Monday, April 27, 2009

James Kuhn – From Christian Drag Queen to Artful Chameleon

It all started the other day when I was looking through pictures on Flickr. Someone who uses the screen name “Hawhawjames” had posted a mini-video of his face painted with the images of two Byzantine dancers. As he puffed out his cheeks and chin and moved his head about, the dancers moved in time to the jungle-esque drum beat sound track. It was hilarious ...and I was hooked! One doesn't see talent such as this every day. I had to find out more about this guy.

Turned out, the work was by James Kuhn, a performance artist from Three Oaks, Michigan, one of the most talented, fabulous and versatile people I have ever encountered!

Turns out James has the potential to inspire from many unexpected angles. Here he is as drag queen, “Junie Moon”

The artist states, “When I dress up in female drag I go by the name of Junie Moon! I have walked in at least 15 Chicago Gay and Lesbian Pride Parades, and did drag shows at bars in Chicago, with my various partners, mostly at the North End bar on Halsted Street. I am famous for my huge hair creations and wild getups. I rarely do shows anymore, but still attend the Halsted St. Fair in costume and am usually seen in the parade. I consider myself a Performance Artist and my drag is a natural extension of my art.”

I found this little anthology of James’ work here:

(If you can’t see the video above, please click HERE )

The more I investigated this artist, the more amazed I was by how he is able to transform his face and life into such wonderful and colorful personae.

I dropped him a line to ask if I could write an entry about him and was very pleased when he responded in the affirmative.

James informed me that he went to art school at the Art Institute of Chicago and obtained a BFA in drawing and painting. He is represented by “Blue Gallery” in Three Oaks, Mi.

He has an upcoming show there in September, and one in Toronto at an arts center where he plans to lecture about his 365 face art project. (Click HERE to see information about his incredible book, “365 Faces” )

The artist states. “I accidentaly discovered face painting and it has become my biggest passion. I think painting on skin is an amazing sensual experience, and painting myself in the mirror is always a fun challenge. Face paint must have magical powers because it transports me into another world where i can be anything i can imagine. I am constantly inspired, and see no limit to the medium.”

Watch the zebra move!

(click HERE if you can’t see the video )

…but wait….That’s not all!

James is a devout Christian who also paints Biblical art work that he sells to churches.

To make his Biblical works, James uses a paper mosaic technique in which he uses acrylic paint to cover small pieces of paper that he then layers onto a substrate, mosaic fashion. He says he has a number of loyal clients who purchase he work regularly. James attends the New Life Community of Hope, a "21st century, reconciling, and inclusive fellowship of Christian believers."

He writes about his ideas for face painting on his online journal HERE, and his Flickr photostream is HERE.

Check it all out. It will keep you fascinated for days on end!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Catherine L. Mommsen - It's All in the Details!

Catherine L. Mommsen
I first met Fairfax Virginia artist, Catherine Mommsen, on the online photo hosting web site, Flickr.

Known there as "Doeki", Catherine has been a constant encouraging spirit for a lot of the other artists who post photographs of our work there. She seems to take a genuine interest in what other artists are doing and does not hesitate to exude her approving commentary. She is kind, supportive, witty and is a remarkable artist in her own right.


Catherine's drawings consist of patterned ink renderings so beautiful that they almost defy description. I own one of them and could barely believe my eyes when I removed it from the package! The fine, unwavering detail seemed almost impossible to have been created by a human being, yet Catherine continues to turn out brilliant piece-after-perfect-piece!

Entwined - The Mommsen Girls

Ink drawing has been around for a long time - its earliest origins were in China about 5,000 years ago - and was originally developed for darkening the raised surfaces of stones for pictures and writings. But other cultures also used inks they made that were colored from berries, plants, and minerals that were available in the local areas. The ink used in earlier artistic works has very little in common with what we use today, and scholars have not been able to identify all of them.

Giza in Binary

Catherine writes:

Art is subjective: I draw in order to understand myself and the world around me; to explore differences, diversity, extremes, patterns and oddities. My work is intuitive and experimental. Contrasts are my building blocks: Contrasts such as the formal structure of technical drawing (my field of formal training) versus the flow and movement of freehand; contrasts in textures, colors, lines and shapes. Drawn to the offbeat, quirky and slightly out-of-step, I strive to express the unique and diverse found in every-day life.

Technique, process and media intrigue me. Learning from other artists, understanding diverse processes, and experimenting with new media are all exciting and fill my need to understand how the world works.

Inks are my current media of choice, partly because of their vibrant substance, sense of permanence, and versatility; but also because of the strong contrast of the sharp line against a soft background. I adore heavy, weighty, substantial papers. I love the warmth and light of beeswax. The possibilities with etching and printmaking are exciting.

It's true that art imitates life, but it is my life that inspires my art. I believe those who enjoy my work take away a bit of my unique perspective, and hopefully, are reminded of the extraordinary in everyday life.


Catherine grew up in Midwest America where, "... soft, muted tones dominate the landscape. When she left the Midwest, she traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad before finally settling just outside of Washington DC where, as she puts it, "... strong lines and contrasts dominate my environment."

Star Map

Catherine attributes much of her inspiraton to the Pacific NW where she claims, "... my love for diverse colors and designs was indelibly set.

The Resurrection of Amador

North Pole

The artist writes, "I am largely self-taught, as I believe are most artists. My formal degree is from Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College where my focus was on technical drawing, copper etching and mathematics."


She continues, "Although my interest and experience ranges from assemblages and mixed media to experimentation with paper sculpture, my abiding passion is for drawing. I am currently preparing for a collaborative exhibition next winter with two other pen and ink artists. My short term plans include workshops in intaglio printmaking and encaustic painting."

Read more about Catherine and her work on HER BLOG, or follow her Flickr Photostream HERE.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yulia Brodskaya Makes Quilling Positively Thrilling!

Yulia Brodskaya

Quilling, or filigree paper work, is an art that involves rolling or coiling thin strips of paper into intricate designs and shapes. Most sources agree that quilling is an ancient art form, possibly first practiced with paper by monks and nuns to decorate religious objects. The art itself is likely named because originally the tiny strips of paper were rolled over goose quills. Prior to the invention of paper, other societies curled thin metal wire in a similar decorative fashion.

For those of you unfamiliar with the process, I present the following video on beginning quilling techniques. While this is a commercial video, please note that I am neither promoting nor endorsing these products. Simply, I thought this was the best video to give a quick overview of what quilling actually is and how it's done.

(If you are unable to see the video above, please click HERE.)

Today’s blog entry features one of my favorite quilling artists, Yulia Brodskaya. I was so happy to hear from her this morning, granting me permission to feature her work here because it truly is spectacular! She takes quilling to an entirely new level.

Originally from Russia, Yulia Brodskaya is now a London-based graphic designer / illustrator who specializes in a paper art technique that lets her create distinctively graceful and artful typography.

Before moving to the UK in 2004 Yulia was interested in diverse creative practices ranging from Textile Painting, Origami and Collage to more traditional Fine Art practices.

Since obtaining her MA in Graphic Communication from the University of Hertfordshire in 2006, she has continued to experiment and explore ways of bringing together all the things that attract her most: typography, paper, and highly detailed hand-made craft objects.

Yulia engages in creating a wide variety of her paper-craft artwork. She enlists her typographical skills and knowledge of color in breathtaking combinations ranging from the full-spectrum of rainbow colors to the simpler, yet every bit as complex, white on white.

Yulia was recipient of a first place award in the Russian Conceptual Packaging Design Competition and elected a Member of the International Society of Typographic Designers in 2006. Her artistic life consists of constant experimentation and evolution.

Please check out Yulia’s web site to see more of her fascinating art work! CLICK HERE

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Obligatory Easter Egg Post

Gary Lemaster

First, I'd like to wish a Happy Easter to all of my readers who celebrate it. I thought a fancy egg post would be most appropriate today, and a real expert at this sort of thing is egg shell artist, Gary Lemaster. (I thought my friend, Tracy Broback's children might especially enjoy this one.)

Gary LeMaster is the artist who creates these incredible carvings.

Gary writes:

"Almost everyone asks me what the eggs are made of, thinking that no one in their right mind would attempt to carve a real eggshell. They see that they are "egg-shaped" but assume that they are either ceramic or plastic. Despite that, they are - in fact - real eggshells, constructed primarily of calcium carbonate and produced in their original form by real geese, ostrich, rhea, emu, turkeys, chickens, etc."

"First, I empty and clean each egg. After the egg has dried, I use a lead pencil to sketch the details of my artwork directly on the shell. I then cut away appropriate sections of the design or engrave the surface of the shell (or both), using a variety of diamond and carbide cutting tools. My tool of choice is a dental handpiece powered by an air compressor which generates over 400,000 rpm's for the burs to do their job."

"Once the egg has been fully worked, I use my hands and an abrasive cleanser to remove any remaining pencil marks. The egg is then submerged in two bleach baths to disintegrate any membrane residue from the inside surface. Finally, the egg is signed and sealed with three or four coats of lacquer. It is then placed on a stand inside a glass dome to preserve and enhance its beauty. Each egg is, of course, signed and
dated by the artist and comes with a signed and dated certificate of authenticity stating the title of the egg and avowing that each egg is made by hand."

Gary has a web site called, "The Eggshell Sculptor" Click HERE to see more of his beautiful work.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

(W.R.A.P.) The Gas Station Project

Jennifer Marsh is the founder and director of the International Fiber Collaborative.
Its' first project was to provide an opportunity for people who enjoyed working with fiber arts, whether professional artists, hobbyists or students, to come together from all over the world to express their concern about the worlds extreme dependency on oil. The project was called the World Reclamation Art Project (W.R.A.P.), otherwise known as the Gas Station Project. Participants crocheted, knitted, stitched, patched, or collaged 3 foot square fiber panels that expressed each participants concern about the topic. Simply by designing and creating these panels and participating in this project, they were expressing their concern about this important subject to all nations. All of the panels were then sewn together to completely cover an abandoned gas station in central New York State.

In May, 2007 - The owner of the gas station signed a contract allowing use of the abandoned station.

The Call to Artists was made to crochet, knit, stitch, quilt, or patch 3 foot square (91.4 cm x 91.4 cm) fiber panels. The panels did not need to contain an image or be a literal portrayal of the artist's idea. It was due by March 15th, 2008.

Watch the installation video here:

If you are unable to see the above video, please click HERE

What follows are some photographs of the individual panels that were made for the project:

"Burlap Membrane"
Costa Rica
Aura Madrigal, Irene Chaves, Gaby, Alina & Carlos Chavarria, Alex & Antony Gonzalez

Karen Rosenberg
Berkeley, CA
Wool, Silk, Misc.

We Love Nature
Applique and Painting Over Cotton Mesh
Silvia Piza-Tandlick, Irene Chaves, Maritroni Avarado, Alex, Anthony, Gaby, Alina, Kris, and Patric. Silvia and members of the Cerro Danta Women's & Youngsters' Collective.

Aimee Lee
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York
"Cut and knitted plastic shopping bags. Approx. 120 bags representing 3 years of bags collected by a couple in New York City."

Aimee Lee writes:
"I wanted to create a panel made out of a petroleum-based product, to show how our dependence on oil goes a lot further than gasoline for our vehicles. Plastic bags are an inextricable part of our lives, something we don't even ask for, but get automatically when we purchase goods. In cutting the bags into strips, I kept every piece of the bag in the knitting process so that it remains a closed circle; no plastic was put into the garbage system in the process. I also wanted to use bags from only one family, to show how many plastic bags can accumulate in one household (and this isn't even all of them!)."

Oil Splash in Water
Syracuse, New York
“Oil Splash in Water”

Mary Trecilla
Milan, Italy

Jennifer Marsh is a graduate of Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts who currently lives in Alabama. She has expressed interest in doing more projects similar to this, so bookmark her web site and check back if you'd like to submit for the next round.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Suzanne Smith - Mosaics- a New World Order

Mosaics represent a smashing of one world and a reassembly into a new order which is symbolic of all the art I have done in my life.

Suzanne Smith

Suzanne Smith
San Diego mosaic artist, Susanne Smith, created a mosaic workshop for adults with developmental disabilities at the St Madeline Sophie's Center in El Cajon, California. She then went on to do her own mosaics inspired by the Southern California cacti.

"I like to work in three dimensions and consider my creations garden sculpture."

Suzanne is a member of the Spanish Art Village Art Community and currently works as a Program Assistant with the Glenner Center where she makes art and music with folks who have Alzheimer Disease.

"Diversity" is the best word to describe Suzanne's art career. She writes, "I have lived in all sorts of situations around the world. I taught English in a school in India and Art in junior high on the Island of Guam. I got my degree in Art Education at the University of Washington in 1970. For twenty five years I lived in the wilderness of Southeast Alaska and did paintings of icebergs and mermaids. I also did many fish prints of large salmon. I lived for three months in Indonesia and studied Batik with Bagong Kassudirdja on Java. I did my own version of Batik paintings for the Pike Place Public Market in Seattle and worked at the Daniel Smith Art Supply Store there."

She says that she looks for her soul in her art.

" At that time I had an exhibit of my paintings that depicted exploding things. I exploded all sorts of items such as watermelons, apples, bridges, rubber ducks, computers etc. I was going thru a divorce and this study was a natural expression of those times. Then I got involved with a mentally disabled Vietnam Veteran and started a series of upside down paintings. I formed a partnership with another artist who was Vietnamese and he painted things upside down too. He had been a boat person coming over from Vietnam."

"I am a contributing artist at the Smash Shack here in San Diego where people go to smash plates and glass goblets as a kind of therapy. They let mosaic artists use the scraps and display their works in the shop."

"In an effort to explore the pure beauty of the world I currently do paintings of Palm Trees and drawings with a figure study group."

Interested parties can see more of Suzanne's work on HER BLOG.

Stacy Alexander