Smile, Laugh, Love: Amy Poehler’s Yes Please

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Amy Poehler has it together. And ‘it’ has nothing to do with fame, money or romance even if she does have all three. You have ‘it’ when you’re happy, which means knowing and loving yourself to the fullest — two things Amy does best.

When I started her new book Yes PleaseI still referred to her by her full name. But by the time I finished it, she was just Amy. It’s bizarre how close you can feel to someone you’ve never met, just by reading the stories they chose to share with the entire world. But Amy’s writing voice is so clear and simple that I can almost hear Leslie Knope’s actual voice reading her words aloud.

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Amy just seems so real. In the intro she talks about how hard it is to write a book — especially one about yourself — and how implicitly conceited and painfully permanent the whole memoir-publishing process is. So down-to-earth yet somehow sharp and hilarious. Some of the memories she retells are insane celebrity-only kind of stories, but my favorites are the everyday ones. The stories that remind me of my own misadventures.

When she played Dorothy in her fourth grade’s Wizard of Oz, she discovered “on stage” meant “in charge” and improv’d for the very first time. I played Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web in the fourth grade too, but my story ended in the audience’s disappointment instead of delight. I got distracted reading backstage, missed a cue, and realized crowds are the worst and words are my home.

Sure she writes about creating Parks and Recreation and what it was like giving birth to her first son while watching the SNL episode she had rehearsed to perform in days earlier (“Laughing to Crying to Laughing”). But she writes about those things from a perspective anyone can understand. No big words, no convoluted themes, just a girl telling her stories in different ways.

The book’s three parts seem to be in loose chronological order: “Say Whatever You Want,” “Do Whatever You Like,” and “Be Whoever You Are.” “Say” begins with The Wizard of Oz and her birth story while “Be” wraps it up with Parks and Recreation, advice on Hollywood, and the unfathomable love she has for her sons.

The chronology of the three parts align on a larger scope too, with their titles — kids say whatever they want because they just found out they can, teenagers do whatever they want just to prove they can, and adults have the freedom to be whoever they are (the only problem is a lot of people get distracted by shoulds and don’t know who that is).

My favorite essay was “Plain Girl vs. the Demon.” She perfectly captures and personifies the self-doubt that wreaks havoc within all of us:

“And then one day, you go through a breakup or you can’t lose your baby weight or you look at your reflection in a soup spoon and that slimy bugger is back. It moves its sour mouth up to your ear and reminds you that you are fat and ugly and don’t deserve love.

This demon is some Stephen King from-the-sewer devil-level shit.”

Coming to the realization that the negative parts of me don’t have any real control is one of the best epiphanies I can ever remember having. And Amy Poehler knows what that feels like.

Thank YOU Amy, for writing a book for everyone.

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“Allegory of No Region” at the Taubman Museum of Art

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Bill Rutherfoord has been painting surreal scenes of animals and people in stark, arresting actions for decades, but his gallery at the Taubman Museum is the product of eight very reflective years spent working in the basement of his Roanoke home. Allegory of No Region is comprised of 11 huge, terrifying works that merge folk, myth, metaphor, science and symbolism at once.

This collection can’t be fully appreciated without understanding the story within the paintings, and I don’t think I can explain it any better than the Museum itself:

“The reclaimed character Brer Rabbit leads the viewer on an epic journey across three centuries of heroism and trickery both comic and tragic ultimately creating historical and contemporary allegories and conundrums that lead to an investigation of the very nature of identity, culture and history – personal and public, regional and national, high and low.”

 

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Each painting’s placard includes a diagram letting the viewer know the exact meaning behind the work, so that everyone can follow the twists and turns in Brier Rabbit’s path as he travels from the 18th century to present time, tackling every topic from Jamestown to the BP oil spill.

A lot of the symbolism deals with the New York School of art, and the break between the elites in the high-brow Northeastern art market and the equally legitimate styles being pursued in the rural U.S. Rutherfoord’s own career battled against the art market’s supposed trendiness, remaining figurative and refusing to bend to the ever-popular abstract styles.

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The gallery’s second room contained two collections of Rutherfoord’s past work to contextualize the Allegory of No Region series. The first was a set of Apocalypse paintings inspired by the Bible’s Book of Revelation, but my favorite was the set of five painted wood sculptures completed between the early ’80s and the early ’90s. Their silhouettes’ have life and rhythm but their small size and abstract faces make them feel like dolls propped up.

“Wacky Woods” takes Dr. Suess seriously — a one-eyed cartoon lumberjack BZZZing his chainsaw.

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“Guitar,” 1984

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“Wacky Woods,” 1991

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This show closes on Saturday, September 13th so if you live in Virginia, make the trip this weekend!

For more on Bill Rutherfoord, check out this incredible profile video created about him and this exhibit by William Sellari on Vimeo:

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Richard Stone’s ‘gleam’ in London

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If you live in London, this post is for you! An incredible contemporary sculptor is opening a new solo show titled gleam at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery next Thursday, September 11th.

Richard Stone‘s sculpture morphs art historical motifs into relatable figures, creating a new image from repurposed contexts using antique media like bronze and marble.

The artist is most interested in abstracting and breaking down contemporary representations of universal ideas that might be found more easily in painting and photography but not so much in sculpture:

"the rescuer," 2014  bronze, patina  approx 57x23x23cm

“the rescuer,” 2014
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approx 57x23x23cm

How has your process of molding and sculpting works changed as your art has developed? 

I’ve started to find a new and more focused language in bronze and marble, working more directly with preparatory wax models, that has opened up many more possibilities.

I’ve long been interested in how I can recast classical themes in contemporary light and these materials are enabling me to do that, not least because, in essence, they’re such beautiful, beguiling materials, ancient in origin, but utterly contemporary and limitless in scope.

 

When did you first begin experimenting with the abstracted human form in three dimensions, and why? 

It really started with looking to describe and make physical, the space around existing figurative objects, often in heroic poses, applying layers of wax to create an amorphous, contrasting form.

This not only enabled me to evoke a duality of form and material, but importantly, to think through the idea of representation and it’s conventions, more keenly, exploring the increasingly contemporary point at which representation begin to blur, dissolve or fall apart.

 

What is it that usually sparks the initial idea for a new sculpture? 

It can be anything, visual or literary, historical or contemporary, a found object, a work of art, a place, but quite often a line from a book or poem.

 

What do you hope your work communicates to the viewer? 

I think any intention on the part of the artist has to remain open, but the hope is always that the work is resonant enough to meet people where they are, in that moment, or be powerful enough to form a memory.

 

Which part of your upcoming September show are you most excited about?

For me, these works represent years of thinking and making, but it’s really now, that they’ve come together, in the form and mediums that best express them. The classical materials I’ve returned too have been updated and for me, represent a much stronger visual and contextual statement.

The exhibition in that sense is both a consolidation as well as a departure, I would say it’s a new statement of artistic intent.

 

"only in the ruins will you be free," 2014 statuario marble  approx 91x57x10cm

“only in the ruins will you be free,” 2014
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Richard’s show at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery will be on view until October 12th.

Interested in going to the opening? Find the details here. 

And see more of Richard’s work on his website and Twitter feed

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Paul McCartney’s Farewell to Candlestick Park

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Paul McCartney is a pretty indescribable human being, and tens of thousands of people gathered in Candlestick Park last week just for him.

All our hearts collectively melted when he tenderly sang the ultimates he helped create like “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be,” but he switched guitars after every single song so he could go back and forth between those Beatles classics, Wings hits, and the songs on his latest albums.

He felt far away, one of the greatest musicians of all time becoming an assemblage of magnificent tiny specks on the stage. But the 72-year-old lit up the entire stadium with his energy, and the huge screens that formed the stage’s backdrop changed dramatically for every song which kept the momentum moving fast.

Paul gave loving shout-outs to “John” and later “George” before performing songs that they wrote, and the crowd sent both of the legends long cheers, straight up to music heaven.

The Beatles played their last concert in Candlestick Park in 1966, so it felt important for Paul McCartney to be the last to play on the field before the stadium is demolished, now that the 49ers are moving to Santa Clara.

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"Blackbird"!

“Blackbird”!

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15 Mind-Bending Looped GIFs

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Looped GIFs are like “The Song That Never Ends.”

They visually lead into and out of themselves in a dizzying, mind-blowing way that makes me so excited to be living in this new digital age of art.

GIFs are my new favorite medium because they blend design, graphics, video and fine art together — four things I am learning to appreciate more and more in my everyday life, and four things that come alive in short looped spurts of color.

Plus, the amount of time it takes to create a looped GIF explains why it most definitely deserves its own classification as a new media artform. Welcome to the party, GIFs!

1.  “pulse 6gons rainbow” by 12gon

"pulse 6gons rainbow" by 12gon

 

2.  “drawing a drawing drawing a drawing” by Tim Schreder

"drawing a drawing drawing a drawing" by Tim Schreder

3. “Rocketship 3″ by INKAXIS

"Rocketship 3" by INKAXIS

4. by Giorgio Malvone

by Giorgio Malvone

[Tweet ““I dream of painting and then I paint my dream” -Vincent Van Gogh “]

 

5. from Jami / Gemini

from Jami / Gemini

 

6. “Moon” by INKAXIS

"Moon" by INKAXIS

7. “No Wifi.” by Tyler Haywood

"No Wifi." by Tyler Haywood

 

8. “grid lines” by david whyte 

"grid lines" by david whyte

 

9. by Melhores Gifs do Mundo

by Melhores Gifs do Mundo

 

10. “The Eye” by Matthew Stone & Joe Currie

"The Eye" by Matthew Stone & Joe Currie

 

11. by Sam Alexander Mattacott

"fg_TR_01" by Sam Alexander Mattacott

 

12. “Duplicates” by INKAXIS

"Duplicates" by INKAXIS

 

13. “childhood game” by leszczynska

"childhood game" by leszczynska

 

 

14. “Mover” by INKAXIS

"Mover" by INKAXIS

 

15. “Triangles” by INKAXIS

"Triangles" by INKAXIS

 

For endless GIF art, browse Tumblr >>

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Ripples at Rest: Fredrik Skåtar’s Vibration Mirror

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Fredrik Skåtar is a Swedish architect, artist and researcher exploring and manipulating natural forms. He created his “Vibration mirror” in 2010, a polished aluminum sculpture that expanded on a previous work “Wave table.” “Wave table” was made of acrylic glass so you could see ‘through’ the water instead of your own reflection.

The ripples in the ‘water’ of “Vibration Mirror” reveal a distorted view of what’s before the piece, bringing the viewer into direct interaction with the work. Two half-circles radiate out, as if two people standing in front of the work each created their own stir in the flat mirror. The mirror’s flat top contrasts its busy bottom, where the two sets of scattered wrinkles intersect to create a loose grid of waves.

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Fredrik writes, “Shapes of water are constantly generated all around us, too fast for the human eye to perceive. The Vibration mirror is a sculpture where time has been stopped to materialize the complex geometry of intersecting water ripples.

The Vibration mirror is a part of the projects ‘From animation to sculpture’ and ‘Matter of sound’ that was funded by The Swedish Arts Grants Committee (Konstnärsnämnden) and The Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in 2010 and 2012.”

 

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For more from Fredrik, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.

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Levitating Paint: Pawel Nolbert’s Atypical

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Pawel Nolbert is a graphic artist in Poland, whose work with digital visuals began 13 years ago. He’s created for Adobe, Google, Disney, the Grammy’s and a lot of other names you’d recognize, but it’s the work he makes for himself that blows everything else out of the water.

His latest project, Atypical is a part-typography, part-contemporary art series that features bright, elegant swishes of paint dancing through the air, freed from their usual canvas prison.  Most of the eight prints have some semblance to a letter or number, which contradicts that freedom-feeling that comes from working in four dimensions. But there is one spiraling tunnel of blue-purple that really lets loose.

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Nolbert created Atypical by actually painting what you see in the works on clear plastic panels that could be twisted and manipulated. The photographs of that painted plastic were then perfected and assembled digitally so that the paint became it’s own entity — thick brushstrokes waltzing in the wind.

 

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To see more of Pawel Nolbert’s work, find him on Facebook, Twitter, Behance and his amazing Instagram.
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The Impact Cézanne Had on The Impressionists

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by Alison Lansky

Paul Cézanne was a French artist perhaps most famous for his ‘Bathers’ and who is often credited with having bridged the gap between Impressionism in the late 19th Century and Cubism in the early part of the 20th Century. Like many artists, his work can be defined by a number of distinct periods each with its own style. The four most commonly recognised periods in terms of Cézanne’s work are his post-impressionism period; his cubism period; his impressionism period; and his modern art period. However, the period that I want to look at today is his impressionist and post-impressionist period and more specifically how his work impacted the impressionist movement.

 

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What Is Impressionism?

Impressionism was a style of painting which emerged in France during the 1860’s. The main characteristics of the impressionist style were the need to capture a visual impression of the moment and the effects of light and color. It has often been said that impressionists are more concerned with capturing the feeling or the experience rather than creating an accurate reproduction of a scene. Nature played a big role in the impressionist movement with most artwork focused on the outdoors. One of the hallmarks of an impressionist painting is the use of short brush strokes and thickly applied paint along with a lack of fine detail. If you want to try your hand at impressionist style painting then you should be able to find a selection of useful books at most leading art supplies stores. There are several interesting titles available from JacksonsArt.com.

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Cézanne’s Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Works

Cézanne’s impressionist period was at its peak in the 1870’s. Some of his most famous impressionist works include ‘House of the Hanged Man’ and his series of ‘Bathers’. While Cézanne exhibited his paintings alongside other impressionists such as Claude Monet, over time his style began to change setting him apart from the other artists of the time. He was plagued by the feeling that the impressionists were lacking in one of the most important hallmarks of classical art : structured composition.

This deviation from the normal impressionist style was met wit criticism. Where other impressionists captures a delicate and sensuous feel in their work, any felt that Cezanne’s brush strokes were forced or strained due to his insistence on creating a more unified structure between color, surface and brush strokes. It was Cézanne’s experimentation with planes of color which led to other artists including Pablo Picasso being influenced to create the style we now know as cubism. It is because of this that Paul Cézanne is often thought of as one of the fathers of modern art.

Overall, it is clear that although Cézanne initially came under fire upon deviating from what was expected in the art world at the time to the point where he was routinely rejected by the Salon, his distinctive style certainly developed over time and went on to influence great artists including Manet, Picasso and Renoir to develop a more modern style. In fact, Pablo Picasso is quoted as having said, ‘As if I didn’t know Cezanne! He was my one and only master. […] It was the same with all of us – he was like our father.’ Modern art would not be where it is today without the likes of visionary artists like Paul Cézanne.

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Alison Lansky loves blogging and art. She is also the mother of 2 beautiful children – her own works of art!

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Carlos Ortega’s 3D Cast of Characters

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“Policarpio,” 2010: “Policarpio is a little swimmer birdie who is visited by his 3 fairy godmothers …”

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“Simon The Dog,” 2009: Character modeled for a marketing agency.

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“Erasmo the plesiosaur,” 2008: “I created this character for a challenge at 3DTotal.com. My concept was simple: to make a cute and colorful animal with a grumpy and annoyed attitude.”

"Quetzalcoatl's Rage," 2008

“Quetzalcoatl’s Rage,” 2008: “The aztec god Quetzalcoatl waking up in his stone body and facing the enemy, waiting for the battle…”

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“The Weeping Woman,” 2012: “Created for the Collective Exhibition in Mexico: “Ilustrando para” as homage for the mexican Rock Band ‘Caifanes'”

 

Spunky animals take on personalities to match in Carlos Ortega‘s 3D artwork. Similar in style to Pixar movies and Frozen, his women have teeny tiny button noses and huge almond eyes that rest in their perfect round cheeks. But it’s his birds with goggles and imagined sea creatures that open the gates of possibility.

If you’ve seen the 2012 CocaCola short, “Crabs & Penguins,” Carlos designed the soccer-playing penguins in the video!

 

See more of his work on his website, and like his 3D creations on Facebook here.

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The Use of Art in Advertising

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The common form of advertising is a form of communication used to persuade viewers or listeners to purchase a new product. But did you know that an outstanding radio or TV ad can also be referred to as a form of art?

When people hear the word “art,” they usually relate it to paintings and sculptures, like Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” or Michelangelo’s “David.” Art is used to chronicle events, tell a story, create statements or convey emotions. Art, when used effectively in radio and television advertisements, can influence a person’s feelings, attitudes and ideals, and even persuade the audience to purchase a product or service. A Super Bowl Pepsi commercial may not have a place in the Louvre but the ad fits this definition of art.

Audio Art
Despite the fact that it only appeals to our sense of hearing, an excellent radio ad utilizes various art forms such as music, script writing, sound effects and vocal talent to create visual images in the listener’s mind and to bring the ad to life. After the writer finishes the script, sound engineers would then manipulate the sounds to capture the perfect pitch, tone and volume. One of the best radio ads of 2012 is Earphone Bully. It even won a Gold Radio Lion at Cannes the same year.

Visual Art
With all the advanced technology available on the market, graphic artists are able to create remarkable visual effects through computer-generated graphics and animation. The famous 2006 Coke commercial from the Netherlands was shown worldwide because of its brilliant use of animation.

Cinematography & Photography
A simple concept may result to an explosive TV advert with the amazing use of cinematography. Just like Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” commercial from the recent Super Bowl season. It is a simple concept but the sequences and how the entire commercial was shot plus the music accompaniment appeals to the masses.

Even online gaming companies know the importance of a great cinematography. Online bingo game Iceland Bingo may have used two simple ducks walking down the road, but how the commercial was executed really gets the point across: Play bingo and you will have fun.

Same thing goes with photography. A plain food and beverage can turn into a visual masterpiece with just the right lighting and positioning of the camera to capture the perfect angle. All these artistry can contribute to sell a product successfully.

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Disclaimer: This is a guest post! 

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Pascal Janssen’s Emphatic Faces

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Pascal Janssen‘s talent for creating faces makes it hard to believe he’s just 21 years old. The Belgian artist paints, draws and collages features with so much emotion in them, each face nearly breathes with life.

He mostly draws portraits of his friends, occasionally including a favorite musician. He captures those moments of revelation and self-doubt as each new set of eyebrows and chins depict them, emphasizing each subtlety to reveal a depiction truer than a photograph.

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“My artwork is mostly based on the mind of the human being, how it’s perception on the world and itself is,” he writes.

Drugs and their affects also played a role in the formation of his work. Pascal seems fascinated by the changes drugs cause within the body, and how those changes manifest themselves in expressions.

Pascal was nice enough to answer my questions about his work, and how his fixation on the face began:

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How has living in Belgium helped shape your art? What do you like most about Hasselt?

Even though art in Europe is more active in Berlin, Belgium is also a nice place for an artist. You have a lot of art schools around the country. My parents sent me to art classes since I was in kindergarden, it was once a week and just for fun.

I quit  those art classes when I went to high school in Hasselt where I did visual arts. I really loved it there and had a great time, the people there were a lot more open minded than they were in middle school. I really hated middle school, some teachers even mocked me for planning to go to art school.

But I couldn’t care less, I always wanted to be an artist. And for now I’m studying at an art college, just next to my high school. I’ve always loved Hasselt. It’s not the most interesting place in Belgium like Gent, Antwerp or Brussels. But I do feel safe there, it feels like home. I currently live at Rekem, close to the border of the Netherlands where Maastricht is located. Maastricht is also a nice place for an artist, I had my first exhibition there with 7 other artists in September 2013 and planning to have my first solo exhibition there in April 2014.

 

When did you first start creating portraits? Can you remember the first person you ever painted?

I don’t really remember, I probably had some assignments to paint or drew a portrait for school, but didn’t care about it cause I mostly just made what I felt like making. When I was in elementary school I drew a lot of cartoons but when I went to high school I mostly painted abstract paintings and when I was around 17 I really noticed I just love painting portraits.

And that was when I created “Ignorance is Bliss.” It’s a portrait of some stoner, to this day I still don’t know who this guy is but I thought it was kinda hilarious to paint him because my teachers back then hated anything that had something to do with drugs. Most of my work back then had references to drugs and sometimes it still does, because I still think it has some interesting factors like hallucinations, psychoses, addiction, depersonalisation, etc. I think making portraits is something I’ll always will love doing, but I’m always open to paint new things or use new techniques. I like to experiment a lot.

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What do you love about reinterpreting the human face over and over again?

I never thought about that really, for me it’s more than just a face. It’s like I’m painting a complete person as he or she is, or just how I feel about them. I like painting my favorite musicians. Mostly musicians who make lyrics which reflect the thoughts and feelings in my life, like King Krule, I love the melancholy in his music. But I mostly love to paint my friends, like I said it’s more then just a face.

 

How long does it usually take to create each of your works, and what methods do you use to create them?

I mostly work in a fast tempo, it takes normally about an hour or 2, depending on size of course. And if I start working on a piece, I don’t stop untill it’s finished or else I just start all over again. I learned to paint this fast because I work a lot with watercolor. With that kind of paint you have to work fast and you cannot really correct mistakes.

My technique with watercolor also had an effect on my technique with painting in oil. I use a lot of terpentine on my oil paintings just like I use a lot of water on my watercolor paintings. I also don’t use white oil paint, instead I use gesso, a thick paint you actually use for preparation of your canvas. I never really liked working traditionally I guess.

 

What’s one of your favorite quotes about art and how do you see it applying to your own work?

The quotes of Vincent van Gogh are my favorites, they might sound cheesy but I love them: ” If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Criticism has always motivated me even if it came from within me. I’m not trying to be a better artist then somebody else, I’m just try to be better than myself.

“I feel that there is nothing more artistic than to love.” As the romantic person I am, love has always motivated me to paint.

“I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars make me dream.” I’m also a very agnostic person who will question about anything, but I do have an endless fascination for the universe.

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For more from Pascal, you can find him on Facebook, Tumblr and Behance.

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Teodosio Sectio Aurea’s Shadow Art

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An artist from Athens, Greece, Teodosio Sectio Aurea paints with shadows, using sculpture and light to recreate masterpieces in negative space. He takes us through a tour of art history using different types of sculpture to match each shadow — thick black metal for “Guernica,” a cherry blossom tree forms a woman in “Akina – spring flower,” and DNA beads form the “Vitruvian Man.”  

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How does living in Athens affect your art?

I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world. Socrates, from Plutarch said Greece is the most beautiful places on Earth.

 

When did you first start experimenting with shadow art?

I started my shadows one year ago, I just sort of ”woke up” you know?

 

How long does it typically take you to work with the negative space?

Some shadows are difficult, but nothing is impossible.

 

What’s one of your favorite quotes about art?

“In art we trust.”

Who’s are a few of your art idols?
Dali, Pollock, Kandinsky, Da Vinci, and again Dali :)))))

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For more of Teodosio Sectio Aurea’s work, see his website and Facebook page.

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