the tale of Heroes Journey

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art exhibit, public art, published art, words and pictures

Today I gave a speech during the unveiling of my public art piece for Salmon Creek Journal and Washington State University Vancouver.  The artwork is titled “Heroes Journey”.  Here’s a full image of it (up till now I’ve only been posting teaser bits on my blog) and below the image is more-or-less the text of my speech. I adlibbed bit.  And below the speech are two statements I was asked to write for this project; One is about “Heroes Journey” and the other is a document related to the days event at WSU.  I include them here for additional information’s sake.

 

HeroesJourney72

Heroes’ Journey
By Clancy 
22 x 30 inches – Ink, watercolor, color pencil and acrylic – framed

Speech (roughly) for Oct 4th Dis(covering) Ability event by Sue Clancy

 

Thank you, Amanda, Sky and Washington State University Vancouver, for asking me to create something to help you celebrate Dis(covering) Ability – and diversity today!

I’ve created an art piece for you titled “Heroes’ Journey”.

To create this piece, I consulted both my inner world and the external real world of the WSU Vancouver campus.

When Amanda contacted me about possibly doing this for you I began thinking of what parts of my inner world might be relevant for this project.

Here are parts of my inner world that I pulled from:

As a Deaf kid growing up in Oklahoma in the 1970’s I didn’t know any other deaf kids – or even any deaf grownups and I didn’t see myself, or any deaf people in any of the storybooks.  Books were very important to me. Television was not closed captioned back then and I didn’t become aware of subtitled movies until I went to college. So, for my grade-school self, books were my link to the wider world. As an 8 year old kid I asked the school librarians and the public librarians for books with deaf people in them. One librarian finally came up with a book on Helen Keller.  The book was slightly above my reading level and it only had a few black and white photographs – but I read it anyway. While I appreciated the librarian finding the book my 8 year old self found Helen Keller to be terribly old-fashioned.  Where was the action? The adventure? The fun? I decided to create my own storybooks with my own characters. I began making small hand drawn books and learning about creating stories, and drawing people and action as realistically as I could. I traded my little books with my grade-school classmates for pencils, erasers and crayons.  In the process of growing my “subscriber list” I learned that other kids didn’t see themselves in books either. So I included them in my stories. The school-yard bullies became the villains in my books. My books (zines really) were popular with some of the kids and not so popular with some adults.

Another element of my inner world: Fast forward to the mid 1980’s: I went to the University of Oklahoma on art scholarships and I was working as a graphic designer/ photographer. Still college was expensive so I also sold my fine artwork and freelance illustrated every chance I could.

At one art exhibit Dr. Bob Hoke, a psychiatrist, and his wife Penny bought some of my fine artwork and commissioned me to make a companion piece to the one they bought. Over the course of working on that project Dr. Bob asked me to illustrate some of his teaching stories that he used in his “Emotional Repair” seminars. One of his stories that I illustrated became my favorite. I’ll tell it to you now because it has direct bearing on this artwork I’ve done for you. The story goes like this: Once upon a time there was a grandfather who was asked to entertain the kids. He gathered all the kids around and said “Kids, inside every one of us are 2 wolves and they fight. One wolf is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.  The other wolf is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, charity, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, patience, goodness, gentleness, self-control and faithfulness.” Then the grandfather was silent. After a bit one of the littlest kids asked “Gran’pa, which wolf wins?” The old man replied “The one that you feed.”

From Dr. Bob (psychiatrist, medical science guy) I learned that human brains often respond better to stories than they do to flat statements however factual and true the flat statement may be.  Telling a person “You’re being mean” is likely to be met with resistance because people, no matter how cruel their actions, often don’t think of themselves as “mean”. But a story-like description of how someone can be impacted by an act of meanness – or a story description of people treating people kindly – may have a better chance of getting the point across.

Around that time I began to consider using animal characters in my artwork rather than realistic-looking people so as to be more literary than literal in my depictions of the way I see the world.

Also Dr. Bob had a deaf brother named Dick. I finally got to meet another real-live deaf person! I asked Dick for suggestions of how to deal with being a deaf person in a hearing college/world. He encouraged me to create my own support network in college, including making use of professor’s office hours – to focus on my allies and work with them – to respond to any bullies I might encounter by leaning on my support network and going on and living well.

A 3rd element of my inner world: When I started college in 1986 I joined the GLBA social club – Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance – the rest of the alphabet had not been discovered yet. Remember this was the 1980’s. The world was just becoming aware of HIV and AIDS.  The GLBA group – which wasn’t allowed to meet on the OU campus – partnered with ACT UP, a world-wide Aids awareness group formed in 1987 – a chapter of which met in nearby Oklahoma City. At the time – in the 1980’s – gay people were regularly shunned from their biological families (I was). Gay people risked expulsion from school, eviction from apartments, being fired from their jobs and being denied healthcare.  Most of all they risked being beaten up, shot and killed – and their cases not fully investigated by the police.  In the face of all of that ACT UP was focusing on empowerment, urging us to come out, to be visible, to tell our stories, to write poems, create plays, write essays, to have polite conversations, to make music events, fashion shows, art exhibits and to sew quilts. We were encouraged to get creative and find ways to remind people that gay people were still human, we were still sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and coworkers.  We were encouraged to form our own families of choice, to form alliances, to care for each other. We were encouraged to fight injustice not with violence or shouts but with love, friendship and stories.

That is some of my inner world which I took with me to meet the external world of Amanda and Sky and the WSU Vancouver campus. During our meeting I took notes from what Amanda and Sky said, my wife – who has better hearing than I do – also took notes. We went on a campus tour. I took well over 45 photographs.  Some of the things that I noted were: that WSU Vancouver is a commuter campus, it’s people-focused, campus is on a hill, you can see distant mountains (on a clear day), there are clear lines of sight from most areas on campus, there’s a walking trail around campus, lots of trees, a network of squirrels, the gridded columns on some of the buildings…  I also learned that the mascot is a cougar and that Clark College is a major “feeder” school.  After our campus tour was over I asked the Ambassador who’d led our tour what kind of animal he’d be if he were an animal. “A Squirrel!” He said.

Back at my studio I consulted my inner world: I looked at all of my photographs. I read my notes and my wife’s notes and in a bound sketchbook I worked on possible designs and possible characters that might reflect aspects of the external world, meet the project needs and also include my inner world. There’d be a cougar, a penguin and a squirrel – and who else??…  I also sat and brainstormed listing in my sketchbook word associations (so to speak):  commuter campus, hill top, grids (tile/brick), sight lines, mountain views, squirrel network, groups of people from all over the world.  All of these concepts pointing toward “travel” “movement” or “Journey” – which led me to think of what I know of story formation – specifically the archetypal story format.

Heroes Journey is an archetypal story – a plot style – has been used from Homer to Star Wars and nearly everything in between. It generally goes like this: very different characters meet, somehow they get a mutual goal, as they work toward the goal they learn about themselves, each other, they discover ways of working together and somewhere along the way they form a community.

The physical attributes, flaws, strengths, weaknesses of individual characters play a role in driving the plot and those things drive the discovery of what’s important and how to listen to and work with each other.  In fiction at least the characters individual traits, once discovered or accepted, eventually become an asset to the success of the journey.

In my artwork design – because it was said that people are the focus of campus – I created a crowd as the focal point and designed the crowd as an overall shape. For obvious reasons I made the Cougar the tallest character, Penguin (Clark College mascot) is another big character.  I balanced those two large characters with a large Dalmatian dog. The attributes of those animals led to my choices of the other animals. All of the animal characters have obvious and not obvious abilities –  If this were a storybook as readers we would discover their abilities as the characters did within the unfolding story. Since this is a fine art piece and a single visual story panel so to speak I’m working with your imagination and your knowledge of animals/animal zoology to tell my visual story.  Just as you can’t tell by looking at a person how smart or kind they are – you can’t tell by looking at one of my animals exactly what capabilities they have you only have hints.  This is my way of reminding us that all we have of each other are hints – to really know another person we have to allow for discovery time, an unfolding of words and actions over time to reveal who we are.  We create the world, the community, together.

After I got my characters developed and lightly sketched onto my “good paper” I asked my friend and next-door neighbor Kevin to come and look. Kevin knows local sports better than I do and I didn’t want to accidentally put in some rival sports team colors.  He looked carefully and declared me good to go.

So with the animal characters now in place I put the setting – real world elements pulled from my campus observations – around the crowd but adjusted to emphasize the journey/potential community formation.  Then I spent many days working on the characters and the setting to deepen the colors and the details.

 I used watercolor, Sumi ink, color pencil and acrylic on handmade paper.  To get my lines and angles this way I used a large 20 inch triangle, some rulers and French curves. I worked in my studio on a large easel. I also worked in a bound sketchbook to develop my idea and the individual characters before transferring my idea and characters to the “good paper” on my easel.

There, now in the external world exists an art piece from my inner heart called “Heroes Journey”.  As you take it with you on your journey remember to feed the good wolves along the way.

Thank you for listening.  Are there any questions?


About “Heroes’ Journey” by Sue Clancy

I think each of us are the hero of our own lives. We’re also the author of our own stories as communities and individuals. As an artist, I practice the art of telling stories in a variety of media. I study how to craft a tale.

For example, I’m familiar with two fiction story device/situations: absurd characters in a normal world or normal characters in an absurd world.

Well, life being stranger than fiction I see another story device: a disabled character in an able-bodied world.

Many fiction stories are archetypal “journey tales”: Characters meet, they travel and encounter villains and obstacles. Along the way they form a family, a community or somehow agree to work together to meet a goal.

Attributes of each character often play a story-role. These attributes may be physical qualities, mental abilities or life experiences. Somewhere along the journey each character discovers some strength they didn’t know they had at the start.

What if one (or more) of the characters were differently abled? How would that affect the story?

As a deaf kid growing up in Oklahoma I did not see stories with deaf kids in them. Certainly not as the story hero or as a subject for fine art. I realized that many other people – differently abled, as well as different ethnicities did not see themselves in stories or fine art either.  I knew I could draw well so I began to create visual stories, graphic novel type stories, and fine artworks that featured many “different” kinds of people as characters.  I created fine artwork that depicted, somewhat realistically, people who were “different” i.e. not always white or heterosexual or male or able bodied.

Some people loved my work. Other people sent me hate mail, threatened me at grocery stores or at my art openings.

Over time I realized that the people who sent me hate mail were scared by my idea that literal diversity is a beautiful and normal part of life. They were scared by the idea of different kinds of humans sharing the same pictorial space. But these same people were okay with diversity at dog parks, or in children’s books. They were okay with the fact that not all of the dogs looked alike, they were okay that in a kid’s book there could be a cat character talking with a mouse character.

I also learned that sometimes the best way to get a complex idea – especially a potentially scary idea – across was to use metaphors and tell stories that were literary rather than literal.

As a Deaf person in a Hearing world I often have to “read between the lines” – observe body language and actions over time to understand a speaker – so I decided that I would use animal characters in a wordless fashion and leave it to my viewers to “read between the lines”.  I would continue to talk about diversity but using animals to depict the possibility of humans getting along, traveling together, enjoying life and along the way discovering that our differences are potential strengths.

That’s what I’ve done with my artwork for “Dis(covering) Ability” – used visual metaphors – I’ve titled my artwork “Heroes’ Journey”. I’m sure you can see why.


Dis(covering)ability: Equity Equality and Justice – statement by Sue Clancy

A friend of mine has a t-shirt that says “Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It’s not pie.”  I want one. The shirt nicely sums up my perception of the difference between equity and equality.

Equity, the quality of being fair and impartial, is when you’re trying to fairly divide a Chocolate Cream Pie between pie-eating friends. Equality is accepting your friends as they are, an awareness that not all of your friends want the pie. Some want only the ice cream. And that is okay. They are not “lesser” friends because they don’t want the pie. There may even be – gasp – a friend who doesn’t want either pie or ice cream because they had a 4th slice of the pizza and are quite full now thank you.  That friend – if you’re trying to give both equity and equality to all – is given just as big a hug at the end of the evening as the other pie eaters.

Now that we’re full of pizza, pie or ice cream I ponder the question of how artists help support and establish equity in the community thru pairing messages and their creative works. The shortest answer I have is “we do our best”.  My longer answer is to tell you a story:  Once upon a time there was a grandfather who was asked to entertain the kids. He gathered all the kids around and said “Kids, inside every one of us are 2 wolves and they fight. One wolf is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.  The other wolf is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, charity, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, patience, goodness, gentleness, self-control and faithfulness.” Then the grandfather was silent. After a bit one of the littlest kids asked “Gran’pa, which wolf wins?” The old man replied “The one that you feed.”

We artists provide our communities with “wolf food”; stories, essays, art objects, movies, music – all kinds of creative things and experiences – and artists can help support equity/equality in our communities by being very careful about which wolf we feed. Artists are not the only people who feed wolves by the way.

What facet of my identity as an artist makes me unique? I’m content to let other people define for themselves what they think makes me unique. It’s their story about me. Personally, I don’t worry much about being “unique”. I’m just me and my job is to be the best “me” and the best artist I can be. But since I suspect the question is really fishing for what qualities or definitions are often applied to me here is a list: funny, charming, cute, silly, smart, Deaf, gay, animal-lover, artist, un-apologetic sketchbook user, dog and cat lover, reader, book-lover who practices cooking as a hobby. I think it’s important to enjoy daily life and art-creating is my way of doing that. Also, I think participating in the arts (either as a creator or a viewer) can be a way of practicing good mental health skills. Some people have called these opinions of mine “unique” and sometimes “odd”.

How can we actively create change as a student or community member in furthering an inclusive campus that welcomes people of all abilities?  Smile. Say ‘hello’. Listen. Do your best to refrain from pre-deciding about people – or pie – based only on appearances. Be willing to watch a person’s actions and words over time and then decide if being around them feeds your good wolf. Be open and curious about everyone and everything. Choose love. Figure out ways to keep love in your heart. And enthusiasm. In short – feed the good wolf.

And if you know where I can get one of those t-shirts – please tell me. Thank you.


P.S. To support this project and because I thought it would be fun I’ve created some art prints with this image. You can find the prints (and some travel mugs because I liked the pun on “Heroes Journey”) by looking for “Heroes Journey” here https://society6.com/sueclancy/prints

You can see my illustrations (spoken about in the speech) and get more information about “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” by searching Amazon for the ebook or clicking here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

 

progress on public art piece

A Creative Life, art commissions, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, fine art, public art, publications - publishing, visual thinking, words and pictures

In my last blog posts I’ve been talking about one of my current projects: I’m doing an illustration, a public art piece and giving a speech for Salmon Creek Journal and Washington State University.

Here are a series of photos, covering a several week span of time, showing my progress. In general my process was to do short spurts of work on one area, let it dry, come back do a bit more…slowly building over time.  My sweetie randomly came in to my studio and took these photos as I worked.

First I took all of my character/species/size research and the characters I developed from my research (detailed in my last blog post here) and I laid out my crowd shapes using a watercolor pencil. Then I begin to fill them in. Since I’m taking my own advice about drawing crowds (blog post with that info is here) I’m beginning with one of my main characters and the crowd shape that character is in.  That’s what you see in the photo below.

AtWk1

I’m using watercolor pencils, watercolor and ink on handmade paper. It’s risky – one stray bit of ink and – crikey! I’m living dangerously and loving it! In the photo below I’m filling in more characters.

AtWk2

Now (below) you can tell I’ve been working a while. It’s getting (pun intended) crowded. So to help myself make sure I’m putting additional characters in the correct spots – since things are getting tighter – I’ve taped some of my preliminary character sketches above where I’m working on the finished artwork so I can work from them. You can see some of my preliminary drawings at the top of this photo below.

AtWk3

In the next photo all of the characters are now in place and I’m starting to work on the background. This doesn’t mean the characters are finished. It just means I’ve gotten them to a certain point of development. As I work on the background I’ll pop back to work on a characters details, colorings and shadings to make it more distinct.

AtWk4

Below, you can see my progress on the background. There is, however, a lot more work to be done.

AtWk5

And here I’m going to stop posting on this project for a while as I’ve now caught up with Amanda The Editor.  I’ll post more later about this project when possible.

You can see some of Amanda’s posts about this project via the following links that contain details about the event where I’ll be speaking (including a bit of a statement from me) as well as a call for additional submissions for the magazine: https://orgsync.com/26883/news_posts/230672 and https://orgsync.com/26883/forms/275549

public art a magazine illustration and a speech

A Creative Life, art commissions, artistic inspirations, business of art, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, public art, publications - publishing, visual story, visual thinking

I can now talk publicly about one of my current projects: I’m doing an illustration, a public art piece and giving a speech for Salmon Creek Journal and Washington State University!  The unveiling of the public artwork, and my speech, will be in October. And the magazine illustration will flow from that. Here’s how it all began:

You know I’m deaf right? Well some time back now at one of my local libraries I gave a drawing demo and signed copies of my book “Dogs by Sue Clancy”.  During the demo, (picture me wearing an apron, ink brush in hand, art materials surrounding me on a table and an ever flowing/ebbing group of people watching and asking me questions) a woman walked confidently up to my table.  To my Deaf ears she said “I’m glad to see you! My name is Amanda Xbmlsnn and I’m the editor for Whelngfm Fumeek Ourmrnal magazine. I’d like to talk to you about fmesryulm tjosun. Are you on social media?”  I replied “Yes, I’m on social media. My cards have my contact info. What did you say…” “Great!” said the lady, grabbing one of every card I had on the table “I’ll contact you!”  Off she went. Someone else asked me a question and the rest of the day flew by with a whooshing sound.

A few hours later when the day was done my sweetie came to help me pack up my art materials to leave the library. “How did your day go?” she asked. “Very good – but, darn my ears, I met an editor from a magazine and I didn’t hear her name or even the name of the magazine!!” I said feeling slightly frustrated. Sweetie, knowing that editors are some of my favorite people on the planet, commiserated with me. Feeling somewhat soothed I sighed “I’ll just have to hope she gets in touch with me.”

We went out for a restorative dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

When I next checked my computer I had an email, a Twitter message, a Facebook message and an Instagram message all from Amanda The Editor of Salmon Creek Journal!

There was a lot of subsequent discussion via messages, but in short, the magazine (Salmon Creek Journal – SCJ) wanted to select one community submission to feature in both a gallery showcase and their 2018 print issue – and my work was what they wanted to be the “one community submission”!  The projects relates to a program called “Dis(covering)ability” – so me being Deaf was a virtue…

We arranged for a face to face meeting at the Washington State University (WSU)campus. I brought my camera and took about 45 photographs for my own use as I created my artwork. I took lots of handwritten notes as Amanda The Editor and several other people talked about the campus, about their project and what artwork they hoped for from me.  (My kind of artwork; my use of elements of a physical place etc. was what they wanted! And they wanted me to come give a speech…) Sweetie came with me to the meeting and took notes too. (After such meetings Sweetie and I compare our notes and many of my hearing gaps are nicely filled in!)

Here are a few of the photos I took during the meeting. Sharp-eyed followers of this blog will probably see a correlation between these pics and my finished artwork – which I’ll post eventually. (I mustn’t get ahead of Amanda The Editor in the posting/promo about this project. So I’ll be following her lead on when to post what…)

Since the students are the focus of the SCJ magazine and of the WSU campus – and the focus of the event “Dis(covering)ability” itself – I focused on creating an artistic design that emphasizes the people yet has a flavor of a specific to WSU place. I also wanted to imply a story in my wordless way of movement, of the discovery of sky’s-the-limit ability.

During our meeting on campus I was told that most of the WSU students first experience of campus is on a tour. They said that the fountain was a regular meeting place for students.  As we walked about campus during the project meeting I saw lots of squirrels chasing each other, and birds flying about. I noticed that many of the buildings had a similar brick/tile pattern. All of these observations – and many more – were recorded in my notes.

Back at my studio I looked through my photos and my notes – and Sweeties notes – and I began drawing thumbnails for an overall design. Then I did research to determine the average-height of the characters to be included in the artwork and designing the overall crowd shape.  (In my last post, here, I wrote my tips for drawing crowds.)

Here are a few photos of me at work:

In this pic I’m consulting one of my “animal encyclopedias” and comparing height of various species and listing/drawing a possible grouping.  (Yes, that’s my dachshund on my lap ‘helping’ me work.)

CrowdSizeResearch

In the pic below I’m developing some of the characters that I’d settled on in the first photo. I did lots and lots of drawings of characters in order to settle what they’d be wearing, how they’d stand, who they’d be standing next to and what kind of expression they might have on their face.

CharacterDev72

Days, if not weeks, went by filled with regular work like what is photographed above. My “SCJ/WSU” sketchbook for this project is, by now, almost completely full of notes and sketches.

Here, for fun, is another page of sketches:

MoreCharacters72

As per my arrangement with Amanda The Editor I kept in touch with her and sent almost daily photos of my progress. Some of which she posted on the SCJ social media pages – and others she kept for possible posting later.

So I’ll stop this blog post here for now and see what Amanda The Editor does next. Besides it’s almost time for my supper.  But before I go here is a photo, taken during our on-campus meeting, of Sweetie, Me and Amanda The Editor.

3ofUs

 

 

the art of planning

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, Dogs in Art, visual story

When I work on art commissions I cannot imagine telling a prospective client that “It’s gonna be great! Just Yuge! Believe me!” and then refuse to give any details regarding the project plans. I and each of my gallery owners describe in detail what the client can expect at every phase of the art project being asked of me and when they can expect it. Questions are answered as completely as possible as soon as possible.

The ability to unflinchingly describe plans for a project in easy-to-understand terms, to outline a proposal either verbally or in writing (or both), to answer questions, to give updates and to have “how-we-will-know-we-succeed” goal markers clearly marked is the very foundation of doing business. This is basic business plan/proposal 101 and expected of any person in business.

It is all the more important when the business is creative. Fine art (and all of it’s creative cousins) are notoriously subjective, mysterious and mystical – when viewed from the non-artists point of view. This means that clear communications about plans regarding artistic projects is crucial.  If the client can’t understand what you’ll be doing, and can’t explain it to their spouse or to their organization’s board – why would they commission you do do something artistic for their home, office or organization?

Since a certain U.S. president elect has been so vague regarding his plans for the country  I’ve begun to think that doing “basic business 101” and doing it well is an art and it may also be a revolutionary act.

So to aid, support and show solidarity with my fellow revolutionaries here are questions I ask myself that influence how I communicate my art project plan/proposals:

Why are you doing it/what do you hope to achieve? 

I like to help people preserve, via fine art, the story, the memory, of their life and relationship with their pet; dog or cat.  I often say that “I help people tell their stories visually”.  When talking with prospective clients I talk about this goal and a bit about how my art-making process works, how I use elements from the real-life of the client and dog. Since I work with a number of galleries many of the clients approach the idea of commissioning me to create something special for them already knowing this about my artwork process.

I (or the gallery) asks what the client hopes to get from my work, about the size of artwork the client wants and what fits in their budget.

What exactly will you be doing and approximately when?

During the first conversation we find out if the client wants one of my ink portraits, which has a more simple project plan/process, or if they want a color portrait.  Assuming  for the purposes of this blog that the client wants a color portrait then I (or my gallery owners) tell the client that I have a list of questions and a list of photos of their dog (for example) that I will need in order to create a full color portrait (like the color artwork you see here on my website).

Once those questions have been answered and the photos have been provided I’ll take about a month to create 2 designs for their approval.  A calendar date for our sketch-approval meeting is often set during this conversation. With the gallery as a mutual point of contact the client answers my questions and provides the photos of their pet.  After all of the answers/photos are received (usually within the first week) I set about creating 2 sketches to scale of the proposed finished work along with a set of “color swatches” to give them a tactile idea of my proposed color scheme.

Then, a month later, we meet (me, client and gallery owner) and I show my sketches and talk about the proposal.  Sometimes it’s happened that I deliver the sketches to the gallery and the gallery owner conducts the meeting (without me) to get approval from the client for one of the sketched proposals.  No matter who makes the presentation/proposal, I take care to label my sketches clearly, with color swatches taped into place so that everything is fairly self-explanatory. I allow the client to take a photo of the approved sketch at this time if they desire.

When doing public art commissions I’ve even included copies of the sketches or (as per request) color mock-ups that the client could then take and present to their organizations board.

When a sketch is approved I provide a date when the finished work will be delivered to the gallery.  I set this date far in advance of when I actually think it will be done – because sometimes there is weather that slows down drying time – so I would rather deliver something earlier than a client is expecting it than have to explain why it is late. And I tell the client I’m setting the delivery date out farther than I think it will be finished – and why I’m setting it that way.

Then I get to work.

The gallery is available if the client has any questions or wishes to have updates.  As I work photos of my project’s progress are taken. Those are provided to the gallery who shares them with the client.  At the end of a project I often use those “progress photos” and write a “how I made this” document that summarizes the entire project.

As you can imagine clear communication of plans and procedures  makes the process much smoother for everyone. Clients aren’t left wondering what I’m going to do to them instead of for them.

Here’s a photo of a commission I did some time ago now. The client was very happy with it! It’s titled “Preying for Peas”.  That title seems relevant just now.

preyingforpeas72

You can download a pdf “project summary” about the “Preying for Peas” project here:  https://sueclancy.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/aboutpreyingforpeas.pdf

easy easel eagerness

A Creative Life

I recently decided that I needed a new easel that would move up and down more easily. My current easel has two small “pins” that need to be unscrewed to allow the mast and the platform to move up or down.  As time has gone by those have gotten more and more difficult to work with – hard to unscrew, hard to keep level etc – and I don’t adjust the height of my work when I need to because it’s a pain to adjust things.  Which results in a pain in my neck, wrist or knees. So I eagerly looked for options and I’m happy to say that I’ve a new Sorg Easel ordered! http://www.studioeasel.com/ It was super easy to order this easel – David Sorg himself answered all my questions – and so I concluded that this easel is the one for me!  There’s an omg dream-worthy video of the Sorg Easel in operation on the studioeasel.com website.  I’m excited about the new easel and the possibility of being able to move my artwork up and down with a touch! Imagine that!?!  Here is a picture of me on my knees working at my old easel…

Sue Clancy working on a commission for the lobby of a children's center - using her current easel.

Sue Clancy working on a commission for the lobby of a children’s center – using her current easel.

Verrry Big Reveal

A Creative Life, public art

Last night was the unveiling party for my “Verry Big Project” – a public art project I did for the Curtis Children’s Justice Center (CJC) in Vancouver WA.

Here is a photo of the essential installation crew – who helped me put the artwork on the wall in the lobby of the CJC about a month ago – the full photo here shows all of  the artwork the previously posted pic only showed part of the artwork.

The crew who installed Sue Clancy's artwork in the Curtis Children's Justice Center - we had just finished installation

The crew who installed Sue Clancy’s artwork in the Curtis Children’s Justice Center – we had just finished installation

Then we covered the newly installed artwork with white paper and kids artwork to hide it until the party. It looked like this for almost a month while the CJC arranged for publicity and invited people for the party.BeforeUnveiling

Then last night about (and I’m guessing) 50 or so people came! (“About the right size crowd” someone said.) The CJC director talked a while. Then I talked for about 3 minutes. And the wall looked like this (without the white paper covering the art).

Going Places, Getting There (two panels of a diptych together in the lobby of the Curtis Children's Justice Center in Vancouver WA)

Going Places, Getting There (two panels of a diptych together in the lobby of the Curtis Children’s Justice Center in Vancouver WA)

After all of the talking was done we stood around drinking punch, chatting and eating cake. I got to meet a lot of wonderful heroes and say “thank you” to each of them!  Then we all went home.

A link to a great newspaper article in The Columbian about this project is here: http://www.columbian.com/news/2016/feb/08/child-abuse-survivor-hopes-her-artwork-calms-others/

For more information about what Dr. Bob Hoke taught me (referred to in the Columbian newspaper article) see my book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”. You can get a print version via my website here https://sueclancy.com/this-artist-studio/ or an eBook version here https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

verrry close

A Creative Life, art exhibit, fine art, public art, words and pictures

Getting even closer to the unveiling party for my “Verrry Big Project” – a 4 foot by 8 foot public art project I’ve done for the Curtis Children’s Justice Center! So here are some photos of me creating the artwork and a downloadable pdf file for people interested in the full details of my working process on this project.

About creating the Reception Area artworks

constructing a character out of cut handmade paper for a public art project

creating a dog character out of cut handmade paper for a public art project

creating a cat character out of cut handmade paper for a public art project

creating a cat character out of cut handmade paper for a public art project

Here is an additional link about this project. http://wp.me/p5wztb-e8

Pictures of the art installation are here: http://wp.me/p5wztb-da

This public artwork is dedicated in memory of Dr. Bob Hoke – see also https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

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)

Papillon172 Papillon272

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 https://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

 

 

 

 

why Humpty Dumpty fell

A Creative Life, fine art, illustration, public art, visual story

As mentioned on my blog here I’m in the middle of a “verry big project” – the art has been installed and now we’re waiting for the unveiling party to happen. In the meantime I’ve begun some new art projects and over lunch today I wondered, as I’m sure you did, about why Humpty Dumpty fell off of a perfectly decent wall. Here’s my illustration of what may have happened:

Why Humpty Dumpty Fell

Why Humpty Dumpty Fell