The Delicate Gourd Carving Art of Marilyn Sunderland

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Born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, Marilyn Sunderland is an artist in the finest sense of the word. She can take a common gourd and turn it into a spectacular work of art by carving all kinds of images onto its shell and enhancing them with her painting.

Seeing how this Halloween a lot of websites are focusing on pumpkin art, like that of sculpting master Ray Villafane, I thought I’d show you something a bit different. Meet Marilyn Sunderland, a wonderful artist who’s become known for her intricate gourd carvings. Drawings inspiration from the beautiful landscapes in the Utah valley surrounded my mountains, where she’s been living for the last 30 years, this incredible artist etches incredibly detailed shapes into the shell of gourds creating awe-inspiring masterpieces. “Art has always been a part of my life. I have painted portraits, landscapes, and various other subjects with oils, acrylics, and pen/ink mediums. I also do wood carving and glass engravings,” Marilyn says on her site. She only took up gourd sculpting a few years ago, after buying an ultra-speed carving/etching tool, because she thought it was a versatile material. Turns out it was the right decision.

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The Awe-Inspiring Matchstick Architecture of Patrick Acton

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Patrick Acton is known as the world’s best matchstick artist for a reason. His extensive collection features scale wooden models of iconic film locations like Lord of the Rings’ Minas Tirith and Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Wizardry, made from hundreds of thousands of matchsticks.

Acton was one of the first artist I wrote about, when I started Oddity Central, almost five years ago. He was working on one of his masterpieces, a detailed model of the famous fortress city Minas Tirith, as seen in the Lord of the Rings 3: The Return of the King, from 420,000 matchsticks. Since then, he’s built lots of other astonishing matchstick sculptures and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. The 59-year-old American artist, who works as a career counselor in Gladbrook, Iowa, started his career as a matchstick modeler back in 1977, when he pieced together a small-scale replica of a local church from 500 matches. He did it all with only Ohio Blue Tip matches purchased at the grocery store, a bottle of school glue, a utility knife, and a piece of sandpaper. He had always enjoyed working with wood and tinkering with things around his parent’s home, and after graduating from college, matchstick modelling became an enjoyable hobby. Although he has achieved worldwide notoriety for his mind-blowing creations, Patrick Acton continued to work as a counselor and dedicated only a few hours a night working on his fragile models. He recently accepted Ripley’s offer to build models for their Odditoriums, full time.

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This Photo Is Actually a Pencil Perfect Drawing

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At just 22 years old, Italian artist Diego Fazo has developed the skill to create photo-realistic drawings using a simple charcoal pencil. His latest creation, pictured below, has drawn hundreds of positive comments on his Deviant Art profile.

Don’t tell me you can tell the image below is a drawing and not a high-definition photograph, because I don’t buy it. In fact people were so skeptical this incredible piece of art was drawn by hand that young Diego Fazo had to put up some photos of the work in progress just to lay doubts to rest. And looking at his-mind-blowing masterpiece, can you really blame people for  questioning it’s hand-drawn?

Like other talented artists who started their careers on Deviant Art, Diego is a self-taught pencil master whose technique matured with the passing of the years. He started out as a tattoo artist, and developed a passion for creating photo-realistic drawings. Inspired by the works of Japanese artists from the Edo period, like Katsushika Hokusai, he managed to capture people’s imaginations with his precise lines and oriental drawing techniques.

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Cheesy Presidential Portraits Made from Cheetos

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Cheetos commissioned artist Jason Baalman to create portraits of presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney out of their puffy orange snacks. Unveiled on October 3, the edible artworks measured 3 feet by 4 feet and numbered over 2,000 individual Cheetos.

Jason Baalman, who’s known for his portraits of celebrities created in alternative materials (ketchup, barbecue sauce, etc.), is no stranger to Cheetos. In the past he has used the popular snack to make detailed portraits of pop icons like Conan O’Brien, CeeLo Green and Rachel Ray. This time, the PepsiCo-owned company asked him to do two portraits of the presidential candidates, based on two recent Facebook profile photos. Not one to say no to a challenge, Baalman started work on the the two “big cheeses” in his Colorado Springs, Colo., studio. Painstakingly sorting over 2,000 Cheetos for each portrait, and gluing them in just the right position on a black canvas, the young artist spent around 100 hours on the project. Just like his previous cheesy portraits, the ones of Obama and Romney look good enough to eat.

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Beautiful “Paintings” Hide a Mind-Blowing Secret

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You’ve probably seen hundreds of nature-inspired paintings like the ones created by Russian artist Alexander Yurkov. But, although you can’t tell at first glance, his works are truly unique. In fact, they’re not even real paintings…

It’s a real shame awe-inspiring artworks like the ones created by Alexander Yurkov remain unknown to most of the western world, while other less impressive works get loads of attention on art and design sites and in famous galleries. This Russian master spent decades perfecting a technique he developed himself that involves creating painting-like mosaics exclusively out of dried leaves, grass and flowers. That’s right, there isn’t a single stroke of paint or pencil in the masterpieces below, only cleverly selected and positioned tree leaves, pieces of dried grass and withered flowers. How he manages to get the color tones and shades so perfect that it makes people stick their nose to the artworks trying to spot the actual leaves and making sure there’s no oil paint involved, is beyond me, but it’s this mystery that makes Yurkov’s art so intriguing.

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Human Motorcycles Made from Body-Painted Yoga Gurus

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To promote the upcoming Progressive International Motorcycle Show, advertising and branding studio i.d.e.a. created a series of human motorcycles from the contorted bodies of yoga experts and circus performers.

We’ve seen impressive body-painting and displays of yoga skills before, but these human motorcycles are in a category of their own. ”We sought to combine the art of the motorcycle with true art, thereby elevating the ads to something people would want to look at, enjoy, and share,” i.d.e.a. said about their unique project, and they’ve certainly achieved their goal. Photos and posters of their creations have gone viral on the Internet, and for good reason – they are simply spectacular. They employed the talents of professional body painted Trina Mery to turn a team of yoga experts, circus performers and flexible dancers into a speed bike, cruiser, and dirt bike to be ridden by the Progressive International Motorcycle Show’s host, Erin Bates. They did such a good job that in some photos you can’t even tell she’s just riding a bunch of people, not a real motorcycle.

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Awesome Starry Night Mural Made from over 1,000 Doorknobs

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David Goldberg, the owner of a hardware store in Bethesda, Maryland, decided to repurpose his extensive collection of doorknobs and other door accessories by using them to recreate Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.

It’s crazy how many people choose this specific artwork to unleash their artistic talents. So far, we’ve featured all kinds of Starry Night recreations, from a quilled version, to one made with spices and food colorings, and even an edible replica made from delicious bacon. This time we have another original version created from over 1,250 collected doorknobs. As a hardware store owner, David Goldberg put together an impressive collection of American and imported doorknobs and other door accessories, and instead of throwing them away, selling them for scrap or melting them he, decided to recycle them in a very artistic fashion and create a unique advertisement for his business at the same time. It took him four months, but he managed to build an amazing large-scale mural depicting Van Gogh’ famous Starry Night. Now people passing by his store in Bethesda, stop and stare at the glistening work of art, in awe of his original repurposing idea.

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Illustrator Creates Incredibly Detailed Drawings Inside Matchbooks

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Jason D’Aquino is an expert miniaturist who unleashes his talent on all kinds of recycled objects, from ledgers, leaflets, vintage calendars to small pieces of paper and even tiny matchbooks. And to make sure everyone understands just how skilled he is, the man doesn’t do some simple doodles, he recreates the Mona Lisa, vintage movie portraits and even portraits of icons like Marilyn Monroe.

Drawing the kind of stuff Jason D’Aquino does is hard enough on a large canvas, but he manages to do it on the inside of matchbooks. Using high-magnification goggles, like those used by jewelers, the artist sketches incredible artworks only a few inches in size, sometimes even under an inch. The self-declared miniaturist seems to love small surfaces and has always enjoyed the challenge of seeing how small he can draw. As a child, he was always fascinated with his mother’s artworks, and says he had a pencil in his hand since before he could walk. Although he remained faithful to the graphite pencil, his art got smaller and smaller as he grew older. At first it was just a matter of convenience, but soon shrinking his art became a challenge. At the rate he’s going, he probably going to need a microscope pretty soon.

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Hananuma Masakichi – The Artist Who Recreated Himself from Wood

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Hananuma Masakichi is one of those extraordinary artist who never really got the recognition they deserved. This Japanese sculptor created a life size statue of himself that is almost 100% identical in appearance to its maker. Although created over a century ago, the Masakichi sculpture still baffles artists and scientists alike.

Masakichi started working on his greatest masterpiece after he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He believed he was going to dies soon, and decided to create a life-size statue of himself as a gift for the woman he loved. In 1885, when his artwork was finally completed, it was so life-like and realistic-looking that people couldn’t tell which was the fake even when the real Masakichi stood next to it. Working with adjustable mirrors, the Japanese artist made each of his body-parts separately, using strips of dark wood. The number of strips he used differs between 2,000 and 5,000, depending on which source you believe. No nails were used during the building process, the wooden strips were all assembled using dovetail joints, glue and wooden pegs. They are joined so perfectly that no seams can be seen on the wooden statue, even with a magnifying glass. The level of detail achieved by Masakichi is so mind-blowing that it reflects every tendon, muscle, vein, bone, wrinkle, down to the pores on his body. The anatomically-correct eyeballs he created for his statue still have opticians wondering how he made them.

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Artist Traps Bolts of Electricity Inside Clear Acrylic Blocks to Create “Captured Lightnings”

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Want to give someone a unique present? How about a bolt of lightning? Bert Hickman’s work of art are literally stunning. He creates “Captured Lightnings” by blasting clear blocks of acrylic with millions of volts of electrical charge, using a high-energy particle accelerator, creating permanent “fossilized” tree-like patterns that reflect light like microscopic mirrors.

Bert Hickman’s works are scientifically known as Lichtenberg figures, only the artist and his physicist friend Todd Johnson have managed to turn them into artworks by creatng lightning bolts in the shape of butterflies, stars, trees and even the Yin Yang symbol. 65-year-old Hickman breaks down the process of making his Captured Lightnings: “To create our sculptures, we rent “beam time” on a 5 million volt particle accelerator. As the accelerator injects huge numbers of electrons inside a clear acrylic plastic specimen, a huge electrical charge (typically 1 – 2.5 million volts) builds inside.” He also manually creates an escape path for the electrical charge, a weakened path through the acrylic, to achieve the desired shapes. While the electricity escapes in a short lightning-like discharge, the intense heat from this miniature lightning leaves branching patterns that are permanently captured within the acrylic. These patterns are a ‘fossilized’ chain of microscopic fractures and tubes that reflect light like microscopic mirrors.

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Russian Teacher Creates Mind-Blowing Modular Origami Models of Famous Cathedrals

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42-year-old Sergei Tarasov, a school teacher from the Russian village of Tigritskoe, has recently completed an incredibly detailed modular origami model of Moscow’s St. Basil cathedral, from over 10,000 A4 sheets of paper.

Origami is as hard as it is impressive, and it just amazes me how some people can just take some common pieces of paper and turn them into something wonderful. Take Sergei Tarasov, an Arts teacher from a rural area 502 miles south of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, who creates modular origami masterpieces from thousands of pieces of paper. His latest creation is a mind-blowing 1.5-meter-tall model of the iconic St. Basil cathedral, in Moscow, which took around a year to complete. Without even using a sketch for his projects, the teacher created 60,000 modular pieces and assembled them into this fragile wonder. The artwork was presented during the ”Rus Masterovaya” festival dedicated to showcasing arts and crafts talent of Russian teachers.

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English Artist Creates Detailed Button Mosaics

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English artist Ann Carrington uses hundreds, sometimes thousands of everyday objects to create awe-inspiring mosaics.

Not everyone looks at buttons, safety pins or metal coins and sees art, but for Ann Carrington, “all objects are saturated with cultural meaning. Mundane objects like knives, gloves, shoes, shells and tin cans come with their own ready-made histories.” Whenever she decides on what material she’s going to use for a certain work, there’s a certain reason for her choice. For example, her Pearly Queens series made with buttons was inspired by the Pearly Queens and Kings fashion movement, in London, while her bluejeans-made flag of America is a homage to this iconic American symbol.

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Robin Eley’s Incredible Hyper-Realistic Paintings

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There’s no way to tell, but you’re actually not looking at a photograph, but a hyper-realistic painting by London-born artist Robin Eley. Armed with a simple paintbrush he’s able to create photo-quality works of art that draw attention instantly.

Born in London, raised in Australia and educated in the United States, Robin Eley is a man of three continents. But more impressive than his life’s story and journey are his amazing hyper-realistic works. Most of the subjects depicted in his large-scale oil paintings are naked and wrapped in plastic foil, with each tiny detail of their bodies and countless reflection of their translucent covers expertly depicted by the artist. “Inspired by history, I extract from the present. Artifacts and textures that reflect the beauty and nobility of decline and question the modern obsession with perfection. While my subjects and technique are intentionally very real, the context in which they are painted is less defined, Eley says about his art.

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Russian Artist Creates Amazing Straw Paintings

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Irina Parosova, a self-taught artist from the Russian city of Syzran, creates mind-blowing artworks from straw. Work on just one of these masterpieces can take from one day to a whole month, depending on the complexity of the project.

Straw is usually defined as an agricultural byproduct that is mostly used for livestock bedding and fodder, thatching and basket making. But for Russian artist Irina Parosova straw is a complex artistic medium that can be turned into amazing artworks. The self-taught master started making straw art as a child, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She was 11 years old when her geography teacher came back from a holiday and brought them a photo album as a souvenir. But it wasn’t the photos that caught Irina’s attention, but the straw-inlaid cover of the album. She went home, climbed to the attic of her house where some straw-filled mattresses were stored, pulled out a few pieces of straw and started replicating the photo of a ballerina she found in an old magazine. It wasn’t her best work, but at that age she already thought of it as a masterpiece. But then she abandoned straw for the next 21 years. it was only after the birth of her second child that she rediscovered this amazing art form, when she used it to provide for her family. Her Russian husband had problems with the Uzbek language and couldn’t find a job, so she had to use her artistic skills to feed her children. Her straw art helped them overcome the financial crisis and since then Irina Parosova has become an acclaimed Russian artist.

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New York artist Paints with His Own Blood

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In order to better “dissolve the barrier between art and artist”, New York-based artist Vincent Castiglia uses his own blood as a medium for his disturbing paintings. Throughout his artistic career, he has used around 12 pints of blood. ”My work is literally a blood sacrifice on the altar of art,”the painter says.

While many artists claim a lot of sweat, blood and tears go into their art, Vince Castiglia is serious about the blood part. During the last 10 years, the painter from Hell’s Kitchen, New York, has been using his own blood as material for his art. In a recent interview, Castiglia said he was first inspired to use the bizarre art medium by a need to connect to his work “on the most intimate level.” It just so happens that human blood contains iron oxide, a pigment found in many traditional paints, as well as in iron ore and common rust. The 30-year-old begins his artistic process by drawing pen or graphite sketches on a white canvas, before proceeding to extract the “paint”, in the privacy of his own studio. Then he dilutes the blood and uses paintbrushes to create creepy reddish characters with twisted limbs, or in different stages of decay.

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