public art comforts

A Creative Life, public art, visual story

On Wednesday I had a meeting with the executive director of the Curtis Children’s Justice Center (CJC) to discuss the logistics regarding the Feb. 8 unveiling of the artwork I did for them. As we talked the director said something that I’ve been thinking about ever since. She said, and I wish I could remember her exact words, that a local arts association had offered to list the artwork at the CJC and that the director hadn’t thought a whole lot about a connection between an organization dealing with child abuse and the local arts scene. She went on to say we do have to learn to “see the helpers that are all around us”.

My predominate thought has been “Of course there’s a connection between organizations that work with children, especially abused or ill children, and the local arts! How could there not be?” In my mind a children’s center has original art on their walls for the exact same reason they’d employ a therapy dog; for the care and comfort it may provide.

Children’s centers with multiple works of fine art for therapeutic purposes can end up with public art collections almost without trying. Any collection of public art that serves a community function, whether to reflect a communities history (like the Vancouver Land Bridge), to visually represent a city (like the Salmon Run Bell Tower and Glockenspiel in Vancouver’s Esther Short Park) or to comfort a segment of a community’s population (like the artwork in the CJC) is a part of the “local arts scene” by virtue of its existence in a particular place. Whether an organization like the CJC, because of its kind of work, allows their collection to be listed in an art association’s public announcement is separate issue.

Art for the purposes of therapeutic comfort – or for relaxation, which is a form of comfort – is nothing new. In fact it is one of the “helpers all around us” that most of us don’t notice. Did you have a rough day at the office? Celebrating a birthday? You might seek comfort or relaxation in any of the following; listening to music, watching a movie, reading a novel, attending a play at the theater, seeing art work in a gallery or museum, going to a comedy/storytelling event, or going dancing. Chances are good that most of us have done these things, gotten comfort/relaxation from them without thinking “I’m doing this for therapeutic reasons” or even noticing that it elevated a mood. And you probably didn’t think “I’m participating in the local arts scene” while you were tapping your toe in tune with the jazz band.

Public art and even the local arts scene can easily become part of the background of our lives, an unsung part of our ability to go on and live well.

Yes indeed there are helpers all around us and isn’t it nice that sometimes they are noticed?

Here are some sketchbook pages I did as I thought about all of this. (The ‘feed the good wolves’ note written on the bottom of one of the sketchbook pages refers to this post)

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feeding good wolves

A Creative Life, books, ebook, fine art, illustration, published art

“Art is what we possess in the face of evil and the darker side of human nature.” – Milan Kundera (from his book “Encounter”)

Two Wolves

Two Wolves

The above artwork is from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kithttp://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

 

Verry Big Party

A Creative Life, books, ebook, fine art, public art, visual story, words and pictures

As mentioned here – my Verrry Big Project artwork (4 feet by 8feet!) has been installed and now we’re waiting for the “unveiling party” on Feb 8th.  But I’ve been told that I can now spill the beans as to who this public art project is for:  The Arthur D. Curtis Children’s Justice Center (CJC) in Vancouver Washington. Here are some links: http://clarkjfc.com/ and https://www.clark.wa.gov/childrens-justice-center

Why it was important to me to do this project:

I have some personal history with dealing with violence in my biological-family home as a child growing up. Not getting into details just now because more will be revealed as publicity about this project unfolds; let it suffice here to say that as a young person I had the great good fortune to meet Dr. Bob Hoke and his wife Penny.  Yes, I mean the Dr. Bob of whom I write about in “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”.  (Access to both a print version and an ebook version is here http://sueclancy.com/this-artist-studio/) That little book contains so much help, solace and artistic inspiration for me – and is the backbone of why I do the kind of artwork that I do.

Epic saga short, Dr. Bob and Penny became “Dad” and “Mom” for me and we’ve remained family for each other for about 30 years now. Over the course of years Dr. Bob Hoke, Penny and I have talked about how “life is a journey” and how stories affect the ways we picture our world and our responses to difficulties encountered on life’s journey. Stories (and non-verbal visual artwork that communicates stories visually) can affect us positively, can be a source of comfort and encouragement…. (and I hope that my artwork for public places is a source of comfort…)

Fast forward a number of years and I’ve relocated from Okla to WA and had the good fortune of marrying the love of my life, Judy, so I wanted to do something for the WA community that had so warmly welcomed us.

Since I’m an artist with a history of creating large public artworks for children’s centers of one sort or another it made sense to look for such an opportunity. Through friends I heard about the CJC and the kind of work they did. So I discussed the CJC’s mission/methods with Dr. Bob and Penny and Judy, we all decided that the CJC would be a good recipient of my artwork – if the CJC agreed.

I met with the CJC director, made my pitch, and set about designing visual artworks that would help the CJC tell their story. That included creating symbols and imagery that would communicate visually the idea that “life is a journey – with many stops along the way, some good, some bad – and occasionally we all need help going places and figuring out how to get there.”  I also did a depiction of one of the “forests” that we all metaphorically journey through…  And you bet I discussed my potential symbols and metaphors with Dr. Bob (a psychiatrist) and his wife Penny (a mental health nurse).

Here are some of the early “mock-ups” of the art that I presented to the CJC, that was discussed in meetings and later with changes made (the changes are not pictured here) approved by the committee at the CJC.  These rough mock-ups are small, about the size of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.

I did two sets of large finished artworks for the CJC… each is 4 feet tall by 8 feet wide. Please note that these photos are of the mock-ups and NOT the final artwork with the changes …so there is still to be revealed – at the unveiling party!! (and yes, I’ll post stuff here too for those who can’t make it to the party)

Going Places Getting There

mock up of the Going Places Getting There diptych

Into the Forest

mock up of  the Into the Forest diptych

 

 

 

 

Verry big love and sketches

A Creative Life, commonplace book, ebook, public art, sketchbook

As I mentioned in this post here the executive director came to my studio, saw the “Verry Big Project” and approved! “I love it!” the exec said. “Whew!” I said. Then we discussed installation and other nitty-gritty details. The next day I started varnishing the finished (and approved! yippeee!) artwork! The organization will do publicity regarding this public art project at the appropriate time. So for a while we’ll need to talk about something other than my Verry Big Project.

How about those sketchbooks? Have you got one? Is it a “sketchbook”, a “commonplace book” a “writer’s notebook” some combo of the above? I do a combo and jokingly call it a “Commonsketchplacebook”.

Here is a photo of my 2015 sketchbook which I just finished – and my new 2016 sketchbook (the one with the coffee beans on it).

2SketchbooksCoffeePen

And yes, that’s a fountain pen in the photo!

You can see some of my sketchbook pages here on my blog at www.sueclancy.com or collected in my ebooks:

“Coffee, Table, Book” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book

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

deadlines and verry big projects

A Creative Life, fine art, public art

In a previous post Caution: Artist At Work I posted pictures of me working toward a “Verrry Big Project” that had a deadline. Here are more photos of me at work – I’m meeting my deadline handily! Included in this post is what I keep in mind when dealing with deadlines. These tips may also apply to holiday stress.

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positioning cut paper, gluing the pieces together

Sue Clancy’s recipe for the Care and Feeding of Deadlines:

Set a schedule, break a project into small chunks and put each chunk on the calendar/schedule.  Make lists.

Work at the project a little bit every day until done. Read the lists.

Work first. Deal with the “inbox” when time permits. Unplug.

Work according to schedule not according to mood.

Prioritize self-care: remember to eat good nutrition, get enough sleep, hydrate and exercise. Remember to breathe and relax.

Practice Good Mental Hygiene Habits*.

Build in rewards. Game-ify things. Make it fun.

Remember; other people’s expectations/desires that you come do something, during the times when you need to work, are just that – other people’s expectations – their expectations are not your priority, your work is!

*My mental hygiene habits are listed in more detail here: Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kithttps://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

GlueingDogCharacterOnBoard

 

 

Emotional Repair Kit Reviewed!

A Creative Life, books, ebook, illustration, published art, visual story, words and pictures

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Got a great review of Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit on Amazon.com!  Here’s part of what was said by a retired Marriage and Family therapist: “What a little powerhouse this is… so wonderfully illustrated by Sue Clancy and the stories are tiny treasures. It is truly a first aid kit for the mind.”

Wow! Made this artist’s day!

A paperback print version of “Dr. Bob’s First Aid Kit” (with a different cover) is here www.ondemandbooks.com  or search “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” by Sue Clancy

from the books of Bob

ebook, published art, visual story, words and pictures, writing

“Lighting someone else’s candle won’t make yours any less bright” – Dr. Bob Hoke

Being artistically inspired is not a once-and-done thing: I always need fresh inspirations, a new sense of awe, a new way of looking at something. It’s like buying groceries and cooking; the fridge and pantry always need restocking, new recipe ideas are necessary to prevent the cooking-eating-doldrums. I’ve decided that a “beginners mind” is an essential ingredient of my artistic life and often this takes the form of “how do I share this, how do I let it go?”.   Having to put my thoughts into clear words is often inspiring in itself, having other people respond enthusiastically is icing on that cake. I’ve also learned that creativity is a renewable resource – and it’s something I can both have and share.

Here below is a story on this topic that Dr. Bob Hoke told me.

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This story is in my ebook “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” http://my.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit – The above text is from a new book effort I’m working on titled “The Artist and the Psychiatrist”.

from the books of Bob

ebook, fine art, illustration, sketchbook, writing

“Feelings are guides not gods.” – Dr. Bob Hoke

When I was in art school – and shortly after graduating – I tried wood sculpture, metal sculpture and pottery. I had a “story” of myself as a 3D sculptor. I soon noticed in each of those artistic disciplines that there were times where I was less than enthusiastic about my work. I didn’t “feel like working at it” and I was focusing on and treating this feeling of “I don’t wanna” as if it were a deity to be worshiped/obeyed/disobeyed. At the time I thought I had to “fix my attitude”, force myself to continue, and I struggled with it. I talked to Bob about this issue during one of our many lunches * and he said the quote mentioned above and told me something similar to the following story (which is excerpted from a book I’m now working on titled “The Artist and the Psychiatrist”):

MAureliusHokes3rdLawActuallySeeFeelingsAsGod

So I examined my feelings (lived with the question a while) by keeping notes in my journal/sketchbook over the next month: I noticed that I loved to design the sculptures on paper and I loved the design process. I even loved the end result of the created sculpture, what I did not love was the process of creating the sculpture; the sawdust, splinters, sparks, the weight of the welding mask on my head and the fumes from pottery glazes and kilns/ovens. Those were the things I “didn’t wanna” deal with and would avoid by thinking of “other things to actually do” besides what needed to be done to finish the project. Turned out that my overall stick-to-it-and-persist attitude was just fine – all I needed to do was remove the media-elements that I so strongly disliked, that I had temporarily allowed to rule my desire to create. My feelings thus guided me to my present art media preference – cut paper collage.  Which is not sculpture, nor the story of myself as a creator of really large 3D works, but turns out to “fit” the real me best. With my cut paper medium I still enjoy designing something in the dimensional sense: figuring out what physical piece connects to what, which layers over what. I love the end fine art product – for examples see www.sueclancy.com – and now I love the process of creating too because there are no splinters, sparks or fumes! The most I risk is a paper cut, or a glue-y mess – and all of those things I can live happily with!

*See also the result of these lunch-time meetings- the ebook: “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program – First Aid Kit” http://my.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

from the Books of Bob

ebook, fine art, sketchbook, writing

“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first” – Dr. Bob Hoke

When I’m beginning a new piece of artwork I make thumbnail sketches, I write notes and doodles in my sketchbook, I make small studies, I make to-scale drawings, I draw, draw and re-draw before arriving at something that “works”. Then what “works” is redrawn and refined until it not only works but works well. (Then I dye handmade paper and pattern it … but never mind about that part just now.) When I start any effort the above quote by Dr. Bob Hoke serves me well. I do not have to make a perfect drawing right off the start. I don’t even have to have a perfect drawing by the end of the day’s work session. All I have to do is one line, one stroke, one effort at a time and trust myself that eventually I will have something that works well. And even if I don’t I will have made an honest effort. Ironically by being willing to do poorly, by focusing on my working process, I relax and thereby increase the likelihood that my project will progress pleasantly and ultimately become something my agents, galleries or clients will call a “success”.  And my willingness to enthusiastically do poorly to the very best of my ability and have fun “just making a mess” has become my definition of “something worth doing”. And that, to me, is “success”.

The above quote by Dr. Bob Hoke is included in the ebook “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” http://my.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit – I’ve decided that in addition to my sketchbook pages (such as those from my Oregon Coast sketchbook) I’ll post bits from the “First Aid” ebook here on this blog – and I’ll also start posting pages from a new book effort I’m working on titled “The Artist and the Psychiatrist”.

And here is a photo of me working on a to-scale drawing….

DrawingStevesComm