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The Ghost-Like Smoke Paintings of Rob Tarbell

Rob Tarbell has a very unique talent. By burning everyday objects under a paper canvas fixed on the ceiling of his studio, he is able to control the rising flow of smoke and create incredible works of art.

The artist first got the idea of using smoke as a medium for his art in 2007, and he quickly realized that in order to make it work, he needed to control the smoke, while letting it do what it does naturally. To him, that sounded a lot like what circus trainers do with wild animals, so this inspired him to use circus performances as the main subjects of his beautiful smoke paintings. Masterfully channeling the flow of smoke, Tarbell creates ghost-like figures, both animal and human performing circus acts, in a series entitled Smoke Rings. “The performing animal images in the Smokes parallel the drawing process,” Rob says on his website. “The trainer must recognize and respect the innate nature of an animal when trying to modify its behavior to achieve a desired outcome: e.g. training a bear to dance or training a horse to walk upright. The same is true in working with smoke. The inherent properties of smoke must be respected, then permitted to – and yet discouraged from – acting naturally.”

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Coolest Finds of the Week #26

South African Weathermen Could Face Jail Time for Wrong Forecasts (Yahoo)

Jaipur’s Painted Elephant Festival (Environmental Graffiti)

Man Spots Dead Mother’s Ghost in Guesthouse Photo (Metro)

MMO Game Wants to Break Record for Virtual Marriages (Geekosystem)

16 of the Smartest Children in History (Business Insider)

China’s Famous Salad Towers (The Consumerist)

Functional Bone Guillotine Model Made by Prisoner Awaiting Execution (Daily Mail)

India’s Incredible Hand-Drawn Movie Posters (Asia Obscura)

25 Beautifully-Colored Sea Slugs (Environmental Graffiti)

Man Sets New Record for Most Eyebrow Raises (Record Setter)

Incredible Fingerprint Paintings by Judith Braun

New York-based artist, Judith Braun, creates giant symmetrical wall paintings, using only her fingertips as brushes. This would be difficult to do with one hand at a time, but Judith sometimes uses both hands at the same time.

As children, we all got our hands dirty then tried to use our fingers to draw, but I doubt any of our “masterpieces” looked anything like those of Judith Braun. By dipping her hands in charcoal, pastel and chalk, and using them as paintbrushes, Braun is able to create truly unique symmetrical works of art. Using her own special technique, she produces all kinds of abstract images, patterns and shapes.  “Abstraction keeps the images free to be anything, while the symmetry resolves that fluidity into something, like liquid energy crystallizing. This crystal metaphor is further reflected in the carbon medium that, under heat and pressure, becomes a diamond.  I like to think I’m drawing with diamond dust”, Judith Braun says about her art.

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Artist Disappears in the Background of Her Works

Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes uses a mix of make-up, paint and costumes to make herself disappear in her own paintings. Like the real-life invisible man, Liu Bolin, she  is a master of blending-in the background.

Paredes explains her technique as a way of making herself part of the landscape ïn a quest of belonging”.  “The theme behind all is re-location after displacement and migration and how one has to adjust in order to belong. Tough it is, but it has to be done, without forgetting our origin,” the artist explains. With the help of her assistants, she applies make-up and body paint, and sometimes slips into special suits to make herself a subject of her own artworks. Unlike human chameleons like Liu Bolin, Cecilia Paredes sometimes likes to let her presence get noticed by the viewer, by leaving her hair stand out and letting them see the whites of her eyes, like in the artwork below.

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Chara Sands – The Miniature Desert of Siberia

If I showed you an image of desert sands set up against a background of snow-capped mountain peaks, your first word would probably be ‘Photoshoped’. That’s what I thought too, but such a place really does exist and it’s called Chara Sands.

There is really no end to nature’s mysteries and Chara Sands, in Siberia, is just one of them. Located in the Trans-Baikal, about  25 miles from the Kodar Glaciers and right next to the mountains, ice fields and blue lakes, the bright and yellow sand dune is hard to miss. At 10 km long and 5 km wide, the dunes are of varying heights. Some of the tallest ones are 15 to 30 meters high. Given the large volume of the loose and shifting sands, the place actually looks like a desert, although it is not. Spotting a desert-like terrain in the tundra region is nothing short of a miracle and a well-recognized one around the world. According to the Russian Geographical Society, “The contrasts seem impossible: as if an incredible open-air museum was set up, displaying natural curiosities of the north and the south next to each other.” They couldn’t have put it better.

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Creative Agency Creates Detailed Money Portraits

Artists from Chinese creative agency Senseteam cut apart banknotes from various country and recomposed them as detailed portraits, in a series called Big Business 3.

‘Currency symbolizes the value of a nation and its position in the world,’ the designers say, so their portraits ‘reflect the subtle relationships and influences across money, desire,
society, nations, and human beings.’ They also prove money can also be used for something much more meaningful than shopping and making bank deposits – in this case art and cultural statements. To create their colorful artworks, Senseteam members painstakingly cut banknotes into hundreds of strips and glued them together in the shape of intricate human portraits.

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Is This the World’s Worst Tattoo Artist?

If you’ve ever wanted to sport one of those sloppy jail tattoos, but didn’t really want to go through the whole jail experience, we’ve got just the guy for you – he goes by “Synyster Ink” and he’s probably the world’s worst tattoo artist.

I’m still not sure if this guy is a genius or someone who’s hands should be tied behind his back so he doesn’t scar anymore gullible people. There are people who actually consider his work to be genuine art, but not too many. The majority of those who’ve seen Synyster Ink’s tattoos on Facebook thinks they’re absolute crap, and recommend he find a job at McDonald’s or Walmart, instead of tattooing. He’s a pretty resilient guy, though, as thousands of negative comments haven’t stopped him from “following his”dream and creating “original” permanent tattoos. There’s not a lot to say about a tattoo artist who apparently can’t even draw a straight line, except that he’s based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and that he found plenty of people naive enough to let him work his magic on their bodies. How this guy didn’t get hit with a lawsuit is beyond me.

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Woven Newspaper Portraits by Gugger Petter

Most people look at old newspapers as trash, but for artist Gugger Petter it’s a challenging medium for which she has the utmost respect. Using  a special weaving technique, she’s able to take fragile newspapers and turned them into beautiful portraits.

Although she considers the informative purpose of the newspaper important, Petter has been fascinated with this unusual art medium because it presents her with a black/white/and limited color palette, which she has always preferred. In 1986, when she first arrived in California, she laid eyes on a stack of discarded newspapers yellowed by the sun, and found it very intriguing. From that day forth she started thinking about ways she could use this material in her art. She started by rolling newspapers into tubes and creating wall and floor sculptures, but after a couple of years she developed her weaving technique.

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Private Wojtek – The Soldier Bear Who Fought Nazis in WW2

History, cinema, and books are replete with stories of animals displaying exemplary courage and loyalty. The tale of Private Wojtek, the soldier bear, is no different. In fact, it is nothing short of awe-inspiring, more so because it’s a true story.

The legend of Wojtek begins in 1942, when he was found in Iran by a local boy and traded for a few tins of food to soldiers of the Polish Army stationed nearby. The soldiers cared for the Syrian brown bear cub and fed him milk from empty vodka bottles, fruits, honey and marmalade. Over time though, he began imitating his caretakers, consuming beer and cigarettes. Of course, he ended up mostly chewing the cigarettes instead of smoking them. Soon, the endearing bear became an unofficial mascot of all the Polish units stationed in the area. He moved with the company to various countries.

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Artist Makes Bullet Portraits of People Killed by Bullets

Whether in hunting or warfare, bullets are usually used for killing, but artist David Palmer has found a way to use these instruments of destruction to create beautiful celebrity portraits.

John Lennon, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were all great men, with one tragic thing in common – they were all killed by a bullet. Now, artist David Palmer has chosen to create portraits of these icons using probably the most unusual medium – bullet shells. After collecting enough bullet casings, the artist puts them together to create a metal canvas, and using a small hand torch darkens the ends of the bullet casings, creating incredibly detailed portraits. Using such a seemingly inappropriate art medium like bullets to depict their victims, Palmer hopes viewers  will “see the miracles that can arise from choosing to create rather than destroy.”

If you find bullet art interesting, you might want to check out the awe-inspiring miniature holy places made by Al Farrow, entirely out of bullets.

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Man Spends 16 Years Building 6-Million-Matchstick Model

Bulgarian artist Plamen Ignatov, has dedicated the last 16 years of his life to making a detailed matchstick model of the Rila Monastery, from around 6 million matchsticks.

Now, we’ve posted a lot of impressive matchstick creations, from the model of Minas Tirith built by Patrick Anton, to the matchstick fleet of David Reynolds, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a detailed model. Just hearing that the artist spent 16 years working on it, one can tell he was seriously passionate about assembling this matchstick masterpiece, and after laying eyes on it, you understand why it took him so long. The whole religious complex is incredibly detailed, with even the shingles realistically reproduced, and Ignatov even managed to fit a picture of Jesus into one of the walls, and painted religious figures on the wooden pavement of the monastery courtyard.

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The Mind-Blowing Wood-Carved Paintings of Kronid Gogolev

Kronid Gogolev is a master wood-carver who creates incredibly detailed artworks inspired by the rural and provincial life of Russia’s northern regions.

For our artist of the day we chose to showcase Russian veteran wood-carver Kronid Gogolev, a man’s whose intricate wooden paintings are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Using simple tools, he is able to turn rough pieces of wood into masterpiece depicting the way of life and the traditions of the Russian northern village, capturing its original beauty. Each of his creations has its own unique features and characteristics, but they all manage to capture the attention of the viewer, transporting him to the real-life picturesque settings of the north.

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Girls Licking Doorknobs – More Madness from Japan

It seems like Japan is in the news, more often than not, for bizarre activities. The latest that’s making waves on the internet is a Tumblr blog with pictures of girls licking doorknobs.

The work belongs to illustrator Ryuko Azuma, who says the idea started as many good ones do – with a drunken tweet. Famous for his sexy, edgy drawings, one night he tweeted that a collection of photos of a girl licking a doorknob would be a big hit. Azuma says he wouldn’t have done anything about it if the tweet had gone unnoticed. But as luck would have it, it didn’t. A 21-year-old photographer, Ai Ehara, replied to the tweet and that was how the ‘Doorknob Girl’ was launched. Ehara herself posed as the first Doorknob Girl, but when the site went viral, they began to hire several other models for the job. According to Ehara the idea was ‘extraordinarily unusual’.

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Would You Believe These Goldfish Are Actually Painted?

Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori paints incredibly realistic three-dimensional goldfish embedded in layers of transparent resin. His artworks look more like photos of actual fish swimming peacefully in their little tanks.

Riusuke Fukahori’s work could best be described as a a combination between painting and sculpture. The talented artist creates his “living masterpieces”using a complex process involving layers of cast resin and acrylic paint. He patiently builds up his fish, layer by layer, adding transparent resin to create a realistic three-dimensional effect. Despite the tedious and complex nature of the artistic process, the end results are highly dynamic, capturing the animated life of the fish.

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The Focara of Novoli – A Truly Epic Bonfire

Imagine a giant bonfire, 25 meters high, 20 meters in diameter, and viewed by over 60,000 people. This is exactly the spectacle that will meet your eyes if you happen to be in the town of Novoli, in south-eastern Italy, during this time of the year.

This ‘festival of fire’ is known as the Focara, held every year between the 7th and 18th of January. The actual Focara, or bonfire is lit on the 16th, when the festival reaches its crescendo. The tradition has its origins in the pre-Christian era, when it was celebrated to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Today, however, it is dedicated to the memory of St. Anthony, who is the Patron Saint and protector of Novoli. The preparations for the Focara begin as early as mid December. On the 7th of January, the construction of the fuel assembled for the bonfire commences. It consists of bundles of vines that have been set aside by farmers after cutting back vineyards, once the grape harvesting is done the previous autumn. About 90,000 bundles are used, each one consisting of 200 vines. The construction of the structure is supported by wooden beams, and it is erected in Novoli’s Piazza Tito Schipa.

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