cozy mystery story stuff

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, Cats in art, Dogs in Art, fine art, music in art, small things, still life, story, visual story

In September at Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com I’m doing a one-person fine art exhibit titled “Story Stuff”. And you can thank the literary genre of the “cozy mystery” for it.

You see I enjoy detective novels and movies. I particularly enjoy cozy mystery novels because I like the inherent premise in them that a regular person living an ordinary mundane sort of life can use reason and logic to resolve problems.

After reading and watching a gazillion mystery stories – I realized how often some small object; a receipt, a coffee bag, or a whiskey tumbler is the clue that solves the mystery. That thought inspired me to try telling visual stories with “just stuff”. So for this exhibit I’ve selected things from my daily life and arranged them in my imagination, along with color, light and texture, in such a way that the viewer can deduce a story; they can “read” my visual description of how things are and which things matter. The viewer becomes the story detective/character-actor.

In some of my works I’ve also invented a character-actor – a cat or a dog – who plays a more obvious part in the story. Anthropomorphic animals are a way to make it plain that the artwork is a visual story. These particular animal characters are created and chosen because their breed characteristics add elements to the tale. The viewer is still the detective – there’s just more actors on stage.

I’m merging fine art techniques, and fine art genres of “Still Life” and “Animals in Art”, with literary and mystery genre concepts. I also love food, drinks and books – they are the elements of everyday Pacific Northwest life which for me is the stuff of stories.

Here’s (ahem) a short story collection from my upcoming exhibit:

coffee and conversations with friends

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, ebook, still life, story, words and pictures

I’ve been thinking of how essential friendly conversations are – and remembering a story Dr. Bob Hoke* once told. It went like this.

Once upon a time there was a king who was very busy from morning until evening chairing meetings and making decisions. When the king went home in the evening he wanted perfect silence; he didn’t talk to his very beautiful queen or his servants and he didn’t allow them to talk either. A no-talking policy reigned whether he was home or not. His queen was very unhappy and his servants didn’t stay in his employ long – even though the king was very rich and the queen and servants didn’t lack any material thing.

Eventually he noticed that his poorly paid chief advisor had a very happy wife. The advisor also had servants who had been in his employ for decades despite the fact that the advisor couldn’t pay them as well as others might.

The king attributed his advisors success in these relationships to sheer luck. One day the king demanded that the advisor swap. The advisor’s wife and servants went to live with the king. The king’s queen and servants went to live with the advisor.

A year went by. And the king noticed that most of the advisor’s former servants had left the king’s employment (despite their higher wages) and the advisor’s wife was now sad all the time. The king was also aware that his queen now laughed most of the time and his former servants, now in the poorly paid employment of the advisor, had stayed the entire year.

The king called his advisor and demanded “How have you done this?”.

“Your highness, almost every night I spend time asking everyone how their day had gone. I ask them how their children are. I listen to their hopes and dreams. I ask them to tell me stories and jokes. I tell them stories and jokes. I tell them about my day, my hopes and dreams.  Neighbors and friends often drop by to visit – whether I’m home or not – and we offer the visitors what little we have to eat or drink. We accept what they offer us. We also visit other people.” replied the advisor.

The king reversed the swap and though it took some time he eventually became a good conversationalist with his queen and current servants (who began to stay in his employ longer).  Above the entrance to his home, to help him remember, the king had a sign painter paint this phrase: “To be a good conversationalist is to have a good life.”

That’s the end of the story as I recall it. As I was remembering the story I painted this:

CoffeeWithFriends72

“Coffee With Friends” – by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches- acrylic and gouache on board

*Dr. Bob Hoke is the psychiatrist for whom I compiled and illustrated “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” (link to that book here https://store.bookbaby.com//bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit )

The story in this post was not included in the First Aid Kit because both Dr. Bob and I thought the “wife swapping” story element would be distracting within the book – even though it is a way within this particular story to demonstrate the point about conversation.

Ah well.

And in this still life artwork I experimented – swapped you might say – using a color I don’t use often: turquoise instead of the color I was tempted to reach for first. I feel I’m broadening my color-conversation skills at least.

the art of practice and a story inside

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, ebook, fine art, words and pictures

“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first” – Dr. Bob Hoke.  That quote is one of many from my book Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit that I’ve found helpful in my life as a professional artist. [a link to that book is here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit]

When I begin any commissioned portrait of someone’s special dog (or cat) I make a series of practice sketches of that breed before I attempt a likeness of the special dog. Yes, I’ve been doing these portraits for years but I still find it helpful to start with the basic characteristics of the breed. Then I can look at someone’s special dog and see what makes that dog unique.

I’m currently working on a commissioned portrait that has a schnauzer in it. Here are a couple of practice schnauzers (not pictured are about 5 other practice pieces).

Schultz72

Shultz by Clancy – ink on handmade paper

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Gustav by Clancy – ink on handmade paper

All of this talk of “practice” has reminded me of a story Dr. Bob told that is not in the above mentioned book. That story went like this:

Once there was an Emperor who had a pet rooster. He decided he wanted a portrait of his beloved rooster to be painted by the best artist in his land. One of the artists was invited to the palace and was asked to make the portrait.  The artist agreed, saying that he would need 3 months in order to do it. Then he would return to the palace and paint the portrait in front of the Emperor.  The Emperor was pleased. The artist went back to his studio and worked hard every day for 3 months. Then he returned to the palace, as agreed, with his art materials.  The Emperor had his pet rooster brought before the artist. The artist watched the rooster for a while and began to paint. In about 3 minutes the painting was finished. The Emperor was thrilled with the portrait and asked for the artist’s fee.  The artist named what sounded like a large sum. “What?!” bellowed the Emperor “That only took you 3 minutes to create! Why do you want so much money? Are you trying to swindle me?” The artist requested that the Emperor travel to his studio by way of a reply. Reluctantly the Emperor did so. When they arrived and the artist flung open the doors of his studio the Emperor saw thousands of rooster drawings. The artist described his work history and extensive training and while the Emperor marveled at all of the rooster portraits the artist added “The portrait of your rooster has actually taken me a lifetime to paint.”  The Emperor happily paid the artist’s fee.

You can see more of my dog practice work in my newest book “Dogs by Sue Clancy”  https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

 

 

Molly

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, fine art, poetry, words and pictures

I’ve been busy working on art commissions – and some extra special “dog-drawing-for-Christmas” requests – none of which I can talk about in public ’cause, you know, they’re somebody’s present!  So I took a very short time off from being one of Santa’s elves and did this short-narrative poem plus illustration practice:

Molly – By Sue Clancy –

Molly sat combing her hair

Tangles she had here and there

It took some might

But she set it a-right

Then got dressed and went dancing somewhere.

molly72

illustration and poem “Molly” by Sue Clancy

Ponder

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, illustration, poetry, words and pictures

Doing my short narrative – poem plus illustration – practice again. Perhaps I should call it “dog drawing plus words”?

Ponder – By Sue Clancy –

There once was a dog named Ponder

Who was full of curiosity and wonder

“What’s it like in the lea?

or for people at sea?

Oh what is it like over yonder?”

ponder72

Sketch and poem titled “Ponder” by Sue Clancy (drawing made with pen and ink)

 

Danny Joe

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, fine art, illustration, poetry, words and pictures

Today’s short narrative practice… original poem and art/illustration to follow:

Danny Joe – By Sue Clancy

There was an old dog named Danny Joe

who played a lively banjo

and sang folk songs

about rights and wrongs

and all the things a body should know

afewlicks72

art illustration to go with a poem by Sue Clancy called “Danny Joe” – the art is pen and ink on handmade paper

card times

A Creative Life, animals in art, illustration, poetry, words and pictures

Here’s some more short narrative practice, or poetry practice, or words plus pictures practice or if you want to be really accurate you could call it “Sue’s playing around again”.  Whatever you want to call it – here’s the poem and illustration:

Card Times by Sue Clancy

A sly old dog named Muffin

Sat on a cushion of stuffin’

While playing cards

And sweating hard

He said firmly “I aint bluffin’”

aintbluffin72

Card Times – words and illustration by Sue Clancy (the pen and ink on handmade paper artwork is titled “Aint Bluffin”)

Friday Fudge Judge

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, illustration, poetry, words and pictures, writing

Earlier today I did a blog post called “Friday Fun In Progress” about a short narrative poem I was in the process of writing and illustrating. Then I took a lunch break. Thanks for waiting so patiently…. and without further ado here’s what I came up with:

The Fudge Judge – By Sue Clancy

A strict, stiff, sober Judge

was asked to jury some fudge.

With unusual glee

he shouted “For me?”

then ran off with the very best fudge.

fudgejudge72

The Fudge Judge – illustration and poem by Sue Clancy

 

Friday fun in progress

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, poetry, words and pictures

I’m working on my short narrative practice again; aka writing a quickie poem/story plus creating an illustration for it. I’m thinking of fudge, fudge competitions, and the process of asking people to judge something so subjective as what something tastes like… and what could happen.

Anyway, here’s what my desk looks like right now… more progress to come later, after lunch. All this thinking about fudge and I’ve realized that I’m hungry. Back in a bit…

inprogress72

Sue Clancy’s work-in-progress; writing a short narrative poem and creating an illustration for it.

 

self-portrait of the artist

A Creative Life, graphic narrative, illustration, Uncategorized, visual story

Here’s a self-portrait I did this morning. (Aka: more short visual story/narrative practice.)

coffeezombie72

Self-portrait of the artist this morning. By Sue Clancy