This Shockingly Realistic Pencil Portrait Was Drawn by a 16-Year-Old

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This pencil portrait of an old man looks unbelievably realistic, down to the reflection in the pupils, and it’s hard to believe that it was actually drawn by a teenager. For her incredible masterpiece, 16-year-old artist Shania McDonagh won the top prize at this year’s Texaco Children’s Art Competition. She was judged the best in the senior age category, for students aged 16 to 18 years old.

Texaco Children’s Art Competition is an art contest held for kids in Ireland, every year since 1955. Shania, a student at Mount St. Michael Secondary School in Claremorris, has been taking part in the contest for the past four years. And you won’t believe this – she has won the first prize in her age category every single time. According to Professor Delan McGonagle, the chairman of the judging panel, Shania is a ‘young artist of exceptional skill and ability among the many talented artists in the competition.’ He also added that Shania’s work has established her as one of the most talented artists of her generation, whose skill could see her become one of Ireland’s foremost portrait artists of the future.

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Artist with Background in Criminology Turns Bones into High-End Jewelry

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Artist Kirstin Bunyard has managed to blend her two great passions – fashion and dissection – into a morbid yet intriguing art form. Kirstin makes high-end, elegant jewelry (rings, bracelets and necklaces) using natural bones. In 2009, she started her own label called Ossuaria Jewelry, through which she sells her handmade accessories. She personally selects the bones for each piece and fashions them by hand to create ‘bold and dramatic adornments’ that are meant for ‘people with a bit of an eccentric side’.

Kirstin has a background in criminology, but she was always interested in fashion as well. “From the time I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer,” she said. Her dream was to ‘take on the world of punk culture and high fashion’. She sketched all the time, waiting for the day when her creations would be displayed on the runway. But by the time she got to college, her life had taken a different course.

After college, Kirstin worked for a short while as an autopsy assistant and attended several autopsies and embalmings. During this time she developed a great admiration for bones – the structures that support the body. She found them so elegant and alluring that she began to believe that they deserved a more prominent place outside the body. That’s when she seriously began to consider shifting her line of work.

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I Dare You to Find the Real-Life Female Model Hidden in This Mind-Blowing Body-Painting

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Paul Roustan, an award-winning body painter from Chicago, has created an absolutely mind-blowing painting of a moth. When you first look at the black-and-white picture, all you can see is a moth with its wings spread out. Nothing looks amiss, not even when you look closely. But after you watch the making-of video, you’re left in a state of mild shock – there is actually a real-life female model hiding in the artwork. Scroll down for the revealing photos and video, but try to find it on your own first.

It was nice of the artist to create the helpful video. Without it, I don’t suppose anyone could have guessed the perfectly camouflaged secret of the painting. The entire image consists of a painted woman standing with her arms folded, against a similarly painted background. Audrey Biernacki, the model, blends into the surroundings so well that it’s impossible to tell her apart. The whole project took Paul seven hours to complete – five to paint the background and two for the model.

“On average, it takes me three hours to paint the entire body,” he said. “This one was a bit more meticulous lining things up, which is why it took so long just for a portion of the body.” Paul predominantly uses airbrushes on his human canvasses. He has been painting people since 2005 ‘out of curiosity’. He used to be an editorial illustrator for and adult magazine, and one day he came up with the idea of painting one of the models for a photo spread. The magazine agreed, and he has been hooked ever since.

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French Artist to Live inside Grizzly Bear Carcass for Thirteen Days

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Abraham Poincheval, a performance artist from France, specializes in confining himself to the smallest possible spaces for long periods of time. A couple of years ago, he spent a whole week buried in a tiny underground hole in a bookstore, with just a pile of books for company. Now he has fashioned a new task for himself – he’s spending nearly a fortnight (1 to 13 April) crammed inside the carcass of a grizzly bear, in a space measuring only half a square meter. He won’t be coming out at all, not even to eat, drink, sleep or relieve himself. Two cameras will be on him at all times, recording the whole experience.

The bear itself was excavated by Abraham and has been partly reconstructed to support the project, using plywood, plaster, foam and polystyrene tubes. The bizarre installation is completely covered with the bear’s original skin and fur. When empty, the entire structure weighs 115 pounds. Inside it is a semi-upright chair on which the 42-year-old artist will be spending all his time. Rubber exercise bands will help him get some movement and he has some room by his feet for a stretch. There’s also a kettle and an odd assortment of foods that only a bear could appreciate – frozen dried fruits, insects and worms. Too bad the bear isn’t Winnie the Pooh, or Abraham could have had some honey as well.

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Guy Spends Two Years Building Giant World Globe with Colored Matchsticks

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Now that we have Google Earth, world globes are almost obsolete. But there certainly is an undeniable old-world charm associated with them. Perhaps that’s what prompted sculptor Andy Yoder to spend the last two years building his own globe, entirely out of colored matchsticks. He painstakingly hand-painted thousands of matches individually and put them together to form a large model of our planet.

Yoder’s son, Reddit user ‘yoderaustin’, explained that underneath all the matchsticks is a frame of foam and cardboard inside a plywood skeleton. Once the frame was ready and the painting was done, his father used wood glue to attach the matches to the skeleton. And in case you’re wondering – the ‘matchstick globe’ isn’t a potential fire hazard. Yoder had the good sense to douse the entire structure in a flame retardant chemical.

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Mind Blown – These Soft-Looking Dresses Are Actually Carved from Marble

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The white dresses in the pictures below are so pretty and airy you’re probably already imagining yourself or your girlfriend wearing them. But unless you are or dating Wonder Woman, that’s never going to happen, because these lovely pieces of clothing with all their frills, pleats and waves have actually been carved out of hard rock by Scottish sculptor Alasdair Thomson.

A History of Art graduate from the University of Edinburg, Thomson says his love for sculpting began when studying classical and Renaissance works for his dissertation. He dabbled in the trade while working as an apprentice for an American sculptor between 2006 and 2008. Around the same time, he became interested in clothes and the way they are depicted through art. That’s when he decided to produce his own contemporary take on the classical subject.

“I started to play around with some flowing drapery forms and eventually started carving simple T-shirts and folded men’s dress shirts,” said 32-year-old Thomson. “I produced a piece of work that was a wall-hanging called Ruby and that is when I thought, ‘Okay, there is something in that.’” His latest work is showcased in ‘The Identity Collection’, a set of 12 sculptures that explore the way fabric hangs and folds and captures that lightness and gracefulness in stone.

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Microscopic Wonders – Incredibly Detailed Castles Etched onto Individual Grains of Sand

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Artist Vik Muniz is almost a regular here at OC. We first wrote about his art made from domestic and industrial junk in 2010. Then, in 2012 he was back with his recreation of classic paintings using torn magazine scraps. Now, in collaboration with artist and MIT researcher Marcelo Coelho, Vik has taken then opposite approach to his previous art forms. While his older, gigantic art could only be admired from high above, his latest work is microscopic – a series of sandcastles etched onto individual grains of sand.

Vik said that earlier he had the opportunity to work on an environmental scale. Around that same time, he thought of “going the opposite way around and actually making things so small that it would create a similar impression. They would be so tiny that they could only be imagined, they could not be seen.” When Marcelo was first approached by Vik, he thought it was a joke. “He came to me and said, I want to draw a castle on to a grain of sand. I think the sheer impossibility of that is what excited me.”

Vik and Marcelo spent four long years on trial-and-error experiments before they could successfully create the tiny, magnificent drawings. Each piece of art is less than half a millimeter in size – an inconsequential fleck of sand to the naked eye. Together, they devised a process involving both antiquated technology and innovative visual tools. Vik first created the sketches using a camera Lucida – an optical superimposition device from the 1800s that uses a prism to turn images in front of the viewer into projections on paper. Using this technique, he was able to trace the tiny castles.

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The Picture-Perfect Pencil Portraits of Natasha Kinaru

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Natasha Kinaru is a beautiful, young Russian artist whose pencil and pastel drawings of celebrities are incredibly realistic. So realistic, that they are often confused with digitally ‘enhanced’ photographs.

“I am inspired by people, so different, beautiful, interesting, mysterious, bright, talented,” said 21-year-old Natasha. “Drawing allows you to see them closer, try to guess the character, to convey mood, emotion. If it works – a portrait (is) alive, looking at it you can see the spark in his eyes and painted soul of the artist.” Some of her most popular drawings feature subjects like Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock Holmes), Daniel Craig, Jim Parsons (of The Big Bang Theory fame) and Leonard Nimoy (Spock in the original Star Trek series).

Natasha said that she doesn’t draw for fame. In fact, anyone can sit down with her for a chat and even pick up a few tips on sketching. She makes her drawings using a complicated technique that involves layers. Using pencils of different softness, she creates tones, then draws the small details, completes the background shading and aligns the last layer. The end result is a character that is so alive and eyes that are so penetrating it’s almost impossible to believe it’s all done by hand, with pencils.

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Chinese Scrapyard Becomes Tourist Attraction after Staff Builds Transformers from Metal Junk

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One day, the workers at a scrapyard in China recently decided to get creative with all the metal junk lying around by building a giant Transformer statue. And when the life-size replica of the popular Autobot  started attracting the attention of visitors and passers-by, they decided to keep going. The team built over 40 Transformers in four months, which have now become tourist attractions in their own right.

The scrapyard where the Transformers are on display is located on a remote farmhouse on top of a hill, in Jinan City, Eastern China’s Shangdong Province. As you travel closer to the hill, the sight of these giant action figures in the middle of nowhere is arresting. And once you get there, it’s quite amusing to see the pigs at the farm live happily among the inanimate Transformers.

21-year-old Li Hung, a part-time worker at the yard, built the very first Transformer. The PR and marketing student said he wanted to make something ‘eye-catching’ using discarded parts. “I thought if people could see something spectacular made from junk, it would highlight what we do here and we could get more customers,” he said. Li was right. The robot became immensely popular, winning a lot of praise from locals.

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Self-Taught Artist Builds Macabre Life-Size Motorcycles Out of Animal Bones

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Would you spend $55,000 on a motorcycle that doesn’t run? Before you make a decision on that, here’s what you need to know – the motorcycle in question is actually made of animal bones. A Florida man created the beast using a lot of pieces from other dead beasts – three to four cow skulls, two to three alligator skulls, bones of goats, wolves, raccoons, turtles and pigs, and a cow spine for each of the wheels. The bike is rather cheekily named: ‘Cowasaki’.

Reese Moore, the bike’s creator, said it takes him about a year to collect all the bones from dead animals on the side of the road, or carcasses from hunters and farmers. It then takes him a week to sand the bones down and but the bike together. It’s not just bikes – the 65-year-old also makes a host of other things with the bones, including dinosaurs and choppers. And when he isn’t doing that, he trains whales and sea lions, builds museum exhibits and performs in Timucuan Indian re-enactments. He was also a snake wrangler at one point.

“I don’t do anything normal,” Moore observed. “I just go around and show off and make weird stuff.” He got into the bones business after using them to make Halloween decorations for his kids sometime in the early 1990s. That year, he made a dinosaur out of an assortment of bones for his sons. When the owner of Froggy’s Saloon asked him if he could take the model, Moore had a better idea. “I was kidding, and I said, ‘I’ll build you a motorcycle for Bike Week.’” The bar-owner said it couldn’t be done and Moore accepted the challenge. “In about three or four days I called him up and told him he could pick up his motorcycle.”

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Young Ukrainian Builds Awe-Inspiring Miniature Frigate with 17,000 Coins

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This is what I call expensive art! While most artists spend money on art supplies, this Ukrainian man actually used money itself. 29-year-old chef Sergei Nikolayev Knurov fashioned a detailed miniature ship out of a variety of Ukrainian coins. The final piece contains a whopping 17,000 coins, with bank notes for sails.

Sergei, a resident of Mykolaiv city in southern Ukraine, first started the project with coins from his piggy bank. But he soon ran out of material – his personal stash only covered the keel. So he began to exchange paper money for coins whenever possible at drug stores and markets, and sometimes with friends. When people found out what the coins were meant for, they were glad to part with their loose change. The coins Sergei used are mainly 2 and 10 kopecks, and the sails are made of 25 five-hryvnia notes.

At first, it wasn’t easy for Sergei to actually create the 3 dimensional model of the ship using just his sketches and notes. But lucky for him, his wife Alena is an amateur numismatist (a person who studies and collects currency). She helped him fuse the coins together using silicate glue, which worked pretty well. Sergei said that using regular super glue could have resulted in oxidization, but this way the metal structure will last longer.

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Believe It or Not This Beautiful Parrot Is Actually a Painted Woman – The Amazing Body Art of Johannes Stoetter

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You’ll have to look really close at this picture of a beautiful parrot to realize that it’s not a parrot at all. The rich red-and-gold plumes are, in fact, a woman’s limbs painted to perfection. The incredibly clever photograph is the work of 35-year-old body painter Johannes Stoetter. The artist, who lives in Italy, spent four long weeks planning the transformation of a female model into a hauntingly realistic parrot. The actual painting work took him about four hours to complete and he spent another hour positioning the model on a tree stump before clicking a series of photographs.

Stoetter’s photographs form the perfect illusion. But if you observe carefully, the head of the parrot is actually the woman’s left arm wrapped around her head. The wings are formed by her right leg and arm, while her outstretched left leg is made to resemble the tail. Stoetter said that he chose to have the model sit on a tree stump to enhance the life-like appearance. As you can imagine, the entire process was quite complicated and painstaking.

“It was quite hard to take the photo, to tell the model how to pose to make the parrot seem as real as possible and also to find the right point of view for me to take the photo,” said Stoetter. “It was not easy for the model to hold the position either. The whole process took about four weeks from start to finish.” Although it was tiresome, the artist said that it is immensely satisfying, especially when people compliment him for a nice picture of a parrot.

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Jailed Artist Creates Awe-Inspiring Mural with Prison Bedsheets and Hair Gel

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When Jesse Krimes was growing up, he probably never realized what a cruel pun his last name would turn out to be. In 2009, he was sentenced to 70 months in prison for possession of cocaine, after a long-drawn legal battle of unfair charges and accusations. While the judge recommended that he be sent to a minimum security prison close to his family in New Jersey, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) chose to send him to a medium security facility far away from home.

According to Jesse, that was just the first of a series of measures taken by a system that is designed to dehumanize. The experience must have been extremely frustrating for him, to say the very least, but he did find a unique way of fighting back – through art. “The system is designed to make you into a criminal and make you conform. I beat the system,” he said with pride.

The extraordinary artist didn’t have fancy art supplies to work with. At his disposal were mundane objects like old New York Times (NYT) newspapers, prison bedsheets and hair gel. But these were more than enough for him to create something so striking that the world just had to stand up and take notice. He created an enormous mural by burnishing high quality visuals from NYT on to the bedsheets, using only a plastic spoon. He used the hair gel as a transfer agent.

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Two New York Artists Living in Human Hamster Wheel for 10 Days

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Performance artists Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder are currently roommates – not in an apartment, but in a large hamster wheel. Alex, who is afraid of heights, lives on the inside of the wheel, at the bottom. Ward, who has no such reservations, stays put at the very top, on the outside (180 degrees from Alex). They came into this unique living arrangement last Friday and plan to continue until March 9th.

Ward and Alex are actually in the middle of an art project that they like to call ‘In Orbit’. They are on display at The Boiler, a performance space at a New York’s Pierogi gallery. It took them four weeks to construct the 30-foot tall, 60-foot in circumference hamster wheel themselves, with a little help from engineer friends. The gigantic structure is suspended from the ceiling and has furniture fastened to it on the inside and the outside. Ward and Alex each have a bed, a desk, a kitchen-bathroom combo, a chair, lamps and a dresser to use.

Every piece of furniture is aligned to its counterpart, so both inhabitants of the wheel have to use the bathroom at the same time, work at the same time and go to sleep at the same time. To change the furniture setting, they simply walk on the wheel in opposite directions, moving it until the next station arrives. For safety reasons, they walk very, very slowly.

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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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