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The Incredibly Lifelike Charcoal Portraits of Douglas McDougall

Scottish artist Douglas McDougall uses charcoal, sandpaper and scalpel blades to create his amazingly realistic portraits of friends and people he finds interesting.

Douglas McDougall learned how to draw as a child to pass the time while going in and out of hospitals with a blood disease. He spent countless hours in hospital wards trying to draw his surroundings, and the experience fueled his passion for art. In his younger years, the 50-year-old artist used to do a lot of pen and ink illustration work during the night, after coming home from his day job, but eventually settled on charcoal as his medium of choice. “The immediacy of applying that blackness and the way in which it’s sucked into a white ground /paper/ forever excited me with a glorious kick of absoluteness”, the artist says, and after getting his hands on Conté compressed charcoal for the first time and discovering its power there was no going back. Today he uses various kinds of charcoal along with unusual art tools like sandpaper and sharp blades to create some of the most detailed hyper-realistic portraits I have ever seen.

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Japanese Artist Uses Toothpicks and a Spoon to Create Amazing Banana Sculptures

Keisuke Yamada is a self-taught Japanese artist who takes plain bananas and turns them into edible masterpieces. Using only a spoon and toothpicks the talented food artist works against the clock, trying to finish his pieces before the fruit begins to oxidize.

Sculpting bananas is not easy. The fragile texture of the fruit and the fact that you can’t add more material to cover up a mistake like you would with clay makes it a very difficult material to work with. And that’s exactly what makes 26-year-old Keisuke Yamada’s art so special. It all began little over two ears ago when he peeled a banana and thought it would be interesting to carve something into it. His first creation was a simple smiling face, but he received such a positive reaction from art fans that he felt inspired to pursue the idea further. Using only a spoon to prime the banana by smoothing its surface and toothpicks for carving its flesh, Keisuke created an entire series of banana sculptures that won him international acclaim after the photos he uploaded to Japanese art site, Pixiv, went viral. In his interviews with some of the largest sites in the world, Yamada revealed he works as an electrician by day, and becomes an expert banana carver during the night. He described the artistic process as a race against time, trying to finish his creations in less than 30 minutes after the peeled banana has been exposed to air. Taking too long causes the fruit to turn brown ruining the whole piece. Once he’s finished, he quickly takes a photo after which he eats the banana.

Banana-sculptures

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Photo-Realistic Paintings of Landscapes Reflected in Sunglasses

Many of Simon Hennessey’s paintings look so lifelike that they are often mistaken for photos. To achieve this level of realism, the English artist spends anywhere from two weeks to seven months on a single piece using an airbrush and acrylic paint.

40-year-old Simon Hennessey started painting landscapes reflected in the sunglasses of tourists in 2008. He had just finished painting a model wearing sunglasses and suddenly realized the reflection on the lenses allowed him to explore the spatial and environmental surroundings in a unique distorted and miniature fashion. From that moment on the popular accessory has become a predominant them in his hyper-realistic art. Simon has spent the last five years traveling to big cities like London and New York, taking photos of iconic landmarks reflected in the lenses of sunglasses worn by human models, which he uses as an inspiration for his art. He doesn’t just copy an entire photograph, but combines elements from multiple reference pictures, adding or removing certain details, altering textures and depth to produce original works of art. This allows him to create an illusion of reality different from that of his photographic sources, making his realistic paintings appear clearer and more distinct than any photo.

Simon-Hennessey-art

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Vietnamese Self-Taught Artist Paints with Chicken Feathers

Dinh Thong created his first chicken-feather painting right after finishing high-school, over three decades ago. He has dedicated his entire life to the unique art form, but has been unable to advertise his talents properly due to lack of funds.

Born and raised in the ancient city of Hoi An, Vietnamese artisan Dinh Thong has always been fascinated by folk art. He started using chicken feathers as an art medium during his middle school days, to make small souvenirs for his friends. During his mandatory military service, he decided to take his art to a whole new level by using the feathers to create large traditional paintings, and as soon as he returned home Dinh started scouring the local poultry markets for suitable material. At first, sellers let him pick whichever feathers he liked from their chickens, but after word spread that he was using them to create works of art, they assumed he was making a lot of money and began charging him. He was forced to cut his daily expenses so he could afford to buy the unusual art supplies, sometimes leaving his works unfinished for long periods of  time due to lack of feathers. To make matters worse, the bird flu epidemic that swept the planet a few years back kept his creations out of art galleries and forced the talented artisan to promote his works by word of mouth alone.

feather-paintings

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Man Spends 50 Years Hand-Painting 2,000-Foot Map of Imaginary World

Fifty years ago, Jerry Gretzinger started painting a map of a world that existed only in his imagination. It began as a doodle, but since that first day, he has been adding a new hand-drawn panel to his map every day. Today the masterpiece known as Jerry’s Map numbers 2,600 different unique panels that cover 2,000 square feet. And it’s still growing…

“The map began as just a doodle. I just made little rectangles and cross-hatched them carefully. And I just kept adding more rectangles and I put a river in and some railroad stations,” Gretzinger explains in a short documentary about his work. “But there was this moment when I came to the edge of that sheet of paper and got out another sheet of paper and I put the two together… That’s when I realized that it kind of had a life of its own.” He started out with a city that kept on growing, until he realized its imaginary population had to eat to survive, so he decided to throw in some farmland. He added rivers, forests, cemeteries, railroad stations, airports transforming small towns into cities as his universe evolved and keeping track of the population of each of his imaginary settlements on a computer spreadsheet. Even though it might seem like he is controlling everything that happens in Ukrainia, Plaeides and his other cities, Jerry has created a system that dictates almost everything that happens in his world.

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Talented Young Artist Paints with Used Coffee Grounds

21-year-old Vincent Francisco Navarro, from Baguio City, Philippines, is an emerging visual artist who uses ground coffee as the main medium of his art. He collects used coffee grounds and recycles them as paint, thus giving the waste product new value and purpose through aesthetics.

The city of Baguio produces around 300 tons of garbage every day, and authorities are still looking for environment-friendly ways of storing and disposing of the waste. Local artist and environmentalist Vincent Navarro decided to do his part by proving recycling can be of great help against the build-up of garbage in an ingenious way. After doing extensive research he started exploring the possibility of creating beautiful works of art with coffee grounds collected from a large gourmet coffee chain. He spent ten months creating portraits of coffee farmers from the Benguet region of the Philippines, using nothing but coffee and used grounds. Inspired by the months his spent as a volunteer aiding coffee farmers in Benguet and Cordillera, Navarro created his works as tributes to the “toil and sweat” these hard-working people put into growing “the best-tasting and rich coffee beans”.

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Each Line One Breath – Artist Creates Meditative Drawings One Line at a Time

Each Line One Breath is a collection of morphogenetic freehand drawings by Netherlands-based artist John Franzen.  He creates textured artworks reminiscent of wrinkled fabric or water ripples by drawing hundreds of lines from the top of a paper canvas all the way to the bottom.

The process of creating a morphogenetic freehand drawing is a very tedious one. The artist starts by drawing a vertical line on left far-side of his canvas, with an ink pen. He then tries to copy the line as he moves towards the right side. By controlling his breathing, Franzen tries to replicate the straight line as best he can, but unlike those of a machine, the movements of his hand create tiny imperfections. Instead of correcting the mistakes, he amplifies them by copying them with each new line he draws and at the end of this seemingly maddening process, the imperfections take center stage, “revealing wave-motion-patterns transporting energy through space-time, such as any electromagnetic wave, or the pattern of a DNA-replication”.

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Chinese “Watermelon Man” Carves Images into Watermelon Flesh with a Spoon

21-year-old Qian Wei Cheng, an Automotive Engineering student at Tsinghua University, recently became an internet celebrity after photos of his watermelon flesh carvings went viral.

There are a lot of talented food artists out there who can turn watermelons into intricate works of art, but most of them use special tools to carve the tough shell of the fruit, whereas Qian Wei Cheng uses only a spoon and knife to work on the soft red flesh. Photos of his edible masterpieces surfaced on major Chinese social sharing sites just a few days ago, catching the attention of both casual users and news reporters. Contacted by several media outlets, the 21-year-old amateur artist appeared shocked by all the attention his carvings were getting, especially since to him they were just a fun way to pass the time when he got bored doing his homework or studying for his exams. For most of the designs, Qian just used a spoon, while for the most detailed ones, like the rose below, he also used a small knife.

watermelon-carving

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Talented Artist Carves Layered Portraits into Pieces of Cardboard

English artist Giles Oldershaw has a very unique talent. He can take discarded pieces of cardboard, the kind pizza boxes are made of, and turn them into amazing portraits of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe or Marlon Brando using only the cardboard’s layers to highlight their features.

58-year-old Giles Oldershaw is not the world’s first artist to choose cardboard as his favorite medium. Renowned artist Chris Gilmour has been building detailed cardboard landscapes for years, and Scott Fife’s realistic cardboard busts have won him international acclaim, but Giles sets himself apart through his unique creative process. He begins by drawing the outlines of his portraits on a piece of cardboard with a pencil, then uses an assortment of tools like tweezers, scalpels and scissors to remove certain layers of corrugation, card and protective coating to give his artworks more depth. The actor-turned-artist says no ink, paint or charcoal of any kind is used to highlight the facial features of his subjects. From a distance, Oldershaw’s portraits resemble sepia paintings, but on closer inspection, the images reveal the high level of technical skill involved in their creation.

cardboard-portraits

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Talented Florist Creates Blooming Dress Entirely from Flowers

Lisa Dickinson, owner of Manchester florist Venus Flowers, and her team of four florists spent over a week planning and working on a magnificent dress made entirely of flowers. The blooming gown was worn by Boss Model Eleanor Davies during the opening of  this year’s Dig the City festival.

We’ve featured a variety of unique garments in the past, from the prom dress made of homework to the fur coat made of chest hair, but few of them were as lovely as the flower dress created by Lisa Dickinson. When the organizers of  Dig the City, Manchester’s urban gardening festival, asked her to create the unique garment, Lisa admits she felt the task daunting, but once she started planning it became fun. “The challenge was to keep the dress looking fresh for as long as possible, the trick to making the dress endure was to use flowers that wouldn’t wither and die after a few hours, so I made the full skirt of the dress out of wax flowers—which is a really tough shrub—but with delicate sprays of flower heads,” the talented florist explains.

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Can You Believe They’re NOT Photos? The Wildlife Paintings of Eric Wilson

Eric Wilson is one of the world’s most talented wildlife artists. During the last 20 years, he has painted endangered animals in their natural habitats all over the globe using a variety of mediums, from oil paints to pastels.

Growing up in Scotland, Eric Wilson spent most of his childhood days roaming the highland mountains, where his love for nature and wildlife was born. He also displayed great artistic talent very early on, and in 1967 his art teacher confirmed “Eric has an artistic talent way beyond his years”. So you could say it was only natural that he would combine his his love of wildlife and passion for the arts to become a wildlife artist. Unlike many of his colleagues, who use photos as reference for their works, Eric has always believed observing the animals in their natural habitats with just the help of local guides was key to his art. Throughout the years, he has painted lions in South Africa, tigers in Nepal, clouded leopards in Thailand, rhinos in Zimbabwe, wolves in Alberta, chimpanzees in Burundi and even polar bears in the Canadian Arctic, always making sure he included all the correct flora and fauna to create a faithful depiction of the wild.

Eric-Wilson-wildlife

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The Photo-Realistic Pastel Drawings of Ruben Belloso Adorna

Ruben Belloso Adorna, a young artist from Seville, Spain, has taken the art world by storm with his incredibly detailed portraits of real-life and fictional characters drawn exclusively in pastel on wooden canvas.

Painting hyper-realistic works of art with oil paints requires great talent and skill, but drawing them with pastel sticks and crayons seems almost impossible. It appears the word “impossible” is not in Ruben Belloso Adorna’s dictionary, as the young Spanish artist manages to create stunning photo-quality masterpieces using only pastels. Born in 1986, he studied Fine Arts at the University of Seville, and has already made a name for himself in the art world, participating in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and winning several awards. Looking at the quality of his colorful drawings, and the way he is able to bring out the emotions of his subjects, it’s easy to see why many are already calling Ruben a genius of the 21st century.

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The Ostrichcopter – A Dead Ostrich Turned into a Helicopter

Remember Bart Jansen, the Dutch artist who stuffed his pet cat and attached rotors to each of his paws to create the Orvillecopter? Well, Bart did it again, only this time he used a large ostrich as a medium for his bizarre art.

Last year, visual artist Bart Jansen and technical engineer Arjen Beltman shocked the world with the Orvillecopter, a unique flying machine that was part cat part helicopter. Apparently, their first invention wasn’t shocking enough, so they’ve decided to kick it up a notch by building an even more bizarre radio-controlled device they aptly named the OstrichCopter. This time they took a male ostrich that had died at an ostrich farm and turned it into a quadcopter by adding four rotors and a pair of wooden skids. The crazy duo describe their invention as “the world’s flying ostrich”, adding that the experience of flying “must be it’s wildest dream, to able to fly and finally escape them untrustworthy Wildebeests”. I didn’t know wildebeests attacked ostriches, but they probably just meant wild beasts. Anyway, Jansen and Beltman recently posted two videos of the OstrichCopter’s test flights on YouTube, and it seems to work pretty well.

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Fashionable Dress Made from the Pages of an Old Thesaurus

Canadian actress Jori Phillips spent months tearing pages out of an old thesaurus and gluing them together to create an awe-inspiring strapless paper dress. After uploading photos of her wearing the unique garment to Reddit, she garnered more attention than she had ever hoped for.

Two years ago, Jori Phillips was asked by a committee member for the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival if she could design a bookworm costume to greet visitors during the four-day event. A bookworm herself, Jori decided the best way to do it was to make a dress almost entirely from book pages. So she started scouring thrift stores for the perfect book for the job, and finally found an old thesaurus. Although she doesn’t remember exactly how many hours she put into making her stunning dress, the aspiring actress says she through two full seasons her favorite television show, How I Met Your Mother, tearing, folding and gluing pages. Lined with fabric and featuring a bodice for body support, Jori’s recycled dress is completely covered with hundreds of yellowed pages from thesaurus sections A through O. “It feels quite comfy actually,if not a little hot, although its hard to move without ripping it,” Jori says. “The parts that are scaled are actually the parts that don’t move. It has pages bunched up on the parts that stretch so they sorta inchworm out when it moves.”

thesaurus-page-dress

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The Pixel Painter – 97-Year-Old Partially Blind Man Creates Masterpieces with Microsoft Paint

When 97-year-old Hal Lasko was diagnosed with wet macular degeneration, which weakens the sight in the center of the field of vision, he thought his art-making days were over. Then, he discovered the computer and Microsoft Paint, which help him zoom in close enough to see every pixel, and got a second chance at making art history.

Making art with a rudimentary software like MS Paint is a nightmare for modern-day graphic designers, but Hal Lasko loves spending up to 10 hours a day creating stunning masterpieces one pixel at a time. Hal, a.k.a. Grandpa, used to work as a typographer, drawing all kinds of interesting fonts, back when that kind of thing was drawn by hand, and made maps during World War II. He retired during the 70’s but art remained a big part of his life, and he felt devastated when he started losing his eyesight. Hal thought his painting days were over, but his worries were put to rest 15 years ago, when his family introduced him to Windows 95’s Microsoft Paint, which allowed him to zoom in to pixel level, enough for him to see what he was doing. From that moment on, Grandpa has spent most of his days moving pixels around and creating unique artworks that combine pointilism with 8-bit art.

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