Here are a few of the artworks I’ve recently sent to Joseph Gierek Fine Art (www.gierek.com) for the upcoming Holiday Art Show. I’m sure you’ll notice my “still life” object practice work now combined with characters. Yes, I’m trying to make every element count toward the visual story. You know, like a writer tries to make every word count.
I find that with each art exhibit I learn more about my own work. Last night, during the opening party for “Story Stuff” at Caplan Art Designs, I had multiple questions about my art techniques – in addition to conversations about the content within my artwork. As a result I realized that I’m an ancient art technique nerd. Many of my works in this exhibit utilize art techniques originating in the 19th century and earlier. I didn’t consciously set out to use so many old techniques – handmade paper, paper dying, and gouache to name a few – they just suited my content as I created it. Several different people commented that they thought my use of old techniques made my work “ethereal”.
Wow! New thoughts to think – and thank you to all of my fans for that! Thank you for all the stimulating conversations!
Quite a crowd ebbed and flowed throughout the evening. Here’s a photo from one of the moments. I’m wearing a red shirt.
What a fun evening! Now, back to the studio to make more art!
There was a time when I felt that writing words-in-a-row about visual art was rather like using lemon juice to describe honey. But somewhere along the way I realized that being a professional artist out in the “real world” meant I didn’t have to write as if I were in an academic university. That was a relief. And I realized that writing about visual art was like combining multi-media or like a playwright creating a musical theatre piece about a historical event.
It’s genre bending/blending.
So I began practicing writing about my own visual art in an everyday conversational way. When I’m coming up with my artistic ideas I write by hand what I’m thinking and feeling as I’m drawing in my sketchbooks. Later on I use that hand written data to write more formal “blurbs”, or story-clues, about what inspired each of my artworks. I say “more formal” because the blurbs are type-written, the spelling has been checked and the original hand written data has been neatened/edited/condensed. These “blurbs” are often printed and posted near my artwork in exhibits. In my writings I largely leave off the technical points of artistic technique because the majority of the time I’m talking to the general public. (Of course if I’m asked about art techniques I’ll gladly share details!)
In Sept I’m doing a one-person exhibit titled “Story Stuff” at Caplan Art Designs (I wrote more about that in a post titled Cozy Mystery Story Stuff). Here are a few of the artworks and the “blurbs” (story-clues?) I’ve written that will be alongside the art at my exhibit:
Near Forest Park – I enjoy hiking in a large forest in the middle of an urban city (Portland Or). I love it that I can pop out of the dense forest, get a coffee – or boot laces – and then resume my hike.
A Novel Morning – One of my favorite things to do is to go to Powell’s bookstore, find a new-to-me novel and then get something in the café. The “text” in this painting is re-combined and paraphrased from “Death at La Fenice” by Donna Leon.
Good Morning – What constitutes a “good morning”? One of my answers is plenty of coffee and enough leisure time to work the daily newspaper’s crossword puzzle.
During my exhibits I’ll often see people reading the blurbs and then looking more closely at my artwork – and sometimes they’ll approach me and talk about the topic within one of my paintings. It seems that my “multi-media” pictures-plus-words exercise is helpful for starting conversations at least.
What are your thoughts about combining writing and visual art?
I’d written recently here about my progress towards making a 22 page full color book of my cat themed artwork. Well, I’ve gotten my “proof copy” in the snail-mail, showed it to Hawkeye my studio supervisor cat – and my wife, a cat-lover – and all of us approved of the print quality! Even Rusty, my studio supervisor dachshund, admitted that the cat art looked good.
I’ve photo’d a few pages so you can see for yourself:
What do you think?
Right now you can get a copy – either softcover (like in the picture) or hardcover – here: http://www.blurb.com/b/8837851-cats or via Amazon. Later this year I’m to do a library event and I may have a few copies at that time to sell directly. We’ll see…
But no matter how this particular cheese gets sliced I heartily thank you for your support of my projects.
Here’s hoping your New Year is a purr-fectly good one! Cheers – with assorted cats!
I’m planning in 2018 to create more cat themed fine artwork with an eye towards a printed artist book of my cats. Towards my book idea I’m beginning a Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/sueclancy – this page isn’t officially launched yet… you heard it here first.
Chef Kim Mahan now has the printed cookbooks now available for ordering (and shipping) via the Class-Cooking website. http://www.class-cooking.com/classes-shop/kim-cooks-sue-draws – The Chef even has a few signed copies (signed by both of us) available just ask for a signed copy when you order.
Each cookbook page is unbound and on paper suitable either for cooking from or for framing – or both.
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.
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!
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….
One of the first illustrations I did for the unconventional cookbook “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” was called “How to Cut Onion” – and it has been very popular. People have written in to tell me how helpful it was. I told Chef Kim Mahan about this response and she said “Great! How about illustrating roasting garlic?”
Since this cookbook is still “in progress” and I am a garlic loving fiend, naturally I agreed. Up until now my method has been to take fresh garlic, pull off a clove, smash it and use a knife edge to peel the skin off. Pain in the you-know-where. Fortunately my Sweetie doesn’t mind the peeling-garlic job so we have garlic often despite my garlic-peeling laziness.
Here’s the chef’s garlic-y instructions as I’ve illustrated them. I loved the way the Chef talked about “eating more garlic so as to keep vampires away”!
And to think Sweetie and I’ve been doing it the hard way all these years! Lol! I’ve now learned a new kitchen trick. Scary! Once again I realize how much I learn about the world during my process of making art.
You can see the “How to Cut Onion” illustration here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/