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

Gustav72

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

 

 

dog in the details

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

When I was a little kid I remember once telling my Grandmother “I’m bored.” She asked me to look for and find the smallest object in the house and bring it to her. After some time I found a safety-pin about 1/2 inch long and about 1/4 inch wide. She said “I’ll bet you can do better than that.” So off I went again searching. I came back with a needle. It was a bit longer than the safety-pin but much skinnier. Which led to a philosophical discussion of what constituted “small”.

I was not bored any more that day!

Fast forward a hundred years or so and I was working with psychiatrist Dr. Bob Hoke who wanted to publish a book that could be available for his patients. The question was how to “keep the young adults from getting bored” as many of them were not great readers of prose in general and certainly not of books about how to develop and maintain good mental health.

Dr. Bob was a story-teller and holding peoples attention in person was no problem for him. It was in writing where he thought he got “too didactic”.  We hit upon the idea of doing a book in a primarily graphic-novel comic format. (That idea became “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” – more info is on my artist book webpage https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/)

As a result of my work with Dr. Bob on that book (and other projects) I began to focus much more on the “small details” within my fine art work as one way of communicating a story, developing a character and, yes, keeping a viewers visual interest.

So as I’ve been working towards my new book – the one that I’m thinking of calling “Dogs” – I’ve been thinking about which dogs I’ve drawn in ink that include small details, surprising details and even hidden subtle details.

Here’s one:

happy72

“Happy” by Clancy – pen and ink on handmade paper

 

animals in my art

A Creative Life, animals in art, art commissions, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Authors, psychogeography, visual story

Last evening I was looking up something in a book called “Drawing Masterclass” and I read this (again): “Animals as subject matter for the visual arts have a longer history than any other subject. The first images drawn by the human race depicted the animals that were hunted for survival [cave paintings]…. There is no period in art when animals have not played a major role.”

In my fine art animals become characters; my creative process is much like the way a novelist creates a character, a compilation of authorial thoughts and observations  – a “collage” of them you might say – merged into one person/character within their story. I create anthropomorphic animal characters because I see humans as part of the natural world and the natural world as part of humanity.  I’m inspired by both nature and culture.

So when I do animal portraits, people are there too.  When I do a portrait of a particular dog, for example, a particular person (someone, or several someone’s I saw in real life) is also reflected.  It becomes a visual story of that animal and that person. I define “story” as a plot where there is some surprise. The surprise in one of my visual stories might be the realization of how a human can be like a dachshund.

For example in my artwork titled “Happy Hour” (see image below) inside I sometimes feel happy and excited like my dachshund Rusty looks when he is bouncing around wagging his tail and dancing for his supper. (Places and objects enter in to my visual story creation too but that’s another discussion.)

My gallery agents often explain to clients that I create (as special commissions) portraits of pets as their pet owners; an imaginative merging of pet and person.  And that’s true.

Here, so you can see what I’m talking about, are some of my animal portraits currently available at either Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com and at Joseph Gierek Fine Art www.gierek.com  – please contact each gallery for more details.

the art of spitting seeds

A Creative Life, graphic narrative, visual story, words and pictures, writing

I was looking in my files for some dog photos and found this graphic narrative I’d written and drawn some time ago. Since I’ve recently been practicing my “short narrative/ flash fiction/ nonsense” on this blog I thought you’d enjoy seeing this effort too!

spittingseeds72

A short autobiographical graphic narrative by Sue Clancy

 

Finally A Fish Story

A Creative Life, animals in art, art gallery, artist book, books, handmade books, handmade papers, visual story, words and pictures

Here is the long awaited video of my artist book “A Fish Story” – first I had to catch it (make the video), then I had to grill it (edit it down to one minute – the gallery wants all videos at a minute or less) then I had to de-bone it (remove the sound) after a next-door friend said he could hear his electric sander in the background of the video. (Q: How does a deaf person edit sound on a video? A: Verrry carefully with help from spouse and friends!)  But finally… here is A Fish Story!

a fish story progressing dangerously

artist book, books, handmade books, handmade papers, visual story, words and pictures, writing

As I’ve been sharing on my blog today – www.sueclancy.com – I’m working on a pop-up book titled “A Fish Story”. In the photos below I’m living dangerously; I’m taking my now-dry pages and binding them carefully so that the parts that make the movable pop-up parts will be hidden – but will still allow for movement. In one of the photos you can see some of the hidden works before it’s hidden. I call the binding “living dangerously” because I’ve spent months at hand making each page so one slip of my knife now, or a mistake with the binding, and a page is dead! Some people sky dive or bungee cord jump or visit with elderly relatives… me, I bind a pop-up book. Whew!

Living dangerously and binding a pop-up book titled "A Fish Story" by Sue Clancy

Living dangerously and binding a pop-up book titled “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy

A few of the dry pages from the pop-up book "A Fish Story" by Sue Clancy

A few of the dry pages from the pop-up book “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy

 

 

more fish story progress

art techniques, artist book, books, handmade books, handmade papers, visual story, words and pictures, writing

As I posted to my http://www.sueclancy.com blog a bit ago I’m working on a pop-up book titled “A Fish Story”. Here is another photo of some freshly made (caught?) page spreads; the page at the top has a fishing line that moves, the page at the bottom has a fish that moves. In the photo I’m checking to see that the movable parts still move even after swimming in all that glue!

Two page spreads from an in-progress pop-up book "A Fish Story" by Sue Clancy

Two page spreads from an in-progress pop-up book “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy

a fish story in progress

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, books, handmade books, handmade papers, visual story, words and pictures, writing

For several months now I’ve been working on a pop-up artist book titled “A Fish Story”. Here are a few pages with freshly glued down cut paper shapes. In the photo I’m checking to see if the pop-up movable parts still move. The page spread at the top of the photo has an actual fishing-line that moves. The page spread at the bottom has a map that folds out. Not pictured are the months I’ve spent writing the story, designing the book layout, sketching the illustration/artwork, dyeing the handmade papers then cutting (out of that dyed paper) all of the various shapes that make up the book’s story.

Two page spreads from an in-progress pop-up book "A Fish Story" by Sue Clancy

Two page spreads from an in-progress pop-up book “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy

 

 

the trumpet illustrated

A Creative Life, animals in art, illustration, visual story, words and pictures, writing

Here’s another flash fiction writing effort – with an illustration by me of course.

The Trumpet  (Story and illustration by Sue Clancy)

Billy had very good hearing. He heard someone walking towards him on the sidewalk.  But he didn’t look up. He was busy with his toy cars, trucks and animals.

“That’s a Marmota Monax” said an old man pointing to one small brown stuffed animal sitting on top of a fire truck.  Billy looked up from the toys around him on the ground.  It was Mr. Haan the volunteer librarian at the natural history museum. Mr. Haan held his ear trumpet one end in his ear the other wider end pointed at Billy so he could hear in case Billy said something.

But Billy didn’t say anything. Billy stared.

A little blue bird flew up and perched on the old man’s shoulder and while Billy watched the bird hopped to the edge of the trumpet and began to sing.   Mr. Haan smiled through his white beard, laughed, and bent down again to Billy and the toys on the ground. “Yes sir, that’s a Marmota Monax alright.”  He looked at Billy while positioning his ear trumpet expectantly, the blue bird happily hovering in the air just above his head.

Billy still didn’t say anything and looked at the device pressed against the old man’s ear.  It was shiny and green and shaped like a funnel or maybe like a metal ice cream cone.  Billy liked ice cream cones. Chocolate was his favorite flavor. The ear trumpet glinted in the sunlight. “Wasn’t that a cold thing to put in your ear?” Billy wondered to himself.  Mr. Haan smelled as he always did at the museum; like old books and blueberries.  Blueberry ice cream is good too.

Lowering the ear trumpet, putting it in the pocket of his brown tweed jacket Mr. Haan smiled again “That’s a very nice Marmota Monax you’ve got there” he said pointing again at the stuffed animal. Then he continued walking down the sidewalk laughing, his blue bird flying after him, landing on his head, flying high again, perching on his shoulder, then up in the air, singing loudly the whole while.

Billy watched Mr. Haan thinking “What did he say? Something about a Mom-otter-moan-axe? What is that? And why did he keep pointing to Mister Groundhog?”

illustration by Sue Clancy to go with a flash fiction story "The Trumpet" also by Sue Clancy

illustration by Sue Clancy to go with a flash fiction story “The Trumpet” also by Sue Clancy

the universal drawer

A Creative Life, Authors, illustration, visual story, words and pictures

Here’s my recent effort at flash fiction – with illustrations by me of course.

The Universal Drawer

By Sue Clancy

“Papadopodada” said Nanotzee, said to an adult Alienatzoa who was holding a copy of The Universal times in his four hands. “Papadopodada!” Nanotzee insisted.

“Hmmm?” grunted the adult voice from behind The Times and far far away.

“Papadopodada… where did you get this?”  Nanotzee was looking at the Milky Way Galaxy which lay in chest of drawers.

Nanotzee was doing what all young Alienatzoa do – go through their adults private drawers asking personal questions.

(If you could hear them talking their words would sound a lot like this: “Gooartohozee.  Nanhumota Behoobustic”  and so forth, hard for us Earthlings to understand.)

A corner of The Times folded down and one of 3 eyes peered over it. “Oh. My Papadopodada gave that Universe to me for care and feeding when I was about your age. He thought it would be good for me to take responsibility” said the voice behind The Times.

Those words didn’t make much sense to Nanotzee who pulled the drawer all the way out, carried it and set it on a table carefully.  After looking with three eyes a while, reading the labels and admiring the colors, Nanotzee got out the Spectacularizer.  The Spectacularizer makes things appear larger than they really are. A Spectacularizer looks a lot like this.

illustration of a "Spectacularizer" for a story called "The Universal Drawer" by Sue Clancy

illustration of a “Spectacularizer” for a story called “The Universal Drawer” by Sue Clancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Wowweezowee!” exclaimed Nanotzee peering through the three eye pieces and adjusting the Spectacularizer’s knobs, buttons and lenses, making the wonderful even more spectacular.

Eventually Nanotzee said “Papadopodada…one rock, labeled Earth, has a lot of little beings all over it. Is that normal?“  A few nanoseconds later Nanotzee added “And why is your universe so big? Mine is only half this size.”

The Times folded in half.  All three of the adult Alienatzoa’s eyes appeared above the fold. “Well… it’s all a matter of perspective.”

(What the adult Alienatzoa really said was “Garbledee garbledum harumphado.”  But that speech took several light years to reach Earth’s atmosphere and it is likely that much was lost in translation.)

Here below is the only known image of an Alienatzoa:

illustration for "The Universal Drawer" a flash fiction story by Sue Clancy

illustration for “The Universal Drawer” a flash fiction story by Sue Clancy