Wednesday, December 13, 2023

William Hays: Print Master of Wintry Scenes




My search was on to find an artist whose works, or some portion, portrayed winter and the holidays in a classic manner. I had almost given up when I discovered William Hays (1956-)



Hays was already mastering oil and water color painting by the age of 15. About 2007, he began teaching himself linocut and woodcut printing. He enjoyed printing so much that he moved away from painting to exclusively creating in print.

In spite of the technical challenges and limitations of printing, he comments that he has,"made it part of my vocabulary over time." Hays appreciates the meditative time that creating print blocks provides. (I thought the same when I was carving wood blocks for a print class.)


His inspiration for his works is found in the outdoors. For this blog, I've chosen some of his prints of winter - something he knows very well having lived in Alaska and now making his home in Vermont. However, his prints are so beautiful that I know there'll be a future blog about the other seasons he's captured. 

Hays is definitely a print master, who is deservedly recognized nationwide. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Sergio Odeith: Street Art with a High WOW Factor

 Street art is provocative (think Banksy) or delightful (think David Zinn and his whimsical menagerie.) It's also so realistic and large to extract a "wow" factor from viewers if the artist is Sergio Odeith (1976-) Like Zinn, Odeith creates 3-dimensional art when viewed from a certain angle.



Odeith grew up in Portugal and is entirely a self-taught artist. His fascination with shading and perspective started at an early age. He also started using spray paints as a youngster. Like most kids, his first outdoor works were illegal works on street walls and railway lines. As he improved his skills, he began to paint large murals, especially in poorer Portugal neighborhoods

Continuing to be fascinated by perspective, Odeith evolved a technique he named, "sombre 3D." It involves using angles, lines and shadows to create a very realistic 3-D effect. Additionally, the realistic animals, bugs and spiders are scarily large.

 His large murals led to contracting with companies such as Samsung and Coca-Cola, among others, including soccer teams and municipalities all over Europe and the United States.



All this from a gifted artist, who dropped out of school at 15 to pursue his creativity in his own way. As Odeith said in an interview, "Keep working hard, chase your dreams and never give up."

  (Below is an example of how he turns a wall into another object.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

James Turrell: Of Light & Space


As artists are quick to point out, the presence of light is very important. That's never more so than for an artist who is described as a "sculptor of light." The artist is James Turrell (1943-), who was born in Los Angeles and received his education there. 



Turrell classes included astronomy and perceptual psychology, which explains his interest in light and space. Working with a high-intensity projectors as light source some 55 years ago, he produced the first of his Projection Pieces. It was from that experiment onward when he participated with engineers, physiologists, and artists to study the "Ganzfeld Effect," or perceptual deprivation.

 By 1967, Turrell had his first exhibit at the Pasadena Art Museum. It was an essay in a magazine about the exhibit that would put Turrell in the forefront of the Light & Space movement.

 Not only has Turrell have 22 permanent installments in prestigious galleries across the United States, but he also continues his development of the Roden Crater Project, which is a 400,000 year old cinder-cone volcano in Arizona's  Painted Desert region. He's been able to build his
"naked-eye observatory" from a Guggenheim Fellowship Award and more recently from a MacArthur Fellowship Grant.



(This man of high accomplishment in the art of light and space movement is certainly a pioneer. I have to admit that every photo of him with white hair and beard puts me in mind of the actor, Monty Woolley (1888-1963). Anybody else?)

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

William Degouve de Nuncques: Autumn Scenes






The change of time and the darkness coming so early has me thinking that I should put on my pjs and hunker down under a warm blanket, but it's only 5 PM! I searched for an artist who might have known what autumn feels like. Found! He was William Degouve de Nuncques, (1867-1935) who was a Belgian artist.

 Degouve de Nuncques was an artist who found his own way. He did go to art school for awhile, but preferred to be self-taught. He was influenced with the artists with whom he shared a studio.Those were Dutch artist, Jan Toorop (whose painting of the Crucifixion is the most stylized I've ever seen) and Belgian artist, Henry de Groux.

 For most of his life, he was regarded as a painter of post-impressionist,atmospheric landscapes. That is why he seemed so appropriate for this time of year. 

While his subjects and style changed in the 1900s, partially due to his loss of use of one hand, this blog will be on his works during the time before.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Sandra Mollon: Art Quilts Extraordinaire

 As the weather cools, my mind returns to the grandmother quilt that covered my bed. I recall how worn out pants, dresses and other garments were examined by the elder ladies for places where the fabric was still "good." These pieces of fabric would reappear as warm quilts for winter. While that form of quilting still continues, the usage has changed into an art form more likely to be found as wall art. 

There is an expansive use of fabrics today that inspire the art quilters into exhibits in galleries, museums, and even international challenges these days.Among the most talented of these art quilters is Sandra Mollon.


 Mollon has been quilting for over 30 years. She began as a traditional quilter. Over the years, she extended into art quilting.  Her inspiration for subjects is far and wide. 


 They include scenic, flora, animals and even traditional applique'. She has received many award,s including a quilt that was acquired by the National Quilt Museum.

Mollon not only creates videos and books, but also teaches her techniques nationally and internationally - going as far as Tuscany, Italy!  Beyond all the awards and accolades, as she says, "... the most important aspect of what I do is the lives I touch, and those that touch me."

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Caspar David Friedrich: Romantic Era Influencer

 As we enter the transition from Autumn to Winter, it feels like a moody time of year. There's fog, cold days, rainy days and the first hints of snow. All this brought to mind the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) and his works that seem to express this time.





Friedrich was the most highly regarded German painter of his generation. His main source of inspiration was nature. (No wonder I like him) He particularly drawn to night skies, morning mist, barren trees and ancient ruins. His timing and choice of subjects was perfect.


It was a time when people were questioning the material world and reaching towards natural surroundings. In some respects, he predated Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) and his search in nature at Walden Pond. 

 At the peak of Friedrich's popularity, his works were prized by royalty, especially in Russia. There were many of his paintings featured in Saint Petersburg where he also gained a patronage.

Alas, time meant his subject and style were regarded as dated

and he lost his audience. However, he left a legacy with his form of landscape painting which influenced certain Russian and American painters, including the famous Hudson River School.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Alejandro Santiago: 2500 + 1 Gone!

Alejandro Santiago (1964-2013) was a highly-trained and well-known Mexican artist. He was born and raised in Teococuilco in the state of Oaxaca. You might be thinking, "Why does that matter?"

It's because Santiago returned to his hometown after spending several years in Europe studying art, only to find that half of the population - some 2,500 people - had left. He had come home to a shell of a town. Most of the working age population had emigrated. Those who remained were either old or children who had been left with grandparents. Some of these emigrants would die in the desert, but against their poverty it was a chance they were willing to take.

In a dream, Santiago saw a way to repopulate those 2,500 souls plus his own to the town. With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and 35 workers, he created 2501 clay sculptures. No two figures are alike.

Santiago personally shaped each one in a crude way to represent the native people and the hardships of their lives, both in Mexico and in the United States.


Once the 2500+1 figures had been displayed at various galleries, Santiago placed them in Teococuilco to celebrate the "migrants' return." Or as one curator described these sculptures, " if to summon the absent ones."  

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Alain Mailland: Sculptor, Artist, Artisan of Wood

Recently, we were having a discussion about what is the difference between artists and artisans. Looking up the two definitions, it read that artists create art such as: painting,sculpting,music or writing; whereas artisans "workers who practice a trade or handicraft." These definitions seem, at best, not fitting for so many. For example, where does creativity start and commercialism end?



If pushed, I'd say someone like Alain Mailland is both artist and artisan. Not only does he sculpt wood into the most unique forms, but he also sells his sculptures.




Mailland was born on the Ivory Coast and moved with his family to France as a child. In his early 20s, he studied at the National Art School and worked as a construction carpenter and mason. It was at age 28 that he took his first course in wood turning. 

 He made his living making interior wood works until he made the decision to move into the world of wood sculpting. After that, he devoted himself to mastering the lathe and making special tools to achieve his sculptures.

Using mainly roots from trees in the French countryside where he lives, he identifies the different colors that a tree produces from the heartwood to the roots or sapwood. In that way, he plans for the creation of natural color contrasts as he sculpts. 

"There is a correspondence between all the species living on earth. You can find animal or mineral shapes in roots and vegetable forms, and in stone or bones. We humans are linked with all things growing on the earth. This is what I feel when I make my sculptures."

 Mailland is one of Europe's foremost wood sculptors, specializing in turning and sculpting exquisite organic shapes. He also teaches his techniques. You could way worse than taking a class from this master artist/artisan.