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”

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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.

 

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:

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

 

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

gallery dog show

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, Dogs in Art, fine art, Sue Draws Dogs, visual story

I think some of the best gifts you can give someone any time of the year are: time, attention, memory and whimsy.  My dog portraits have been popular with art collectors this season (many of my pieces are being given as gifts!) so Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com has decided to do a January exhibit (a dog show?) of my dogs! Wahooo!!!

I play in the fine art genre of “Animals in Art” and “Dogs in Art” because it gives me maximum whimsy allowance…and creating and sharing art is itself a way I can give the gift of time, attention and memory to people… but never mind about art theory just now – the Holiday is near! And Happy Holidays to you!

Here, for the whimsy in it, are a few of my dogs that are currently at the gallery – enjoy!

frosty72

“Frosty” by Sue Clancy – ink on handmade paper

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“Corky Reading” by Sue Clancy – ink on handmade paper

You can see more of my dog portraits on my website here: https://sueclancy.com/dog-portraits/

 

 

dog in the details

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

When I was a little kid I remember once telling my Grandmother “I’m bored.” She asked me to look for and find the smallest object in the house and bring it to her. After some time I found a safety-pin about 1/2 inch long and about 1/4 inch wide. She said “I’ll bet you can do better than that.” So off I went again searching. I came back with a needle. It was a bit longer than the safety-pin but much skinnier. Which led to a philosophical discussion of what constituted “small”.

I was not bored any more that day!

Fast forward a hundred years or so and I was working with psychiatrist Dr. Bob Hoke who wanted to publish a book that could be available for his patients. The question was how to “keep the young adults from getting bored” as many of them were not great readers of prose in general and certainly not of books about how to develop and maintain good mental health.

Dr. Bob was a story-teller and holding peoples attention in person was no problem for him. It was in writing where he thought he got “too didactic”.  We hit upon the idea of doing a book in a primarily graphic-novel comic format. (That idea became “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” – more info is on my artist book webpage https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/)

As a result of my work with Dr. Bob on that book (and other projects) I began to focus much more on the “small details” within my fine art work as one way of communicating a story, developing a character and, yes, keeping a viewers visual interest.

So as I’ve been working towards my new book – the one that I’m thinking of calling “Dogs” – I’ve been thinking about which dogs I’ve drawn in ink that include small details, surprising details and even hidden subtle details.

Here’s one:

happy72

“Happy” by Clancy – pen and ink on handmade paper

 

from sketchbooks to dogs

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

As you know from previous blog posts I was intending to publish another ebook of my  recent sketchbook pages oriented around the saying “Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive”.  I was even going to call it my “Glad to be Alive” sketchbook.  It was going to have scenery, people, food/drink, books, games and dogs…  you know, pages like this:

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Sue Clancy’s “Glad to Be Alive” sketchbook page; ink and watercolor done on location.

Yeah, well that sketchbook publication ain’t happening.

The short explanation is “technical difficulties”.  The longer explanation is much much longer. So never mind. For now.

I still want to do the book. And I’ll still be posting pages from it here on the blog – and on my sketchbooks webpage https://sueclancy.com/sketchbooks/.  The mountain of technical difficulties will have to be conquered first before ebook publication and that’ll take some time. Because you know, fine art commissions and exhibits and only having 24 hours in a day.

In the mean-time tho there are my dogs! I’ve been half-working in spare moments towards the dream of a printed book – an artist book – of my dog drawings/portraits.  I thought that project was a year or so out. It was a distant dream. Or so I thought.  But it turns out that this dog-art-book project may be more do-able – with fewer technical issues. The creative life’s funny like that. Always throwing curve-balls. So I’m going to concentrate on a dog-book!

I’ll focus it around “pleasant things”, like I would have done the “Glad to be Alive” sketchbook… because dogs are very pleasant – and as characters dogs can be creatively combined with the various things I’ve enjoyed and sketched in my sketchbook.  And dogs certainly make me glad to be alive!

I’d have pages like this:

ponder72

“Ponder” by Sue Clancy (brush and ink on handmade paper)

So… to publish my dog portraits as a print book?! Dogs in Art!! Animals in art !!!  That’s my genre baby!!!

Now what???!!

Oh yes, to cook supper tonight.

 

 

Sue draws dogs

A Creative Life, art techniques, dog portrait, Sue Draws Dogs

Here’s a picture of me drawing a dog. If you want to see a close-up of the dog I’m drawing look for “Larry” on my dog portraits website page https://sueclancy.com/dog-portraits/. Yes, as you see in the photo, I use brush and Sumi ink to do my dog drawings.

The ink is quite permanent so it makes me really think before I make a mark. That’s one of the reasons I use this medium. Its a way for me to practice not being “too precious”, or anxious, about creating. Take a deep breath, relax, focus and let it flow. I figure if I really mess up all I’ve done is waste a bit of ink and paper. It’s not brain surgery. Nobody is going to die.

But yet there’s still a dare-devil-daring-do-risk-taking of it that I relish. I’ve committed to an idea. In ink. It can’t be erased or easily undone. It means I stood flat-footed said something and meant it.

For some reason doing a drawing in permanent ink feels more like I’m “really doing something” than when I’m manipulating pixels on a screen.

“Really doing something” is what I figure is meant by the phrases “living life with no regrets” or “living purposefully”.

So sometimes when I walk out of my studio to wash out my brush and Judy, my wife, asks me how I’m doing – I reply, with a big satisfactory smile on my face, “Living dangerously!”

bwdogpaintingcrop

Photo of Sue Clancy creating a dog portrait using a Sumi brush and ink. Photo by Judy Sullens

Strummer

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, dog portrait, poetry, Sue Draws Dogs, words and pictures

I think often about “artistic purpose” – and while, yes, I do get money for my work (I’m a professional, this is my full-time job) that’s not my only purpose for creating art.  Today when I was thinking about this topic I had my tongue firmly planted in my cheek… and I did this poem and illustration.

Strummer – By Sue Clancy

Strummer played music for money,

Ribs, rolls, butter and honey

Or any other tasty dish

Like beef or lamb or fish

A scrambled egg would even do, if not too runny.

strummer72

“Strummer” by Sue Clancy (brush and ink on handmade paper)

Sue draws dogs

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

I’ve kept sketchbooks for many years – and I have drawn dogs a lot. I sketch and draw in ink almost every day. Some time ago my wife Judy saw some of my dog drawings in my bound sketchbook and said “I really wish you’d do these on good paper.”  The phrase ‘good paper’ in our house means handmade paper.

So I did.

After a while I had a lot of drawings-on-good-paper. Then Judy said “I wish you’d show these to Amy.” Amy is the gallery owner of Caplan Art Designs.

So I did.

And now Amy has been selling my dog drawings almost as fast as I can make them! I love being this busy!  To make my drawings I use fountain pens and brush-and-ink. Occasionally I’ll use a very sharp pointed pen-nib and the ink – for very fine lines. I use that when a dog has lots of whiskers.

Then Judy said “I wish you’d post some of these regularly on your blog.”

So I am….starting now.

pickles72

Pickles by Sue Clancy (ink on handmade paper)

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.