The Ultra-Realistic Graphite Drawings of Monica Lee

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Malaysian artist Monica Lee uses simple graphite pencils to create stunningly realistic portraits of people and animals. Through her photorealistic drawings, she manages to capture the most minute details of her subjects – faded freckles, coarse beard hair and even the subtle weaves of a shirt.

Lee worked as a digital artist for 12 years before she switched to analog drawings. She grew up admiring and appreciating the value of photographs, thanks to her father who is a photographer. So photorealism comes to her quite naturally, and she enjoys depicting as many details as possible.

“I like to challenge myself with complex portraits especially people with freckles or beard,” Lee says.

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Small Japanese Village Turns Rice Paddies into Awe-Inspiring Works of Art

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Inakadate village, located near Hirosaki city in Japan’s Aomori prefecture, is one of the few places in the world where farming and art go hand-in-hand. The village is renowned for its unique form of landscape art created in paddy fields. These artistic paddies are so popular that they attract over 200,000 tourists a year.

For centuries, farming has been the main source of income for the people of Inakadate. The amount of farmland available to the relatively small population of 8,000 villagers is massive. Paddy fields make up over fifty percent of the entire village land. The soil in these lands is so fertile that the yield from the rice crop has consistently been higher than any other village or town in Japan.

In the early 1990s, archeologists discovered that the rice strains of Inakadate were over 2,000 years old. To celebrate this fact, and to make the village more attractive to visitors, the local tourism office hatched a plan – to make use of their abundant production of rice to attract more tourists. And that’s how their amazing rice paddy artworks were born.

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Artist Creates Celebrity Portraits with Thousands of Suspended Buttons

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Artist Augusto Esquivel is an expert at transforming mundane objects into spectacular works of art. One of his specialties is working with standard sewing buttons, which he uses to create stunning, larger-than-life celebrity portraits.

Augusto’s technique is as tedious as you’d imagine – it’s not an easy arranging thousands of buttons to form an easily recognisable pattern. To create a single portrait, he starts off by suspending hundreds of monofilament strings from the ceiling. Then, he threads black, white and grey buttons into those strings in a particular order.

Individually, these strings might not amount to much. But this is where Augusto works his magic – when he brings the strings together, pixelated images of popular icons emerge. Some of his most notable works include button portraits of stars like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dali and James Dean.

Augusto-Esquivel

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These Photos of Beautiful Women Are Actually Amazingly-Realistic Oil Paintings

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Each time we feature hyper-realistic paintings on OC, I think, “This is the best I’ve ever seen.” But then we get to see another artist’s work, and I’m amazed all over again. This time it’s the work of New York-based Israeli painter Yigal Ozeri. I’m still having a hard time believing that these paintings aren’t actually photographs of women.

Seriously, there’s no denying the fact that Ozeri’s taken hyperrealism to a whole new level. You can’t spot a single brushstroke in these photograph-inspired paintings, that’s how perfect his work is. He starts each piece by photographing beautiful women in nature-themed sceneries, while staying hidden at a safe distance from his models. Back at his studio, he alters the shots with Photoshop and prints them out. Using the prints as a reference, Ozeri then spends days recreating them with oil on canvas

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Can You Believe This Isn’t Trash But Expertly Painted Pieces of Wood?

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I wouldn’t blame you if you thought these were just simple photos of discarded trash. I was fooled as well, until I actually read the story behind them. In reality, these are pieces of wood expertly painted by super-talented Kentucky artist Tom Pfannerstill. From crushed Starbucks coffee cups to crumpled Goldfish cracker packages, he is able to create perfect replicas of all sorts of garbage he finds on the streets.

Tom calls the series ‘From the Street’; he starts off by choosing a real piece of trash and traces the outline of the object onto a flat piece of wood. Once his wooden canvas is ready, he fills it in with acrylic paints, in painstaking detail. The two-dimensional painting soon comes to life, looking exactly like a piece of trash it was modeled after.

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Death Metal Band to Play in Air-Tight Box until They Run Out of Oxygen

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Most musicians like to perform so that others can hear their music. But one British death metal band is doing the exact opposite – they’re currently playing in an airtight, soundproof box where no one can hear them. They play until the oxygen runs out, and they run the risk of dying from asphyxiation.

The cube is an art installation by Portuguese artist João Onofre, called ‘Box Sized DIE’. According to the event organizers, Box Sized DIE has toured several European cities before, including Palais de Tokyo in France and MACBA in Spain. This is its first appearance in London. “Inspired by Tony Smith’s pioneering minimalist sculpture Die (1962), the steel box serves as a mobile location for the performance,” said the organizers. “In each location the sculpture travels to, Onofre invites a local Death Metal band to play, on this occasion, Unfathomable Ruination. The box is soundproofed, determining and restricting the performance’s duration to the length of time in which the oxygen is expended.”

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Eat Your Food and Wear It Too – Gold-Plated KFC Chicken Bones as Jewelry

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Hard core KFC fans have come up with the perfect way to pay homage to their favorite fast food brand – by wearing gold plated KFC bones as jewelry. The idea sounds rather primitive, but I suppose the gold plating does reduce the barbaric effect to some extent.

‘Kentucky Fried Chicken Bone Gold Necklaces’, are made of only two ingredients – real KFC bones and real 14 karat gold. They come in two sizes – small and large. The necklaces are the brainchild of Kentucky for Kentucky, a group of people with the mission to ‘engage and inform the world by promoting Kentucky people, places and products.’

Their official website states: “We’re excited to introduce a brand spanking new Kentucky invention. An invention so kick-ass, it will change the jewelery game forever. We’ve taken one great Kentucky invention and turned it into a completely new Kentucky invention. Like Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper, we’ve figured out a way to make it possible to savor a single piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken forever. Forever and ever. We all win.”

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19th Century Artist’s Amazingly Detailed Sand Art Will Blow Your Mind

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Andrew Clemens (1857 – 1894) was an extraordinary self-taught artist from Iowa who created unbelievably intricate art using tiny grains of colored sand, with tools and techniques that were way ahead of his time. Although the man was completely deaf and nearly mute for most of his life, he managed to nurture his passion and make hundreds of bottles of beautiful sand art.

Clemens was born to German and Prussian parents who met and fell in love on their way to the United States. After living in various cities, his father finally moved the family to McGregor, Iowa, to take advantage of the gold-rush and the settlement of the American west. It was here that, at the age of five, Clemens was struck with ‘brain fever’ (or encephalitis as we know it today). Although he was lucky to survive, he permanently lost his hearing and speech to the disease.

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Talented Artist Paints Detailed Landscapes on Incredibly Small Pieces of Food

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Talented Turkish artist Hasan Kale specializes in creating micro paintings on incredibly small objects, like butterfly wings and snail’s shells. In his latest project, he’s taken his micro painting skills to a whole new level – by using food as a canvas.

The list of edible objects that Kale has painted on includes peanut husks, split almonds, banana chips, fruit seeds, beans, onion peels, mini breadsticks, and even bits of chocolate. As long as it’s tiny, it appears that Kale will paint on it. He uses an extremely fine paint brush tip and a magnifying glass to paint intricate landscapes of his native Istanbul.

Through Kale’s work, you can enjoy a picturesque view of the Nusretiye Mosque and other scenes from Istanbul on a Milka Square, painted with such amazing detail. Of course, most of his work is microscopic, and therefore not very visible to the naked eye. You’d need some sort of magnification to be able to see the paintings clearly.

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Woman Born without Arms and Legs Overcomes Odds, Become Successful Painter

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Zuly Sanguino is a talented young artist and motivational speaker. The 24-year-old Colombian creates beautiful, colorful paintings of flowers and landscapes that have been exhibited in various shows. She has also given several motivational lectures at corporate organizations, schools and prisons. Zuly is an exceptional woman, mainly because she’s managed to achieve so much even though she was born without fully formed limbs.

Born with phocomelia, a congenital disorder that affected all four of her limbs, Zuly was destined for a life of disability. The doctors had informed her mother, Guillermina, that Zuly would have to be lying down all the time for the rest of her life. In spite of their poverty and terrible living conditions (they lived in shacks with dirt floors), Guillermina wouldn’t give up on her daughter – she taught young Zuly to sit at first, and then walk on her own without external support.

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Hong Yi Strikes Again with Football Painted Portraits of Popular World Cup Players

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Shanghai-based artist Hong Yi, a.k.a. ‘Red’, has combined her love for football and art in a very unique way – she recently painted a massive portrait of three superstars of the 2014 FIFA World Cup – Ronaldo, Neymar and Messi – by dribbling a paint-covered football on a canvas.

Red didn’t use a single paintbrush to create her amazing portraits of the three popular football players! Instead, she kicked a paint-stained football around on the canvas, and actually managed to paint highly accurate pictures of her subjects.

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China Unveils World’s Largest and Longest 3D Street Painting

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Nanjing city, the capital of China’s Jiangsu Province, is the new home of the world’s largest and longest 3D street painting. The artwork, named ‘Rhythms of Youth’ was unveiled on June 11; it is a whopping 365 meters long, covering over 2,500 square meters on the campus of the Communication University of China (CUCN). It has set two new Guinness World Records  - one for the largest, and the other for the longest street painting in the world.

The technique used to make the 3D painting is known as ‘anamorphic’ – the artwork is painted in a distorted fashion so it will only look right from a certain point of view. The team that created it was led by famous Chinese artist Yang Yongchun. “It took my team more than 20 days to finish the painting on the ground,” he said. “Every day, we worked on it from daybreak when we could barely tell the colors apart until it was too dark to see anything. We’ve devoted all of our time, energy and attention to this painting.”

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Would You Let This Incredibly Talented Tattoo Artist Permanently Ink You Freehand?

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Jay Freestyle, a South African tattoo artist based in Amsterdam, creates incredible, ethereal tattoos. And here’s the surprising bit – he works without a plan. It’s impossible to tell by looking at his work, but the 29-year-old inks freehand, making it all up as he goes. He works with only one motto: “Give me a piece of your skin and I’ll give you a piece of my soul.”

It doesn’t matter how many ideas you have in your head about your tattoo before you visit Jay. Once you speak to him and realize what he can do, you’re just going to turn around and say ‘Go for it, I trust you blindly’. So far, he has never disappointed a single client.

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Japanese Artist Carves Realistic-Looking Lobster Out of Boxwood

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25-year-old Ryosuke Ohtake is a master craftsman who recently tried his hand at ‘jizai okimono’ – the Japanese art of carving realistic wooden animals, complete with movable joints. He created a near-perfect lobster entirely out of boxwood. The sculpture is so life-like that when lifted, its claws, legs and tail move in the exact same way that a real, live lobster would.

A three-minute video clip that shows Ohtake working on the lobster with his various sculpting tools and blocks of wood, has become very popular online. In the video, he lifts the finished sculpture in his hands and shows exactly how each part moves. The details are simply mind-blowing.

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The Incredibly Realistic Painted Frescoes of Patrick Commecy

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Not all forms of wall graffiti are acceptable – most are viewed as vandalism. But in the case of French street artist Patrick Commecy, homeowners actually invite him to paint on their walls. Along with his team of muralists, he transforms boring, dull patches of wall into vibrant scenes, full of life. In fact unless you have a ‘before’ picture, you might not even realize it’s a painting.

Patrick and his team travel across France, painting hyper-realistic windows and balconies on bare walls that resemble the rest of the building. They dress up these painted windows with plants, birds and sometimes even rocks and waterfalls. It all looks so real that it’s confusing for a moment – it’s hard to tell the difference between a real tree and the painted one.

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