Archive for March, 2010

Crayon Carving….

Some people are just clever in so many ways.  Imagine, taking a common crayon and creating such magic……


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Alexa Meade thinks completely backwards. Most artists use acrylic paints to create portraits of people on canvas. But not Meade – she applies acrylic paints on her subjects and makes them appear to be a part of the painting!

Meade is an installation artist based in the Washington, DC area. Her innovative use of paint on the three dimensional surfaces of found objects, live models, and architectural spaces has been incorporated into a series of installations that create a perceptual shift in how we experience and interpret spatial relationships.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Meade and ask her about her thought process behind this creative work. Here is what she said:

“I paint representational portraits directly on top of the people I am representing. The models are transformed into embodiments of the artist’s interpretation of their essence. When captured on film, the living, breathing people underneath the paint disappear, overshadowed by the masks of themselves.”

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John Bramblitt didn’t start painting until he lost his sight. It was a difficult time. Bramblitt was in his late 20’s and unaware that his sight was seriously degrading until he was sideswiped by an unseen car. He was also worried about having the severe epileptic seizures that had already taken their toll on his vision. And he was angry. In fact, he believes that taking up painting after losing his sight was mostly an act of defiance.

While Bramblitt’s twenty-five years of visual experience provided him with mental images of what he wanted to paint, he was uncertain how to render these images on a canvas he couldn’t see. Then he discovered ‘puffy paint’. Puffy paint is typically used for decorating fabric and leaves a thin raised line, a line Bramblitt can touch. Using puffy paint allows Bramblitt to produce an initial outline of his subject on the canvas. He then feels his way across the raised lines with his left hand, as he fills-in the colors using a brush held in his right.

For color, Bramblitt uses oil paint, which has proven critical to the process. While oil paint is messier, more pungent, and dries much slower than acrylics, it offers something that no other paint can: idiosyncratic viscosity. According to Bramblitt, “White feels thicker on my fingers, almost like toothpaste, and black feels slicker and thinner. To mix a gray, I’ll try to get the paint to have a feel of medium viscosity”. In fact, he has learned to recognize and mix all the colors he uses by his sense of touch. And the colors are the first thing one notices about Bramblitt’s work (www.Bramblitt.net). While the subjects of his paintings are immediately recognizable, proportioned, and smartly stylized, the colors are supremely vibrant, and nearly psychedelic in their rendering.

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