproduced in a magazine or book. Rarely do I get to see firsthand where my art ends up. I’m lucky if I hear from a gallery owner that the client was happy. I’m lucky if the editor sounds excited about the artwork I’ve done for them.  I am really lucky if someone sends me a photo of my art in their home (I value those highly)!

This means that I am stimulated to get-to-my-studio-and-work by my imagination; I imagine that the people in the hospital get some comfort when they see my art on the wall, I imagine that the people who have my art in their home come home from a hard day and smile when they see my artwork, I imagine that people in the presence of my art feel at least a little of the happiness I felt as I created that art.

I get just enough feedback from my gallery owners and from clients to know that my imagination is fairly accurate.  And it helps me to imagine more exactly in the future because I’ll call to mind specific people who have said kind things in the past – and I’ll create something new with them in mind even if they never see it.  So this is a picture of my studio where I do my caring about the world. I have another quote on the same wall: “Art is love made visible.”

My coffee cup (see photo) needs refilling… there, now back to work!