the so-what art making technique

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art techniques, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, illustration, mental health, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking

Recently I’ve been super busy with fine-art exhibits and other illustration projects. But now I’m back to regular work on a new print version of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”.  During my work on the pages about Dr. Bob’s S.W.I.F.T. finger therapy I remembered how valuable this concept is when I’m in the middle of an art project.

While a project is not a person all creative projects also have an ugly-duckling stage. A point in which they’re more “mess” than “masterpiece”. A point in which things are happening with the colors and shapes that may not be what I intended or hoped for.

I’ve found the S.W.I.F.T therapy helps me remember to calm down about the mess. If a creative person gets too angst-y about the in-progress project it stops the flow of creativity. Possibly leading to a creative block. Remembering to think of “So What If….” finger therapy helps me relax and to do nothing radical to the in-progress project during my don’t-like-it moment. It enables me to let go, and approach the project later with an open, playful, mind. Perhaps after lunch, perhaps the next day.

SWIFTtherapyremedySM2

Page from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” collected and illustrated by Clancy

If you’ve just joined my blog (and thank you for that!) here’s the last post about this project. The last post covers another mental-health technique that relates, in my mind anyway, to living the sustainable creative life.

I began learning these mental-health techniques and applying them to my creative life back in the 1990’s. I’m still creating new artwork daily. Still loving it. Something works.

Hope this book and these posts will help you too. All the best…

 

the art technique of attention

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, books, drawing as thinking, ebook, fine art, illustration, mental health, story, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking, writing and illustrating

I’ve been very busy getting ready for a one-person fine art exhibit at Caplan Art Designs that will open in September. (So my social media activity has slacked off lately.) Around the edges of creating new fine artwork, framing, paperwork and so forth I’ve been working towards a new print edition of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”.

This story from the First Aid Kit has been a good reminder of an art technique I try to practice daily – even when I’m busy:

Attention

Even when I’m very busy I practice taking a moment within my day, wherever I am, in the here-and-now and pay attention to my 5 senses. I try to let go of any preconceived conceptions, to just expand my awareness. I also include, in this exercise, paying attention to my free-associations and my imagination during my 5-senses check-in moment. I’ll note my sensory experience and “watch”, like you’d watch television, the memories, thoughts and associations that cross my mind as a result of the sensory experience.  I’ll often make notes in my sketchbook.

What I “get” for my payment – when I pay attention – is the power to choose what to focus on when I’m at my art easel working.

This practice of paying attention to both sensory input and the content of my mind –  is a version of what Betty Edwards wrote about in her book “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain” – in the section where she talks about chairs. How (and I’m paraphrasing) a drawing student first attempting to draw a chair will substitute their knowledge about chairs (4 legs, a square seat and back) and will draw a child-like symbol of a chair. One has to learn to see the shapes of the spaces around the chair as well as the shapes of the chair itself – what is actually seen (3 legs, a trapezoid shaped seat and back).

I find too often – especially when I’m busy – I’m substituting my “knowledge” about the world, my preconceptions, for what “is” in the world. So I find it helpful to practice seeing the shapes of spaces, so to speak, in my sensory experience of the world. And to see the shapes of spaces within my own mind.

Paying attention allows me to merge real-world phenomenon with my mental life and to choose to communicate, via art, in ways that are helpful, playful and fun.

Currently “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” only exists in e-book form. But as I said above, I’m working on that. This book has had such a profound impact on my own creative life that I want to have another print version around.

illustrated poetry dominos and books

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, artist book, author illustrator, games in art, illustrated poem, illustrated shorts, poetry, visual thinking, words and pictures, writing, writing and illustrating

I’ve been thinking about how reading books is similar to playing dominos or sharing a meal with friends. In all of these activities we practice cooperating with others and peaceably bringing forth the world together.

Here’s a limerick poem I wrote and illustrated that playfully reflects my thoughts:

ThereOnceWasATomCatbyClancy72

original poem and illustration titled “There Once Was A Tom Cat…” by Clancy

This poem and illustration somewhat relates to my nested-ideas concept that I’m working with for my upcoming fine art exhibit. And this poem (along with others) could become an artist book to accompany my exhibit but I’m still playing around and not sure where all of this is going. This is one of the things I like about being an artist; getting to practice being flexible, playing and letting things unfold as they will.

Kind of like reading a novel, playing a game or sharing a meal with friends allows us to practice “letting things unfold…”.

On a technical note: To create the above poem and illustration I used pen and ink and gouache on a greyish off white handmade paper. It looks sharp in real life, and the paper is a dream to work on, but the scan accented the grey color of the paper more than the naked eye perceives in person. The scan looks good enough, I’m not unhappy … however, note to self; use white paper for things that will be scanned and leave this lovely greyish handmade paper for fine art stuff that will be photographed and not scanned.

I’m still learning!

agatha and art

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, Narrative Art, words and pictures

I’ve been reading “Appointment With Death” by Agatha Christie. By page 7 I was rooting for the murderer to go ahead and kill.  It’s the villain who deservedly gets killed in this story. While reading I realized that I so strongly disliked the villain and rooted for her demise because of her cumulative (negative) effect upon other (positive) characters more than any one thing the villain said or did.

I realized again that in visual fine art a viewer reacts to the subject of the artwork because of the cumulative effects of the objects, colors, and shapes that surround the subject as much as they react to the subject itself.

There’s an art technique called “positive and negative space in art” where you pay as much attention to the negative spaces, the blank “air” spaces, that surround a subject as you pay to the positive spaces of that subject.

In reading this particular book by Agatha Christie I realize at a deeper level why the writers technique of “show don’t tell” is also true in fine art – we best understand, or perceive, a subject, from the surrounding elements.

DeathAndWater72

in the gouache

A Creative Life, art techniques, dog portrait, fine art

Here’s “Mandolin Man”, a piece I finished that tests my new red gouache color. On the musicians neck strap you can most clearly see the new red I’d mentioned in my last post. I also used the red as a “mixer” in the brown of the Labrador fur – so it’s more of a dark red brown. I also played with the opaqueness of the gouache – and tried to leave some colors “transparent” in places too.  I’m enjoying working in gouache. Of course “Mandolin Man” also has ink and color pencil (besides the gouache) and is on vintage sheet music.

MandolinMan72

gouache it’s red

A Creative Life, art techniques

I’ve been back to the art supply store recently – and have gotten a red gouache color I’m happier with! Check out my test swatches below…

MoreGouache

The red on the top left, both in the book and on my palette, was the first red, the one I wasn’t happy with. It’ll be fine as a mixer for other things but I think I will like the new red better! It’s the one in the book on the top right – or the blob of color 2nd blob down on the left on my palette.

Now to try it out…

oh my gouache: learning new art media with cats

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art

As I posted recently (here) I’ve been playing around with a new-to-me art media: gouache.

Here’s my process of learning a new art media:

  1. Read 3 or 4 different sources that describe how to work in the media. While I’m reading I’m looking for “basic best practices” as well as what the “chief virtues” or strengths of the medium art and whether it’s advertised virtues might meet my needs.
  2. I look at artworks by other artists that use the medium. It’s best if I can see the art in real life – but seeing reproductions online or in books is helpful too.  I was lucky enough to get to see some real-life works using gouache at the Portland Art Museum (see my last post)
  3. Buy the best quality medium  materials that I can find.  I went with Holbien Artist Gouache. It’s a company that’s been around a while and the primary mixing gouache set I got for the initial test is professional quality. (I did not get the “Holbien Acryla Gouache” as it is more like acrylic and would not be helpful for my purposes)
  4. When I get new medium materials I do something with them as soon as I get them home. Even if all I do is put some paints on a palette and make a few marks. I find that the sooner I start the better my chances of developing a new habit/ability instead of having “something I always meant to try”.
  5. Then once I’ve dabbled a bit I’ll take a subject matter that I’ve done fairly well using other mediums. I use that subject for the first 3 or 4 times and render it as well as I can in the new medium.  This way I can focus on the details, methods and possibilities of the new medium rather than thinking of subject matter too.

Here’s what I did with my new gouache set (the primary mixing set) plus a few extra colors I knew I’d need (since I draw a lot of animals I knew I needed browns).

I picked the sheet music because the paper is very thin and fragile – even more thin than the paper in my Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook. So I reasoned that if the paints worked fairly well on the sheet music then I’d be able to use them on other thin papers.

I picked Siamese cats as a subject because they’re, well, musical.

The result of my test? Oh my! I think I may be falling in love with gouache!

oh my gouache

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, business of art, sketchbook, The Sketchbook Project

The cookbook signing I did recently with Chef Kim Mahan went very well (cookbook info here) and then I took some days off.  Which means that I read books and dabbled with a new-to-me art media – gouache.

You see my wife and I went with a fellow artist friend of ours, Donna Young, (www.donnayoung.com) to the Portland Art Museum to see The Wyeths: Three Generations.  An exhibit of works by N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth and Harriet Wyeth.  https://portlandartmuseum.org/

Naturally the three of us discussed the compositions of the works – and we discussed the art mediums each Wyeth used.  Donna knew more about gouache than I did – and one of the things she said that it was less water-y than watercolor and not as plastic as acrylic. My curiosity was peaked.

After our day at the museum I looked up gouache and read of its ease-of-use in books about art mediums; I read of the application of gouache in bound sketchbooks but also its use when a painting/image is intended for reproduction.

I thought “Ah ha! This might be the solution for my problem of how to color my Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook”.  I’ve been slowly working on a visual story titled “Time Tavern” but the paper in the sketchbook as it comes from the Brooklyn Art Library is so thin that I knew my usual methods of adding color, acrylic, watercolor and etc. mixed media would over power the paper. Just using color pencil didn’t feel as bold as I like to be so for some time now I’ve been pondering what to do to add color. (You can see my last post about that project here)

What Donna said about gouache, and my subsequent readings about it, made me think it might be an option for me. So I went to a local art supply store where I got some Holbien Artist Gouache.  Here below is a pic of the colors I got, my palette set-up and the color notes I made.

DSC_0025

I also generally scribbled with my brushes dipped in each of my new gouache colors on various pieces of paper – some thick, others thin. First tentative color marks make me very hopeful…. oh my gosh, I think I may like gouache!

How to draw dogs guide published!

A Creative Life, animals in art, Art Licensing, art techniques, Dogs in Art, drawing as thinking, illustration, Sue Draws Dogs, The Sketchbook Project, visual thinking
My mini guide has been published!!!! It’s called “How To Draw Dogs” by Sue Clancy. I’m so excited about this – and can’t wait to see my printed copies!  Below is a photo I took back when I was creating the guide – before it got published. Then I forgot to post the work-in-progress photo… Anyway…
You can access the finished guide here: https://www.brooklynartlibrary.com/mini-guides/
DrawDogsMiniGuide

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.