Sunday, August 31, 2008

Urban Art - Moss Graffiti!

A new type of urban art has come down the pike and I'm slapping my forehead thinking, "Why didn't *I* think of this??!!" Unless you’re really a hipster avant-gardener art rogue, you’ve probably never heard of Moss Graffiti.

As the name suggests, this is a graffiti-like rendering which is done with moss, rather than ink. In order to make your own green piece of urban art, you only need a good moss graffiti recipe, and it’s actually quite simple. Basically you’ll need some pieces of moss, some beer and sugar; you just need to mix the ingredients in a blender until you get a smooth “moss milkshake”.


One or two clumps (about a small handful) of moss
2 cups of buttermilk
2 cups of water (or beer)
1/2 tsp. sugar
a blender
container with lid

When you’re done, you just need to pick an appropriate wall (damp and shady) and paint the moss mixture in the wall, using your favorite technique (paintbrush or stencil). After a few weeks, the moss will regroup along the pattern you’ve painted, and you’ll get a perfect moss graffiti. How cool is that?

Eco-minded street artist Edina Tokodi is putting a new spin on green guerilla tactics in the trendy art enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Tokodi’s site-specific moss installations of prancing animal figures and camouflage outgrowths are the talk of a local urban neighborhood typically accustomed to gallery hype and commercial real estate take-overs. Unlike the market-driven art featured in sterile, white box galleries, the work of Tokodi is meant to be touched, felt, and in turn touch you in the playful ways that her animated installations call to mind a more familiar, environmentally friendly state in the barren patches of urban existence.

Tokodi believes strongly that the reactions of passersby (or the lack of any reaction at all) is really an indicator of a deeper malaise that we need to pay attention to and reseed with “mentally healthy garden states” and direct interactive engagement.

The artist states:

“I think that our distance from nature is already a cliché. City dwellers often have no relationship with animals or greenery. As a public artist I feel a sense of duty to draw attention to deficiencies in our everyday life. As a cultivator of eco-urban sensitivity, I usually go back to the sites to visit my “plants” or “moss”, sometimes to repair them a bit, but nothing more generally as they tend to get enough water from the air, condensation, and rain - especially in certain seasons. I also like to let them live by themselves. From the moment I put them on the street they start to have their own life. For me, the reaction of life on the street is also very important. I am curious about how people receive them, if they just leave them alone, or if they want to, take care of them or dismantle them. This is what makes my work similar to graffiti, although I am searching for a deeper social meaning and a dialogue with memories of the animals and gardens of my past in a small town in Central Europe. I believe that if everyone had a garden of their own to cultivate, we would have a much more balanced relation to our territories. Of course, a garden can be many things.”

Edina Tokodi studied graphic art and design at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts and also completed urban design course work in Milan, Italy. Her work can be seen on the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and in unexpected outcroppings on a street near you.

Click HERE to read more about this fascinating new green art form!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

How to Draw Eyes - Tutorial

This is a quick little tutorial on how to draw eyes. The eyes shown here are rather cartoonish, but one can always develop these into more realistic-looking eyes. The point of these exercises is to teach drawers how to render the basic shapes, so grab a pencil and have fun!

Figure Drawing and Composition, Richard G. Hatton

The eyeball is located in a socket in the skull. The socket itself is roughly rectangular and slanted slightly down to the outside of the face.
In this drawing A is the upper notch of the eye socket and corresponds to the greatest rise of the eyelid. B is the boney outer top edge of the eye socket and corresponds with the fleshy buldge above the eye. C is the boney outer structure of the eye socket which is relected in the shape of the skin at tht point. D is the lower outer edge of the eye socket. E is the lower lid. F is the smoothest part of the eye socket. H is a nasal bone. I is the lower border. J is the ridge toward the nose. L is the inner side of the upper border is runs over a trochlea or pulley with which one of the muscles of the eye works.

As with the head is is useful to have a knowledge of the skeletal structure.

A simple sketch to indicate eyes.

This sketch is more involved. Grab a pencil and try the sketch above two or three times until you get the hang of it.

Two eyes, one is the mirror image of the other.


Eyebrows are neither a a straight line nor an arc. Instead draw the eyebrow as a downturn toward the outside of the eye socket.

Eyebrows show expression.

Use the eyes to indicate expression.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Duane Hanson - Sculptures

Duane Hanson
Hanson began making startlingly lifelike sculptures of middle America back in the 1970’s. He accomplished these amazing feats through a complex process of casting from live models, recreated in bronze or fiberglass resin.

When describing this sculpture the artist stated: ‘I like the physical burdens this woman carries. She is weighted down by all of her shopping bags and purchases, and she has become almost a bag herself. She carries physical burdens – the burdens of life, of everyday living. But initially, it’s quite a funny sculpture’.

Queenie can be understood on one level as the personification of all those resigned-looking women who drag their bodies around in pursuit of the mess created by the rest of us. But we are made to confront the fact that such women, who are usually invisible and ignored, are not just faceless domestics.

Hanson was born in 1925 in small city in Minnesota. He received his BA at Macalester College in Minnesota and his MFA at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. As he was in school and later professing abroad, he began sculpting in his signature realistic style.

While teaching in Munich, Germany, he came into contact with the philosophy of the Post Expressionists. He would later be considered to be a Verist, a movement of Post Expressionism who , as described by the art historian Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub, “… tear the objective form of the world of contemporary facts and represent current experience in its tempo and fevered temperature.” As such, his focus turned to creating his accurate, surreal recreations of regular people.

Duane Hanson died on January 6th, 1996.

To get a better idea of how realistic his sculptures are, it helps to watch this video of some of his work. If you subscribe to this blog via email and can't see the video, please CLICK HERE:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Saimir Strati - World's Largest Nail Mosaic

Albanian artist, Saimir Strati, shows the portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci he created with industrial nails at the International Centre of Culture in Tirana September 4, 2006. Strati, 40, was recognised by Guinness World Record officials for having created the world's largest nail mosaic with about 500,000 industrial nails.

This video about the artist is not in English. However, it does show the artist and one of his magnificent mosaics that warranted a new world record in the GUINNESS Book for the 2nd time:

Please click THIS LINK if you receive this blog in your email and are unable to see the video:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shannon Kringen - Self Portal: Amplified Chameleon

Shannon Kringen

I am excited to announce the opening of my friend, Shannon Kringen’s self-portrait photography show at Art/Not Terminal in Seattle on Saturday, September 6th from 7-10 pm.

(2045 Westlake Avenue Seattle, WA 98121

The talented Shannon Kringen is a multi-disciplinary artist who has been producing/directing and performing in her own one women tv show "Goddess Kring" on the Seattle Community Access Network (SCAN) for the last 12 years.

Shannon Kringen lives her art.

With a background in graphic arts, her talents take many forms. She is a photographer. She is a figure model. She writes poetry and is a performance artist. Shannon hand paints shoes and records her spoken word withiImprovisational piano music.

Back in the 1970's, I met Aaron Copeland at a computer music symposium in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When I listen to Shannon's original compositions, I am reminded of the very complex types of music samples we listened to that evening. Listen to some of Shannon’s free-form musical creations HERE.

Here is a brief video interview with Shannon:

Please click HERE if you can’t see the video.

Shannon writes:

“I tend towards being an introspective person. I use my camera to create Self Portraits that amplify and exaggerate different aspects of Myself that would otherwise remain hidden within and silent.

A chameleon like variety of Passionate Self Portrait Photographs capturing very different facets. From black and white high contrast to full color in natural light with face paint to the distorted face reflected in chrome. Images that symbolize the paradox of being one person and yet having many different sides to oneself simultaneously. The Self Portrait could be seen as a metaphor using the I to represent the Macrocasm of how many different cultures we have on the planet yet it's all one humankind.”

Take a look at Shannon’s additional work at HER WEBSITE.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Antonio Gaudi

I saw the new Woody Allen flick, "Vickie Christina Barcelona" a week or so ago. Filmed in Barcelona, the mosaic work of Spanish architect, Antonio Gaudi, (whose real name was Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet) figured prominently. I’ve not been able to stop thinking of it since, so decided to revisit it here.

Gaudi, whose work is currently experiencing a large Renaissance, represents a style that is wholly individual and fantastic. He is attributed to the art nouveau style, which flourished around the turn of the century in Europe with national characteristics and different names, and followed the idea of the synthesis of the arts and the organically asymmetrical line.

Design objects by Gaudi are very scarce and much desired in the market today. The largest number of Gaudi works in private hands are held by New York dealer and collector Allan Stone and by Chilean-born artist Pedro Uhart. Gaudi sales are rare, but Stone has held a few exhibitions at his gallery, with some items for sale, and Uhart occasionally sells works from his own collection, but only to major museums or their patrons.

Here is a brief video that shows some of Gaudi’s colorful mosaic work in Park Guell :

Please click HERE if you are unable to view the video above.

Gaudi’s mosaic style was free-flowing, asymmetrical and colorful with an indescribable visual richness. Parts of it resemble Klimpt backgrounds or intricate patchwork quilts.

Artificial mounds and hollows were created to animate the general topography of Gaudi’s architectural works.

His multi-colored mosaic lizard at the entrance to Park Guell is among his most easily recognizable mosaic work.

“Gaudí, throughout his life, studied nature's angles and curves and incorporated them into his designs. Instead of relying on geometric shapes, he mimicked the way men stand upright. The hyperboloids and paraboloids he borrowed from nature were easily reinforced by steel rods and allowed his designs to resemble elements from the environment.

Because of his rheumatism, the artist observed a strict vegetarian diet, used homeopathic drug therapy, underwent water therapy, and hiked regularly. Long walks, besides suppressing his rheumatism, further allowed him to experience nature.

Gaudí loved for his work to be created by nature as he used concrete leaves and vine windows to create his ideas for him, so his work is not just because of him but because of nature as well.”

Juan Bergós Massó
Gaudí, l'home i la obra ("Gaudí: The Man and his Work")

Michael Kaplan has written a beautifully illustrated book on Gaudi and his work at Park Guell. You may order it for $15 on

Stacy Alexander