what the sheet music became

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, music in art, Sue Draws Dogs, visual story, visual thinking

In my last post I told a bit about using sheet music in my fine art – you can see more about that and a photo of work-in-progress here: https://sueclancy.com/2017/04/27/sheet-music-in-fine-art/

While I worked I thought of the music and musicians that I’m honored to know personally – those I get to hear in small places, like cafe’s and homes – where I get to be surrounded by their music, love and friendship…

And here is what the work-in-progress, many more layers of paper and all those thoughts has become:

SurroundSound72

I’ve titled it “Surround Sound” – it’s 8 x 10 inches – made with hand dyed papers, handmade paste paper and “found papers” (the sheet music my musician friend gave me).

Now it has to dry before I can varnish it and get it ready for exhibit.

 

sheet music in fine art

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art techniques, artistic inspirations, books, creative thinking, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art

I’ve been creating fine art towards a one-woman exhibit in June at Burnt Bridge Cellars, a winery in Vancouver WA.  I’ve also been going to music events and cafe’s when I can. These kinds of events have been inspiring lots of the artwork I’ll have at the exhibit.  You can see some of my sketch-work towards my exhibit in my book: “Dogs by Sue Clancy” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

Also a musician friend gave me some old sheet music. I’ve been using it in my mixed media cut paper collages along with my hand-dyed papers – and I intend to do so with this piece too…

Here’s what’s on my work table:

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what is art for and 3 ways to find out

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, mental health, Sustainable creativity

Professional artist’s ask themselves “what is art for?” and answer it for themselves because that helps us know why we’re doing what they are doing. And knowing this helps you keep on course.

Here’s a sketchbook page from a time when I was examining this question:

ArtGenresPurpose

For me “art is for” good mental health practice – and to provoke a smile, a chuckle.  To quote from my book Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit “When a negative thought enters your mind just say (inwardly) ‘STOP’. It’s your brain, your mind and you have every right to think the thoughts you want…. Don’t let a negative thought ever finish its sentence…. How many ‘STOP’s are enough? As many as it takes. It is also helpful to keep a list of positive things that you enjoy thinking about or doing, like books/reading, walking… going to art exhibits… playing tennis… and after inwardly saying ‘STOP’ switch your focus to something positive and enjoyable.” (https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit)

So my goal as a professional artist became to create fine art, books and other objects that are positive and enjoyable for other people to see – switch focus to – and that are also  positive and enjoyable for me to create.  I decided that the genres of “animal painting” and “genre painting” best fit this goal.  For short I call this goal to “feed the good wolf”.

To make sure you know what I mean by that here’s a cartoon excerpt from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”

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

But how exactly did I get to a defined goal, a “purpose” for my art?

  1. I went to lots of art galleries and museums. I read a lot of books. I listened to other people talk about what they enjoyed. Anywhere and everywhere I went I made a quick note of what interested me or fed my “good wolf” in a book that I kept with me at all times.
  2. I looked for art supplies and other opportunities to “test the theory” of whether or not something really did feed my good wolf. For example at one time I thought creating sculpture would be “good wolf food” for me – but I discovered that it was too physically difficult and in the process of creating sculpture I ended up cursing a lot. So after some time spent trying metal sculpture I nixed that one from the “good wolf food” list.
  3. I played with the genres and arts categories while making a note of my responses emotionally, physically, mentally.  By “play” I mean I casually went to art exhibits,  looked at objects in a store or on-line that fit the genre/category, I tried the genres at home and all the while I noted my gut response – did it feed my ‘good wolf’? Did it make me smile and want to “share it” in some way with a person I love? What is it about that art/object that excites me? Then I list those qualities and pursue them in my own projects!  (As I mentioned above it turned out that the animals-in-art genre fit me well!)

Speaking of projects –  here’s a very new project for me that fits with my “feed good wolves” goal: I’ve begun designing for iPhone cases, Laptop skins, wall clocks, comforters and many other tech and household objects. (If you noticed that these items fit in the genres of  ‘animals in art”, ‘genre painting’ and ‘media arts’ you get a gold star sticker!)  The link to my newest project: https://society6.com/sueclancy – and here below are a few examples.

 

fine art commission Bailey At The Lake

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Dogs in Art

Creating “Bailey At The Lake” By Sue Clancy

(this art commission project was handled by the Downtown Art & Frame gallery in Oklahoma)

Almost 9 years ago I did an art exhibit and someone saw it. Almost 9 years later they remembered my artwork and contacted me wanting me to do a portrait of their dog! (Lucky me!)  After conversation and photos were exchanged I did 2 sketches and some color samples. They selected one of my sketches and they liked the color scheme so I got started on the art!

I dyed handmade papers –  first for the color samples and then I dyed still more handmade papers for the “nuances” of color papers that would be cut up make up each element within the artwork.

Here’s a photo of me dying paper. Each handmade paper starts out white – the colors and patterns you’ll see I put onto the white paper using various processes. This paper dying process was repeated with many different colors using several different paper-dying techniques.  Only one photo of this process is here so I can keep this document brief.

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Below is the “basic” color scheme that was approved.  Then I set about making dyed papers that were the same colors but shades lighter or darker than each of these.  So about 26 papers got dyed. (and a few extra)

Each paper was much larger than the area I intended to use it for because I layer multiple pieces on top of each other to build up the color.

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When all of the dyed papers were dry I cut out the overall basic shapes from each “local color”

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DSC_0002 (4)I glued each of those cut paper shapes to each other – and generally began the layering process….

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Some paper layers go on top, others interlock with each other, some go behind and others on top of what’s on top – basically I design for both 2D and 3D space. To create this art work, I use an Xacto knife to cut out the shapes I need – sometimes scissors.  A tin tray holds the cut pieces – and I use a miniature spatula and several kinds of tweezers to position the paper shapes in the correct position…. Lots of archival glue and glue brushes are used… then a roller to roll it all flat.

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Then I glue the basic cut paper shapes onto the board – layering what goes behind first and slowly building up.

Lake1on

OnBoard

When all of the “base papers” are on the board it is allowed to dry for several days.  Then I begin to layer more cut dyed paper shapes on top of what is dry on the board.  This next photo is of me starting that layering process – adding the cut paper “nuances” of color and shape.

MorePaper

StillMorePaper

And so it goes for quite some time… I’m skipping ahead now and the following photo shows how it looked when I had gotten it to a stage where it had to dry a few days before I could do more detail work.  And yes, in this photo below you can see the sketch that got approved – and some of the many photos of the real-life dog that the client sent to me for reference.

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Once the above stage was dry – I cut and layered in more cut paper shapes.  While working I looked a lot like I did in the earlier photo: tweezers and cut paper in one hand a glue-y glue brush in the other.  I would cut the shapes I needed out of the correctly colored paper using an Xacto knife, lay those cut paper pieces in a tin tray, step to my easel use the tweezers to pick up the cut paper piece, load my brush with glue and apply … and so it went. But I’m keeping this document brief… so please repeat in your mind, a gajillion times, that earlier photo of me with tweezers and glue.

In the photos below you can see that I’ve layered on many more nuances and details since those photos above.

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As you can see my dyed cut paper shapes go around all 4 edges of the board.

The above stages have to dry a while before I can do any finishing touches.

Well, I got so excited when things were dry that I got right to work and finished the artwork without taking any more progress photos. Ah well.

Here it is finished:

“Bailey At The Lake”  By Sue Clancy

6 x 6 inches – Hand dyed paper, handmade paper, handmade paste paper and acrylic on cradled board.

BaileyAtTheLake72

 

 

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.

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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

Dogs in bathrooms what art is for and Irish stew

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, books, comfort food, Dogs in Art, ebook, fine art, mental health, sketchbook suppers, words and pictures

When my new artist book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” came out (mid Feb 2017) I showed an advance copy to a dear friend who said “I hope this won’t offend you but this would be a perfect bathroom book!”

Of course I wasn’t offended! In fact I think bathrooms are the perfect place for good art and fun/funny books! I think this because of what I think art is for: art is for practicing good mental health skills. Art and books can be mood setters. In a bathroom a person can take a few deep breaths and re-center themselves, re-set their mental mood.

I’ve worked in the genres of “animals in art” and “dogs in art” because of my thoughts about what art is for… but enough about philosophy of art. It’s Saint Patrick’s day! Happy St. Pat’s!!

Here to celebrate and/or up-lift your mood is a page from my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

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Because it’s St. Pat’s – and because the studio of an artist with an Irish sur-name must have sustenance – here is one of my favorite “chop, toss in a pot and let it cook ’till you’re ready to eat it” recipes from my sketchbook:

DublinCoddle172

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

 

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.

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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”:

pierre72

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.

 

collecting coffee cups and recipes

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, fine art, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, travel art and writing

Spent a self indulgent morning drinking Irish coffee and reading newspapers, magazines and books – and discussing what I read with my sweetie. Life doesn’t get better that that! I also collected the dishes. Meaning that I went through my various sketchbooks and collected drawings I’d done of coffee cups. Drawings I’d done when we went to various coffee shops or happy hours and had coffee drinks. In my fine artwork I often depict my dogs or cats drinking coffee or tea – so I thought it’d be good to have a collection of “dishes” all in one place to pull from when it’s time to make fine art.

Here’s one page of my coffee cup collection. There are many more pages filled with cups … but one page will give you the idea.

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page from Sue Clancy’s sketchbook

Here below is a “raw” sketchbook page from which I collected one of the coffee cup shapes that was  collected into one of my other “all cups together” sketchbook pages – but the above cups came from “raw” sketchbook pages too.  I say “raw” pages because these small sketchbooks fit in my pocket and are drawn on the fly as life happens. I’ll refine them or re-draw them later.

mnttaborbakery

page from Sue Clancy’s “raw” pocket sketchbook

Living here in the Pacific Northwest I’ve been fascinated with the variety of coffee drinks available as well as the kinds of cups the drinks are served in. Did you know that there are some 44 different coffee drink types? I didn’t until I started noticing. I’ve not tried them all yet but I have learned to ask my barista questions. Learned a lot that way! And of course while I’m drawing in my sketchbook I write down the recipes as told to me – and then, if I try to make it at home I’ll note in my sketchbook my favorite mix. I think of it as part of my on-going “know thyself” self-education program. The recipes make their way into my fine art too – just less obviously. Here’s my favorite recipe for Irish Coffee.

IrishCoffee

recipe for Irish Coffee made as Sue Clancy likes it

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.