just looking and artist details

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, psychogeography, published art, Sue Draws Dogs, words and pictures

I’ve recently read a book about Balthus, a Polish – French artist painting in the late 20th century. He was convinced that the biographical details about a painter were not essential to the study of art. He objected to the wordiness of art books and said that a book about his artwork should be a book of pictures not a book of words about pictures.

When someone asked Balthus for biographical details he replied in a telegram:  “No biographical details. Begin: Balthus is a painter of whom nothing is known. Now let us look at the pictures. Regards. B.”

In many ways I share his viewpoint; let the pictures stand alone! Just look! Let each viewer’s own thoughts become the words attached to the art. This is part of why my most recent art book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” is largely wordless. Only 245 words and most of those words are in the very back of the book.

And yet I’m very aware that most people when looking at art also look for something that gives them a clue about what they are looking at – who created this? why? how?

I think some biographical details about the artist can also be helpful clues about the artwork. Art creation is a product of living one’s life and processing it via ones artwork – that includes an artist’s geographical location and era.  For example I came to the art genre of “animals/dogs in art” because of living for a time in Oklahoma where many people assume that climate change is a hoax. Many in Oklahoma have an anthropocentric view of the world, meaning that they see human culture is separate from, above and the whole point of the existence of nature. Humans are the most important being, nature is not important, nature is only for human use.

I did not and do not share that view. I see humans and nature as co-relational. Humans, animals and plants need each other. We are bringing forth the world together.

So I began, over 20 years ago now, to create anthropomorphic artworks depicting a merger of animals and human culture. All species and breeds are included.  Though I have periods when I focus on one species, like I’m doing now with my dogs, my work generally includes a range of life forms.  Even as I’ve worked within the “dogs in art” genre I’ve carefully tried to include a wide diversity of colors and sizes of dogs.  Metaphorically I’m illustrating that we are all in this life together.

Now that I live happily in the Pacific Northwest my artwork has taken on a joy that it didn’t have before. I am still doing my anthropomorphic art-style but my colors, shapes, lines, patterns have changed, my compositions have expanded, there’s more variety/diversity, more humor, there are even more dogs in my artwork and more pleasantness. Here in the culture of the Pacific Northwest there is a celebration of and careful care given to the co-existence of humans and nature. I’ve been learning even more about the relationship between humans and the natural world.  I think some of my thinking is reflected in my new book. In fact I’m not sure I would have created this book if I still lived in Oklahoma…

But enough with the words! Let us now look at a few of the artworks in “Dogs by Sue Clancy” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy :

 

 

the art of protest

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations

Interrupting my blog today to say that I’m proud of people all over the world!!! Posting one of my own art pieces in solidarity with the #WomensMarch and #womensrightsarehumanrights  – and loving seeing the many artistic responses by women and men everywhere – artists like Shepard Fairey  https://obeygiant.com/?id=80289 – Keep it up!!!

beauty72

Beauty by Sue Clancy (ink on handmade paper) 

going to the dogs

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, books, dog portrait, Sue Draws Dogs

I’ve been asked “how do you get your ideas for your dog drawings?” I begin by thinking of something pleasant. This “something pleasant” has often been noted previously in one of my sketchbooks. The pleasantness can be a drink I enjoyed, a bowl of soup, a game, a book… anything I remember as being particularly “pleasant”. You can see some of my sketchbook pages on my “sketchbooks” page on my website https://sueclancy.com/sketchbooks/

Once the “something pleasant” topic has been found I need a character to help me describe that topic.

Lately I’ve been finding dogs a good representative actors. Breed characteristics can add content to my story… for example when I was remembering the pleasantness of hearing a street musician play I chose a Basset Hound to be the musician character. I thought that fit because that breed can be a vocal sort but in a good-sounding way. At least ones I’ve met in person have been.  You can see the dog drawing I’m talking about by looking for “Pickles” on my dog portraits webpage. https://sueclancy.com/dog-portraits/

Sometimes I see a dog on one of my walks and make sketches on location. Then back at the studio, I want to draw that dog breed better so I think of “something pleasant” that may fit with that dog and try drawing again but this time using my ink methods on good quality paper.

When I’m too busy to go out where the dogs are likely to be seen during a walk (i.e. it’s too snowy/rainy) I’ll flip through a photography book about dogs looking for a breed to characterize in a way that helps me describe non-verbally my “something pleasant”.

By now I’ve drawn enough dogs from real-life sources (can you say “dog park”?) that i can work decently from a photograph – using the photo primarily as a memory aid for specifics about a dog breed.

Here’s some recent dog-related photography books I’ve used as resource material.

dogbooks72

A few resource books for Sue Clancy’s dog drawings.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I think of “something pleasant” when drawing dogs. After all there’s so much that is wrong with the world, so much to be upset about…war, poverty, injustice, fake news….

To answer quickly: focusing on pleasant things feeds the good wolves. A small drawing is not the best place to outline a social problem and propose any policy solution.

A small drawing is a place for solace, love and comfort.

You can see more about this “feed the good wolves” philosophy of mine in my book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” on the artist book webpage https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/

animals in my art

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Authors, psychogeography, visual story

Last evening I was looking up something in a book called “Drawing Masterclass” and I read this (again): “Animals as subject matter for the visual arts have a longer history than any other subject. The first images drawn by the human race depicted the animals that were hunted for survival [cave paintings]…. There is no period in art when animals have not played a major role.”

In my fine art animals become characters; my creative process is much like the way a novelist creates a character, a compilation of authorial thoughts and observations  – a “collage” of them you might say – merged into one person/character within their story. I create anthropomorphic animal characters because I see humans as part of the natural world and the natural world as part of humanity.  I’m inspired by both nature and culture.

So when I do animal portraits, people are there too.  When I do a portrait of a particular dog, for example, a particular person (someone, or several someone’s I saw in real life) is also reflected.  It becomes a visual story of that animal and that person. I define “story” as a plot where there is some surprise. The surprise in one of my visual stories might be the realization of how a human can be like a dachshund.

For example in my artwork titled “Happy Hour” (see image below) inside I sometimes feel happy and excited like my dachshund Rusty looks when he is bouncing around wagging his tail and dancing for his supper. (Places and objects enter in to my visual story creation too but that’s another discussion.)

My gallery agents often explain to clients that I create (as special commissions) portraits of pets as their pet owners; an imaginative merging of pet and person.  And that’s true.

Here, so you can see what I’m talking about, are some of my animal portraits currently available at either Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com and at Joseph Gierek Fine Art www.gierek.com  – please contact each gallery for more details.