Woman Spends 14 Years with Mannequin Family, Proves Single People Can Be Happy Too

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You would think that a woman living with a mannequin family has got to be some sort of weirdo. Contrary to that expectation, Suzanne Heintz comes across as fairly normal. As normal as an artist can be, that is.

Suzanne is an art director at Starz Entertainment Group in Englewood, Colorado. Every day for the past 14 years, she has been coming home from work to her unique family – her synthetic husband Chauncey and never-growing adolescent daughter Mary Margaret. Over the years, she has traveled 16,000 kilometers across America and all over the world, taking happy portraits with her plastic loved ones as a part of an art project called ‘Life Once Removed’.

Before the mannequins became a part of her life, Suzanne said she was routinely badgered with questions like, “When are you getting married?”, specially by her mother. “Nobody’s perfect,” her mother said to her about 15 years ago, “If you are going to get married, you’ll just have to pick somebody.” To which Suzanne replied, “Mom, it’s not like I can go out and buy a family and make it happen.” Or could she?

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Italian Architect Builds Fantastic Airships That Actually Fly

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Luigi Prina might be 83 years old, but he still has the imagination of a child. The Italian architect’s studio is filled with miniature flying ships of all shapes and sizes, suspended from the ceiling with nylon strings. And here’s the special part – some of the ships really do fly. When Luigi twists the propeller and lets the toys go, they whizz around the room in loops and circles.

Luigi has been obsessed with ships ever since he can remember. He began building model ships at a very young age. When he was 16, he won a national aircraft modeling competition. The judges were particularly impressed by his superior craftsmanship – and also his age. “When I went to collect my prize, they asked me: ‘Why didn’t your father come to collect his prize?’ ‘What do you mean my father, I am Luigi Prina!’ They were quite upset by this,” said Luigi.

But it wasn’t until 50 years had passed that Luigi was inspired to make his model ships fly. “I met Eugenio Tomiolo, a Venetian painter and boat builder,” he said. “And then I said to him: ‘Do you want to bet that I can make the boats fly for you?’ And I made the first boat. I made it fly in his studio. He had painted his ceiling like a sky with clouds. When the ship began to go around the ceiling it seemed as if the clouds were moving.”

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Artist Uses Ashes of the Deceased to Paint Portraits of Them

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Adam Brown, a Missouri-based painter, is offering his clients a unique way to connect with their deceased loved ones. He mixes the ashes with paint pigments and uses them to create portraits of the dead, as a ‘lasting memory’.

The 32-year-old artist said: “It hit me that having ashes in an urn on a fireplace would be a good way to remember that someone died, but having them in a piece of art is a good way of remembering that someone lived.” For Brown to paint the portraits, his clients need to send him the cremated remains of their loved ones. “Out of respect, I still wear gloves when handling the ashes,” said Brown “And whatever is left over, I am careful to return. I only need about four to six ounces, depending on the canvas. The ashes would go into the background.”

He takes these ashes, which have the texture of sand, and mixes them with paints, craft glues and resins. Brown also incorporates the deceased’s favorite colors and personality into the artwork. He puts a written inscription at the back warning that the painting contains human remains. This is “in case it ever leaves the family and goes into auction, so people know what they’re buying.”

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Artist Turns the Streets of Toronto into Amazing Outdoor Art Gallery

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Peter Gibson, a Montreal-based artist, began a campaign in 2001 to encourage the city to build more bike lanes. Although intended as an activism effort, the campaign was artistic in nature – it involved huge drawings on black asphalt, plain for everyone to see.

A decade ago, around the same time, Gibson was actually charged with 53 counts of public mischief for drawing on the streets. But he was popular with the public and support poured in from everywhere, helping him to walk free.

Today, the reason for protest may no longer exist, but the art form sure hasn’t died out. Assuming the pseudonym ‘Roadsworth,’ (“where Wordsworth is a poet of words, Roadsworth is a poet of roads”), Gibson has cleverly transformed roads, sidewalks and parking lots into stunning pieces of art.

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Artist Carves Incredibly Accurate Fast-Food Kitchen Exclusively Out of Wood

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‘Carcass’ is an odd name for a kitchen, don’t you think? But this isn’t a regular kitchen we’re talking about. It’s a diorama on view at Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago. This happens to be artist Roxy Paine’s first solo show, ‘Apparatus’. Carcass is the full-scale replica of a real fast-food kitchen that Roxy made entirely out of wood.

The details of the kitchen are incredible – order screens, cash registers, deep fryers, soft-drink dispensers and stacked up containers for burgers and fries, all made of wood. There’s something very attractive about the neat, clean lines and the monochromatic appearance. Makes me want to reach into the photographs and touch the all-wood kitchen.

The absence of flashy logos lends the diorama a very gaunt appearance, something like that of an empty shell, hence the name ‘Carcass’. The large-scale model is entirely carved out of birch and maple wood and formed from steel. Roxy’s work is significant, according to Kavi Gupta gallery, because he has challenged the perception of visual language and how it affects the understanding of our environments.

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Artist Sculpts Animal Bones into Delicate Works of Art

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Artist Jennifer Trask creates sculptures that are so delicate, it’s easy to mistake them for paper. But they’re actually made of bones. I’m seriously awe-struck at how she can convert something as hard and dry as bone into such exquisite works of art.

Some of the petals carved by Jennifer are so thin and frail, they would be instantly pulverized if you touched them. Her complex pieces contain several motifs – delicate florals and mythical creatures surrounded by vines and curls, cleverly laced with gold and other found objects dating back to the 18th century. They usually form wearable pieces like pendants, necklaces, and brooches, or wall art.

The New York based artist, who received an MFA from SUNY at New Paltz, has a very philosophical reason behind choosing bones as her preferred medium. “As the ultimate expression of both physical sensation and emotional sentiment (e.g. ‘I feel it in my bones’), bone is the absolute reductive essence of both life, and death,” she said. “Initially made of living cells, evolving, incorporating evidence of how we lived, the material itself embodies a latent narrative.”

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Li Hongbo’s Flexible Paper Sculptures Will Blow Your Mind

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Chinese artist Li Hongbo’s sculptures look no different from the classic white Roman-style plaster busts that many sculptors create. But the real magic begins only when you get close and touch them. What appeared to be plaster, reveals itself to be multiple layers of very thin paper.

Li’s technique is stunning – He sketches his ideas before pasting glue in narrow strips across pieces of paper, and stacking them up to the desired height. He uses up to 8,000 layers for a single head. He then cuts, chisels and sands the block of paper using a band saw and angle grinder, just as though he were working with stone. So you could literally touch and play with the busts that Li creates. You could stretch the faces and distort features to reveal an accordion of paper layers, and then snap everything back together with ease.

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Artist Creates Amazing Monochrome Paintings Using Smoke

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Michael Fennel is an exceptional artist who uses a very strange medium to create art – smoke. For the last 16 years he has developed a special technique of manipulating smoke on wooden panels to create mesmerizing paintings.

Although Fennell’s smoke painting techniques remain a well-kept secret, the artist does reveal that “Smoke as a drawing medium is of course fundamentally flawed – it is tremendously volatile and a line cannot be drawn with it, but perhaps more importantly you can easily ignite your paper and burn down your studio! Smoke is a unique medium that is not drawn, painted, printed, rubbed, flicked, blown or sprayed on – so what could we say – air borne? It can create the most beautiful blacks, that are ‘luminous’ and have depth to the extent that charcoal is flat and pale next to it. It an also create melting, nebulous edges and a great range of tones to rival those of photography.”

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Artist Uses Her Fingers to Create Mind-Blowingly Realistic Paintings of Icebergs

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Zaria Forman’s paintings of icebergs are so realistic that just looking at them actually gives me the chills. Her 2012 collection, Chasing the Light, is a tribute to her mother who died from brain cancer. She also hopes to raise awareness to climate change through her work.

Forman has a unique style of creating art. “When I travel, I take thousands of photographs and make small sketches. Once I am back in the studio, I draw from my memory of the experience, as well as the photographs to create large scale compositions. I add layers of color onto the paper, smudging everything with my fingers and hand,” she said.

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San Francisco Artist Turns Disposable Coffee Cups into Stunning Works of Art

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We love all kinds of unusual art here at OC, and Miguel Cardona’s unique paper cups fit the bill perfectly. The San Francisco-based illustrator and professor of design takes ordinary coffee cups and transforms them into stunning collectibles. His doodles cover a range of subjects – from aliens to sea creatures, and even the face of Walter White (of Breaking Bad fame).

Cardona’s love affair with cups began last year, when he happened to visit a café near his workplace. The barista tied a napkin around a takeaway cup, and Cardona thought it looked like a scarf. So he quickly sketched a hipster around it. On subsequent cups the scarf became a doo-rag and then a Ninja Turtles’ mask.

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English Artist Turns Dirty White Vans into Works of Art on Wheels

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You don’t really need an expensive canvas to make beautiful art. Rick Minns, from Wicklewood in Norfolk, proves that a dirty old van will do the trick.

Seriously, if someone like Rick lived in my area, I’d never clean my car. I would  just leave it coated with layers of filth, hoping he’d find it and do his thing. Rick, or ‘Ruddy Muddy’ as he’s now being called, creates amazing works of art in the grease, mud and dust collected on unwashed vans parked in the streets.

Rick said that he had often wondered if people would like to find art on their cars, rather than the usual ‘clean me’ and other rude messages scribbled in the dust. That’s how he got the idea for ‘Graffilthy Art’. “I was a bit bored at work one day, with a bit of spare time on my hands and thought it would be like a bit of fun,” he said. When no-one complained, he took it as a good sign and kept going. “I played around with a few things and they sort of developed from there.”

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English Artist Creates Expensive Broaches Inspired by Pigeon Droppings

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Pigeon droppings may be smelly and disgusting, but did you know they could also be an inspiration for jewelry? Don’t worry, no one’s actually putting droppings in jewelry. But an English artist is making broaches that resemble the shape, size and color of pigeon poo.

30-year-old Frances Wadsworth-Jones, from Ealing, West London, has created a new line of broaches called ‘Heaven Sent’. Each piece in the collection is made from crushed semi-precious and precious gems like black diamonds, sapphires and tourmaline. The gems are set together in imitation of splattered pigeon droppings.

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Artist Sews Portraits of His Family into the Palm of His Hand

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This has to be one of the most bizarre art-forms I’ve ever seen. Spanish artist David Cata has taken ‘hand embroidery’ to a whole new level. Using needle-and-thread, he embroiders portraits of people who have impacted his life on to his palms. He calls the series of works ‘a flor de piel’, which means ‘Under the Skin’.

You have to be a pretty intense person to be able to do something like this. Granted, he only embroiders the top layer of his skin, but it’s still got to hurt when he accidentally pierces his flesh! I watched two videos of his work – one where he sews on to his palm and the other where he (rather brutally) rips out the stitches. I really couldn’t finish watching the latter. Let’s just say that there was some blood involved.

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Belgian Artist Steps into His Own Incredible 3D Drawings

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Ben Heine, a 30-year-old Belgian artist, creates amazing life-size 3D sketches. He then takes pictures of himself stepping into his own drawings. So he creates incredible images of his real-life self walking a black-and-white tiger, being held at gunpoint, and staring at a hand-drawn self-portrait.

Ben makes use of a very interesting technique called anamorphosis. It requires the viewer to look at the sketches from a very specific angle, to see the complete effect. From a different perspective, these ‘illusions’ look slightly distorted. “It was very exciting to create these works because I like new challenges and I like to surprise,” Ben said. What’s amazing is that he sketches freehand, in just a single take, using a mixture of charcoal sticks and graphite pencils. The works are re-touched in post-production. It takes him a week to complete each drawing.

The sketches begin as pencil drawings and the shading is added using charcoal sticks. For large dark areas in the composition, Ben uses as many as 15 pencils and three charcoal sticks. “I’m actually using a mix of charcoal sticks for the large shadows and thick dark lines and graphite pencils for the smallest details and soft shadows,” he said. “Both materials are carbon based so they still belong to the same medium.

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Brian Lai’s Mind-Boggling Color Inverted Drawings

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Brian Lai, a brilliant Malaysian artist, has invented his own technique of drawing called ‘Invert Art’. Using the technique, he is able to make rough sketches materialize into full-fledged realistic drawings, when the colors are inverted using a Photoshop filter.

Lai has created a time-lapse video to demonstrate exactly how he creates these drawings. He first sketches and shades ‘normally’. Then, he completes the drawing by shading it inversely. After this, he takes a photograph of the drawing (he’s in some of the pictures too), and inverts the colors in Photoshop. The details appear, almost magically.

Some of the pictures on the internet of Lai’s work show how he’s successfully used his technique to make a drawing of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. At first, I thought he was holding up a real poster of the movie. Only when I read about his technique, did I realize it was a drawing.

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