Thursday, May 28, 2009

German Artist, Lierre Foest

Lierre Foest

Describing the watercolors of Lierre Foest is not easy. She makes whimsical creatures that sometimes verge on darkness, yet accomplishes this with rich, brilliant color. She paints abstracts and and originally-flavored fantasy art. Her style runs the gamut between cubist and expressionist influences to outsider art to naive/faux - naive/folk art, but the one unmistakable element that characterizes Lierre’s paintings is her eye for color.

Washes of primary and secondary colors sweep the viewer into the fantasy worlds she creates with her brush.

If you can’t see the vdieo above, please click HERE.

Lierre is in her 20s, lives in former communist East Germany, is married and has three children ages 3 and under. She works from a home studio as a painter, writer, and designer. Primarily self-taught, Lierre briefly attended the Albert-Schweizer School for Music and Art in Hamburg, Germany and studied watercolor under a teacher at another school for a few weeks . She quit after a few months to move east and eventually started teaching herselfI used to work under a penname.

"I'm obsessed with Poe and with James Horner's music, but I like Goethe and Mozart too. In Hamburg, Germany I attended the Albert Schweizer School for music and art and studied watercolor briefly but other than this have no formal training in art. And the absolute most important thing anyone reading this definitely needs to know about me is that I do not like writing autobiographies."

“I've found I am very comfortable as an autodidact. I started selling paintings about 4 years ago and have sold over 400 so far to collectors all over the world. My favourite medium is watercolor but I also work in ink (pen and wash), coloured pencil, charcoal, graphite, acrylics, oils, and oil pastel. “

“I prefer tiny and detailed work, using on average pens with tips 0.05 mm in width, and brushes size 10/0. Many of the paintings and drawings I do are 1" x 1", art card size (2.5" x 3.5" also called ACEO or ATC) or 4" x 6" also called OSWOA). I also do 5" x 7" and some 12" or larger but am most comfortable with tinier sizes and miniatures.”

Interested parties may view more of Lierre’s work on her web site HERE.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Photograms - Photos without Cameras

A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of attending an exhibit at the Frankel Gallery in San Francisco that featured photograms. Photograms are photographic images made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a photo-sensitive material such as photographic paper and then exposing them to light. The result is a negative shadow image . Man Ray is most often attributed with bringing this method into the art world, although he called his works, “rayographs”.
Man Ray Rayograh

You may have experimented with a relative of photograms if you have made "sun prints" using blue architect's paper which, when exposed to the sun, turns white. Perhaps you laid leaves across it, put down your hand, or created a composition with kitchen objects before exposing it to the sun and developing it in the kitchen sink using running water. These are photograms. The forms block the light, leaving white or gray imprints, like shadows, on the paper or film when it is developed. Opaque objects leave white areas because no light gets through them; translucent objects leave shades of gray.

River Taw 19
Susan Derges is an internationally recognized photographic artist, also uses this technique in her work . She focuses primarily on landscapes. River Taw 19 is one of her more notable images.

The German painter, graphic artist and poet, Max Ernst is considered to be one of the primary pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism. He, too, experimented with photograms. Photograms became a signature trademark with many of the Dada artists.

Mr. Knife Miss Fork

Photograms are a good way to teach composition, shape, and value. They can be made with a sheet of photographic paper with objects put on top. The sheet and objects are arranged under the enlarger and exposed for about 30 seconds with a wide aperture (e.g. f 5.6 or wider). The paper is then developed according to normal procedures. Photograms are one-of-a-kind prints, because once the objects are removed from the paper, that particular arrangement is gone. Photograms invite experimentation with different objects and techniques. Using a flashlight, for example, would give very different lighting than the enlarger. Liquids on glass (cliché verre), cellophane, coal pitch, chemical salts on glass ("crystallography"), and moving beams of light have all be experimented with to create different effects.

László Moholy-Nagy
László Moholy-Nagy was a Hungarian painter and photographer as well as professor in the Bauhaus school. He was highly influenced by constructivism and a strong advocate of the integration of technology and industry into the arts. Moholy-Nagy's cameraless images bore the name that we most often use now with this class of images, "Photograms." He was interested in photography as a medium of light and form, not sentiments or personal feelings that are the concerns of other art forms.

Aleksander Mikhailovich Rodchenk was a Russian artist, sculptor, photographer and graphic designer. He was one of the founders of constructivism and Russian design is also a notable creator of photograms. His images suggest someone who is no longer there, the absence of body, yet the resonance of history.

This piece, entitled, Shadographia, was created by Christian Schad in Stuttgart. Schad was a German painter associated with Dada and the New Objectivity movement.

Free Radicals
Len Lye, born Leonard Charles Huia Lye was a New Zealand-born artist known primarily for his experimental films and kinetic sculpture. "Free Radicals" was among a number of his more notable photograms.

Adam Fuss’ images have depicted babies, water droplets, christening dresses, moving light, snakes, sunflowers, rabbit entrails, and human skulls. His work was on display at the Frankel the day I went.

If you have access to a darkroom, you might want to check out these instructions on how to make your own photogram.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Art Fad Gains Popularity - Matryoshka Nesting Dolls

I'm not sure if the shop is still in Jack London Square here in Oakland, but we used to enjoy taking our Maya there to see the beautiful, hand-pained Russian nesting dolls called, "Matryoshka"...You know the kind...There is a large one and you pull the top off and find others in graduating sizes. I had a couple of sets when I was a child.

As the popularity of Matryoshka has grown, more people are interested in making their own customized art dolls. Kits are now commercially available to allow any artist to create their own unique nesting dolls.

They are often made to resemble political favorites, movie stars or other characters, even famous artists. A few weeks ago when I was in New York, I saw a set that was comprised of the likenesses of Picasso, Salvador Dali, Magritte and other notables in the art world. It had a $3800 price tag on it.

Matryoshka dolls range in size from 1/2" to life size and larger.

Custom painted gaming pieces are also popular. These chess sets are unique and may include the King, Queen, Rook, Bishop, Knight and Pawn as interesting conversation starters.

Other games and game characters, such as Mario and company, are cool as Matryoshka dolls.

Using kits of blank nesting dolls, an artist is limited only by the imagination.

Matryoshka dolls must nest inside each other, so hand painting them is a popular option. Some designers are creative with fabric and felt and create the look of more traditional soft dolls with their kits.

Favorite characters from movies, books and folklore are also often featured on nesting dolls. Santas of all varieties are collectors’ items, so it only makes sense that Santa Matryoshka dolls are readily available. Best loved characters from movies and cartoons also make nesting dolls really special to collector and some are worth thousands of dollars.

Dictators, presidents and world leaders are commemorated in Matryoshka dolls quite frequently. Collectors value these nesting dolls as historic timestamps, as the leader’s look during a particular election of time in power is recorded on each set of dolls. Russian presidents are a particularly popular subject of Matryoshka dolls.

From endangered species to beloved family pets, nearly all types of animals have been carefully painted onto Matryoshka dolls. Some nesting doll sets feature animals you might find in a zoo or endangered species.

Whatever the subject, Matryoshka nesting dolls have the potential to make it more interesting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Michael DeMeng - Getting Kinda Rusty

Michael DeMeng
For assemblage artist, Michael DeMeng, rust plays a significant role in his work. In fact, he authored a book called, "Secrets of Rusty Things"

This is “Little Ben”, one of Michael's latest creations. The assemblage was fashioned out of a roller skate, an alarm clock and a Goodwill dolly.

About his work, Demeng says, “My work is about transformations. It is about the transformation of the common into the sacred. Discarded materials find new and unexpected uses in my work; they are reassembled and conjoined with unlikely components, a form of rebirth from the ashes into new life and new meaning. These assemblages are metaphors for the evolutions and revolutions of existence: from life to death to rebirth, from new to old to renewed, from construction to destruction to reconstruction. These forms are examinations of the world in perpetual flux, where meaning and function are ever-changing.”

An excellent example of this is his life size Mother’s Day offering that is based on one of the most complex Hindu deities, Kali Ma, the Dark Mother.

"One missing feature that I deliberated long and hard on is the traditional Kali tougue. I tried it and it was too much for this particular piece. Instead I sort of insinuate it."

In his article for the Missoula Independent, Andy Smetanka described DeMeng’s studio much the same way someone would describe mine: “...a jumbo cardboard box full of cut-up and yet-to-be-cut-up magazines here, the rusty innards of a mechanical cash register there. A bag of bottle caps. Buckets of gears and cogs. Threaded brass bushings and odd bits of rusting iron everywhere. There’s crap all over the place.” (One man's trash…
by Andy Smetanka -Missoula Independent Vol. 16 No. 3 - Issue Date 1/20/2005)
(insert Demeng’s studio)

Michael’s assemblages are created from objects that he finds here and there…yard sales, antique shops…..He transforms them into works of art that transcend steam punk into a genre of their own. He glues them and paints and welds them until they no longer even remotely resemble their original forms. Strange, other-worldly animal-based pieces called, “mmanimals” that he classifies as his “Zoo-Illogicals” seem to beckon viewers to step closer.

Each of his rusty shrines appears to commemorate some mythological metal diety or... poet, as the case may be...

No home is complete without at least one Michae DeMeng Pez dispenser:

…and this bra assemblage almost defies description.

Michae travels the world over teaching workshops to people who are interested in learning his unique assemblage techniques. Please CLICK HERE for his workshop and exhibit schedule. His ONLINE STORE has all kinds of nifty ware for the DeMeng enthusiast and readers can find out even more about Michael DeMeng at HIS WEB SITE. He has one of the best blogs out there which you can find by clicking HERE.

Stacy Alexander