A Plethora of Petals

jana benzon rose petals 430x408 - A Plethora of PetalsHave you seen what Jana Roberts Benson has been up to lately? She has been creating these entrancing, super textural and rich pieces with layered petals and other highly dense collections of elements. They’re absolutely amazing.

This is the first piece I saw, jumping out at me from my Facebook one day last month, but there have been so many more posted since. It is a bit hard to describe why these are so alluring. I think, for one, you just really want to reach out and touch them and it’s a touch frustrating that you can’t, right? Secondly, for us artists, we look at this and can only imagine how much work must go into them. Or you might wonder what kind of trick she has up her sleeve to complete so many of these in what seems like a short period of time. The colors are deep and rich, matching the richness of the density of elements she puts together in these pieces.

I’m going to stop attempting to tell you about these and just have you jump over to her Facebook page to see what she’s been up to. It’s not like any of her work you’ve seen before and I, for one, am really excited to see where this is taking her.

A Moment for the Flowers

Anna nel nested flowers v2 430x485 - A Moment for the FlowersSpring is finally here in full force in Southern California. My daffodils have already bloomed and gone for some reason but suddenly everything else is jumping out and it is really hard to stay in the office when just outside my window so much is going on. So I will bring some of the flowers indoors this week by checking out some flower pieces here!

I came by this lovely set of nested trumpet-like flowers by Anna Nel on Instagram the other day and just had to stop and admire. I think it’s really the colors that make this image. I first thought this was a complete necklace and then realized it is two separate ones. My vote, however, is it that these be worn together. Green and purple are always a lovely combination and yellow and purple are opposites on the color wheel so collectively the three bright colors make a very vibrant and eye-catching color palette.

I couldn’t find much about Anna but you can go over to her Instagram account to see what she’s been up to. She looks to be in a rather exploratory phase of her polymer journey but definitely heading in an interesting direction.

Faces Within

Mary Hager scarab beetle 430x452 - Faces WithinHere is the other thing about faces—it doesn’t have to be a whole face to draw our attention. As mentioned on Wednesday, there just needs to be an eye.

You are drawn to the eyes on this interestingly sculpted scarab beetle, aren’t you? I don’t know about you but it took me half a second to realize these big, bright eyes are part of two halves of a face, one that would be whole if the wings were closed. And this isn’t some clever composition by the artist. This is something nature actually does.

Circling back to Monday’s explanation about why we are drawn to faces, eyes and faces on the back of various insects are also based in survival. Any potential predators looking at the face they see on the back of these insects may think they are being looked at and surmise that this may be the face of a much larger creature.

In artwork,  like with this beetle sculpture by Mary Hager, these distracting faces make for delightful little discoveries within the sculpture. Mary works in wood, paper, air-dry clay, wire, beads, fabric, and paint to create her colorful creations. And these are not jewelry. These are good-sized sculptures, maybe one and a half to two feet high (45-60cm).

To see more and read about her process, go to her website here.

Creature Faces

myrusso 430x760 - Creature Faces

The faces that draw our attention in artwork do not have to be human. They don’t even have to be real creatures. Anything with an eye will jump out at us as a focal point. If there is an eye then we recognize the presence of another consciousness, or at least our primitive brain does, and so we have to check it out.

Artist Valeria Myrusso created this amazing bird pin, choosing to give it these big black beads for eyes that you can hardly pull away from. But please do. The work around it is beautiful, intricate, flowing, and regally dramatic with its golds and reds.

Valeria works with a lot of faces although she seems primarily focused on intricate, filigree-like work in her sculptural polymer. Go take a look at her delicately sculpted creations in the extensive gallery on her website and Instagram.

And yes, I know, I somehow picked two artists with the same first name, both from Russia, working in very similar styles this week. Initially, I wondered if they are the same person but my research says they are not. I don’t pay any attention to where the artists are from when I pick art for the posts. Most of the time I don’t know until I’ve completed the research. Either the work fits the theme and what I’d like to discuss or it doesn’t.  I can tell you that, particularly in polymer, people from the same area often create in similar styles—I imagine it is rooted in similar cultural influences.  If we are most strongly influenced by our local culture than looking outside of it would certainly give us a wider pool of inspiration which should help us develop a unique style.

Just know that I’m not partial to any one part of the world. We’re all one big community as far as I’m concerned.


Polymer Faces

Valeria Belova Gamayun 430x604 - Polymer FacesDid you know that faces will always be the most prominent element in any work of art? Yes, our eye will always go to the face or faces in any artwork, photograph, or space that we walk into. It is ingrained in us to look at the faces of people or creatures that we see before us. Survival dictated that we look at and read those faces to assess potential danger or to otherwise understand, as best we can, their purpose for being present. So if you have a face in your work, it is going to be a focal point.

This also makes the use of faces rather dramatic so if you choose to put a face in your work, just keep in mind that it will have a very strong draw for your art and will diminish the importance of everything else that goes with it.

This lovely, intricately decorated necklace is one such example. It generally takes a while for the eye to be drawn away from the face and move around the rest of the piece. Initially, you take in everything else but the face all at once. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t have all kinds of complex and busy work around the face while the face acts as a resting point. That is what Valeria Belova has done here.  The Labradorite and colorfully metallic feathers do their best to compete but the eye is always drawn back to the face.

This is actually one of her less detailed pieces but you rarely see a three-quarter view of the face in jewelry so I just had to share it. Not being straight on makes it a less dramatic presentation of a face, pushing us to think more about the possible story behind it. I don’t know that this is polymer because she talks about the technique more than the material, but it absolutely could be. If you like this, you should take a look at the rest of her work and her LiveMaster shop, where faces from all positions are intricately set in jewelry pieces.



When Simple Is Complex

amethyst studio burgundy petal cane 430x360 - When Simple Is Complex

After all that blathering to you on Wednesday, I thought I’d keep it simple today. Let’s just enjoy some relatively minimal but beautiful canes to spark some ideas for your creative time this weekend.

Spain’s Pilar Rodríguez Domínguez creates lovely, dynamic flower petal canes. The soft but dense sets of radiating lines that dominate her designs help to create a sense of complexity with relatively few elements. I chose this one because you can see how much energy is created with the just these brushed-looking lines, three oval marks, and a vibrant burgundy red.  You don’t need a lot of different stuff to create complexity and energy.

She works similarly in almost all her canes although more commonly with highly contrasting colors to create finely controlled finished flower canes. Enjoy a good eyeful of color and pattern in her Etsy shop,  and on her InstagramFacebook, and Flickr accounts.

Also, since you all couldn’t click-through to see the work of Cécile Bos last week, as she went on vacation and shuttered her shop right after I drafted the blog on her work, take this opportunity to click-through to her website now to see her delicately detailed pieces.

How to Make It Your Own

Katie Way Alices cane mapping 430x388 - How to Make It Your Own
I know I just featured Katie Way in February, but this is such a great example of taking a technique and making it your own that I didn’t want to pass by this opportunity. This seemed particularly apropos after an incident came up a week or so ago that I was consulted about involving a student submitting something to a contest that they created either in a class or based on a class. The problem was not in taking something that was learned in a class and creating from that knowledge but using the design choices that the teaching artist used. So, let’s just review what that means. In a way, it’s very simple – you can replicate technique, but you cannot use the design decisions of another artist.

I think part of the issue is that there is some confusion as to what’s is technique and what is design, so let me try to define that.

Technique is how you manipulate the material including how you apply texture, the process of forming/sculpting, the mixing or application of color treatments, the creation of mechanisms or use of materials for constructing the piece, etc. In other words, it’s about the process of creating.

Design is about the specific choices you make about how something is going to look. So, your choices about the type of texture (not how you apply it), the shapes you create (but not how you create them), the colors you choose (but not the source of the color), and the arrangement of your construction (but not the mechanisms used to put pieces together), are all design choices. If the majority of your choices are based on someone else’s examples, then you’re in danger of copying their design. Changing the color or shape is simply not enough, nor is it fair to the artist that inspired you and, equally so, it’s not fair to you and your creative growth to skip the exploration of what a piece could be by not making the design decisions yourself.

In the piece we see here, Katie Way took a class with Alice Stroppel and made a piece that is uniquely her own. You can see the influence of both artists in this work. The big, bold cane work shows Alice’s influence, but the color choices and all those bulls-eye circles are absolutely Katie. I would’ve known this was Katie’s right away, but it would’ve taken me a few moments to realize where her change in technique came from if she hadn’t made note of her influencer. And that’s really how it should be.

You can absolutely copy the work of the teaching artist in class as a way to learn. Most of them do prefer that. But when you go home, don’t make that same basic piece ever again. Have enough confidence and belief in your artistic self to work out your own designs. It is far more fulfilling to create from your own sense of aesthetic and ideas than to simply be successful with someone else’s design.

Okay, getting off my soapbox now. If you’re intrigued by Alice’s cane mapping class, go to her website to check out where she will be teaching next. And if you’ve somehow missed Katie’s work, check out her Etsy shop and her Instagram page.


The Summer Cover!

ThePolymerArts 18 P2 cover DKacz med border 430x548 - The Summer Cover!This beautiful Monday, I’m sharing with you the latest cover for the upcoming issue of The Polymer Arts, graced by the beautifully balanced jewelry of Dorata Kaszczyszyn.

Summer is soon to be here and the Summer issue – themed “Everything in Its Place” – will be here next month to help you greet the season. You can look forward to such articles as:

  • Looking for Balance with Christi Friesen (part of a new regular section by Christi, called “What Are You Looking at?”)
  • The Art of Meredith Dittmar
  • Remembering Tory Hughes
  • Spilling the Beads: a textural tutorial with Nikolina Otrzan
  • Tiny Tiles: a variation tutorial with Chris Kapono
  • Design Your Own Silkscreens
  • Translucent Silkscreen: a tutorial with Sage Bray
  • Composing Photos for Every Occasion with syndee holt
  • Making the Most of Your Time
  • Lessons from Knitting with Ginger Davis Allman
  • Colors Spotlight with Lorraine Vogel by Lindly Haunani

Renewal notices went out over the last couple weeks but if you’ve not had the chance to renew your subscription or subscribe, you’ll want to be sure to do so soon so you can be on that initial list to get the first copies fresh from the printer (or for digital readers, fresh from our server). We lock down the mailing lists in the first week of May. The release date for the summer issue is set for May 20th.

If you have questions about your subscription, you’re welcome to write us at connect@thepolymerarts.com or, if you get this by email, just hit reply. Sydney, my fabulous assistant and keeper of subscription lists, will get back to you shortly but be a little patient if it takes a day or so. She’s just getting back from a very exciting weekend … she just got married! Congrats and all the best to Sydney and Ben!

Veneers are Tops

bridget derc table3 430x878 - Veneers are TopsI had not planned on going off on a cane-focused week but here we are with more canes. I couldn’t resist sharing this fabulous tabletop created by the very exploratory Bridget Derc.

Primarily I wanted to share the process photo. Don’t you love peeking in on people’s studio tables? In the Creative Spaces themed Spring 2012 issue, we peeked into a handful of people’s studios. That was the quickest selling issue we’ve ever had which makes me think we need to do some more of that in the future. For now, we’ll peek in on Bridget,  who shows us here how she lays out her beautifully constructed canes to cover tabletops. She also tends to the size of the tables as shown in the last photo that I couldn’t resist adding because it’s just such a beautiful pattern and color palette.

She takes process shots of that white table nearly step-by-step, and not having room enough to show that here, I posted this to entice you to jump over to her Flickr photostream where you can see it all. That table and all the process photos are on her second page of Flickr photos. The one you see the process for here is on her first page. But take some time to peruse it all. Not only are her pieces lovingly finished, but you get to see how she puts it all together. Does it give you any ideas?

If you want to peek in on a few other artists, open up your spring 2012 issue of the Polymer Arts and go to the website to download a digital version at www.ThePolymerArts.com It is only available digitally but if you’re curious, go to our website and you can get an immediate download.

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