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CKHarris Long DivisionOne of the reasons I wanted to do this theme this week was so I could also share some of Christine K. Harris’s latest work. Her pieces are almost wholly conceptual, relaying personal, societal and universal emotions and ideas. The richness of her pieces are the primary draw, along with the clear and ubiquitous nature of so much of her symbolism.

I think this may be my favorite piece of hers to date. I say “I think” because I’m not done examining its many sides, imagery, symbolism and just beautiful application of rhythmic motifs. Every side — inside, outside, front, sides, back — is different and wholly intriguing. Most of Christine’s work is a combination of polymer, two-part sculptable epoxy and other materials as needed. But this box or sculpture or altar, or whatever you want to take it as, moves far beyond the definition of its materials, as does most of her work.

The piece is called Long Division and starts at the top with what I am sure are mirrored twins, maybe even Siamese twins. Within and without, there are Christine’s iconic birds, skulls, skeletons and other symbols of birth, freedom and death that appear in so much of her work. This piece feels more joyous than a lot of her past work though, even with the death symbology; death is so much a part of the cycle of life we are in. I have so many ideas about what might be going on here, but art is a personal interpretive experience when it really comes down to it so I will leave it to you to take from it what speaks to you. As Christine says on her home page, “As important as it is for me to use my art to make sense of the world, it is just as important that viewers take their own experience from my work …”

For a full view of this piece, you will want to go to Christine’s page with its many detail shots. But don’t hesitate to wander further about her site and find other concepts and connections for yourself. If you are curious about her use of symbolism and how you might work this kind of thing into your own work, don’t miss the beautiful article she wrote for our Spring 2013 issue still available in both print and digital.

 

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12950246564_681d9a6309_oI realized after the fact that I posted yesterday’s blog about conceptual art without really going into the particulars of what that phrase means. So I thought I’d correct that, only I ended up going down a bit of a rabbit hole as I went ahead, as I do, when I researched the term and how it is used today. So, just to be fair and to stave off counter-explanations about what the term is used for in contemporary art and various art movements (see Wikipedia’s explanations), I’m going to define our use for it based on how we often used it back in my art school days. We may not have been using it correctly by some people’s account, but we did use the term “concept” correctly and talk of “conceptual art” as being created to relay an abstract idea or complex group of ideas.

Here is an example of both a literal representation and a conceptual representation. Girl on a Blustery Day, by Melissa Terlizzi, is a depiction of, well, a windy, blustery day. That is the visual representation of a state of weather. On the other hand, it also depicts the distress and dishevelment of this poor girl, and particular experiences and emotion are abstract. Along with recognizing the concept, we all connect to the feeling of being caught in a bit of a gale and dealing with the surprises Mother Nature tosses our way. Plus, it’s just a fun piece! It’s too bad I didn’t find a “Blizzardy Day” piece so we could all visually commiserate with our Eastern US friends held captive by the crazy weather right now. You all hang in there!

Although I love this wall piece, it is not, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Melissa Terlizzi‘s work. She also creates the most wonderfully detailed sculptures and fabulous miniature food stuffs. Sophistication and adorableness reside side by side on her Flickr photostream, so wander on over for a delightful e-tour.

 

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TornstromPolymer lends itself particularly well to decorative arts, since it is so versatile in form and color and has the ability to be combined with so many other materials. But it can also be a very expressive medium. An artist can use a variety of sculptural techniques, colors and textures to recreate all kinds of imagery, which makes polymer particularly wonderful for conceptual work. I thought we’d take a week to see just what wonderful and new work is being produced in that area of polymer.

EvaMarie Törnström’s Malta Horse is what got me really thinking about this area of polymer art. For those of you who have been to Malta, the iconic crosses, the aged limestone walls and the intense blue of the surrounding ocean are instantly recognizable, collectively, as representative of that beautiful country. There is a lot more to this particular piece, but I’ll let you puzzle out its other less obviously related characteristics. I’m still puzzling them out myself. But even if you haven’t been to Malta, you know there is a connection between the chosen elements, and it will make you stop and think. As all good art really does.

Sweden’s EvaMarie is partial to creating horse sculptures but does very large wall pieces as well, also usually equine-related. Do take a moment to look at some of her unusual and visually intriguing pieces on her website.

 

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karenia

 

Has this week’s selection of faux ancient and old art got you thinking about ways to create more of that look in your own work? The techniques used to create these looks can be applied to a variety of forms and even be reinvented using brighter colors and not-so-old-looking contrasting textures and finishes. Searching for something fun and easy to get you started on that track, if you haven’t already, I found this delightfully easy and highly textural tutorial for you.

The blog post with this tutorial is originally in Russian, but I’ll send you to the the translated to English version here. It’s really pretty well laid out in the photos, and the steps are simple but with a beautiful and sophisticated result, as can be seen in the necklace Russia’s Katerina Sidorova designed from her technique. The layering of the clay is an ingenious way of adding that additional color for the aged look since it will show on the ends and wherever the salt digs through the very thin top layer to the colors underneath. So no additional painting or other color is needed. Pretty neat.

Katerina is the shop owner at Russia’s online polymer and jewelry supply shop, KalinkaPolinka, and for what I think must be wholesale or at least bulk-buying, Kalinka-Pro. If you are on that side of the globe, it is a shop well worth checking out. But for everyone everywhere, she has a great page on her website of articles, free tutorials and links to other tutorials that would be a great starting point for other new avenues to explore.

 

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art nouveau egyptEmulating other cultures and ancient work is not a new idea. Artists throughout history have been inspired by the relative uniqueness of other cultures and times. This adaptation of other aesthetics, however, became quite a bit more common when world exploration, archaeology and increased global trade and communication made this type of inspiration more readily available to more and more artists.

The 19th and 20th centuries were particularly enthusiastic about other cultures. The discoveries of ancient Egypt at the end of the 18th century spurred what is know as the Egyptian Revival in American decorative arts. This period began sometime after Napolean’s campaign in Egypt and lasted all the way into the 1920s. We have the combination of this Egyptian Revival with the period of Art Nouveau to thank for gorgeous pieces like this hair comb and bracelet. Their creator is unknown, but the Tumblr page I found it on said they are of French origin and are estimated to have been made around 1900. They consist of gold, enamel, rubies, sapphires and ancient Egyptian scarabs noted to be glazed steatite. I just call them lovely.

I wish I had a particular site to send you to in order to do some more exploring of your own, but I didn’t find anything better than a keyword search on Pinterest or Google images. So if you want to see more Egyptian Revival or Art Nouveau or the combination of these, let your fingers do the tapping and have fun getting into lots of pages of beautiful, inspiring imagery.

 

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kristin LoganSquareThis bit of inspired faux old art has more to do with the disintegration of materials than any past culture. The material it emulates could be seen as stone or sap or bone, but it long ago degraded into something soft and well-weathered.  The texture and colors are simple but lovely in their organic connection.

I found these on an Etsy shop called @Logan Square. The artisan only identifies herself as Kristin. She does have some interesting words to explain where her textures come from and how she sees her beads:

“Each bead is unique, created by impressions taken from found objects. These objects come from my collection of plant forms, drift wood and pebbles from Lake Michigan, fossils and shells, as well as copper etchings of digital patterns I’ve created (I call these my digital “runes”) … my beads are fantasy fossils and relics.”

Take a look at her shop and the other wonderful textures she has there, especially her banner; she identifies the impressions made in those beads as being from “walnut seed, crayfish claws, fish vertebrae, digital runes, swordfish skull bones, and weathered concrete.” Wow. I would say no texture is safe from being used in this polymer work!

 

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100076147Alright, this piece isn’t in itself particularly old-looking, but it does represent another element of time and hide a possible story in its history. Plus, I just think it’s a beautiful piece.

France’s Karine Barrera regularly creates tribal or ethnic pieces, but I don’t think there are any particular civilizations they are drawn from. Rather they seem to be an amalgamation of tribal aesthetics. This one appears to be a most interesting composition of stone, although its form is more reminiscent of bone; the gentle curves recall tusks, claws and ribs.

But if it were stone, what kind of stone would have such layers? Or is the white not supposed to be stone but a material for joining two types of stone? What kind of material is that? What kind of people would find these shapes and the combination of stones meaningful? There are so many possible stories that can be imagined for this piece.

Karine’s work is full of possible stories. Even in her explanation in the blog post, her words are translated from French to say, at one point, that these “are stories designs”. Not sure what that means exactly, but Google Translate creates some pretty wacky text sometimes. In the end, it’s not so much about the story the artist has in her head but what the viewer of the piece comes up with. If your work makes someone stop and consider and create their own little stories and worlds in their mind from what they see, you have succeeded in communicating and maybe even entertaining. And that makes for some pretty good art. See more examples of this kind of thing on Karine’s blog.

 

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I think part of the draw to old and well-used (or abused) items is that the scars and wear give us a peek into a hidden past. The object may have been many places, been handled by many hands and may have taken part in a an adventure or two. It’s hard, especially for those of […]

So since I spent all last week aiming to introduce you to something new, I thought this week we could do something “old.” Not that I would bore you with old techniques or things you’ve seen a million times — but how about old looks, as in antiqued or ancient, while meeting new faces we haven’t […]

Have you started doodling yet? We talked about doodling as a drawing technique yesterday, but you know what … you can also doodle with clay! The main objective in clay doodling is to create something unplanned, to let your mind and hands work up a design that comes from unconscious ideas and to follow the […]

So yesterday I brought you a wire artist who got into carving rubber stamps. Did the carving idea pique your interest? I think the hardest part of carving a stamp is not going to be the carving itself but deciding on a pattern to carve. How do you come up with stamp design ideas? Well, […]

Do you like to mix things up? Today we have a blog post that will give you a taste of a number of techniques you can apply to a wide range of other work. Carve your own rubber stamps, create colorful patinas on stamped polymer clay and wrap up your patina-colored pieces with wire frames full of […]

Who here likes mokume and also likes working with inks? I bet I’d see a lot of hands raised if I could actually see you all. This link will send you to a kind of exploration, that doubles as a tutorial, on working with Vintaj inks with a mokume technique. Vintaj is an opaque ink […]

This tutorial caught my eye, I have to admit, because of all the vibrant color. It’s also a nice form that undulates, not unlike those glowing bullseye canes that make the center of the outside slices. The tutorial and the finished set you see here were created by Karina Formanova and include a number of simple yet […]

So, I thought this week I’d simply do what is trending for the new year on Pinterest. Turns out tutorials and how-to tips are the big thing right now. That was rather heartening to see really. Its great that so many people are looking for ideas to expand and explore. So this week will pretty […]

  Especially for those of you who are still dealing with those extremely low temperatures and tons of snow, how about ending this week of warm creations with a warm creation of your own? I looked around at canes of flames and found this lovely version. This tutorial is by Russia’s Viktoria, who goes by […]