Snakes in the Shadows

ellenjewett snake 430x509 - Snakes in the Shadows‘Tis the time to think creepy and ghoulish … if you’re into that kind of thing. And, yep, I am! I love Halloween, in large part because it is that one time of year the majority of our society looks at the darker side of life and has an appreciation for it, even embracing the scary and dark. I have always believed that you can find as much beauty in the dark and frightening things as you can in the sunshine. Mind you, I do love my sunshine, but I am very much drawn to the beauty of the night. So let’s greet the season with some dark beauty to set the mood.

And if anyone can pull off not just dark and beautiful but also elegant and enthralling, it would be the likes of Ellen Jewett. Her work, created in a variety of craft clays and hand painted, spins and swirls and teems with life but not just the life of the animal that the sculpture is centered on. Many of her sculptures also include other smaller signs of life, from insects to birds to flora that seem to be as alive as the creatures themselves. Her coloring fades from one shade to another, often giving the illusion of shadow and thus a bit of mystery.

The snake of this piece is accompanied by crows and wreathed in a vine of that hovers between death and life, black in places and blooming tiny white flowers in others. You can see by her detail shot on her website that photos are just not going to do it justice. There are shimmering greens and blues with dashes of copper among them as well as silvery and maroon scales along its length. And I’m just gleaning that from the photos. I can only imagine how intriguing this is in person.

Looking through Ellen’s galleries is always a treat. Treat yourself to a bit of that today by heading over to her website. 


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tpa 125x125 sept2017 - Snakes in the Shadows    The Great Create Sept 15 blog   businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-front   Shades of Clay Sept 15 Blog


Value in Contrast

The lead article in the next issue of The Polymer Arts is about contrast, all types of contrasts. One of the harder to grasp ideas in the realm of contrast is color value. The difficulty comes in identifying differences in value. Value is the variation between light and dark. Generally we can see that yellow and purple are not only opposite colors, but also quite different in value–yellow comes across as light, and purple appears to be dark. But what about green and red? Or chocolate brown and royal blue? Or mustard and periwinkle? Even though the value difference can be hard to decide on, value is still perceived in an overall design. If you’re having trouble, there are a couple tricks to help you figure out how much value contrast you have in a piece.

One, if you are having a hard time identifying colors with value contrast in your piece, then you likely don’t have much value contrast. That may or may not be okay, depending on how you want the piece to come across. If your piece is looking boring or flat, increasing the value contrast would be something to investigate. And if you want to identify the value differences so you can decide what to change, a really easy way to do this is to take a black and white photo of your piece, or change a color photo of it to “grayscale” in your favorite photo editing software.

Value is easy to find in work that is created without color. This lovely necklace by Nathalie of 100% Bijoux is all about value. Without color, the contrast between black, white, and gray is all she has to carry the drama in this piece, and she does that quite well. It’s a great example of how important value can be, and the contrast is easy to see without the distraction of color.



We discuss many more elements of design that can be contrasted to add interest and drama in the upcoming Winter 2013 article. We’ll be putting the mailing list together early next week for that first batch that mails directly from the printer, so if you haven’t gotten your pre-order in or your subscription yet, it takes just a few clicks to order on our website. If you are a subscriber but are wondering if your subscription is up yet or not, we did send out the notice to all readers whose subscriptions are expired Tuesday morning (it  might be in your spam folder if you’re thinking yours is expired). If it’s not there, you can also check your digital access emails (for digital subscribers), or write my assistant Lisa at and she can look it up for you.

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