happy doggy new year

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, Sue Draws Dogs

I worry about human adults. I worry that people forget to play. This worry has included me.

So I’ve been trying to do something about that. Dog portraits are my effort to remember to play. I’ve been purposefully spending time enjoying something and making notes and in the process I created an art exhibit’s worth of artworks. Yes, 32 of my dog portraits are currently scheduled for an exhibit at Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com in the new year, Jan 2017!  So here’s hoping that other people see my artwork – and the whimsy there and play a little too!

As a separate project I’ve also been working on a printed artist book of my dog portraits. The concept behind both the art exhibit and the potential book is the same: 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 me dogs of all breeds represent a joyful exuberant delight at being alive.

I’m thinking that the book – which I’ll call “Dogs by Sue Clancy” – will be another artist book by me, an artistic expression of its own. More than an exhibit catalog or a collection of reproductions of a body of artistic works the book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” is being organized around an artistic idea – the one I mentioned above: 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.  The book will not be at the art exhibit – it’ll be its own separate thing…

Now, why does it matter that we think of pleasant things and seek to provoke pleasant feelings? Why is it so important to me that I’ve spent all this time to make both an art exhibit and a potential book filled with “pleasantness”?

Well it’s gosh-darn easy to provoke feelings of anger and fear. Some religious leaders and politicians do it often because it’s a reliable (if dirty-tricky) way to get peoples attention and exert control. Unhappy, frightened and angry people are more easily controlled.  Even some grade-school kids use such tactics, because they’re easy to do and successfully get and control peoples attention.

You can even accidentally do it to yourself, get yourself down-spiraling; angry and fearful about almost anything. Particularly around a sleepless 3 am. Especially when you’ve been busy and stressed and not enjoying much in life. (In my book Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit –https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit – this is discussed in detail, particularly strategies how to deal with unpleasant emotions.)

So I’ve been speculating that very act of enjoying things – small things – and sharing enjoyments with other people – may itself be a moderating factor, a good-mental-health exercise, and a small way to combat the dirty-trickery of the fear-mongers.

After all one of the ways of responding to, and coming out of, a negative-downward-spiral is to keep a list of things you enjoy doing or thinking about and deliberately turning your thoughts away from anger and fear and towards something you enjoy and appreciate.  Could it also be  helpful-to-good-mental-health to have an entire art exhibit, and maybe a book, full of “pleasant things”?

As a professional artist I’ve thought why not deliberately – and as an artistic project – provoke laughter? Smiles? Warm-fuzzy’s? Playfulness? For both myself and hopefully others?  It would be an artistic challenge. How do you get someone to smile – or even laugh – while looking at a piece of paper covered with lines, shading and patterns?

I’m convinced that happiness is a skill that must be practiced like tennis, like cooking, like drawing.  I’ve been spending a lot of time practicing my own happiness – and enjoying it (pun intended) – I’m hoping that sharing my practice in both an art exhibit and in a book – will be fun for other people too. 

Here’s a new dog portrait.

digger72

Digger by Clancy – ink on handmade paper

going to the dogs

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, books, dog portrait, Sue Draws Dogs

I’ve been asked “how do you get your ideas for your dog drawings?” I begin by thinking of something pleasant. This “something pleasant” has often been noted previously in one of my sketchbooks. The pleasantness can be a drink I enjoyed, a bowl of soup, a game, a book… anything I remember as being particularly “pleasant”. You can see some of my sketchbook pages on my “sketchbooks” page on my website https://sueclancy.com/sketchbooks/

Once the “something pleasant” topic has been found I need a character to help me describe that topic.

Lately I’ve been finding dogs a good representative actors. Breed characteristics can add content to my story… for example when I was remembering the pleasantness of hearing a street musician play I chose a Basset Hound to be the musician character. I thought that fit because that breed can be a vocal sort but in a good-sounding way. At least ones I’ve met in person have been.  You can see the dog drawing I’m talking about by looking for “Pickles” on my dog portraits webpage. https://sueclancy.com/dog-portraits/

Sometimes I see a dog on one of my walks and make sketches on location. Then back at the studio, I want to draw that dog breed better so I think of “something pleasant” that may fit with that dog and try drawing again but this time using my ink methods on good quality paper.

When I’m too busy to go out where the dogs are likely to be seen during a walk (i.e. it’s too snowy/rainy) I’ll flip through a photography book about dogs looking for a breed to characterize in a way that helps me describe non-verbally my “something pleasant”.

By now I’ve drawn enough dogs from real-life sources (can you say “dog park”?) that i can work decently from a photograph – using the photo primarily as a memory aid for specifics about a dog breed.

Here’s some recent dog-related photography books I’ve used as resource material.

dogbooks72

A few resource books for Sue Clancy’s dog drawings.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I think of “something pleasant” when drawing dogs. After all there’s so much that is wrong with the world, so much to be upset about…war, poverty, injustice, fake news….

To answer quickly: focusing on pleasant things feeds the good wolves. A small drawing is not the best place to outline a social problem and propose any policy solution.

A small drawing is a place for solace, love and comfort.

You can see more about this “feed the good wolves” philosophy of mine in my book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” on the artist book webpage https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/