Riotous Ripples and Purple Koi

koi coverAt my new house we have a big koi pond just outside my studio door. The waterfalls on it are a most wonderful sound to work to but I had never dealt with any kind of yard garden feature before and we were left with a murky mess so it wasn’t so lovely to look at. We knew there were fish in there but we could hardly see them so we weren’t sure what we had. I did a ton of research and finally, last week, hit upon the one thing that cleared it up (it was a pea gravel filter, in case there are any pond owners out there struggling with algae bloom as well) and now I’ve been gazing at my clear water and six beautiful koi including two that are as big as a loaf of bread. They are amazing.

This purple journal cover by Wojciech Chowaniec is as amazing as the fish it glorifies. I wish I had a purple colored koi but the look on this fish reminds me of the large one in our little school. Although the purple next to the shimmering blue is half the drama, the curve and active arrangement of the fins along with the riotous ripples of the water add a lot of energy to this as well.

Did you notice that the fish is not all purple? There is actually more silver than purple and the fins look to be bronze. But it’s the purple that pops. However, like our piece yesterday, the other colors around the purple is what gives the color so much liveliness.

Creating dramatic and energetic covers in polymer is what Wojciech does. He actually tends towards the macabre and fantasy based themes but this certainly shows off his skill with both bas-relief sculpture and color. You can check his other work out in his Etsy shop.

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In Need of a Rainbow Coalition

DKassel rainbow coalitionNothing like a “Rainbow Coalition” to start the week off and that is what we are fortunate enough to be enjoying today with this enchanting little gather by the ever whimsical Doreen Kassel. The colors of these characters are just so juicy and combined in a most delicious way. Marks were scratched into the surface after painting to energize the forms of this little gang’s broad torsos. Although their body shapes don’t leave room for much movement everything else is in motion from the dancing gestures of the arms to the expressive facial gestures.  It is hard not to smile in their presence.

Speaking of which… I could use an energized rainbow coalition of my own as we have lost a couple of contributors for the next issue of The Polymer Arts and could use some imagination and talent to fill in the spaces. The next issue’s theme is ‘Color!’  Would you want to be a part of this delightful next issue? I could use help fleshing out a “ways to design colorful beaded necklaces” article or maybe you have a color-centric or just colorful technique tutorial such as painting with or on polymer.

We also really could use a short personal story, that may or may not have to do with color but would inspire and make people smile, for that last page, the Muse’s Corner section. Do you have any splendid ideas the readers of The Polymer Arts might want? You’ll never know unless you write us!

Please send your article ideas to me using the link on our submission page or write me directly at sbray(at)thepolymerarts.com. Avoid replying to this post if you get it by email as it won’t go to me, taking a day or two to get forwarded, and I would love to see your ideas as soon as possible!

In the meantime, for more color and smiles, take a look at what Doreen is up to on her website or follow her on Instagram.

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Balancing Silkscreens

HBreil Radiating Rays silkscreenAs mentioned yesterday, silkscreen is great for adding pattern to a piece but you want to be careful that you don’t lean too heavily on the pattern to carry your design. As fun and novel as silkscreening can be for the maker, it is still just a visual texture. Something else has to come into play.

So, of course, I had to check out Helen Breil’s silkscreened pieces because I knew she’d have a fabulous example for us. This gorgeous bracelet gets energy and an interesting texture from the silkscreen but if it weren’t for the color choices of gold against a rich red and the undulating form, the pattern would not be overly interesting. But with texture, color and form combined, we have a very dramatic and energetic piece. Let’s not forget the anchor of that black focal point. Without it, all the movement and energy might be a bit much but the button in the middle gives the eye a place to rest before heading back out to take in beauty of this great combination of elements.

Of course, Helen’s shop is an excellent source of silkscreens as well as instruction on how to use them. You can find both on her website here and her Pinterest board of examples here. Also take a look at her video classes, including her new Magnetic Pendants class, all on her website.

 

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Pile it On

kim detmers dragonfly gardenI do like to keep busy, but I have to say the last few weeks have been beyond what any normal human should do to themselves. And I do say, I am doing this to myself because I am fully capable of saying no to some things but I have a very hard time doing so! So I’ve been piling it on and have to-do lists to keep track of my to-do lists and yet, I am a pretty happy camper.

Bringing lots of parts of things together can feel like chaos but with a little organization and stepping back to see the whole picture, it can look pretty good. I’m using this concept as a way to step into the things I want to show you this week … pieces made from pieces, in layers and repetition, doing the whole gestalt thing whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Following me still?

This charming pendant is an example of bringing together a lot of little things to present a pretty nice picture. It is a series of simple cane slices put together with a bit of texture and an embellishment here and there, creating this little scene. Kim Detmers  has made a number of these dragonfly garden pins but this is the most eye-catching, I think. Whereas the others are nearly all greens and blues, keeping the range all on the cool side of the color spectrum, this one has a dragonfly with yellow-orange wings which makes it stand out and creates a strong focal point. The many diagonal lines in the composition adds to the energy and drama, but just a little. It’s still pretty idyllic which has as much to do with the calming blue and green color dominance as the subject matter.

Kim tends to keep things light and bright with a penchant for fantasy-esque themes as you can see in her Etsy shop. I don’t see any Dragonfly Gardens here but there are a few to compare by doing a Google image search.

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Rippling Wings

limanska mothApparently I am not the only one who likes moths! The first post this week knocked the meter off the scale and was shared, liked and viewed thousands of times. We also got our answer as to who the artist was–Darya Telegina of Balambeshka on www.vk.com. I’ve added it to the post which you can see here. (Thank you to Sherrie Brittig, Conny Brockstedt, and Natalya Aleksandrova for figuring it out and sending the links!)

So how about a few more moths this week? This beautiful fluttering thing is the creation of Iryna Limanska who makes all kinds of flora and fauna inspired wearable pieces.

The attraction here is partly the delicate colors but mostly the rippling edges of the moth wings which gives it a lively and energetic look. Those ripples are a bit of artistic license, however, as the moth she refers to in the listing–the Actias Luna moth–doesn’t ripple like this or have colored edging. I don’t think there are any moths with this kind of rippled edge to its wings, none I could find. But as artists, this is exactly what I think we should be doing–creating something not seen before.

Not that it is inartistic to recreate nature in exact detail but since we can alter what nature has already shown us, why would we not? This is where self-expression has a chance to come out in quiet but insistent ways. It is an opportunity to show others how we interpret what we see or how we’d like to see it.

Irvna does a lot of this altering nature in small ways in her work. Check out the flower petal skirts on her ballerina silhouettes and her succulent boutonnieres, all listed in her Etsy shop.

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Soutache Sashay

soutache-lipowska

If you aren’t into a lot of bling, you can add a little energy to your outfit with some moving adornment. These soutache and tassel earrings would be mesmerizing on the dance floor this new year’s eve, or at any upcoming special occasion.

Designs in soutache are easily translated into polymer. From the spirals and loops to the integration of beads, browsing through a collection of soutache jewelry offers a lot of ideas for some fancy polymer pieces. And adding tassels like Anna Lipowska Lianne has done with her sashaying soutache would be a lovely addition when you want graceful movement in your jewelry.

Anna is also expert in adding just a dash of color or even going a little geometric. Take a look at her collections on her website and her Facebook page.

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Outside Inspiration: Through the Trees

michelle_mckinney_treesI’m going to end this week with something that is translucent although maybe not the way you are thinking, a piece that shies away from the fall colors, moving into Winter, as so many of us are, at least in terms of upcoming plans if not weather.

I share this work with you upon one condition (okay, maybe it’s not a condition, but it is a very strong urging) … that you visit the links I have for you for this artist. Michelle McKinney is one of those artists whose work you need to see in its many variation to really understand the scope and beauty of her vision. She works in what she calls ” hand cut translucent woven metal”. The images she creates are so delicate and yet they are generally rife with energy and, in my view, struggle.

That fact that she calls her material translucent and we see it as delicate makes for a fairly dramatic contrast with our understanding that this is metal. There is further contrast between concept and material in that images are almost all organic and yet what they are made of is industrial. More impressive though, is the undeniable beauty in her subject matter, the usually simple images that are a bit torn and twisted. I think it garners empathy for the idea of something so delicate being in such a state. It’s rather hard to put one’s finger on exactly what it is that is so striking about these but it is there without question.

You need to look at her collection of work for yourself and see if the pieces speak to you in a similar fashion. Please treat yourself to the beauty of her pieces on her Facebook page which looks to hold the largest collection of images like these trees here. But also stop over at her website to see the black and white prints she is creating with these sculptural pieces, developing a collection she calls Ghost Editions. They are eerily beautiful and not to be missed.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Design or create something whose imagery is one thing but the texture, color or embellishment would say something else. Work in conceptual and visual contrast. Don’t think too hard about it or too long. Start with a few ideas and see where the muse takes you.

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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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Subdued Passion

kejka sperky SadaI know it will be hard to top Monday’s piece. The energy in that sculpture was unreal. But intensity of that kind is not the only thing that visually defines passion. How about that low but long burning fire many of us have? It may be a passion for art or for our family or friends. It might be how we feel getting out in nature or the desire for adventure. It is not crazy but it is always there and that kind of passion, that persistent, ever present emotion, is sustaining and keeps us focused on the things that are good in our lives and good for ourselves.

So, to represent that slow burning passion, I picked this mellow yet fiery caned earring and pendant set. There is not the chaos of movement we saw Monday but you can still feel the energy. The Czech Republic’s Kejka creates the energy through both the purely warm color palette and the tapered but parallel and highly directional lines. The gradation from dark on the outside to light in the middle on the pendant also gives it a glow.

Kejka made a series of these flame-like canes in various colors. Take a look at the purple and blue one as well on her Facebook page.

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Create or sketch in a completely warm color palette. That means from reds to oranges to yellows. Try either creating a subdued feel with your design for these highly energetic colors or see how insanely energetic you can make it.

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