the art technique of attention

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, books, drawing as thinking, ebook, fine art, illustration, mental health, story, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking, writing and illustrating

I’ve been very busy getting ready for a one-person fine art exhibit at Caplan Art Designs that will open in September. (So my social media activity has slacked off lately.) Around the edges of creating new fine artwork, framing, paperwork and so forth I’ve been working towards a new print edition of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”.

This story from the First Aid Kit has been a good reminder of an art technique I try to practice daily – even when I’m busy:

Attention

Even when I’m very busy I practice taking a moment within my day, wherever I am, in the here-and-now and pay attention to my 5 senses. I try to let go of any preconceived conceptions, to just expand my awareness. I also include, in this exercise, paying attention to my free-associations and my imagination during my 5-senses check-in moment. I’ll note my sensory experience and “watch”, like you’d watch television, the memories, thoughts and associations that cross my mind as a result of the sensory experience.  I’ll often make notes in my sketchbook.

What I “get” for my payment – when I pay attention – is the power to choose what to focus on when I’m at my art easel working.

This practice of paying attention to both sensory input and the content of my mind –  is a version of what Betty Edwards wrote about in her book “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain” – in the section where she talks about chairs. How (and I’m paraphrasing) a drawing student first attempting to draw a chair will substitute their knowledge about chairs (4 legs, a square seat and back) and will draw a child-like symbol of a chair. One has to learn to see the shapes of the spaces around the chair as well as the shapes of the chair itself – what is actually seen (3 legs, a trapezoid shaped seat and back).

I find too often – especially when I’m busy – I’m substituting my “knowledge” about the world, my preconceptions, for what “is” in the world. So I find it helpful to practice seeing the shapes of spaces, so to speak, in my sensory experience of the world. And to see the shapes of spaces within my own mind.

Paying attention allows me to merge real-world phenomenon with my mental life and to choose to communicate, via art, in ways that are helpful, playful and fun.

Currently “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” only exists in e-book form. But as I said above, I’m working on that. This book has had such a profound impact on my own creative life that I want to have another print version around.

books and readers everywhere and in my sketchbook too

A Creative Life, art exhibit, artist book, artistic inspirations, Books In Art, drawing as thinking, ebook, kitchen art, reading in art, recipe illustration, sketchbook, visual thinking

One of the many things I love about the Pacific Northwest are the indie bookstores and all of the people I see reading. Almost every time I’m in town I see people reading printed books in coffeeshops, in cafes, in the park, in the library, in line at the post office, waiting for the bus and even while walking down the sidewalk.

For example here’s a sketchbook page (left side) I did just after passing by the lobby of one of the downtown apartment-plexes. There’s a lobby on the first floor and a guy was sitting in a chair reading with his dog on his lap. (I added the cat – just for fun.)

I did the other page (on the right) on the same walk, but just after walking past a café window where a lady was having a dessert and coffee. The book she was reading was about the same small size as her cake! So I had to note that!

ArmchairBook

Below are several more pages from my “running around loose” sketchbook (a book I take with me when I go to town) as well as a few from my “kitchen sketchbook” (a book I keep in my kitchen at home to doodle in while I wait for water to boil etc.)

These pages – and my many other sketchbook pages full of readers and books – have been feeding my current  “reading and books in art” fine art series that I’ve been posting about in my last several posts. This series of paintings is for an upcoming exhibit. Plus books are a fun topic for me to use in my artistic practice to, well, practice.

I’m still thinking hard about my notion of nesting ideas (like the way one book refers to another book etc.) and this week I’ve added a twist; in past years to accompany my fine art exhibits I’ve included ebook versions of my sketchbooks. What if this year, instead of an ebook, I did a limited edition printed book? And what if it was a book that collected some of my sketches of human readers and possibly included some of my poems/short stories?  So that the poem/story related to the human reader, what they might be reading and also to the fine art?  It would be a way for me to include the story alluded to within my recent painting Epic Tales Of The Pug King for example.

Hmmm…  I’ll keep thinking. And I’ll probably post some of my human reader sketches/illustrations here too and see what you think.

Oh, and to add another layer to my nesting-ideas concept, over on my Instagram page I’m occasionally posting books I’m currently reading.

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 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

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:

vanriverwalk72

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.

 

 

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