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Of course you can protect your work with a copyright notice. And you can take the additional step and protect it with the U.S. Government, so you can sue a violator not only for use, but for damages. (You can’t … Continue reading

Saturday Creative Stroll: April 19, 2014

Diego Fazio is known online as DiegoKoi. His artwork is frequently mistaken for black-and-white photography. The work, which he does only with a pencil, is hyper-realistic.

hyperrealistc-portraits-with-a-pencil-by-diego-fazio-diegokoi-6Before he did the portraits, he was a tattoo artist in Italy. He started drawing in 2007. It takes Diego hundreds of hours to finish a piece.

Jason de Graf also does hyper-realistic art. The Canadian artist, born in 1971, uses acrylic paints to create paintings that look like photographs.

hyperrealistic-still-life-paintings-by-jason-de-gaaf-2Above: Aether, acrylic on canvas, 27″ x 44′

Of his paintings, he says, “Many of my paintings are about the relationship of light with reflective and transparent surfaces and my journey to understand those qualities and convey my sense of wonder and intrigue over them. In all of my paintings the subject matter is a springboard and a means to explore my ability to communicate something unique to the viewer.”

Seattle artist Bing Wright spent the last 10 years experimenting with black-and-white photography, and has recently returned to color photography. But not just ordinary color photography.

broken-mirror_evening-skyagfacolor-by-bing-wrightHe photographs sunsets, projects the photograph onto a broken 14″ x 11″ mirror in his studio, and re-photographs it. The result is a stained-glass effect of rich color and startling line.

Whether you celebrate Passover, Easter, or just love Spring, have a beautiful weekend!

–Quinn McDonald loves dedicated and focused artists who create outsider art.

 

 

Saturday Creative Clip (Apr.12.14)

This Saturday, we are taking a look at paper artists who do precise and interesting work. Meg Hitchock creates collages that capture sacred texts by cutting up other sacred texts.

meg-1-600x766“Art is the true religion,” Meg said in an interview on the Daily Art Muse.  The piece above is made of individual letters cut out of the Bible, Koran, and Kabbalah.

Detail of the above piece.

Detail of the above piece.

Details of the winding type that makes up the page. The Brooklyn artists says, (via the bio on her website):

“In my series Mantras & Meditations, I examine and deconstruct the word of God as interpreted through the world religions. I select passages from holy books and cut the letters from one passage to form the text of another. For example, I may cut up a passage from the Old Testament of the Bible and reassemble it as a passage from the Bhagavad Gita, or I may use type from the Torah to recreate an ancient Tantric text. A continuous line of text forms the words and sentences in a run-on manner, without spaces or punctuation, creating a visual mantra of devotion.”

The patience it must take to create these pieces is astonishing. So are the results.

Rogan Brown cuts images from paper. Another work of patience and precision. His work comes from the natural world. Below is the 2013 work, “Kernel.”

1400x720-C9IsgKestrjw8sFNBrown is fascinated with both repetitive patterns and scales that vary,  “from the microscopic to the macroscopic, from individual cells to large scale geological formations.”

"Swirl" © Rogan Brown

“Swirl” © Rogan Brown

His individual works take months to creative.

Annie Vought cuts paper letters. Not one at a time, but she cuts epistolary art–whole letters, written in the fast-vanishing penmanship, and cut out.

I believe handwritten records are fragments of individual histories… A letter is physical confirmation of who we were at the moment it was written, or all we have left of a person or a period of time. –Annie Vought. She also uses texts, letters, and emails she has received to make her art.

Have a creative weekend!
–Quinn McDonald admires  thepatience and vision of paper artists

Making it Mine

When I take a class, I follow the same rule that Cooking Man does when he experiments with a new recipe. First, do it exactly the way the recipe says to do it, even if  you have a better idea. Once you have tasted it, you can make changes that make sense to you. But unless you follow instructions first, you will not be sure of what went wrong. Or right.

In the collage class I took, we received clear, explicit directions. I followed them as I heard them. Then, when the class was over, I went into the studio and made the information mine and made collages using the information, but making it with my esthetic.

Here are three collages I made in class:

collagetoomuchWe were told to cut five figures. I interpreted this as figurative, although they were supposed to be random. After we pasted them down, an additional step was to add five more, using different colors. Because I had made a figurative piece, the result was quite busy.

collagetreeThis was the homework piece. We were to create a collage titled “tree” using only items found in our kitchens. This posed an interesting problem, as I was staying in a hotel. I used a paper grocery bag, a coffee filter (using the pleated seam) and a Lipton tea bag to create the leaves.  I cut the bag to size and had a large seam right through the middle. That didn’t work for me visually, so I cut two more pieces (OK, tore them with a straight edge) and placed one over the seam and another near the bottom to create balance.

collagerobertUsing the works of Robert Motherwell, we were to take the idea of the piece and create our own faux-Motherwell. I wanted to use a limited palate, and fretted a lot about the lines (and my old nemesis, the straight line). If the first piece was too busy, this one was a bit spare, but I can live with spare.

Once I got home, I wanted to explore the idea of the bird in the first image, rather than the whole, busy composition.

collage2Using a photograph of bird feathers from art quilter and book contributor Diane Becka, and a piece of Monsoon Paper, I created a different kind of collage.

collage1The original figure in the busy collage intrigued me. I wanted to explore it some more. So I created a collage using both the figure and the piece I cut out of the figure, leaving the meaning to be interpreted by the viewer.

collageshadowI can see this idea developing into a series, so I did another, also on Monsoon Paper. This is called “Shadow.” I’m liking this enough to create a serious series of figures under the Moon and Sun.

-Quinn McDonald is exploring Monsoon Papers and collage. She’s a writer, but these have, as yet, no words to go with them. Visual literacy is its own kind of vocabulary.

Taking a Collage Class from David Addix

Every artist should take art classes; every teacher should take classes, too. I did both this week by taking David Adix’s fun and interesting collage class in Tucson.

Adix shows a basket made of found pieces of wire and metal.

Adix shows a basket made of found pieces of wire and metal.

David is a collage and assemblage artist, and he brought a lot of his work for us to see. I was absolutely taken by his assemblage “Chancel,” and his sculpture of a human figure made of telephone wire. (Take a peek at his website and the process video to see more of his work.)

He started class by leading us through seven warm-up exercises, each one exploring an aspect of collage:  positive and negative space, torn and cut paper, color, and composition. I found myself wanting to follow directions more than do something that was pleasing to my aesthetic. That was a surprise. I also followed directions too strictly–David said move out of your color comfort zone and I moved so far I had no idea what to do with the colors I chose. Lesson learned: it’s fine to explore beyond your comfort zone, but if you move into a zip code with colors you loathe, you won’t make art, you’ll feel you visited cruel and unusual punishment on yourself.

Adix2A fun exercise was to create our own table name tags using only torn letters. The two “Ns” at the end of my name always leads to scrutiny when I do table tents, so I used an upper case and lower case. Doing anything with people’s names is a smart idea–people have given a lot of thought to their names and are familiar with them. Great place to start.

AdixconfettiIn this exercise, we studied deliberate and random elements. Cutting up the colored strips and letting them fall created an eye-pleasing result.

After a lot of interesting challenges and some deep work, we spent most of the second day doing design work. My favorite segment was creating a spatial design out of our initials–we could rotate them, make them upper- or lower-case, and any size relationship. The only rules were cutting them out of black paper and arranging them on an envelope we had previously glued down. We then added a color to one of the negative spaces.

From left to right, the letters are LKP, PKM, and QCM.

From left to right, the letters are LKP, PKM, and QCM.

The variety of the results was wonderful and inventive.

Adixletters2The work, lined up against a wall, looked ready for an exhibition.

This class was not only time well spent, it was challenging, interesting and a perfect break in a hectic schedule. Thanks, David!

--Quinn McDonald is returning to collage as her art medium. And she’s doing it with more information and learning.

Geli-Plate Fun

Experimenting with my Gelli-Plate, I discovered two new ways (well, at least to me) to use this monoprinting technique. As a collage artist, I always need interesting papers, in every color or texture I can imagine.

Mono_StencilOne of my favorite techniques is to cut out shapes (heavy paper or overhead projector film) and use them as masks (to block paint printing) or as a stencil (to create a pattern with the paint.

The resulting pieces pick up paint and become quite interesting in themselves. After they have served as masks or stencils several times, they can be used as collage elements.

Another technique is to prepare the plate with a background, lay the elements on the plate, and photograph the plate before you print.

Mono_HouseThis gives you an image to print that looks quite different from the print itself, but can also give you more detail and color. You can then choose to create the collage by gluing the elements down over the printed piece or add color with a brush.

This also works for fabric–chose a fabric background, then attach the paper pieces on top of the background using fusible webbing.

Mono_PlantThe final experiment was to enhance a ghost print. Once the first print is lifted, remove all the masks from the plate. Then lay another piece of paper (in this case a piece of multi-media paper) over the plate and use a brayer to roll over the monoprint plate to pick up a ghost image of the paint the masks had protected. The plant and sun are clear, but the background picked up only partially.

I used Tombow Dual Brush markers to enhance some of the color. These markers are watercolors, so let the paper dry first. After the color is put down, I used a brush dipped in water to blend colors and create an abstract landscape.

On Tuesday, April 1, I’ll be demoing these techniques at the monthly meeting of the Scottsdale Art League. We’re going to have a busy night because I’m going to do an Inner Hero exercise, and everyone will leave with a hand-made Inner Hero Postcard. And two lucky people will win the prizes: a copy of the Inner Hero Art Journal and a Gelli plate donated by Arizona Art Supply.

Upcoming classes using Gelli-Plate techniques: I’ll also be teaching Gelli-Plate techniques on April 26-27 at the Minneapolis Center for Book Arts and the week of June 2 at the Madeline Island School of Arts, where you will make a whole book of different art and writing techniques. Come join me in exploring!

-Quinn McDonald is typing this with paint-colored fingers, and an ink-stained heart.

 

 

 

String of Words.

Note: Congratulations to Anne Cross, who is the winner of the giveaway of Pam Carriker’s Creating Art at the Speed of Life. Contact me (right above the color header) and send me your mailing address, and the book will be on the way!

*  *  *  *

quote-a-book-of-quotations-can-never-be-complete-robert-m-hamilton-283470Coming across a sentence that lights up a page is one of the joys of reading. I’ve come to a complete stop (to hell with the plot and characters)  and read a sentence over again several times. Then I’ll highlight it or mark it. When I’m done reading the book, I’ll go through it looking at the highlighted sentence again. Sometimes, I have no idea why I loved them. Those I let go.

Ahhh, but sometimes, they are perfect. They hold a speck of wisdom like a drop of water in a curled leaf. Unexpected, sparkling. I began collecting quotes and sentences from books.  I often take them to art classes, because they make wonderful words to add to collages and journals.

Often, I’ll pick a quote at random and start writing about it. I’ll have different takes on different days. I’m surprised at what I find in myself.

6a013485f24774970c01901b624f54970b-piWant to start keeping your own quote pages? I’ll help you get started. You can add even more by looking up any of the people you don’t know.

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.” — Elizabeth Lesser

“Stop comparing your insides to other people’s outsides. Remember, they’re doing the same thing.”  —Martha Beck

“You know what? People can take a lot from you. They can take away everything except your mind and your heart. Those things you have to give away. I decided not to give them away, and neither should you.” — Nelson Mandela, explaining how he overcame his bitterness, hatred, and resentment

“We’re all just walking each other home.”  –Ram Dass

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” –Nelson Henderson

“I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers which would not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Quinn McDonald is in love with words. And today’s blog post is brought to you by her word of 2014, Scatter.

Creative Stroll 3.29.14

Much as I love the desert, I miss fireflies from back East. So when I saw how Vincent Brady had spend months photographing fireflies at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, I was enchanted.

Here is the video of several timed photographs.

And here is a great still from the series, “Firefly Planet” by Vincent Brady:

bradyphotography4

From the small bits of light, we back up and take a look at houses making patterns across what used to be a natural landscape. The photographs are from The Big Picture column from The Boston.com website.

 Circular layouts of homes near I-75, southwest of Fort Myers, Florida. Map. (© Google)

Circular layouts of homes near I-75, southwest of Fort Myers, Florida. Map. (© Google)

While this pattern looks like vines and flowers, there are others that look considerably more uncomfortable.

Part of Verona Walk, a gated community in Naples, Florida. Map. (© Google)

Part of Verona Walk, a gated community in Naples, Florida. Map. (© Google)

While I was flying over Nebraska last week, I saw, through thin clouds, acres of irrigation circles. A different look, but also an example of geometric precision.

photo

Continuing with the natural world (sort of), Johannas Stötter paints animals. Not on paper or canvas, nope. He paints animals on humans, who look like animals when he is done. Below is not a parrot, but a human being painted to look like a parrot.

parrot-body-painting-by-johannes-stotter-1Luckily, the paint allows the skin to function, so the long process isn’t harmful. If you look closely, you’ll see a woman sitting on the post, one leg uplled up (to make the wing), one arm lifted over hear head, (to form the parrot’s beak).

Check out the five-person frog and how it was done on his website.

Have a wildly creative weekend!

Quinn McDonald still misses fireflies. But now she has a video to watch when she misses them too much.

 

 

Saturday Creative Stroll 3.22.14

Bricks are tough and have a lot of right angles. We think of them as ship ballast, East Coast buildings (from the ship ballast), and severe schools. Brad Spencer thinks of them as sculpting material.

spencersculptureAnd all of his sculptures are sinuous, rounded and three-dimensional in a way that makes your eyes blink. He starts with unfired clay, sculpts the brick sculpture in pieces and then assembles in it place on the day of an exhibit. Time, brick, and perceived movement–imagination at play.

Jane Perkins is a multi-media artist. That’s just the beginning. Perkins re-creates well known artworks in found objects–beads, plastic figures,

Most-Iconic-Nat-Geo2This is the iconic National Geographic photograph that Steve McCurry took of a young Afghan woman.

famous-portraits-recreated-from-recycled-materials-and-found-objects-by-jane-perkins-4And this is the artwork that Jane Perkins made, using the photograph as inspiration. You can see more on Perkins’ website, including the girl with the pearl earring and Albert Einstein.

The Olympus BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition created some extraordinary photos of things we see every day. Sometimes they are made very big, sometimes just noticed.

2013-3-siwanowicz-desmids-mandalaA single-cell algae, called desmids. Image by Igor Siwanowicz.

2013-4-walker-lily-bud-large-fileAnd this is a cross-section of a lilly bud by Spike Walker.

Have a wonderful weekend seeing things in a new way!

-Quinn McDonald is amazed at how other people see the same world.

The Changing Measure of Paper

If you have purchased paper in the last five years, you’ve noticed more and more manufacturers are using gsm (grams per square meter) instead of weight in pounds. I’ve seen a lot of conversion scales, and I became curious how the conversion is made.

Then I became curious how we measure the pound weight of paper anyway. Here’s what I found (and why gsm is the more accurate way to know how heavy paper stock is.

Papers come in different weights–letter weight, cover stock, card stock. But there is more than use that describes paper–there is weight.  You’ve seen paper stock printed in three ways–in pounds (60-lb. or 60#),  grams per square meter (g/m2 or gsm), or points (pts).  There seems to be a big difference. There is. Even if you don’t love the metric system, you’ll find the gsm method more reliable.

Image from BartCop

Image from BartCop

Pounds measure weight, no matter what the size. The pound weight of paper is set by the weight (in pounds) of a ream of paper–500 sheets. It doesn’t matter how big the paper is– cover stock is cut from a “standard” size sheet that measures 20″ x 26.” Text stock is cut from a “standard” size sheet  that 25″ x 38″–considerably bigger. But a ream of 500 sheets, regardless of size, is put on a scale and weighed.  That measurement is accurate, but very variable.

Points measure height, no matter what the size. The point size is a bit more reliable.  It measures the height of a ream of paper. A 10-pt card stock means a ream of paper (500 sheets)  measures 10 inches. In this case, the flat size of the sheet doesn’t matter.

Strathmore drawing paper: 24 sheets, 80-lb or 130 gsm.

Strathmore drawing paper: 24 sheets, 80-lb or 130 gsm.

To get a feel for the difference: Most business cards are 10-pt or 15-pt stock, the post office’s minimum measurement for a post card is 7-point stock. A point is 0.007″ or one-one-thousandths of an inch.  This is a better measurement for comparison, but it still doesn’t sort out heavy-bulk differences for paper that’s been compressed more.

Gsm measures the weight of a standard size paper.  Gsm is the reliable because it is standard across all papers. It measures the weight of a square meter of paper. That sets the size as the constant, and allows the weight to vary by heaviness of paper stock.  A square meter of  a light stock might be 90 gsm, and a square meter of heavier stock might be 140 gsm. In each case, the size is the same–a square meter.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach who loves paper.