Soft and Sleek

Escaron art doll color and aura 430x339 - Soft and SleekApparently we are doing polymer and fur this week. Looking at Tuesday’s artist led me down a rabbit hole of impressive figure and doll art where polymer is being beautifully combined with furry textures. I did try to find jewelry, and there are a few things, but nothing that was knocking my socks off.

This artist, however, did grab my attention. Furry doesn’t have to be cute, quite apparently. This majestic little creature impresses one with both the bright but not overly used dashes of blue and a very sleek and elegant line in its form. You also have to wonder what story the artist has for this creature. I can’t imagine making something like this without imagining how it would live out in the world.

The artist, Linda Lundqvist who hails from Sweden, creates a wide variety of fantastical creatures, that mix characteristics of various animals along with a good dose of pure imagination. Discover more of Linda’s world through her Deviant art pages and in her Etsy shop.

 

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An Artist’s Tail

ClayByKim on Etsy Mermaid tailBefore I get into my little thoughts about today’s intriguing piece, I wanted to put out a couple of thoughts for all of you who are attempting to do the challenges. I’ve had some questions and concerns about getting them done. First of all, you don’t need to do all the challenges presented to gain insight and benefit from them. The goal is to push yourself to look at your work differently, to explore, and to see what there is to discover. A regular challenge will certainly help you do this because you would have committed to a particular goal. But you do not have to do 3 a week. Some people have the time to do so but certainly not all of us. Maybe just one a week, choosing whichever challenges I post that appeal to you most. Or take one night or one day a month and choose a couple to explore. Make your goal reasonable for you and your schedule. I can already tell you that three a week is really taxing me. I am barely managing the sketch suggestions and I have yet to take photos so I can share, but I do plan on doing it. If you thought you’d try to do them all and can’t, readjust your goal to something manageable.

Also, remember that these challenges do not require that you finish a piece each time. Being able to finish is extremely important and that is where sharing on the Flickr page can be a motivator. But maybe you do one challenge a week and aim to have one completed piece to share come the end of the month. Do what works for you and, please, do not give yourself a hard time if you are not able to keep the goal you set. Readjust and just keep trying. Keep your personal end-goal in mind. Mine is to have more regular studio time and, although I haven’t completed anything yet, I have at least been at my work table a lot more than I had been. Those are small steps, but they’re important. As long as you are moving forward and not stalling or going backwards, those are accomplishments to be happy about.

Speaking of small things, do you see what small adjustments were probably made here to create this mermaid’s tail? I am guessing, from the look of Kim Detmers flowers petal canes, that these cane components started out floral but, somewhere along the way, they suggested fins to Kim. I chuckled at the form being just the tail of the mermaid. Did she shed this when granted a wish for human legs? Is this the mythical aquatic version of a rabbit’s foot worn for good luck? I don’t know but I liked the whimsy and the re-purposing of the canes, if that is what she did.

Kim is all about fancy and fantasy as you can see in her Etsy shop. And what is fantasy but re-envisioning our common world?

 

Inspirational Challenge of the Day: If you want to try a challenge today, how about taking a cane, a motif, a form, or some element that you regularly create with and try to imagine it as something else. A bead could be a dolls head with the addition of a body and a hat. A heart motif could be petals on a flower or cut in-half to become tear drops. I’m looking at my vine motif that I usually use vertically and I’m thinking I could set them horizontally to become stylized wind motifs. But that is just a first thought. Let’s see where I can go from there. How about you?

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The Complexity of Animals

This fantastical creature is part of the series “Creatures from El” by Canadian artist Ellen Jewett. All of the swirls and scales movement are portrayed using textures and the wave of the dragon’s body. The dragon appears like stop animation … he is caught for a moment in time … so that we might enjoy his magnificence. This piece is a moving biological narrative, expressing emotions, movement, balance, and observations about life’s overtures and subtleties. This artist works with the principle that materials should conform to her vision, rather than confine her vision to the limits of materials.

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As might be evident in her work, Ellen has extensive education in post-secondary Biological Anthropology and has been pursuing graduate work in anthrozoology. To enjoy the magnitude of her vision, take a look at her Etsy site, and read her journal entries on deviantart.com. When she is not too busy creating new work or filling custom orders, she hopes to resume private lessons in sculpture and stop motion animation, as well as her online tutorials.

 

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Beautiful Nightmare

Artist Valeria Myrusso specializes in unsettling imagery. I can’t quite put my finger on why this piece below gives off a sense of eeriness, but there is definitely something vaguely creepy about the creature melded with the violin here. It makes me think of being trapped, that this might be something I’d see in a nightmare–and yet it’s just really beautiful.

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A large part of its beauty is in the abundance of detail. All the tiny details, the faces and filigree and even the little floating orbs around the character’s neck come together to give this piece an otherworldly quality. This photo alone doesn’t show half of it, either. Take a look at her page with detailed shots of the piece here. If you like her work, she has more, both in polymer and in other materials, on her website.

Into the Woods in Germany

Much of the lore surrounding the mythical beings of the forest that we are familiar with today, such as faeries and elves, comes to us from Western Europe. The German lore is particularly colorful, influencing many accomplished artists and writers in Europe through the ages and certainly today. You may not presently believe in faeries and elves; but perhaps after peeking in on the work of Germany’s Tatjana Raum, you will wonder if she didn’t find inspiration and models for her pieces in some secret part of a deep Germanic forest. The amazing detail and wonderful expressions on these two creatures made me halt when I saw it.  These are so realistic-looking for beings that are not supposed to exist.

fairie Raum

 

Expressive faces are Tatjana’s specialty. Besides her figures and art dolls, she has these amazing pieces where she blends a face into a piece of old wood, as if she magically coaxed the spirit of the wood to emerge and reveal itself. Although this piece is less about the expression than the connection the artist is making between the wood and the personification of its spirit, it’s still quite emotive and definitely inspires wonder.

Woodfairie Raum

Take yourself off into another realm with a little visit to Tatjana’s gallery pages.

 

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Stealing Texture

Sculpture works with all kinds of subtle and not so subtle textures, often both visual and tactile. Fantasy sculpture in particular offers some wonderfully inventive textures that can be pulled or used for inspiration for all kinds of other polymer work, not just sculpture.

There is no authority to say what skin, scales, wings, or anything else on a fantasy figure should look like, so the suppositions of the artist creating them can result in all kinds of fantastical colors, textures, and patterning you might not have seen before or might not expect. I love the effect Celia Harris created on the tail of her young fairy mermaid here, and the wings are quite lovely as well. But such effects don’t need to be relegated to wings and the slick skin of aquatic creatures.

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Can you imagine some light earrings with the sheen and maybe even the punched out holes and ragged edges of the wings? The visual texture of the tail would be charming on a pod shaped pendant, or as a contrasting layer of texture on a vase covered in pearl clay.

For tactile texture, I don’t know if there is anyone that works in fantasy sculpture that can quite compare to Virginie Ropars. I really enjoy how well the texture shows without heavy competition with color. The honeycomb of perforations and the flow of sculpted lines on the chest and in the hairline are lovely and translatable to almost any other form, if you find yourself drawn to that kind of texture.

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Bottom line: look at the components of sculpture — or any artwork — for inspiration, rather than the whole of a piece, and let your creativity translate it into whatever forms you prefer to work in.

Outside Inspiration: Whimsical Possiblities

Let us have a whimsical Friday, shall we? This curious sculpture titled “Night Jackal” is by mixed media sculptor Ellen Jewett.  Her sculptures portray fantastical visions combining animals with man-made objects and constructions.

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She is rather vague about her materials but nowhere can I find mention of polymer, and being that she paints the sculptures it doesn’t look as if she does work with it, even though for those of us who do work with polymer, it might seem a natural choice for the bits of adornment, if not the primary structure of the creatures. There is mention of cold porcelain and other lightweight clays over metal armature but otherwise she usually only describes her materials as mixed media. Apparently, for Ellen, it is not about the material as further attested to in this quote from her website:

“She has always worked by the principle that materials should conform to her vision, rather than confine her vision to the limits of a material. It is in this way that she produces mixed media sculptures that achieve an otherworldly quality.”

This brings up an interesting thought. Polymer artists can become rather attached to the idea of doing everything in polymer … because it seems we can! So the question then arises, do you create what you make because of the material you love to work with, or is polymer simply the right material for your vision?

I don’t know if it really matters which it is. However, I think it may be important to understand the difference and know how it is that you use the material. If you create because of the material, you may need to be cautious of having it limit your creativity in that you let it dictate what you make. On the other hand, if you have particular things you want to create and have come to polymer because it works for what you have in mind, have you explored the vast possibilities the material has and can offer in addition to what you have been doing with it?

Just something to ponder next time you sit down to create new work.

The focus in the next issue of The Polymer Arts is “Mixing it Up” which includes a lot of discussion about using polymer with other materials. Don’t forget to get your subscription or renew the one you have if the Spring issue was your last. You can also pre-order copies on our website. Go here to order and guarantee you don’t miss out on the next issue: www.thepolymerarts.com/Subscribe.html

Just Stunning

What is there to say about a piece like the one below? The highly skilled craftsmanship is striking, the arrangement of elements is wonderfully composed, the posture and gestures are quite emotive and knowing that it is polymer clay … well … it’s just stunning.

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Forest Rogers creates sculpture primarily of myth and fantasy. Take a moment to peruse her website and her blog where she often shows her works in progress, which, even though incomplete, are often as beautiful as her finished work. Look at this Octopoid sculpture she posted about in August.

Okay, I’ll shush up now so you can enjoy.

Thoughts from Atlanta

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I have been doing a lot of washing the dust off of my every day life these past couple weeks — creating artwork for a truly fun and low-stress show. I am now in Atlanta at DragonCon … a show of monumental proportions where creativity is unleashed in nearly limitless ways and shown off to the over 50,000 attendees. Yes, it is a geek show. Fantasy, science fiction, horror,  speculative and established sciences and tons and tons of costuming. This market is where I got my polymer career off the ground.

Although my work has changed and doesn’t fit this market so much anymore, I have really come to appreciate the incredible depth and breadth of the talent in this community. They also have such an appreciation for polymer and what it can do. I present several talks on polymer each year here with attendees literally spilling out the door at each one. These people really know how to shake off the dust of every day life and get creative!

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