Coloring Outside the Lines
Nobody loves artistic talent more than I do.
Okay. Maybe other people love artistic talent a lot, too. Fine.
Maybe I should have said nobody appreciates artistic talent more than I do.
No, that’s not better.
I’ll stop now.
You probably have surmised that this post has something to do with artistic talent.
And you’d be correct.
Sue Clancy is an illustrator extraordinaire (that’s almost French for awesome).
I met Sue when she took a writing workshop I taught recently.
Not only is Sue illustratorious, she writes well, too. If she wasn’t such a nice, positive, happy person, it would be easy to be miffed at her for being so darned talented.
Sue, being the sweet person she is, showcased me on her blog recently and sketched some adorable pictures of me and the furry/feathery companions that I mentioned in my memoir.
I’m returning the favor and introducing you, my Lucky Readers, to Sue Clancy–an artist who has had her work in national and international art exhibits and in selected scenes during Season 4 of Portlandia!
Lorna: Hi De Ho, Sue! How are you doing this fine day?
Sue: I’m great, Lorna! Thanks for inviting me over to your wonderful blog. I’m honored.
Lorna: My pleasure, Sue. I’m just happy you carved time out of your busy schedule to chat with me. You seem to have many irons in the fire or wear many hats (and any other idioms that are appropriate–remember “idioms” from class?). Tell us about some of your projects that best define Sue Clancy.
Sue: I wasn’t prepared for a quiz. Can I just talk about my projects?
Lorna: Sure, go ahead. I was just teasing. An idiom is an expression that means something other than the words used to create the expression. They are figures of speech. But go ahead…
Sue: Thanks, I remember now. As an illustrator, I help other people tell their stories visually by creating custom-made fine art for specific places and people. I’m currently creating a scene of a Schnauzer and a Labrador that tells a metaphoric story of a lawyer and a judge. I’m also working on a set of large art pieces for the lobby of a children’s center that will help tell (at a glance) the story of what the center does. I’m shipping some completed artwork that contains stories to cheer people up destined for a hospital wall on the east coast. My client base is mostly lawyers, doctors, hospitals, libraries and restaurants: places with spaces open to the public. Of course regular people who like humor, animals, books and food see my artwork in galleries and acquire it as whimsical decorations for their private homes. For example, a recent client got my piece “Taking a Leek” for her bathroom! Here’s a picture of that artwork.
Lorna: Oh, Sue, that’s cute. You do know I love puns, right?
Sue: I do now!
Lorna: I’m thinking you’re pretty famous. Do people come knocking at your door to commission you?
Sue: I wish! No. I have to do all the social media stuff and social networking during gallery openings. I’d rather just do my art, but I have to put myself out there.
Lorna: I know the feeling. I wish someone would discover me. Well, a few someones have noticed me, and that’s nice, but I’m still living quite a few blocks away from Easy Street.
Sue: Me, too, but that’s okay. I’m having fun!
Lorna: You would be, Sue. Do you ever not smile? No. Don’t answer that. So, what’s a normal day for you look like?
Sue: I get up in the morning; have coffee and breakfast, read a while, chat with my wife Judy. Then I walk to my studio–a room in my house–and dye, cut and glue the cut paper pieces together to form my visual story images. When the artwork is finished I make sure it gets wherever it’s supposed to go. If the art is an illustration or a story, I send it to a publisher. During my day, I take breaks. What I see on a walk, eat during a meal or read in my books often inspires new art. I record my thoughts (and recipes) in my sketchbook. Then during the night I have more thoughts which I jot on a notepad by the bed. Often my sketchbook is the last thing I work on in the evening and the first thing I consult in the morning. On my blog at www.sueclancy.com, I post my sketchbook pages. Here’s one:
Lorna: Seems as if you really live and breathe your artwork. That’s dedication! Is art what motivates you to get up in the morning and start your day?
Sue: Oh yes! I wake up excited to explore the stuff I’ve written/drawn in my sketchbooks. Thoughts of colors, designs, story ideas I thought of during the night and scribbled on my bedside notepad. I wake up thinking about a current project in progress. And coffee!
Lorna: I’m thinking you don’t really need coffee.
Sue: Oh yes I do!
Lorna: If you say so! To date, what do you define as your biggest success and what did you learn from it?
Sue: It’s hard to name just one “biggest” success. The first illustration sale I did when I was in high school and I thought “Hey I could do this for a living!” Discovering my art style. Getting my first gallery representation. The first $10,000 painting I sold and I thought “Hey, this is for real!” Having 8 paintings in one exhibit sell before the exhibit even opened. Moving to the Northwest and getting 3 one-person art shows scheduled before we were completely unpacked. Then there are the small daily successes that I think are even more important successes: resolving a difficult area within an artwork, meeting a deadline, being organized, making a submission to the right place at the right time. My biggest success of all is showing up every day to do my best artistic and literary efforts.
Lorna: Sue, I said ONE success. You artists! You never seem to be able to color within the lines!
Sue: I know! Isn’t it wonderful?
Lorna: Depends on your perspective…Let’s try this again. To date, what do you define as your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
Sue: I think “mistakes” and “failures” are the artist’s path. Obstacles are the path to any success. What I try to do is fail well, to be wrong as quickly as I can and pay attention to what’s happening as it happens. I think 95% of an artist’s job is being able to nimbly make, learn from and then correct mistakes without letting it stop progress. Early in my art career I made the mistake of thinking an artist had to “suffer” for their art, that somehow the “suffering” related to making good art. By trying to do large pieces of metal sculpture I learned that I enjoyed designing the sculptures on paper but I did not enjoy the physical process of welding the cut metal pieces together. My trouble with large metal constructions was that at the time I weighed about 125 pounds if I wore a sopping wet wool coat and held a stack of encyclopedias. The physical work was exhausting, but I persevered because I suffered so I must be making good art. Pretty soon I realized how this thinking was getting in the way of my own success and switched my artistic focus to works-on-paper. That fit much better. I learned though all of this that by making my day-to-day working processes a joy and a delight –rather than something to suffer through – I would get a lot more done! I began working with joy, love, humor as my motivation rather than a puritanical set of self-flagellation “must” and “should” rules. My artwork still has a 3-dimensional quality to it. When I do a “painting” it is layers of cut paper on cradled board and sticks out from the wall almost 2 inches. I do art on all edges of the board. Here is a photograph of what I mean.
Lorna: It’s good to know that artists don’t have to suffer to make great art. I prefer not suffering. Let’s pretend for a moment. You’ve been granted one “do-over” from your past. What would it be and what would you do differently?
Sue: It’d have been nice not have been born into a family very strict Southern Baptists in the middle of fly-over Oklahoma while being gay, artistic, intelligent, female and deaf. I’d have picked a family of laid back Humanists, Buddhists or Atheists on the West Coast–and still been gay, artistic, intelligent, female and deaf. Growing up might have been easier. But I strongly suspect I wouldn’t be the person I am now. And I’m glad I am the person I’m becoming.
Lorna: Wow, talk about building character the hard way…but is there any other way?
Sue: No. Not the kind of character that matters, anyway.
Lorna: Artistic, intelligent, and wise. Okay, Wise One, what project(s) do you have on your drawing board (literal and figurative)?
Sue: I have lot’s of things on the horizon. Two fine art exhibits in 2016, a special commission, an article/illustration I’m contracted for, possible updates on my eBooks “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” and “Coffee Table Book”… and the exciting possibility of collaborating with a wonderful dizzy blonde writer I met during a workshop I just took from her. We’re talking about doing some children’s books.
Lorna: Yes, I know something about this. But first I have to figure out how to write stories for children and release my inner child.
Sue: I can’t wait to work with you on creating magical children’s books. With your words and my illustrations, they’ll be great!
Lorna: That’s the plan! Well, thanks, Sue for sharing your time and talent with us. I have a feeling we’ll all be seeing your work in a book, office, gallery, or home near us–no matter where we are.
Sue: That’s the plan! Thank you, Lorna!
Sue’s work can be seen at these galleries:
Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com
23 Sandy Gallery www.23sandy.com
Joseph Gierek Fine Art www.gierek.com
~ by Lorna's Voice on November 23, 2015.
Posted in Author Interview, Humor, Sharing the Love
Tags: 3-dimensional paper art, animal illustrations, art exhibits, children's books, fine art, illustrator, long interview, Portlandia, releasing your inner child, successes and failures, Sue Clancy, the artist's journey, unbearably wonderful talent, visual art