Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cutting Paper

Paper is the most amazing medium. I am obsessed with the stuff. I have made paper by hand. It is painstaking, but really, it is nothing more than plant fibre and water! From such humble materials anything can be made. It can be strong or flexible, opaque, colourful, patterned, or transparent, thin, and delicate. I love seeing all the art that can be made with nothing more than a trusted pair of scissors or a sharp, sharp knife. Paper cuts have a long history in many cultures including Chinese as well as the papel picado folk art of Mexico.

Chinese peacock paper cut
papel picado

One of my favorite paper artists is Elsa Moro (main blog, paper cutting blog, etsy), or Elsita. She is a Cuban-born, LA-based artist, mother, avid blogger, and genuinely delightful person. She works in a variety of media, and her paper cut work blows me away.

Inner Thread

The Wound

Girl with Bird Mask

And the paper sculpture is incredible. Consider Girl Bird:

or Bee:

Everyone knows England's Mister Rob Ryan, but his work is so brilliant I will repeat it here:
Rob Ryan Nest
Rob Ryan
How could I resist the incorporation of typography in paper-cut illustration!

New York-based, Hungarian artist Andrea Dezsö creates some spectacular illustration and book art. These works combine paper cut in layers with interactive LED lighting:

The Day We Changed Our Lives Forever /left: Mushroom Forest,
middle: Devil's Den, right: We Play.
Cut-out, hand sewn paper tunnel books with interactive LED lights. (LED engineering: Sandy Chen)

I could spend days exploring that portfolio!

Armed with nothing more than construction paper and n exacto knife, Miami artist Jen Stark became a bit of an internet phenomenon. Ubiquitous in the blogosphere, she gained a name in the art world, for her simple, geometric, but ebullient paper cuts or paper sculptures.

The sheer scale of Chris Natrop's work, as well as the interplay of light and shadow are staggering.


55 x 36 x 14 feet
cut paper with watercolor, glitter and magic string; cut acrylic sheet; HD video projection

site-specific installation
MOCA Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL


20 x 20 x 14 feet

watercolor, iridescent medium, green tea, tape on cut paper with thread and nylon netting


site-specific installation
Bank, Los Angeles, CA

Canadian artist Ed Pien, born in Taipei, combines eastern and western influences in his work. This piece shows life-sized figures crouching in a tree.

Ed Pien

nest Ed Pien
ink on 3M reflector and shoji paper cut,
137 x 183 cm

Check out Japanese artist Kako Ueda's Memento Mori style paper cuts.

Kako Ueda
Eros and Thanatos - detail
hand-cut black paper, site specific, 78 inches by 68 inches, 2008

or works somewhere between 2D silhouette and 3D sculpture like Totem - hand-cut red paper, thread, string, collage, bottles, coloured pencil (2008):
Totem -Kako Ueda

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Living in the vertical: NYC, 1912

Illustrations and some text from The Rocket Book by Peter Newell, published by Harper & Brothers, 1912, in New York, of course [from The Library of Congress via Le Divan Fumoir Bohémien].

If you have spent less time around undergraduates in physics than I, perhaps you have not witnessed a rogue rocket go through a ceiling....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Anthropomorphism is the attribution of uniquely human characteristics to non-human creatures and beings, natural and supernatural phenomena, material states and objects or abstract concepts. Subjects for anthropomorphism commonly include animals and plants depicted as creatures with human motivation able to reason and converse, forces of nature such as winds or the sun, components in games, unseen or unknown sources of chance, etc. Almost anything can be subject to anthropomorphism. The term derives from a combination of the Greek ἄνθρωπος (ánthrōpos), "human" and μορφή (morphē), "shape" or "form".

The ancient Egyptian god Thoth appears with the head of an ibis, though sometimes, he has the head of a baboon. Thoth invented writing and is the god of scribes.

Killer rabbits, dancing cats and demons. Via BibliOdyssey here are some gorgeous examples from illustrations for children's literature. Also, some not-so-fit for children:

[images via BibliOdyssey]
In 1794, Wolfgang von Goethe adapted a medieval version of Reynard the Fox to produce an epic poem in hexameter 'Reinecke Fuchs' perhaps influenced by the events of the French Revolution. German artist Wilhelm von Kaulbach produced an elaborate set of steel engravings in the 1840s which were first published in the 1846 edition of 'Reinecke Fuchs'. The images above are from the 1857 edition.

That Reynard and his acquaintances got up to some mischief.

'La Lutte Artistique' (The Artistic Struggle)
Jules Worms, 19th century [via BibliOdyssey]

Though a trend in art as old as art, it seems to me to have been more prevalent in recent years in the collective unconscious. Why is that?

By Olaf Hajek. You should take the time to check out his extensive portfolio.
[via bohemian hellhole]

Check out the mysterious work of London-based photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten.

Winter Stories is the name of a recent exhibit by photographer Paolo Ventura, shown in Paris. His work blurs reality and fiction. I am particularly taken with this one:

[via Le Divan Fumoir Bohémien]

A local Torontonian, Michael Wandelmaier has some fabulous illustrations on favorite themes of animals and imaginary things (uh... and hair). Furry and feathered friends are more common than fish, but check out his work:

Something Fishy! 20×12.5″. Graphite on Bristol with digital coloring. 2008

I can not resist sneaking in this illustration by Victoria, B.C. artist Marc Johns:

By the lovely Princesse Camcam

There's always the haunting, beautiful and delicately-coloured work of Minneapolis artist Jennifer Davis.

mixed media

trouble in mind

Riikan Sormunen is a weird Finnish girl (perhaps that is a redundant observation) whose art portrays strange ideas about animals. So, is posting. She has a deviantART page too.

What, you say that penguin isn't doing anything that penguins can't do? Please. I am not that naive.

The anthropomorphic food seems less common than the anthropomorphic animals, but such images are not entirely absent. Check out the magical illustrations of displaced prairie girl Chelsea Cardinal. She has an incredible sense of colour, like a children's illustrator not afraid of nightmares.

Apple Head


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