Glad To Be Alive sketchbook by Clancy

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, drawing as thinking, ebook, visual thinking, words and pictures

I’m getting ready for a one-woman fine art exhibit held at Burnt Bridge Cellars and set up by the Caplan Art Designs gallery – and part of getting ready is writing an “exhibit statement”.  I prefer creating pictures to writing non-fiction/prose so I’m making my exhibit statement as visual as possible.  One thing I’ve done is collect some of my sketchbook pages into a free downloadable eBook.  This eBook relates to my exhibit… more about that in future posts.  Here are pages from my “Glad To Be Alive Sketchbook – drinks and music edition 2017″… you can see more information and download it from my artist book webpage here https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/ or via this direct link: GladToBeAliveDrinkMusicEd  – Enjoy!

www.burntbridgecellars.com  www.caplanartdesigns.com

 

the art commission Innocent

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, collage, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art

A couple of clients have a Schnauzer and a Labrador retriever – they asked me (via the Caplan Art Designs gallery www.caplanartdesigns.com) to do a dual portrait while also reflecting the owners work/personal life! I have a series of questions I ask (about color preferences etc. details) – I also request photos of the dogs. I was lucky enough to actually meet these dogs in person. Earlier in this blog you got to see my “practice” sketches for the dog breeds in this commission.  After receiving the answers to my questions and photos of the dogs I created 2 pencil drawings to the scale of the proposed finished work.  I also created a number of hand dyed paper swatches to show the proposed color scheme.

Here’s a photo of me dying some paper blue.  I did several layers of this blue color on the paper in order to build up the “proper blue” that best matched the client’s preference.

DyingBlueSpray72

To keep this document brief I’ll not show photos of me creating the 20 base colors I created for the “swatch sampler” – so multiply the above photo 19 times at least.

Once the papers were dry – we met and the clients chose one of the two pencil sketches. Small adjustments were made in the color scheme and the drawings. And additional research was done. For example, I studied what vest collars are like, what wing-tip shoes look like, where cuff-links are on a cuff and gold pocket watches how they sit in a pocket and how the chain drapes.  I asked about and investigated what a “bar” in court looks like. I researched how the sleeve of a judges’ robe hangs.

I also “filled in” the other colors of hand dyed paper I’d need to produce the finished painting.  Where a section in a painting will read as “blue” there may be as many as 5 different shades of blue papers which are collaged/layered together.  Where a paper may read as “blond wood grain” there may be multiple layers of color applied to each paper that forms the various tones within the shape.  Yes, it’s complicated and takes a lot of pre-planning and research.

Once all of the papers are done and dry (there are now over 50 pieces of hand dyed paper) I begin cutting out shapes. Here I have cut out the overall shape of the Schnauzer’s head and paw out of a greyish-blue dyed paper. A light pencil marks the future placements of other pieces of darker grey paper and or lighter white-grey paper.

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At this point I’m cutting and gluing together all of the various shapes from the various “base” papers to form the overall characters and aspects of scenery.  With an Xacto knife I cut the needed shape positioning it using tweezers. Then I would adjust the position – often several times – before gluing it together. Then I would press the glued papers flat and let them dry.

As I constructed the Schnauzer character I got excited and focused – and I forgot to take photos of the steps of construction.  As I worked kept laughing, imagining the Schnauzer lawyer saying “My client is innocent, I tell you, innocent. My client, the Great Dane you see before you, could not have possibly reached down to such a low table to eat the 4 hams, 5 chickens and the pot roast which is alleged to have been on that table. It was beneath him to have…”

There is a lot of “back and forth” work to get the shapes and positions correct – to adjust the colors and layers. Here is a succession of photos to give you an idea of the test-adjust-test routine.

In the photos below you’ll see my original pencil drawing – which I’m using as a guide.

The Judge’s glasses are made of two pieces of paper: I cut the glasses frames out of a “gold” paper and glued them onto a white paper which acts as the “lenses”.  All elements within the artwork are cut hand dyed papers which interlock.

And so it goes – back and forth – building up each element in both 3 dimensional space as well as 2 dimensional. For example, the watch in the Schnauzer’s pocket is a complete watch – with numbers on it – even if you don’t see all of it in the finished artwork. Behind the suit coat lapels is the entire vest… the tie actually fits under the white shirt collar. The flag is several different colors of paper pieced together and actually hanging from a pole (a cut piece of gold paper).  If you could tell the Schnauzer to move over you’d see the entire “bar” he is standing in front of and behind those is the entire “bench” on which the Labrador judge sits.

Once the “base papers” have been assembled into each element needed for the overall artwork I glue them onto the cradled board.

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I pre-planned for how the various shapes “wrap around” the 4 edges of the board. This way the judges bench actually looks/feels like a 3D bench. All we don’t see are the witness boxes. The flag extends to the side and top edges of the painting. The judge’s arm continues on one edge. As you can see in the photo the floor extends over the bottom edge.

When these base papers are glued on they are pressed flat – and left to dry several days under weight.

Then the excess paper hanging off the edges is trimmed away with my Xacto knife and the now blocked-in painting is put on my easel. There many more cut pieces of paper layered on at my easel – many of them are very tiny pieces of paper, the size of a fingernail or smaller, others are tissue paper thin allowing the underlayment to show through – these papers are cut with my Xacto knife carried to the easel then glued into place.  More building up of paper layers until each element within the artwork has more tonal ranges and dimension. For example, the Judges glasses got more highlights and shadows glued onto them – they went from being made out of 2 pieces of paper to being made out of 6.  The Schnauzer’s eyebrows and whiskers are layered on. And so it goes…

Once again – even though it took quite a bit of time – I got so focused and excited about what I was doing that I forgot to photograph the various steps I did between the above photo and the finished artwork pictured below. (The finished artwork is protected by varnish.)

So here is the finished piece (details of size and media below the photo).

InnocentITellYou72

 “Innocent, I tell you….”

By Clancy

Size 10 x 10 x 2 inches

Media: Hand dyed paper, handmade paste paper, book cloth and acrylic on cradled board

more schnauzer art practice

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, Sue Draws Dogs

Here’s more schnauzer practice (referring to my last blog post here) – this one is bigger (15 x 11 inches) and is more like the client’s dog I’m to feature in my fine art commission (via Caplan Art Designs). The commission is being done in color, using my cut handmade paper collage method, but I gotta get the shapes right first. So I’ve been practicing… https://sueclancy.com/2017/03/08/the-art-of-practice-and-a-story-inside/

Samson72

“Samson” by Clancy – ink on handmade paper

coffee sketches become fine art

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, psychogeography, sketchbook, Sue Draws Dogs, travel art and writing

As you know I’ve been doing “coffee/tea cup research” lately. Here is a recent fine artwork I just finished titled “Café Paix”.  Paix is French for “peace”. I’m sure you’ll notice the cup.

cafepaix72

Café Paix by Clancy – hand dyed paper, handmade paste paper and acrylic on cradled board

One day my sweetie and I were on a busy urban street and we ducked into a café for a late brunch. There I was enchanted by the variety of people in the café – as well as outside on the street – and I thought “How wonderful it is to live in a such cosmopolitan region!

In my head I used the word “cosmopolitan” in the sense of “at ease with many different cultures”.  That dovetailed with the café menu (in front of me) which featured coffee drinks and foods from many different areas of the world.  So I made notes in my pocket sketchbook.

Later when I was back at the studio I did this finished sketch – which was a preliminary study for “Café Paix”:

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Pierre by Clancy (ink on handmade paper)

The sketch is currently at Caplan Art Designs http://www.caplanartdesigns.com and “Café Paix” will be there too for future exhibits after it has fully dried.

 

Clancy draws a dog

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, Sue Draws Dogs

Here is a video of me drawing a dog using the same art techniques (dip pen, brush and sumi ink) that I used to create all of the artwork in my new book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” as well as the original artwork currently exhibited at Caplan Art Designs. http://www.caplanartdesigns.com

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:

inkdogframed

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…

 

Dogs by Sue Clancy

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, Sue Draws Dogs

The official release date for my newly printed artist book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” is Feb 17th 2017… but you can see (and get) an advance copy online here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

One of the purposes of the book is to aid and abet my art gallery exhibits and in this blog post I’ll share one of the written descriptions of the book – but just between us I’m highly amused that there are many more words written about my book “Dogs…” than there are actually in the book! The book is largely wordless…

Anyway, here’s a book description:

In an artist book featuring various dog breeds, artist Sue Clancy whimsically combines man’s best friend and many of life’s pleasant experiences by drawing them using a dip pen, a brush and Sumi ink on handmade paper.

For each of the artworks in this book Sue Clancy thought of “something pleasant” and created a dog-character to help describe that pleasantness. By combining attributes of a dog breed with an activity she has enjoyed she accents the pleasant feelings.

More than an exhibit catalog or a collection of reproductions of a body of artistic works the book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” is an artist book organized around an artistic idea: 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 Sue Clancy dogs of all breeds represent a joyful exuberant delight at being alive.

Genre/Subject: Art, Animals in Art, Dogs in Art

Sub genre: Individual artists/artist books

Book Details: 26 pages, 21 images, 245 words

ISBN: 9781483590752

Available where ever books are sold

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

For more about the artist see http://www.sueclancy.com

You can see the original artwork (and more of my dogs) – or commission me to draw your favorite dog at Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com.

onepagebookcoverimage

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

why whimsical dog art

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

“So much is wrong with the world and here you are doing artwork of cute dogs and the occasional cats. Aren’t you denying reality, denying the power of protest art?”

No, I am on purpose living well as a direct action against the bullies, abusive people and authoritarians.  If I were to get upset and stay angry and fearful each time I read a news article, for example, I would be handing my personal happiness to the very mean people I’m upset about.

So I persist at finding small joys every day, doing small kindnesses, creating laughter and yes, cute whimsical dogs.  It’s my protest, my declaration of sovereignty, my present to the better angels of my own and other people’s natures. It’s my way to feed the good wolves.

My persistence at happiness doesn’t mean I don’t read and make myself aware of what’s going on in the world. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. It doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t donate money or in other ways help any cause I think is also opposing bullies and authoritarian fundamentalists. I do!

It’s just that I refrain as best I can from giving the mean people my inner self, letting my upset at them/ their actions dominate my entire mind and life. I’m not waiting until there are no more mean people in any positions of power (etc.) before I’m able to enjoy something! I’m going to enjoy something today, right now. I’m also going to learn something, I’m going to play, experiment, and laugh. I’m going to try something new. I’m going to smile and talk to people. I’m going to do my best to be kind and loving. I’m going to live well!

By doing this I deny those mean people what they want most; my cerebral compliance. When I enjoy something they, the bullies, have not set the tone of my mind or my day – I have!   The bully may have authority over my body (i.e. be an abusive parent, a president, or a state that denies my human rights) but they do not have control over my mind!

One of the many good-mental-health techniques that I’ve practiced is to keep a list of things I enjoy thinking about or doing – so that whenever I do get down-in-the-dumps or despondent about how some bully seems to be winning I can deliberately turn my mind towards something I enjoy.  In this way I’m taking direct and immediate action.

By creating artwork that is whimsical, beautiful or even cute I am giving people an art exhibit, a book, a blog post or an item of art apparel  that I hope can, if only for a moment, lift their spirits and enable them to take direct action too – by enjoying something.

As I learned from Dr. Bob Hoke (and which is further discussed in the book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”) the best response to adversity of any kind is to go on and live well.  https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

Here are a few of my dogs currently on exhibit at Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com – and also in my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

 

more dog book progress

A Creative Life, animals in art, art gallery, art techniques, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, Sue Draws Dogs

I wrote a short synopsis of what my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” is about and I showed the synopsis, an early copy of the book – containing my dog portraits like what is currently at the Caplan Art Designs gallery – to friends in real-life. These friends can be counted on to have-my-back regarding my artistic efforts and I know they’ll ask good questions! Their questions often help me refine my artistic efforts. Valuable friends!

Here’s the synopsis I showed them:

“Featuring all kinds of dog breeds artist Sue Clancy whimsically combines man’s best friend and many of life’s pleasant experiences by drawing them using a dip pen, a brush and Sumi ink.”

One of the first questions was “What is a ‘dip pen’?”.

A dip pen has a metal – often steel – nib which is inserted in a holder. You can see three nibs to the left in the photo. Also on the left is a long brown nib holder with another nib inserted in the holder. The term ‘dip pen’ is slang for ‘metal-point drawing pen’ and I think the term ‘dip pen’ is more descriptive of what kind of pen it is.

That led to the next question which was “How often do you dip it?”

It depends on how large the nib is as to how much ink it holds at a time. The very small finest nibs (like what is pictured in my brown holder), that I use to draw doggy whiskers, eyebrows and such, would probably be dipped into my ink-well (the green bottle in the picture) 2 or 3 times when drawing fine detail work on a dog. I mean very fine details like the soft muzzle fuzz, eye-lashes and whiskers – and areas needing lots of short to medium strokes to convey fur. A larger pen nib like the one in the picture nearest the pen holder may not be dipped quite that often – and it can do a longer line at a time. I’d use a larger nib, for example, when drawing the detail of a coffee cup and saucer.

An oriental brush – the kind of brush pictured to the right of the pen nib holder – may be dipped into the ink once or twice to draw an entire dog with lines of varying thickness. It’s dipped again into a water and ink dilution when I need to make a tonal shade.  The brush is used the most and does most of the work on each portrait – the dip pen is just for details too small to draw with my brushes.

The third question was “What is Sumi ink?”

This question is a bit harder for me to answer because the first reply that springs to my mind is “awesome wonderful good elixir-of-life stuff!!!!” and that answer doesn’t really tell anyone anything other than the fact that I really like the ink!

Sumi ink is more commonly known as a Chinese calligraphy ink. But both Chinese and Japanese artists use Sumi ink to do all kinds of things from text based documents to large works of visual art.  Invented well over over 2000 years ago the ink is often made – and is even today made – from vegetable soot, carbon soot, lamp black, camphor and sometimes a glue-binding agent.

For my artwork I use both the liquid-in-a-bottle style of Sumi ink as well as the stick form. The stick form of the ink is pictured in the middle towards the bottom of the photo on top of the red box I keep the ink stick in. I’ve been using this same stick of ink weekly, if not daily, for perhaps 10 to 12 years – and only about half an inch of the stick has been used up.

The black square next to my ink stick is an ink-stone. I put a bit of water and “grind” the ink stick until I’ve a pool of black liquid ink. The surface of the stone has a grit or tooth to it so I say “grind” but it’s not like grating cheese nor even like rubbing a bar of soap on a stain – it’s more meditatively moving the stick in small circles in the water using a very light touch while I think about what I want to draw. Then when the pool is black enough I get to work using the newly formed ink!

The ceramic dishes in the photo are where I put water and varying amounts of ink so that I can have a gradation of tones within my drawings. The liquid kind of Sumi ink is in the green bottle in the photo.  Both forms of this ink at their blackest – least diluted with water – feel and look like a small pool of honey.

While Sumi ink and the brushes I use may be of the kind associated with Zen Buddhism and Asian art in general – I’ve done my own thing with the Sumi ink medium; my dog portraits are my own invention. Due to my subject matter I’ve needed crisp details like whiskers so I use the dip pen in addition to the brush-and-ink techniques.

I do, in the philosophical sense, enjoy a kinship between some of the Zen Buddhist ideas related to this Sumi-ink art form (chiefly: relax! breathe! let-go!) and my own desire to artistically explore joy, beauty, whimsy, visual story-telling and concepts related to good-mental health.

As I’d talked and tried to answer the questions each of my friends took turns looking through the early copy of “Dogs by Sue Clancy”.  When I stopped talking one of them said “It looks like a real book!”

“Oh! What a great comment!! Can I quote you on that?” I asked.

“Yes.” was the reply.

You can see some of my Sumi ink dog portraits on my dog portraits page on my blog: https://sueclancy.com/dog-portraits/

There will be more in upcoming blog posts about “Dogs by Sue Clancy”

sumidogdrawingsupplies72

Sue Clancy’s art supplies used for her dog portraits: dip pens, oriental brushes, Sumi ink (liquid and stick) and mixing dishes. Handmade paper isn’t pictured.

 

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.

digger72

Digger by Clancy – ink on handmade paper