The delicate art of paper cutouts

Dec 31, 2009

Seeing that I can barely cut in a straight line with scissors, I'm awed by the craftsmanship of these artists.  I love how the intricacy of paper cutouts can resemble lace- so beautiful!

Bovey Lee, Atomic Jellyfish

Peter Callesen, The Short Distance Between Time and Shadow

Chris Natrop, Landscape Blossom Pop

Nikki McClure, Culture

Artist Liz Saintsing gives vintage accessories new life

Dec 30, 2009

I've been a big fan of Liz Saintsing's reclaimed vintage accessory line for the past couple of years.  Based in San Francisco, Liz designs and screenprints images of birds, insects, sea creatures, and flora on vintage bags, belts, and gloves.

Her products are functional works of art.   The attention to detail in each screenprinted design is worth noting, and so is the impeccable condition of the vintage items. Currently, she's working on transferring her images onto lampshades and bedding.  I can't wait to see her new designs!

A close-up look at sea life

Dec 29, 2009

Yesterday, with extended family in town, we decided to take a trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  The aquarium is located in Newport, Oregon, about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Portland.  It is most famous for housing Keiko the whale (Free Willy) for a couple of years before being relocated to Iceland.  

This was my first trip to the aquarium, and I was pleasantly surprised by the facilities and exhibits.  I guess I was expecting lots of fishy smells and unsupervised children running around with starfish in their hands.  The aquarium was, in contrast, much more contemporary and well-designed than I had imagined.

In the 2+ hour visit at the aquarium, we watched feedings of sea lions and otters, strolled through a sea bird aviary, watched a short film on luminescent sea creatures, and oohed and ahhed at the many different fish and sea life in the exhibits.

Here are a few photos I took from our visit.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is just south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. 

My favorite part of the aquarium was the jellyfish exhibit.  I can see why artists like Yellena James are so inspired by sea life!

This is a photo of my brother-in-law in one of the acrylic tunnels.  The reflective lighting in there was fun to shoot.

Affordable Art Finds, Week Eight

Dec 28, 2009

For the past two months, I've been scouting out fabulous finds on original art priced at $75 or less.  This is the last of the Monday series, but I plan to post regularly on affordable art.  There are many more great works to share!

1.  I've always thought it would be fun to illustrate a children's book.  This etching from Catia Chien looks like it belongs in a story book.  Entitled "J", it's a limited edition of 10 prints.  $30.

2.  Trish Grantham is a Portland artist that painted an amazing mural in my shop a couple of years ago.  I love her recent paintings of cute creatures on old dictionary pages.  The Owl and the Elephant ($58), shown below, is painted on a page from the "M" section, which includes words like merit, merlin, mermaid, and merriment. So charming!

3. I do love polaroids, especially this original, Horizon Variations ($40), by Eduardo Martinez.

Crazy for embroidered art

Dec 27, 2009

I've always loved embroidered works.  Last month, I checked out a book from the library on how to embroider pillows and other small accessories.  I actually didn't get very far with any of the projects in the book, but I have been inspired to start incorporating some embroidery in my own art work. 

Here are a few contemporary embroidered works that are pretty fabulous.  Okay, I'll admit, I'm jealous.

Takashi Iwasaki, Torihatanobori, 18" x 14".

Emily Katz, my Bear, 6" diameter.

Gillian Bates, Brighton Pier, 10" x 12".

Megan Whitmarsh, Twinz Crystal, 60" x 40".

New works- "Night Lights" and "November"

Dec 26, 2009

For the past couple of weeks, I've been reworking two panel pieces.  Night Lights is a piece that I just completed yesterday, and it was the third time that I had painted the panel.  Originally the work was a drawing of the Space Needle on an original monotype of mine mounted on a birch panel.  In October, I painted over the drawing and created You are here (the second picture shown below).

I liked the colors in You are here, but wanted to play around with texture some more.  I ended up layering black paint over most of the painting and then using a palette knife to create the repetitive line effect.  I then coated the top of the painting with Galkyd, which created a high gloss. 

Night Lights was a fun piece to work on, and I don't think it'll see another transformation . . . any time soon that is. 

I've been drawing a lot lately with markers, too.  Sometimes I prefer working in pens because I don't have to worry about clean-up or dry time.   It's also therapeutic to sit for an hour and draw patterns. Here's an 8" x 8" drawing from this week called November.

The Passion of Christ captured in Michelangelo's Pietá

Dec 25, 2009

Pietá, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1499.

Michelangelo's Pietá is one of my favorite sculptures.  Carved from marble, it took Michelangelo nearly two years to complete it.  Commissioned as a funeral monument for a cardinal, it now sits appropriately in St. Peters Basilica, Vatican City.

The sculpture is a depiction of the crucified Christ and his mother, Mary.  Jesus' pierced, lifeless body drapes over Mary's lap like her abundant robe.  Mary holds Jesus' body with her right arm as she lifts her left hand towards Heaven.  Her expression is one of resolute faith, not much different than how she is depicted in other art works holding the newborn baby Jesus. 

The powerful story of Pietá is perfectly executed by the skillful hands of an artist who lived 1500 years after the Crucifixion.  It was the only work that Michelangelo signed, and he was only 24 years old when he completed the masterpiece.  Within a decade after finishing Pietá, Michelangelo created the Statue of David and had begun painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was more than just an accomplished artist, he had God-given gifts to create a visual world that to this day profoundly touch people's hearts and souls.

Loving limited-edition scarves by artists

Dec 24, 2009

It seems like a natural progression for artists nowadays to move towards product design.  In the last few years, I've loved seeing some of the fresh, functional designs from artists, including stationary, wallpaper, tea towels, and lighting.

The latest product to emerge from the design scene is the scarf, which is wearable, collectible, and relatively affordable. I'm absolutely smitten with Plainmade's false knit scarf, designed and screenprinted by artist Chelsea Heffner.

These lovely silk scarves were designed by Defyra, a group of four Swedish creatives. 

I posted a couple of weeks ago on artist edition tea towels.  Artist series scarves, like the ones shown below, can be found on Little Red Riding Hood.


The art of decorating eggs

Dec 23, 2009

There is a scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where Veronica Salt throws a tantrum about wanting her own Golden Geese that lays Golden Easter Eggs.  This is pretty close to how I react when I see a pysanka (Ukrainian Easter egg).  I burst into the "I want it now" tune.

photo source: Luba petrusha

The word pysanky is derived from the Ukrainian word "to write."  It is used to describe the traditional wax resist method of decorating eggs.  Designs are drawn on eggs with wax using a tool with a little funnel on the end. Eggs are dyed in stages, from lightest color to darkest.

photo source: Luba petrusha

Traditionally a craft at springtime or Easter,  pysanky are now made at all times of the year.  I think they look so charming hanging on the Christmas tree.

Here are a few of my favorite pysanky currently available on Etsy. 

Love Bird, Pysanky Panky, $30

Geometric Design Dyed Egg, jenben84, $25

Pysanky egg, bizabiz, $9.99

Etched Floral Rhea Egg, Carlton Art Factory, $175

Capturing night lights using motion photography

Dec 22, 2009

Last night, while we were on the road, I decided to take out my 35mm digital camera and snap a few motion pictures. I played around with different effects, like moving the camera around during exposure.  I included below some of my favorite shots plus the exposure settings. 

f/2.5@1/5  For all the photos, the ISO was set at 400 and an 85mm lens was used. 

f/8@.6s  The bright lights in the middle of this photo are the lights of a police car. 

f/10@1.0s  I moved my camera in circles during the one second exposure of this photo. 

f/10@1.0s  This photo and the next are of Christmas lights. Festive!


Motion photography, especially at night, is a lot of trial and error with shutter speeds.  Fortunately, with digital photography, camera settings can be adjusted rather easily after viewing photographed effects.  Just make sure that your camera is set on manual mode or shutter speed priority.  Normally camera shake occurs at one thirtieth of a second (1/30) or longer.  Other variables that impact blur effect includes subject's movement, photographer's movement, and panning of camera.  In the last two photos shown above, for example, I was panning (following the subject with my camera) while I was in a moving car.

Affordable Art Finds, Week Seven

Dec 21, 2009

We're in week seven of the eight week Affordable Art series.  I've had a lot of fun the last couple of months searching for original art work priced at $75 or less. Here are a few more pieces to add to the growing list.

1.  Sweet little birdies handmade by Stephanie Congdon Barnes ($65 each).  I wish I could say that they were available, but everything sells out in her shop at a speedy rate (like one hour!).  She should be uploading new products in a few weeks; updates on new collections are posted on her blog here

2.  I love little bowls, and I want to add this one to my collection.  Silkscreened and handdrawn by Megan Bogonovich ($20).

3.  I've always wanted to learn how to use wax in art.  Here are a couple of original encaustic pieces found on Etsy.

Original Encaustic- no 63., Michele Bosak, $70.

Liquid Skies, Ali Herrmann, $40.

Captivating paintings on plaster by artist Ragellah Rourke

Dec 20, 2009

I first came across Ragellah Rourke's art on Carrie Haddad Gallery's website earlier this Fall.  The paintings shown below are just a few of her nearly two dozen works at the New York gallery.

Traces I, 2007.

Rourke works in layers.  She first coats wood with plaster.  She then marks, incises, sands, and paints on the plastered surface.  Each painting is a work in progress over an extended period of time.

The Hour Glass, 2008. 

Box Full of Stars, 2008.

Signal Tomorrow, 2009.

Rourke's paintings are very mysterious to me.  They actually remind me a lot of Joan Miró's abstract paintings from 70 years ago.  I love how both artists seem to have a child-like element to their art. 

Joan Miró, Nocturne, tempera, gouache, egg, oil, and pastel on paper, 1940. 

Beautiful glass art made in Portland

Dec 19, 2009

Glass blowing is something that I've always wanted to learn how to do.  The thing is, I don't like to sweat and and my upper arm muscles are pretty weak.  So, I stick to quilting. 

I've seen internationally celebrated glass blowers Justin Parker and Andi Kovel of Esque at work in their Portland studio, and it's so fascinating.  A glass orb is carried out of the firery furnace and immediately sculpted into a skull, a vase, or a light fixture.

One of my favorite pieces is the Sleeping Bird light fixture designed by Andi. 

Here's another bird rendition called Awake that benefits breast cancer research.

Esque has also worked on quite a few installations in town, including this one at Le Hana restaurant.

The glass clusters are cherry blossoms, and I think they're absolutely beautiful.

I've always loved their terrariums, too. . . if only.

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