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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Creatures Redesigned

AGarrod animalsI think we’ll stick with inspiring creatures this week. And what creatures are more inspiring to us than those we share our life with? Dogs, cats, birds, fish …we find something in them that we connect with so it’s not surprising that they make their way into our art.

Recently Angela Garrod posted these kindred creatures of hers on Facebook. With a beautifully stylized approach, she captures the look, and even a few good expressions of some of people’s favorite animals, and this while playing with geometric designs. The hand scratched texture keeps the geometric shapes from feeling too stiff and sterile and adds quite a bit to what would otherwise be just simple shapes and lines through which we, somehow, recognize the variety of animals. I don’t know how our brains see that but more so, it is always a wonder how cartoonists and other artists create images with just a few simple lines and shapes and know we’ll see it. The brain is just pretty darn nifty.

Angela has been up to all kinds of cool and curious geometric designs of late. You can see her explorations through her shared photos on Flickr, her Facebook page, and the gallery on her website.


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A Different Kind of Fish

Nadine Pau fish ornamentI love art dolls. And ornaments. And I’m getting into this whole fish thing so it’s no wonder some odd but beautiful item like this fish ornament by doll and toy maker Nadine Pau caught my eye. There is an ode to steampunk here but I like that its present only in its basic forms. What would be watch gears in someone else’s piece are ornate wheels here. Instead of obvious screw heads and rivets we have simple lines with bead like accents regularly terminating them in a mostly alternate rhythm.

Then there is the face, of course. The illustrative look of the face is content and serene and that look (like it doesn’t find anything wrong with being a fish with a human face but is rather enjoying its strange existence) along with the way the face is integrated with the body using a simple wavy trim for the transition makes for a cohesive and very enjoyable creature.

Then there is the question of what this is made of because it very obviously could be made from polymer. However, I believe this is papier mache as that is the only sculpting material she lists. It is possible that the face is fabric but this can all be done with fine papier mache and paint.

If you enjoy a wonderfully wacky creature or two, do take some time to wander through her gallery which you can find on her delightful website here.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Take any direct imagery you usually use or that you admire and create highly stylized versions of it for a new piece or additions to a work in progress. If the direct imagery is simple, like a heart, you might want to make it more complex or if complex like gears, simplify it or its components so you come up with forms or imagery that is reminiscent of them but is quite different. How does using the stylized imagery change the feel of the work?


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Mid Week Underwater Color Burst

il_fullxfull.644467359_1c3mHere’s a quick and colorful look at some further fishy polymer today.

This bright pendant is by Estonia’s Katrina of  the shop Filigrina on Etsy. We took a peek at another ocean inspired work of hers last year and although this is the same form of pendant, where the other piece was in a limited palette of blues and white, this has a ton of full strength color to show off all this hand tooled texture.

Katrina uses the same basic techniques employed for what is often called polymer embroidery but this time, there are no flowers, which the application is commonly used to create. Obviously the technique is perfect for undersea scenery as well!

I’m sorry this is so short but I must go catch a plane and leave all my little fishes behind. Enjoy this little mid-week color burst!


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Go crazy with color. Use color directly from the packet, choosing the brightest ones you have. Try using more of the colors you tend to steer away from. Create or design a piece with the color itself as inspiration. Let the things and memories that these colors remind you of be the source for imagery, form, texture and lines.



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Fishing About

halibut bowlAlthough I’ve been so buried over here under the enthusiasm of readers and the many orders for the Polymer Journeys book as well as getting ready for the Summer issue and picking up slack while my key staff is in the process of moving or settling into a new home, my better half has regularly been dragging me away from work to help with the new home project, a large fish tank. I thought setting this up would be more like a chore but I have to say, it’s actually quite a creative process, picking out fish with an appropriate mix of sizes, colors, textures and temperaments as well as plants and structures for the fish to play around and hide under. The tank is like a canvas with a whole composition to work out. With two artists on it, our conversations have sounded more like we are working on a collaborative painting than creating an underwater environment so it’s been quite the relaxing and creative escape.

I also seem to be spotting more and more fish in the streams of art going through Flickr, on Pinterest and in my Facebook searches. (It’s been a little creepy actually … like the computer knows what I’ve been up to when I’m away from it!) So I’ve pulled a few favorites to share this week.

I absolutely adore the work of Gera Scott Chandler and spotted her hand in this Halibut Bowl as soon as I saw it. Her intense colors and the surprised expressions of the silly fish make me smile every time I look at it. The circular texture of the bowl emulates a flow of water and, with the saturation of these colors, it collectively gives the bowl a very energetic and fun feel.

Gera has a beautiful new site here. There isn’t a gallery but if you want to get this bowl for yourself, it is up for sale! You can keep up with her latest creative endeavors (including lots of fish!) on her Facebook page as well.


Inspirational Challenge of the Day: Bring your outside life into your studio. What has been going on in your family or social world, or with you personally that you can pull visuals from or create visuals for. If  you’ve been spring gardening, bring a texture you’ve seen in the plants or the landscape into a piece of your art. If you have a lot of abstract things going on, imagine what colors, shapes or textures could represent it and create work around the visuals you conjure up in your mind.


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An Abundance of Dimensional, Tentacled Dots

I wanted to do a post focused on dimensional dots and their variety; but in my search, I found this bit of beautiful insanity and just had to share it. It’s one kind of dimensional dot, but there are so many!

I have a bit of a soft spot for polymer artists who work what we call the “con” circuit–known to muggles as those weird Sci-Fi/Fantasy conventions. That is the arena in which my polymer art sales actually got started. These shows can be wonderfully weird, it’s true,  but they also gather some of the most vibrant and active artistic imaginations on the planet. Even after my art went in another direction, I still participated in a few of these shows each year just to be surrounded by the tremendous talent and intellect as well as discuss the state of art in general; as with polymer, the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror art genres are other areas that struggle to be appreciated as true, fine art. Not that the genre arts aren’t appreciated–DragonCon, which occurs every Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, had about 65,000 attendees last year, and Comic Con had to cap their show at 130,000 last year. And these people buy a lot of art! I would sell out or come awfully close at the shows I attended. It’s a fantastic market if you create genre art. But that is a conversation for another day or another magazine article.

Back to this crazy use of dimensional dots … this set of tentacled wonders by Kaity O’Shea was sold at the most recent Comic Con. Talk about a lot of dimensional dotting! I’m amazed at the patience it must have taken to create this, not to mention I’ve been wondering how she held up the forms so nicely while baking!



I’m pretty sure she created the tentacles in three sections, with the center swirl latching onto the twining tentacle masses on either side. Can you imagine trying to give someone a hug with this on? You do have to admire the engineering here, even if tentacles are not your thing.

You can see more of Kaity’s cephalopod inspired dimensional dotting on her Deviant Art page and in her Etsy shop.


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