self portrait as a wicked book

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, handmade books, handmade papers, public art

Several of my artist books are in a permanent collection at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and will be in a new exhibit, in March 2018, titled “Artist’s Books – Chapter 13 – Lyricism And Laughter”!

Here are a few photos of one of my books in the exhibit. It’s titled “Self Portrait As A Wicked Book”. I made it with handmade paper, hand-marbled paper, ink… and two original limerick poems.

The poems, on each side, are:

There was a young lady in Linen

who really loved laughter and sinnin’

She made wicked books that if given a look

you’d see that they’re often quite winnin’

——————

The lady in Linen was known,

for the books she is said to have sewn.

But when very hard pressed she began to protest

“Oh come now it’s quite over blown!”

 

When I exhibit my artist books I’m asked to write statements about them

Here, below, is what I wrote about “Self-portrait…”

Artist statement about the work:  By personifying herself as an open book – (or more precisely, as the linen thread binding the books within this book) –  with original limericks and pop-up book elements the artist pokes fun at self-styled “moral” groups who personify inanimate objects; books, movies and other art objects by describing them as “immoral”, “wicked” or “sinful”.  By writing “clean” limericks the artist is poking fun at the idea that a poetic form like a limerick could be defined as a “naughty” art.  An object or art form is just that, an object or technique – what people do with it may have a good, bad or neutral effect. But even the effect depends on the viewer’s perspective.  Thus “Self Portrait as a Wicked Book” is enclosed in a hand-marbled envelope – implying that the contents could be hidden from view, that the viewer has a choice to view it or not. The book is intended to be displayed accordion style so that the viewer can see it from different angles of their own choosing.  The textual reference within the limerick to “overblown” refers to the ways self-styled “moral” groups would ascribe moral qualities to the entire personhood of an author as a result of one written object the author had created.  The content also refers – both textually and by using colorful marbling and pop-ups – to the ways that censorship (or a “wicked” designation) actually increases interest in the object banned.

Artist’s back story for this book: A religious segment of the Oklahoma population has a penchant for banning books and a history of doing so.  To name two dramatic examples;  In 1997 the book “The Tin Drum” by Gunter Grass  and the movie by the same name was banned by Oklahoma City in such a way that the banning received national attention; Oklahoma City police went to the houses of adults, over the age of 21, who had rented the movie and seized it.  In 2005, the year I made “Self Portrait As A Wicked Book”, the Oklahoma House of Representatives banned all books – for children and adults – that had references to gay characters or gay people.  Around that time period I remember noticing that (in Oklahoma) the commercial bookstores “gay book sections” got smaller and were hidden the back corner of the store.  Books that questioned religion, or discussed censorship in anything but a positive light were also few and far between.  There was a general perception – as evidenced by what was offered on library or bookstore shelves and what wasn’t, what books were reviewed in the Oklahoma media and what ones weren’t – that there were “good” books and there were bad, sinful, “wicked” ones – and this one group of self-styled “moral” people would tell you which books were which and few people in Oklahoma dared (or even thought) to question that group.

finished Abyssinian cat with alphabet

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art, creative thinking, handmade papers, pattern design, visual thinking

Here’s the finished Abyssinian cat portrait with an alphabet pattern background – reflecting my thoughts of multi-lingual book readers, alphabetic “framing” of thoughts and… well, if you look at my last several blog posts you’ll see my thinking as I’ve worked on this one.

It’s titled “Alpha Betty” and is 20 x 24 inches.

AlphaBetty72

I’m particularly pleased with how the alphabet “shows through” subtly all over this piece with varying degrees of transparency or opacity – like our varying degrees of awareness of the linguistic framing of our thoughts.

You can see more of my cat-related thoughts in my ebook “Various Cat Sketches” here: https://sueclancy.com/shop/

 

may the fourth edition be with you

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, functional art, graphic narrative, illustration, publications - publishing, published art, words and pictures
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https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/1400

Hanging out at a bookstore yesterday with friends I happened to spot the book “Making Stuff and Doing Things: DIY guides to just about everything!” edited by Kyle Bravo  https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/1400

This book is now in it’s 4th edition and there’s one chapter by me titled “Why Make A Zine or Artist Book?”.

Back in 2003, if I remember correctly, my work was included in the first edition. Rereading my work now in the new 4th edition I’m still proud and honored to be included!  It really is a useful-in-creative-life book – I’m not just talking about my own chapter.

Here’s a teaser hint of some of the book contents in addition to mine.

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And here’s a teaser page spread from my chapter within this useful book:

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Sharp readers of my blog will probably notice that I’ve used one of the book-stitching techniques I mentioned in “Making Stuff…” on my current project “Time Tavern” (here’s a link to some Time Tavern posts; stitching the book here and more progress here.)

And here’s a panoramic photo of me along with Sweetie and one of our friends (the 4th friend was taking the photo) outside the bookstore Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland Oregon.  http://www.annieblooms.com/

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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…)

celebrating local authors

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, publications - publishing

Yesterday my sweetie and I were having a quiet morning reading our local Sunday newspaper – The Columbian – and having coffee with breakfast. Suddenly Sweetie made a pleased and surprised noise “Look!” she said passing the Life newspaper section. And there it was my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” listed in the “local author” list!

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Here’s a direct link to my book https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy it can also be found on Amazon and wherever books are sold

Of course our Sunday morning wasn’t so quiet after that – with me happy-dancing about the dining room, the dog barking, the cat running for cover…  It was a good feeling. My desire to make more books has been cemented! There’s nothing more happy-making than having community support for my artistic efforts and to see active support for the creative efforts of other artist/authors too!  Seeing such support encourages my creativity!!!  Thanks everyone!!!!

https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

musical dog art

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, Dogs in Art, Sue Draws Dogs

Getting a few questions about my new artist book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” – https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy – one of the questions: “Where do you get your ideas, that ‘something pleasant’ you speak of?”

While I’m living my ordinary life I make notes and drawings in my sketchbook of everything pleasant that I experience.  Then when I’m starting a fine art piece, as I said on the book jacket, I “think of something pleasant”.  What I didn’t spell out in my book “Dogs…” is that I sometimes flip thru my sketchbooks as a creative prompt for that something pleasant.

For example just prior to making this piece pictured below I’d flipped through my sketchbook and come across a sketchbook page which sparked the pleasant memories of a house concert I’d gone to and made sketches during…

fuzzy72

Fuzzy by Clancy (ink on handmade paper) – and yes, this dog is in the book “Dogs by Sue Clancy”

 

Here’s the sketchbook page I did at the concert. See Coty Hogue’s website www.cotyhogue.com for some samples of the music that inspired me…

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I’ve been learning that I enjoy and am inspired by the small intimate concerts that I’m lucky enough to attend here in the PNW.  A small venue makes hearing the performance much better for me and, since I’m having a good time, I do a lot of “music” drawings while at a performance.  Several of the art pieces in my new book are music inspired. Heck, much of my fine art is musically oriented…

Anyway, I’m hoping that when people look at “Dogs by Sue Clancy” that they’ll have a pleasant feeling even if they don’t know the specific details, like I’ve just shared with you, about my thoughts behind each piece.

As alluded in my post titled “Just Looking and artist details”  https://sueclancy.com/2017/01/30/just-looking-and-artist-details – In everything I do I try to give enough information without being “too much”.  It’s a challenge. Which is why I like questions from people about my artwork. It gives me a clue what you’d like to know more about.  Keep the questions coming! And thanks for them!

BTW – my book is now rolling out now on Amazon.com and becoming available via most bookstores. How fun is that?!

9 ways to make more art and why

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations

My response to difficult times, whether personal or in the wider culture, has been to make more art. This is a concept I’ve adapted from my past work on Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit  – a book I did some time ago in which Dr. Bob says “The best response is living well” and also “Feelings are guides not gods”.  These concepts have stood me in good stead and helped me to make more art.

Creative people tend to “feed good wolves” to use their imaginations and think of what is possible, needed, hopeful, helpful, necessary – this is kindness, this is ‘living well’, and it is most needed during difficult times. The issue is that sometimes during the difficult times when the creative persons activity is needed most they don’t ‘feel like’ creating.  So the question becomes how to do it anyway.

I define “creators” broadly as any one who writes, sings, acts, draws, films – any technique or medium that uses a human mind and heart to (re)imagine the world. Creativity can be done by anyone – you don’t have to be a professional artist or have fancy equipment.  That said in my list below I’ll refer to fine art making as that’s what I know best but please know that this list applies to any artistic endeavor at any skill level.

9 ways to make more art

  1. Find a regular time daily or weekly – whether 15 or 30 minutes at first – when you’re awake and alert and set it aside as a ‘creative appointment’ with your self and your art supplies. Set it in your schedule/to-do list. This way it’s an appointment not an activity subject to how you feel at a given time. (Obviously if you’re throwing up then please stay in bed so as to not get sick on the art supplies.)
  2. Stick to this appointed time for 2 weeks. Evaluate. If that time period seems to not work. Set a different one. Stick to that new time for 2 weeks. Do this 2 week trial period until you find a time/day that works for you. The same with the length of the appointment; start off with a short time like 10 minutes – keep testing until you have set a duration that feels playful. Be religious about doing this testing. Once you find the best time/day that works for you then successfully meet your creative appointment with your self for 45 consecutive days minimum. (after that it’ll become  a habit)
  3. During your ‘creative appointment’ step away from the phone, social media and any other “in boxes”. Don’t answer the doorbell. Take the dog out for a potty break before you start your appointment. Tell your spouse, kids that you’ll be having 15 minutes (or 30) of uninterrupted creative time. (Remember to say please and thank you to them.)
  4. Have your art/creative supplies at the ready. This can be an entire room set aside for the purpose of creativity. It can be a corner of one room. It can be a box or tray of supplies kept in a drawer or cupboard to be pulled out during your appointment. It can even be as simple as a single sketchbook and a few pens kept in one spot. But whatever arrangement works – keep it well stocked!  You don’t want to run out of your favorite ink pen in the middle of a ‘creative appointment’!  Re-stock during non-appointment times. At the end of each ‘creative appointment’ re-sharpen your pencils or put your color pens back in their box etc. Make sure everything is ready for use at the next appointment time.
  5. Keep a set of creative prompts handy to get you started. (One of the ones I like “The Tricksters Hat” by Nick Bantock.) Look at art blogs, how-to books for prompts.  As a ‘creative appointment’ exercise one thing I do is sit and list as fast, as I can, 10 or 20 topics that interest me or are on my mind at that moment. From such a list I often get ideas for artwork projects.  I also enjoy using a set of “Story Cubes” (yes, the kids dice game) as creative prompts. Don’t be afraid of the genres – explore any of them related to your creative prompt/topic!  Whatever kind of creative prompts appeal to you  collect them outside of your ‘creative appointment’ time and have them accessible (like your supplies) when your appointment starts.
  6. You do not have to complete anything during your appointment. You can continue to work on the same project from one appointment to the next. You do not have to make a “masterpiece”. You can make a mess!  If after a few minutes you’re not having fun feel free to start something else creative!  All you have to do is something of a creative nature for the entire 15 minutes (or whatever duration of time feels fun and natural to you) of your appointment time. As Dr. Bob said “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first”
  7. When trying a new medium or a new subject in earnest set aside a block of time longer than your typical creative appointment so as to really get into the spirit of your new medium or subject. After that you can continue work on your project in short bursts during a regular ‘creative appointment’.
  8. Gather data from the world. Visit art galleries, museums, other artist studios, listen to another artist talk about their work or read a book about an artist or art medium – and take notes, write your responses, your thoughts about what you see. Note what you like and why you like it. Ask yourself questions.  Or if you’re interested in a certain topic – investigate that (for example; I’m interested in dogs so sometimes I go to dog parks). Find and pursue whatever your interests are that make you glad to be alive. Surround yourself with things that remind you of them.  This type of ‘data collection’ can count as a ‘creative appointment’ activity.
  9. Keep a list of what you’ve created – no matter how small or silly you feel your creation was write it down in a log book. Keeping a log book of your creative activity (whatever you did during each ‘creative appointment’) is a weirdly effective incentive to keep creating!

I’ve posted this page from Dr. Bob’s Emotional First Aid Kit before – but it’s my favorite page and is a “prompt” that I put in the front of each one of my new sketchbooks.

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

 

dog art book days

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, Sue Draws Dogs, visual story

Recently I posted a video of me un-boxing proof copies of “Dogs by Sue Clancy”  https://sueclancy.com/2017/01/15/dogs-unboxed/  Overall I’m very pleased with the books printing, the binding and the way BookBaby https://www.bookbaby.com/ has done things.  I’d used BookBaby to do my previous eBooks – so they weren’t un-known to me, and I knew they’d be good to work with. They are. And their book distribution system is worldwide…

Even so, in looking at my proof copies I realized there was a graphic-designer (me) error.  The first page that you see upon opening the book is blank. Then you open it and on the left is the title page. The page to the right has the book info.

Oops.

Not BookBaby’s fault at all. Totally mine. Some days are just like that.

Dang-nab-it-in-big-soggy-biscuits!!!!

But everything else other than the odd page order at the front is beautiful. So I showed copies of the book to my gallery owners – all are thrilled. (Whew!) And one said she loves the blank page at the front as she’ll be able to put a sticker/card with additional info right there. “Great sales tool!” she added about the book in general.

Since the galleries are happy I’ve decided the pages in the book “Dogs…” are staying as they are.  I’ll just do better pagination for the next book.

In case you were wondering why I decided to do my newest book in such a mass-produced way in the first place. (This book is going to be available where ever books are sold in the world. Yes by Amazon.com…and also at independent bookstores) I decided to do it like this because I have fans and art collectors all over the world and Bookbaby’s distribution system for eBooks has been fantabulous – so I’m trusting that the same is true for the print books too!

The idea is that my gallery owners will be able to tell their clients – wherever in the world they are located – that “something new by Sue” is available via a familiar online source or even a bookstore near them.  This book is also intended to help the galleries sell the very personal service I provide – creating a visual story that reflects the life of a person and their dog.

Beyond the fine art gallery scene I think of the book as a small attempt to share my “art as good mental health therapy” concept with people who may not know my artwork but may chance upon my book somehow.  Maybe they’ll laugh and have a better day.

The original artwork at the gallery gets framed like this:

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Artwork by Clancy framed at the Caplan Art Designs gallery www.caplanartdesigns.com

The book has a stiff cover and 26 pages and when closed is 8.5 x 11 inches. Just the size for a coffee table.  More info about the book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” is available here  https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy or via Amazon…

 

dog book progress

A Creative Life, artist book, books, Dogs in Art, Sue Draws Dogs

I’ve decided to call my upcoming artist book of dog portraits “Dogs by Sue Clancy”.  Simple and straightforward feels best… so here’s what the cover will look like:

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Book cover design for an upcoming artist book by Clancy that will be available via Amazon and wherever books are sold and here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

 

happy doggy new year

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, Sue Draws Dogs

I worry about human adults. I worry that people forget to play. This worry has included me.

So I’ve been trying to do something about that. Dog portraits are my effort to remember to play. I’ve been purposefully spending time enjoying something and making notes and in the process I created an art exhibit’s worth of artworks. Yes, 32 of my dog portraits are currently scheduled for an exhibit at Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com in the new year, Jan 2017!  So here’s hoping that other people see my artwork – and the whimsy there and play a little too!

As a separate project I’ve also been working on a printed artist book of my dog portraits. The concept behind both the art exhibit and the potential book is the same: collecting pleasant thoughts and describing those thoughts using imaginary dog characters (based on a real-life dog breed) in order to highlight the pleasant feelings.  This idea has its roots in healthy mental health habits and the practice of happiness; creating gratitude lists, purposefully turning ones thoughts toward pleasant things, playing with ones imagination, and a meditative practice of enjoying  time, memory, attention and whimsy.

Dogs were selected as characters because for me dogs of all breeds represent a joyful exuberant delight at being alive.

I’m thinking that the book – which I’ll call “Dogs by Sue Clancy” – will be another artist book by me, an artistic expression of its own. More than an exhibit catalog or a collection of reproductions of a body of artistic works the book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” is being organized around an artistic idea – the one I mentioned above: collecting pleasant thoughts and describing those thoughts using imaginary dog characters (based on a real-life dog breed) in order to highlight the pleasant feelings.  The book will not be at the art exhibit – it’ll be its own separate thing…

Now, why does it matter that we think of pleasant things and seek to provoke pleasant feelings? Why is it so important to me that I’ve spent all this time to make both an art exhibit and a potential book filled with “pleasantness”?

Well it’s gosh-darn easy to provoke feelings of anger and fear. Some religious leaders and politicians do it often because it’s a reliable (if dirty-tricky) way to get peoples attention and exert control. Unhappy, frightened and angry people are more easily controlled.  Even some grade-school kids use such tactics, because they’re easy to do and successfully get and control peoples attention.

You can even accidentally do it to yourself, get yourself down-spiraling; angry and fearful about almost anything. Particularly around a sleepless 3 am. Especially when you’ve been busy and stressed and not enjoying much in life. (In my book Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit –https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit – this is discussed in detail, particularly strategies how to deal with unpleasant emotions.)

So I’ve been speculating that very act of enjoying things – small things – and sharing enjoyments with other people – may itself be a moderating factor, a good-mental-health exercise, and a small way to combat the dirty-trickery of the fear-mongers.

After all one of the ways of responding to, and coming out of, a negative-downward-spiral is to keep a list of things you enjoy doing or thinking about and deliberately turning your thoughts away from anger and fear and towards something you enjoy and appreciate.  Could it also be  helpful-to-good-mental-health to have an entire art exhibit, and maybe a book, full of “pleasant things”?

As a professional artist I’ve thought why not deliberately – and as an artistic project – provoke laughter? Smiles? Warm-fuzzy’s? Playfulness? For both myself and hopefully others?  It would be an artistic challenge. How do you get someone to smile – or even laugh – while looking at a piece of paper covered with lines, shading and patterns?

I’m convinced that happiness is a skill that must be practiced like tennis, like cooking, like drawing.  I’ve been spending a lot of time practicing my own happiness – and enjoying it (pun intended) – I’m hoping that sharing my practice in both an art exhibit and in a book – will be fun for other people too. 

Here’s a new dog portrait.

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Digger by Clancy – ink on handmade paper