coffee dog art on fabric

A Creative Life, animals in art, Art Licensing, Dogs in Art, pattern design, surface design

You knew, I’m sure, that it was only a matter of time until I tried putting my dog drawings onto fabric… and you were correct!  Look what came in the mail just now – a fabric test swatch for my approval.  (I approve!!) Tea-towels and napkins here we come…

Here’s the swatch as it came out of the mail-envelope… the rulers are to show scale:

 

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

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

 

 

art book pet peeves

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, artistic inspirations, Dogs in Art, words and pictures

I love books about art including books about individual artists. But I wonder why they’re often the size of a coffee table and weigh as much as a Rottweiler. Why such dense prose in tiny fonts?  So when making my own art books I go for a light-weight book design and few words.

Take my recent book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” for example. It’s 8.5 x 11 inches when closed. And it weighs about 5 ounces. There are 245 words total. And that includes the ISBN info.

You can read my book while holding it in the air above the dog (or cat) currently sleeping on your lap.

Here’s a link with more info about the book: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

Here are some pictures of “Dogs by Sue Clancy”.

And I’m  sure my long time fans will also recognize that in my art book titled “Coffee Table Book” that I played with my whole heavy-coffee-table-size book peeve by deliberately making an art book for smart-phones. More about that here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book

Yours in being able to read a book about art without needing a hoist or crane.

just looking and artist details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

postcard from the dogs with 4 tips to avoid being sick

A Creative Life, books, Dogs in Art, published art, Sustainable creativity

As you know I’ve a new book being formally released Feb 17th titled “Dogs by Sue Clancy”. This means in addition to creating the art that is in the book, designing and creating the book itself, arranging for its publication… now websites about it are rolling out: There’s the bit about “Dogs…” on my website, there’s this web page here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy and there’s now an entry over on Amazon.com (search for “Dogs by Sue Clancy”).

It’s been a long long long car ride…and we’re not even there yet!

Now I’ve done a postcard about the book. Yep, did the graphic design for the card all by myself too.  Here’s a photo of the front and back of the card:

dogsbookpostcard72

Postcard with details about “Dogs by Sue Clancy” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

So go on. You know you want to. Ask me how I avoid getting completely and heartily sick of a project by the gosh-darn-long end of it. Go on ask me.

Here are my 4 tips:

  1. At the start of a project when I’m all enthusiastic about it I write down in my journal all of my thoughts, hopes, dreams – what I’m excited about and why i want to do the project!  Then, later on, when my enthusiasm lags I re-read it. Usually that does the trick!
  2. I take care to remember that by the time the project has exited my head (i.e. there’s art to hang on a gallery wall etc.) that there are other people involved with my project now. And their salary depends on me doing my part well! In other words the project is no longer “all about me”!
  3. I make sure to spend quality time with my sweetie, my friends and my dog and cat who love me for other reasons besides artwork, books and whatever else my creative mind outputs. My sweetie and friends love my art stuff too but that’s not the ONLY thing! (Whew!) And we can talk about things besides my current project. (Whew!) And my dog and cat… well, my dog Rusty thinks I’m pretty darn special anytime I make a lap for him. And my cat Hawkeye thinks my ability to use my thumbs is swell – even if I do use them to draw those silly canines so much – I do come to my senses now and again and apply my thumbs in service to the CAT! (Whew!)
  4. I start work on a new art project pronto! I get curious about something in the world and get to self-educating… which involves books and art supplies…and creative appointments with myself…and…

And now I’m going to pull this car over for a bite of dinner.

 

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 unboxed

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, books, Dogs in Art

Here’s video of me un-boxing proof copies of my artist book “Dogs by Sue Clancy”

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.