The Alphapets portrait project this week is brought to you by the letters A, B, C and D. My abecedarian poem to go with these letters and artwork :
Alfred enjoys living on a farm.
Boo rarely causes any harm.
Coco dreams of milkshakes galore.
Dabney bursts through every door.
Here’s the artwork (somewhere on each piece is an alphabetical letter):
I did portraits of a cattle dog/blue heeler, tabby cat, Persian cat and a coon hound. While working thought about the outdoors/farmers markets, the sneakiness of some cats I’ve known, cravings for milkshakes and the exuberant bursts of energy dogs can have.
All of this artwork was created with ink, gouache and color pencil.
If you’re just joining us the previous post is here. My Alphapets project is aiming to be both an art exhibit and an artist book. With framing eventually done by Aurora Gallery and Frameshop. https://auroragalleryonline.com/ as part of the Ambassador for Small Frames program. I want to eventually bring them all together in a book – with my abecedarian poem. More of poem will be revealed on each Monday’s post as I get more of the artwork done. More of my artist books are here. Anyway, see you next Monday with more letters…
Yesterday I posted about the free ebook versions of my artist books – for those staying at home. (Thanks for staying home!) Then I strolled down memory lane, thinking of other things I can do to bring a spot of cheer during this time of quarentine.
Last December I did my semi-annual holiday pet portrait project at my local bookstore, Vintage Books, where, nonstop, for 4 hours I drew portraits of people’s pets. The Aurora Gallery and Frame Shop https://auroragalleryonline.com/ was my source for the frames into which I put the just-created pet portraits for people to take home then and there. Here’s an example of a few of my pet portraits in frames.
All told I did over 25 of these pet portraits, people told me, sometimes with tears in their eyes, that they enjoyed my work. The bookstore was happy with event attendance and the little frames sold like ice cream cones on a hot day.
A few days after the December event I went to the Aurora Gallery to pick up a few more frames. While there they half jokingly called me their “Ambassador for Small Frames”.
Suffice it to say that my conclusion, after my memory lane stroll, is that my pet portraits were fun for people to see and get. Perhaps doing more of my dogs and cats will cheer people?
I contacted the Aurora Gallery and asked “what if I took the “Ambassador for Small Frames” thing seriously?”.
The result? Starting next Monday I’ll post here the pet portraits I’ve done over the previous week. (I’m giving myself permission to go at a slower pace than I do during the holiday when I’m trying like heck to fill orders before Dec 25.). The Aurora Gallery will do framing and delivery as desired.
I’m calling this new project “Alphapets” because, as a variation on my usual pet-portraits, I’m adopting the abecedarian poetry form. Each portrait will be named alphabetically – or, in the way a children’s program might say, brought to you by an English alphabetical letter.
When I finish the entire alphabet I hope to do an art exhibit of these miniature portraits. Definitely I plan to make an artist book of them. No matter what eventually happens I’m hoping that seeing the Alphapets as they happen will be cheerful for you.
So… see you here on Mondays? Take care and please stay home, order grocery delivery. ❤
UPDATE: Just after posting this the Governor of Washington has declared a statewide lockdown. So I will proceed with making the Alphapets artwork for the collective cheer there may be in it but the actual framing aspect may be in hold for a bit till things in the world settle.
I’ve been working on a large painting and posted a pic of me at work on my Instagram page. A friend asked me to explain my symbolism when I finished it …so here goes:
First the painting. It’s titled “The Way Of All Fresh (Food)“. The size is 36 by 24 inches and I used ink, gouache and color pencil to make it.
As evidenced by recent posts of my sketchbook pages I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the life of the mind. I’ve also been reading classic fiction on the topic: “Stoner” by John Williams, “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin and “The Way Of All Flesh” by Samuel Butler.
When creating fine art I like to use symbolism that originates in literature and mythology as a way to orient myself in order to create a visual story.
In this case Butler’s novel had me thinking, as I read, of the ways mental development, new learning – like love – can sneak up on us, and yet it’s something that we process daily. The challenges and necessity of purposefully participating in one’s own mental life dominated my thoughts – especially after I finished reading Butler. I thought of how the maintenance of one’s mind is similar to the maintenance of one’s physical body.
With that as a bare bones thesis I sought, and selected from literary history, symbols with which to construct my visual story:
Lizards represent inner life, taking time to reflect. (I also remembered a quote from the children’s book author Madeleine L’Engle “Love is a funny thing, shaped like a lizard, that runs up and down and tickles your gizzard.”)
Celery, in Ancient Greek writings, represents victory and a warding off of evil spirits. Parts of the celery plants were woven into garlands, crowns, and given to the winner of sporting events. They were also woven into funeral wreaths.
Parsley stands for useful knowledge, joy and feasting. (Practical stuff of life.)
Apples have a long literary history signaling love, knowledge, self-awareness, attainable joys….all elements of life that have been, in some stories, forbidden or used to trick (think Snow White and the 7 dwarves). So I see an element of good critical thinking skill development in an apple but I digress.
Bulldog represents tenacity, courage, willingness to do the right thing.
Cat represents curiosity.
In addition to playing with symbols I’ve also hidden what’s known in the movie and gaming industries as “easter eggs“. Some of the eggs I hid are:
The cat portrait in this painting is a spoof of my own artwork, i.e. there exists an artwork by me that’s similar to this painting within the painting. (There’s also a jigsaw puzzle I designed with this cat artwork.)
I’ve waved “hello” to many of my friends – the kitchen furniture waves to my interior decorator, visionary friend, Carolyn. The cutting board high-fives Kevin, a friend who’s a talented woodworker. The lizards are a shared giggle with my friend Kim. The socks are a howdy to Frank and Elaine. The purple shirt is there because of Beverly, Kris H and Erica M. The book and the heart-art are for my spouse – as always.
Since the lizards represent time to reflect I’ve included a clock near the heart and brain artwork with a special time on it. Most days by 10:40 a.m. I have spent time writing and drawing in my sketchbook. One of my methods to cultivate my own inner life. (And yes, I post these sketchbook pages on Instagram and make artist books from them. You can see some of the books here.)
Oh, almost forgot, there’s a yummy celery, apple and parsley salad recipe that goes with this painting too.
There now. I’ve told most, but not all, of the punchlines. Enjoy!
I’m finishing up a fine art commission for someone’s holiday present. So instead of talking about that – here’s a painting I finished just before the holiday rush began. Titled “Hare Heritage” and created with ink and gouache.
As I work I’m experimenting with the 3rd person omniscient narrator – and other narrator writing techniques. The viewer of Hare Heritage (the third person) can see and speculate on 2 visual story-lines within this painting.
It’s a fun challenge to apply writing techniques to fine art! And using the topic of readers and books adds to the pun.
For your amusement here is a collection of a few artworks in “A Readers World”, my one-person fine art exhibit opening Thursday, Sept 5 at Caplan Art Designs. http://www.caplanartdesigns.com/
I’m playing with the interconnectedness of life; the ways imaginative stories flow out into the readers world. And vice versa of course. Art can stir life. And life can stir art.
As I created these artworks, I thought of how a story is actions mixer. For example, each of these pieces contain ingredients from my experiences, the “actions” I’ve seen as I’ve lived my life, put into the cocktail shaker of my imagination.
“Pie In The Sky” – by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – ink and gouache on board
“Daily News” by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – ink and gouache on paper
“Sea Stories” by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – ink and gouache on board
“It’s Magic” by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – ink and gouache on paper
“Immortal Good Fortune” by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – gouache and ink on board
“100 Things To Do On A Rainy Day” by Clancy – 11 x 14 inches – ink and gouache on board
“Suspense” by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – ink and gouache on paper
And yes, if you recognize aspects of a person, a pet, a place or a thing and wonder if…. the answer is probably “yes”! (It’s sort of like the “Easter Eggs” that can be found in some films.)
Anyway, if you look at some of my recent blog posts you can see more details of the ingredients of life that I mixed together to make each particular visual story.
For this new painting I’ve combined several thoughts together: rainy day activities, the contrast between rainy Pacific Northwest and the Southwestern (USA) desert region (Arizona), and the Bonneville Dam’s fish ladder. I’ve found the fish ladder fascinating – here’s a video of it – and have done some fun sketching at the Bonneville Dam trying to capture the patterns I see.
I enjoy the patterns the fish form as they flow by. I also enjoy the patterns of the needles/leaves on cactus and succulents which seem visually similar, in my eyes, to the “flow” of the fish as seen from various angles.
I’ve been reading “Whiskey Galore” by Compton Mackenzie. Once again I realize that I enjoy the mix of real-life and a whimsical imaginative look at real-life. Mackenzie used a real-life event as the inspiration for his whimsy and did the mix extremely well.
Already I’ve been doing some of this mixing in my work – but I want to do even more of that mundane/imagination mixing in my various art projects. Here’s what I did most recently: it’s 8 x 18 inches, ink and gouache on board – I’ve titled it “The Soup Book: Starting With Ingredients”
“The Soup Book: Starting With Ingredients” by Clancy
It mixes the real-life (mundane) action of consulting a cookbook recipe, perhaps for chicken soup, with a (magical) chicken rescue. “The Soup Book: Starting With Ingredients” will be one of several new works for an upcoming one-person art exhibit in September at Caplan Art Designs in Portland Oregon. I’ll post the new artworks here as I get them done.
But back to the artwork itself: I enjoyed doing a panoramic visual story that continues what I began doing for my “Dear Readers” exhibit currently on display at Burnt Bridge Cellars. The new wider format let me put in more details, more “story-ness”.
“The Soup Book…..” was such fun to create that I plan to do more in this format! And of course do more general mixing of metaphors, more blurring the lines between the mundane and the magical in all of my work. We’ll see how it all goes of course.
Generally I’ve been thinking of how important it is, for living well (and good mental health), to be able to view mundane life with a “glass half full” attitude, to be able to see what is good/delightful, and to use curiosity and imagination (and good books) to stimulate ones own inner life. Which is why I aspire to do an even better artistic job of mixing the mundane and the magical.
BTW: “Whiskey Galore” has been made into a movie – and a very well done movie too! The book version has a bit more story to it – but the movie is wonderful and it’s not always that both the book and movie are equals in quality.
Yesterday was a busy day full of play both in the kitchen and on a hike. Somehow in the mix I thought of a new-to-me way to combine my handwritten words and artwork on a page. Late last night I tried it in my sketchbook. Here’s what I did using ink and gouache:
Recently I did a post titled Pug Epic Book In Art – (the post is about my painting in which a pug sits in a café reading a book) – since then I’ve also mused about a character who wrote the book the pug in the painting is reading. Here is an illustration of who I imagine is sitting to write the story “Epic Tales of the Pug King” – the book being read by the other pug in the painting:
“Epic” by Clancy – ink and gouache on paper
And I’ve written the full text of the story that I hand lettered on the painted-book within my painting referred to in the prior post – the painting that when my wife saw it said she’d like to read the rest of the story of which only a part was depicted within the painting. So here’s the story:
Epic Tales Of The Pug, King – by Clancy
The Pug King’s elegantly chipped ceramic bowl appeared before him resplendent with gravy, chunks of meat and yams. His Majesty tasted the gravy, then a meat chunk, the gravy again, then a yam, a meat chunk with the gravy and a piece of yam with gravy. He licked his lips, the bowl and his lips again. The Royal Feast was done; the dog sought some sport to aid all digestion and to his owner cried “Sir, Fool! Kneel now and play some ball!” The owner bowed and bent his knee. “Fetch!” he said and flung a mighty fling. The ball arched high into the air across the green expanse of Royal lawn. His Majesty ran flowing, majestically, swiftly, across the grass, conquering the ball and returning back to his owner. Three times, four times they did this at the King’s command. On the 12th time the owner knelt, patted the Monarch’s silken head, saying “Enough now, lets go inside and get ready for bed.” His Royal Majesty barked sharply. “Sir Fool, there’s a King’s personal business still to do…”