reading books making art eating popcorn

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, creative thinking, food for thought, Sustainable creativity, The Sketchbook Project, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures

Below are some books I’m currently reading that are “feeding” many of my upcoming art projects. That’s art exhibits, illustration projects and yes even my sketchbook work for The Sketchbook Project I blogged about last post.  Even though it may seem that I produce a random variety of things – there’s a uniformity to my randomness and it begins with what I read. I see all of the things I make as telling a visual/tactile story about being human, enjoying life and living well.  And to help me develop my visual story I read…

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In case you can’t see all the titles in the picture they are:

“Wonderland; How play made the world” by Steven Johnson

“Books for Living” by Will Schwalbe

“The Creative Spark; How imagination made humans exceptional” by Agustin Fuentes

“The Foundations of Mindfulness” by Eric Harrison

“Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel

All of these books relate to themes I’ve been working with artistically for some time now:

How being willing to try new foods, to eat diverse foods, has helped us develop biologically as physical human beings. And how it helps us still.

Playing music, playing games, “playing” with our food – each kind of play in it’s own way has helped humans as a species develop and maintain physical and mental structures as individuals – and also social structures as communities. This is still true today. When we do not take time to play we hurt ourselves and each other.

Reading books (and writing them) has helped us – as a species – to pass on information so that each generation doesn’t have to completely reinvent the world from scratch.  This ability to collect information, and learn from it, informs our abilities to play – to playfully combine/recombine things – helping us to develop and maintain our mental skills.

Which leads me to mindfulness. Mindfulness for me is the human ability to pay attention, to focus attention and also to have a state of open/non-judgmental acceptance – curiosity even. This is essential to developing, having and keeping our human ability to imagine and be creative.  Mindfulness is part of being able to play and learn…and being able to play and learn is a way of being mindful. And for me, keeping a sketchbook, making art, is at it’s heart an exercise in playful mindfulness – but more about that in another post.

The novel by Esquivel is included in my current reading list because woman does not live by non-fiction alone.

Now please pass the popcorn. Thank you.

5 dog drawing demo directions by Clancy

A Creative Life, art exhibit, business of art, Dogs in Art, public art, Sue Draws Dogs

Tomorrow at Burnt Bridge Cellars I’ll be signing copies of my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” and doing a dog drawing demonstration.  This means you can drink wine while watching me work.  Here are 5 things I think about when getting ready for a dog drawing demo:

  1. What dogs shall I draw? I plan in advance, sketching lightly in pencil, what dog breeds I’ll draw during the live-action demo. In other words before I even go to the demo I’ve already done the largest part of the “creativity” and double checked my dog-breed drawing accuracy.  This way people can talk to me while I’m doing the demo and I don’t need to be concentrating on getting a dog breed drawn correctly.
  2. Locate my demo apron. Ink is messy. ‘nuf said.
  3. Pack all necessary materials in one portable container in a “push-here-dummy” fashion. People will often start talking to me while I’m setting up to work. So I make sure to have all of my necessary materials packed – but I also take care to pack in such a way that I can unpack in a distracted manner and still be set up correctly to work. Keep it simple!
  4. Remember to smile and talk to people. A demo is about sharing – not about zoning out into creative never-land.  So if a drawing isn’t “perfect” because I was answering someone’s question and not paying attention to where my ink was dripping – I don’t sweat it – in fact I’ll freely tell people that 90 percent of being an artist is knowing how to fix mistakes.
  5. When the demo is done I make sure to thank everyone for coming, for hosting the demo – for doing anything anyone did that helped me out.  The world doesn’t owe me a thing. In fact I’m grateful I get to do what I love for a living – and people around me help make that possible.  So in advance: THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Here’s me in my demo apron

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And if you’ve just arrived at this party you can find copies of (or info about) my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” on Amazon or here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

Other relevant links:

Burnt Bridge Cellars http://www.burntbridgecellars.com/

Caplan Art Designs http://www.caplanartdesigns.com/

 

On giving art demonstrations

A Creative Life, art techniques, Authors, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, published art, words and pictures

On Saturday I’m participating in a “Words and Pictures Festival” at my local library.  I’ll be signing two of my book titles (more about my books here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/ ) and doing some of my dog drawings and talking about how I create my images. I’ll talk about my ideas, show my tools and discuss methods.

The challenge for me is the talking-while-drawing part of the demo equation. So to help myself I’ve done a video of me drawing… this way I can watch myself and think of what I need to talk about.  When you watch the video do you have questions that you’d like me to answer?

 

 

play and focus as a business of art model

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, business of art, Sustainable creativity

I got some new-to-me kinds of watercolors. Chinese watercolors to go along with my Sumi ink. So I had to play with them.  Here’s my test case below.

MeasureSpoonsPractice

Feels good to just play around with my art supplies – kind of like eating mac-n-cheese right out of the pan while wearing pajamas and watching a movie.

After I was finished it turns out that I like the yellow spoon drawing best because after attempting the green and the blue spoon drawings I learned that applying the sumi ink last makes for the boldest lines.

Yep. I highly recommend playing around with ones art supplies as a way to refresh and  sustain creativity.  I’ve not seen this important sustainable creativity business method discussed much in the business-of-art books. It oughta be…

My business-of-art model goes like this:

  1. Play around with my materials often. Both new materials and old ones. Experiment.  Make a mess.
  2. Focus on what I’m doing instead of how well I’m doing it. Focus on the fun.

Another way of describing my business-of-art model goes like this:

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

Like happiness good artwork often happens while we’re doing something else.

business of art book review

A Creative Life, Authors, books, business of art, Sustainable creativity

Long ago, in what seems now like a galaxy far away, I organized a business of art seminar series called the Artist Survival Kit.  It was part of my work on the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s board. I also wrote a quarterly column on business of art topics for the magazine Art Focus Oklahoma. Part of my work included reading and reviewing published books about the business of being an artist.

Then I “retired” from doing all that and went on with my life as a fine artist and author/illustrator. Of course I continued to regularly read books on business topics.

Warp-speed ahead to the Pacific Northwest: when any two local artists get together we talk shop – creativity and business stuff – which includes discussions about books we’re reading. And the more-abundant bookshops and libraries here have impressive selections of business-of-art books sitting right there on a shelf!  (Imagine that!?!) Which brings me to this book I just finished titled “Real Artists Don’t Starve” by Jeff Goins. (and yes, that’s my coffee cup in the photo)

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My thoughts about “Real Artist’s Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins are below in random order:

It’s worth a read no matter where you are in your art career and worth keeping on your studio shelves for that moment when you need an “I can do this” boost.

I love the easy-to-read quality to the writing, how he clearly explains concepts about business in ways that don’t send your creative self whimpering into a corner.

I love it that he emphasizes thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur. Particularly on page 147 where he writes “Some artists tend to think making money is either a system you sell out to or something to be avoided altogether. But in reality, it’s neither. If you don’t make money, you won’t have any art to make. We must seek to better understand the business of being an artist. Ignoring this reality is the fastest route to stop creating all together. To be an artist is to be an entrepreneur. We must learn to embrace this tension and the beauty that comes from it.”

Yep – that sums up exactly what I tried to teach all those years ago in Oklahoma. But I think Jeff does a much better job of explaining things than I did – pictures being my preferred medium to words-in-a-row. Jeff Goins is much better at the words-in-a-row.  So I’m very glad he wrote this book and I’m glad to recommend it.  I’m also grateful that I now live in a place, in an artistic scene, where it was possible to  “happen on” to it.

As Jeff Goins writes on page 91 “As artists, we want to be where we feel understood. We want to live in places where our work and way of life are encouraged.”

After reading this book I certainly feel encouraged! Now I’m going to go create something.

(Oh, by the way, I sometimes post tid-bits about art related books on my Goodreads page…)

cephalopods and the art of small things

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, mental health, small things, Sustainable creativity, visual story, visual thinking

Yesterday I read an article titled “Cephalopods Adapt By Editing Their Genes” and that reminded me of the value in periodically examining our own assumptions, our own stories, our own worldview and being willing to rearrange our own mental furniture.

Perhaps adapting or editing the stories you tell yourself is the human equivalent of editing genetic code as a cephalopod?

Reexamining stories, assumptions and the kinds of questions you ask are also keys to creative thinking.

I’ve noticed that the kinds of questions a person asks makes a difference in creative thinking. For example asking “How can I include at least one fresh vegetable in this meal?” elicits a more exciting creative response than the question “How can I eat more healthfully?”

Likewise asking the small question “What art medium/technique would be most fun to use to depict my favorite food?” provokes a more joyous creative response than the question “What fine art can I make on a universal theme?”

Most days I wake up thinking “what small thought can I think about or re-think about today?”

So today’s small things I’m thinking about are pictured here:

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By list:

“Cephalopods adapt by editing their genes” http://www.columbian.com/news/2017/apr/13/cephalopods-adapt-by-editing-their-genes/

“The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart

“Creative, Inc.” by Meg Mateo Ilasco & Joy Cho

A postcard of “Chaco Culture” a National Historical Park in New Mexico

My coffee cup and a glass marble.

And to put the concept in this blog post yet another way: Here is a page from my book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

TheGemstone72

 

 

what is art for and 3 ways to find out

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, mental health, Sustainable creativity

Professional artist’s ask themselves “what is art for?” and answer it for themselves because that helps us know why we’re doing what they are doing. And knowing this helps you keep on course.

Here’s a sketchbook page from a time when I was examining this question:

ArtGenresPurpose

For me “art is for” good mental health practice – and to provoke a smile, a chuckle.  To quote from my book Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit “When a negative thought enters your mind just say (inwardly) ‘STOP’. It’s your brain, your mind and you have every right to think the thoughts you want…. Don’t let a negative thought ever finish its sentence…. How many ‘STOP’s are enough? As many as it takes. It is also helpful to keep a list of positive things that you enjoy thinking about or doing, like books/reading, walking… going to art exhibits… playing tennis… and after inwardly saying ‘STOP’ switch your focus to something positive and enjoyable.” (https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit)

So my goal as a professional artist became to create fine art, books and other objects that are positive and enjoyable for other people to see – switch focus to – and that are also  positive and enjoyable for me to create.  I decided that the genres of “animal painting” and “genre painting” best fit this goal.  For short I call this goal to “feed the good wolf”.

To make sure you know what I mean by that here’s a cartoon excerpt from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”

TwoWolves72

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

But how exactly did I get to a defined goal, a “purpose” for my art?

  1. I went to lots of art galleries and museums. I read a lot of books. I listened to other people talk about what they enjoyed. Anywhere and everywhere I went I made a quick note of what interested me or fed my “good wolf” in a book that I kept with me at all times.
  2. I looked for art supplies and other opportunities to “test the theory” of whether or not something really did feed my good wolf. For example at one time I thought creating sculpture would be “good wolf food” for me – but I discovered that it was too physically difficult and in the process of creating sculpture I ended up cursing a lot. So after some time spent trying metal sculpture I nixed that one from the “good wolf food” list.
  3. I played with the genres and arts categories while making a note of my responses emotionally, physically, mentally.  By “play” I mean I casually went to art exhibits,  looked at objects in a store or on-line that fit the genre/category, I tried the genres at home and all the while I noted my gut response – did it feed my ‘good wolf’? Did it make me smile and want to “share it” in some way with a person I love? What is it about that art/object that excites me? Then I list those qualities and pursue them in my own projects!  (As I mentioned above it turned out that the animals-in-art genre fit me well!)

Speaking of projects –  here’s a very new project for me that fits with my “feed good wolves” goal: I’ve begun designing for iPhone cases, Laptop skins, wall clocks, comforters and many other tech and household objects. (If you noticed that these items fit in the genres of  ‘animals in art”, ‘genre painting’ and ‘media arts’ you get a gold star sticker!)  The link to my newest project: https://society6.com/sueclancy – and here below are a few examples.

 

the art of practice and a story inside

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, ebook, fine art, words and pictures

“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first” – Dr. Bob Hoke.  That quote is one of many from my book Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit that I’ve found helpful in my life as a professional artist. [a link to that book is here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit]

When I begin any commissioned portrait of someone’s special dog (or cat) I make a series of practice sketches of that breed before I attempt a likeness of the special dog. Yes, I’ve been doing these portraits for years but I still find it helpful to start with the basic characteristics of the breed. Then I can look at someone’s special dog and see what makes that dog unique.

I’m currently working on a commissioned portrait that has a schnauzer in it. Here are a couple of practice schnauzers (not pictured are about 5 other practice pieces).

Schultz72

Shultz by Clancy – ink on handmade paper

Gustav72

Gustav by Clancy – ink on handmade paper

All of this talk of “practice” has reminded me of a story Dr. Bob told that is not in the above mentioned book. That story went like this:

Once there was an Emperor who had a pet rooster. He decided he wanted a portrait of his beloved rooster to be painted by the best artist in his land. One of the artists was invited to the palace and was asked to make the portrait.  The artist agreed, saying that he would need 3 months in order to do it. Then he would return to the palace and paint the portrait in front of the Emperor.  The Emperor was pleased. The artist went back to his studio and worked hard every day for 3 months. Then he returned to the palace, as agreed, with his art materials.  The Emperor had his pet rooster brought before the artist. The artist watched the rooster for a while and began to paint. In about 3 minutes the painting was finished. The Emperor was thrilled with the portrait and asked for the artist’s fee.  The artist named what sounded like a large sum. “What?!” bellowed the Emperor “That only took you 3 minutes to create! Why do you want so much money? Are you trying to swindle me?” The artist requested that the Emperor travel to his studio by way of a reply. Reluctantly the Emperor did so. When they arrived and the artist flung open the doors of his studio the Emperor saw thousands of rooster drawings. The artist described his work history and extensive training and while the Emperor marveled at all of the rooster portraits the artist added “The portrait of your rooster has actually taken me a lifetime to paint.”  The Emperor happily paid the artist’s fee.

You can see more of my dog practice work in my newest book “Dogs by Sue Clancy”  https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy