Halloween Calls for Fun

rich-webberI love Halloween. So much of it is about imagination and creativity in how we celebrate it. I also like that there is a day we recognize what scares us and face the darker things in life because the shadows in our world are what makes us see the bright times for the blessings that they are. And Halloween is just so darn fun!

So is this guy: Rich Webber. I need to thank Anke Humpert for bringing his work to my attention. I am not sure most or any of his work is created in polymer clay but it really doesn’t matter. It’s the artist’s imagination and humor that makes the colorful clay come alive. Enjoy this collection of his playful and sometimes morbid creatures but do jump over to his Instagram page or watch some Shaun the Sheep TV shows or the movies to see his directorial work or DC’s Worlds Funnest episodes for which he was the creator.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Go enjoy the holiday. Do something fun and silly and enjoy your child side!

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Raining Color

leonoid-afermovSo there has been a bit of rain here in Southern California which I am very much enjoying. After years of Colorado weather, which constantly changes and rain is common albeit brief all summer into fall, I really appreciate what relatively few storms we get here on the south-west coast. So to wrap up my intense color week, I thought I’d pull out a kind of guilty favorite in my list of contemporary artists whom I admire, with this after the rain scene.

I say guilty because a part of me rallies against the level of commercialism this painter, Leonid Afremov, has achieved but the other hand, he makes a good living off it so who am I to knock that? And the work is beautiful to look at. His scenes are so intensely colorful and have so much energy. He commonly does rain or damp weather scenes which naturally have brighter colors and lots of reflected light. His choices tap into our strong reaction and attraction to saturated color as well as bright and shiny images and he does so without being garish. You have to admire that.

Leonid may not be communicating a particularly deep message and isn’t making any social or political statements but his paintings deserve notice because of the simple fact that he knows what we gravitate to. I think that is actually more in line with most craft art than other approaches in what is called ‘fine’ or ‘modern’ art. Craft tends towards showing us beauty more so than having a message and I think that is a very important and admirable. Make someone smile or sigh happily and you have done the whole world a great service.

See more of Leonid’s work on his website and Facebook page.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Take a break from creating and take time to just admire beauty. What is beautiful to you? If you can get out to some galleries or a museum and just take in what catches your eye, without any self-judgement as to the sophistication of your choices. If what you see inspires you, sketch or write out ideas to go over later in the studio.

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A Festival of Color

anarinaanarIf you need further examples of going all out with color, but maybe not as showy as Monday’s piece, Anarina Anar is the go to artist for slightly washed but very colorful work.

I don’t know if she plans her colors or not. They just feel so organic, like maybe they were a happy accident that happened during the Hindu Holi festival (Festival of Colors) or,  in the vicinity of her pan pastels, there was a localized tornado. Or cats. I’m going to go with cats.

But really, there is such abandon and yet cohesiveness in her color and her compositions. She keeps it all together with similar shapes and motifs as well as her signature faux ceramic look. She actually does do some limiting of her palette with some of her pieces but you hardly notice that since the colors wash back and forth in such brilliant saturation. It’s the use of the semi-opaque pastels and the layering and blending of the edges of colors that makes it appear muted. The constant shift keeps any one color from being overbearing which also makes it feel more organic.

Get other ideas about going wild with color while not being overly dramatic by heading over to Anarina’s Flickr site or her Etsy store.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Try using a lot of color but take it down a notch. You can mute the colors by adding a bit of black or white or even gray. You can antique the clay with washes of acrylic paint or inks in neutral tones. Or you can use pastels or colored pencils. Use at least 4 hues so you have both cool and warm colors. How do you make them work together?

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Chroma Crazed

rainbow-necklace-lubetsm-ruIf you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you’ve probably heard me say a time or two that color can be a crutch. Form, line, composition and other design elements need to be considered with the same weight as color. However, if you are going to let color carry the design, it helps to make it just take over. In other words, don’t be restrained. Go all out!

You can certainly say that Luba Meshakinoy went all out in these Rainbow necklaces of hers. Not only is there a lot of saturated color, she placed them on the shine of metal foil and capped it off with clear epoxy resin to magnify the color and the shine. Yes, the design is a tried and true gradation of shapes in a symmetrical composition and nothing she has done here is new or surprising but she the thing that makes this so appealing–aside from all the yummy color–is that she didn’t hold back in her choices. It does result in a necklace that will take a big, colorful personality to really pull it off or be seen aside from the brilliant color but so what? The super bright personalities need equally bright adornment. We cannot make pieces to satisfy everyone or even most people. And we really shouldn’t.

I do know, however, that most people do love color on some level. We are easily drawn to it. And it’s a Monday! So go take a peek at her bright and shiny color on her website here.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Go crazy with color. I don’t know what that means to you, but push what you usually do. If you work with a lot of color already, how can you heighten the impact? Use 4 or more colors in high saturation or color clay with alcohol links, paints, mica powders or anything you have bright and colorful. Just let the color lead you on this.

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Outside Inspiration: Varied Strokes

mary-k-bead-and-buttonWe’re wrapping up this week with a little more series variation with artist Mary Karg who works in metal, beads and glass although I find her pieces like the ones here very inspiring for polymer related work.

These pieces are copper with colored pencil. Did you know that was a valid way of coloring metal? It takes a couple of steps of preparation and, of course, a sealant to set it, but it’s actually very much like coloring polymer with colored pencils. The technique, although central to the success of these pieces, feels so well-integrated. The strokes are texture that compliments the texture of the metal behind those layers, further meshed into the design with what looks like pitting of the colored pencil surface. Unlike Wednesday’s pieces, the variation here is fairly minimal but each change upholds the expert design and the choices of dangles, colors and contrast fit the slightly varied mood of each.

I found Mary’s website quite interesting, especially her About page. She’s comes across as a real down to earth person, with making art rather than making a name for herself being her primary focus. Here is a little snippet from her website:

“I consider myself a wearable artist rather than a jewelry designer.  I seldom make the same thing twice, although I will get hooked on something I can’t quit until the itch is totally scratched (SERIOUS ART people refer to this as a series, I believe).”

Go explore her fun and varied designs on her website here.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Work with a fairly simply design but make three related variations to each. If you change the color, consider what that color says or represents then change the form to match and seeing those two together, change up the texture to complement that. Do this 4 or more times to see how far your little explorations take you.

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Collecting Varied Influences

ivana-brozova-pod-pendantsAlthough we regularly look at artwork once piece at a time, there is much to learn from looking over a collection of work, especially when the work has a lot of great variation.

We have not seen any work from Ivana Brozova recently as she was on a 10 month hiatus, traveling all over southeast Asia. I was curious to see what inspiration would come from that and although I don’t know how directly these pieces were influenced by her travels, these forms and colors certainly feel like they could come from the lush forests of Asia. They are also obviously based on things she’s done before but there is maturity in the details, especially looking at them as a group. Her material for hanging these necklaces is vastly different from one piece to the next. The treatment of the walls of the focal pod also varies as does the coloring and application of the color. The result is a series with each piece feeling quite different from the next although they are so much the same in form and construction. It gives you a good idea of some of the areas you can play with as you explore variation in your own work.

You can see how Ivana has developed variation in her past work as well as bookmark her pages to check in for future pretties on her Flickr photostream.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Play with the functional aspects of your work. If you do jewelry, try out vastly different types of findings, chains, and cords. If you do decor, try a different type of material to apply the polymer too or a completely different kind of vessel or form. If you do wall art, research unique ways to hang it that can be incorporated into it’s composition and design.

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Scratching Out Unusual Design

m-catijanI’m not sure what the theme is going to be this week. I am just going to start here with this fairly unusual piece and see where the ideas take us. Some Mondays, you just gotta go with the flow.

Flow is part of what had me contemplating this piece by Marjana Cajhen. What caught my eye first–and was what you probably first noticed too, I’d guess–is that puzzle piece. This is looking like a progression of square shapes and then a puzzle piece shape pops up. Is this a geometric shape? It’s not organic but it seems a tad too complicated to be geometric yet it’s shape is balanced and measured and feels squarish in a way. However the edge of the shape keeps shifting gears. It’s that constant moving edge that makes it stand out, of course, but is this a good thing?

At first I thought this pattern change from squares might be too jarring but to take it away would take away all its draw. The unexpected shape is a type of contrast not to mention adding a bit of fun in what might otherwise be a bit of a static piece, even with the energetic linear texture. The other thing I wondered about was that choice of texture. Each piece has a different textural pattern but there is consistency in that inconsistency. And since the textures also  are all made up of lines, there is a relationship between them there as well as in their black and white nature.

But you know what delights me the most? That spray of cord ends splayed across the corner of that end square. Between that and the puzzle piece, it seems Marjana’s choices are trying to break up an orderly gathering of stodgy squares and force them into a bit of play time.

This juxtaposition of geometric shapes and use of line , especially the scratch marks, are a regular theme in Marjana’s work. You can compare her ideas on her Flickr photostream or read up on her various adventures and explorations on her blog.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create a piece with a repeated form but change one along the way in some unexpected manner. Try to think of something that is both related but not commonly seen with such forms. A string of light blue round beads could be interrupted by a miniature peach. A pattern of deep red flower canes can give way to a large yellow fireworks cane. The idea is to keep the repeated element related in at least a couple of aspects and then challenge yourself to come up with something no one would expect but somehow makes sense–the blue beads relate to the peach in terms of shape and size and the orange color is a direct contrast to the blue so they can work dramatically together. Flowers and fireworks have similar centrally blooming structures and the yellow and red are both warm colors so they work together. See where this is going?

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Pushing Variation

cane-slice-plus-36-permutations-on-blackBefore we leave the realm of canes, I thought I’d toss out a little reminder and challenge (along with adding another colorful image to our week … guess I’m feeling the need for color!) to really push what you do with canes. Or if you don’t cane, consider ways you can manipulate and vary the applications you commonly use.

Carol Simmons, a master with both canes and colors, shows the many, many opportunities for beautiful and complex designs you can find in just one cane with this image of 36 kaleidoscope versions. It is absolutely amazing to see the variation. It takes a while to find where and how she switched up and cut up the canes slices to come up with these. A couple are still a mystery to me, I must admit, but it is such a delight to find each one. It’s like 36 little puzzles. It is more than just a puzzle though. Going through and finding the patterns and determining how she arranged them can do a lot for your understanding of the possibilities of manipulating pattern which you can, in turn, turn around and apply to canes, mokume, textural patterns and anything else with a sheeted surface.

The post on this was actually from about 3 years ago but it’s a timeless lesson. Jump over to Carol’s blog post to read the whole thing and get further insight on this.

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: You know what this challenge will be … create variation with a cane or other surface designed sheet. How can you cut, rearrange, or manipulate the pattern to come up with other designs?

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Crisp and Clean

sigaliot-crisp-and-clean-beadSome days you just want simple and bright, something uncomplicated to make you smile. I found this one bead on this foggy Wednesday morning and it gave me an immediate visual pick me up with the beautiful colors and skillfully created and applied canes.

The cane and bead artisan here is Israel’s Sagit Levi. She specializes in bright, clean, well-defined and delightful colors and graphical lines in her beads as well as creating charming illustrative wall art. She also is very attentive to her finishes, completing edges and surfaces so smoothly that her resin and glaze sealants come out flawless, letting those yummy colors shine through.

Need a bit more color pick-me-up yourself? Just jump over to Sagit’s website, Flickr photostream or Etsy site and get yourself an eye full!

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Let color rule your day. Focus on creating a few new color palettes. Start with one color that you really like then stack all kinds of colors next to it and create a new palette that surprises and delights you. If you can’t do that in the studio, you can play with this somewhat new free online color palette finder from Adobe, Color CC,  or try the polymer specific ColorMixr app on your phone.

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Like this blog? Lend your support with a purchase of The Polymer Arts magazine and visit our partners.

Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog  never knead -july-2015c-125   2Wards Blog Sept 2016

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