My Hero: Artist Laurie Lipton

When I came across Laurie Lipton, I was just absolutely blown away by her work. It is rare for me to come across an artist whose technical skills and content are equally brilliant, drenched in my favorite type of macabre loveliness. After spending some wide-eyed time poring through her work, I scream-Tweeted at her in all caps: @laurielipton – YOUR ART IS SO INSPIRING AND AWESOME. I’M IN AWE OF YOUR WORK. JUST SPEECHLESS. THAT’S ALL I CAN SAY. And I fanned her on Facebook. Because that is what fellow artists do when they are star-struck by such juggernauts of talent.

Watch this terrific video of her explaining the reasoning behind some of her pieces – which makes me want to give her a gigantic hug to thank her for “asking the questions rather than answering them”. Her inspiration surfaces through her sense of social responsibility and appropriate outrage towards the media and society which is so delicately expressed in shades of black, white and gray. Her quiet artistic aggression appeals to me as a feminist and her work’s sharp social commentary is nothing short of brilliant. There are artists and then there are smart artists…and Ms. Lipton is a smart one. Her tools of choice are mostly charcoal and pencil on paper for her art but she also has lovely commissioned color pieces. One could spend hours gorging on her gallery drawings – they are like a 7-course gourmet feast of artly awesomeness.

When you are done viewing this clip visit her gallery at www.LaurieLipton.com. God, if I could amass a mere FRACTION of her talent by my life’s end, I would be ecstatic.

According to her website, LaurieLipton.com, she was born in New York and began drawing at the age of  four. She was the first person to  graduate from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania with a Fine  Arts Degree in Drawing (with honours).  She has lived in Holland, Belgium, Germany and France and has made  her home in London since 1986. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the USA.

Lipton was inspired by the religious paintings of  the Flemish School. She tried to teach herself how to paint  in the style of the 16th century Dutch Masters and failed. When  traveling around Europe as a student, she began  developing her very own peculiar drawing technique building up tone  with thousands of fine cross-hatching lines  like an egg tempera painting. “It’s an insane way to draw”, she  says, “but the resulting  detail and luminosity  is worth the amount of effort. My drawings take longer to create  than a painting of equal size and detail.”

“It was all abstract and conceptual art when I  attended university.  My teachers told me that figurative art went  ‘out’ in the Middle Ages and that I should express myself using  form and shapes, but splashes on canvas and rocks  on the floor bored me. I knew what I wanted: I wanted to create  something no one had ever seen before, something  that was brewing in the back of my brain. I used to sit for hours  in the library copying Durer, Memling,Van Eyck,  Goya and Rembrandt. The photographer, Diane Arbus, was another of  my inspirations. Her use of black and white hit me at the core of my Being. Black and white is the color of ancient  photographs and old TV shows… it is the color  of ghosts, longing, time passing, memory, and madness. Black and white ached. I realized that it was perfect for the  imagery in my work.”

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Art Collaboration Trifecta

My Facebook friends got this memo (and are surely sick of my self promotion by now), but for everyone else I want to ‘yell’ about how cool this is.  Unable to embed my audio player into this blog post, I’ll provide the direct link to the sound piece I’m referencing in a sec.

I drew the following piece, entitled “Theater of the Mind” (2011)

My friend Tom Curry, a Chicago poet, was inspired to write about it and my other friend, Mike Hayden, a San Diego musician, created music to enhance that spoken poem. Tom is a member of the Waiting 4 The Bus Poetry Collective and Mike is a member of the band Sleep Lady.

This fantastic collaborative project can be heard here. Just scroll down and click play.

Tom has also written a poem on my 2010 drawing “The Springheeled Piper“.

I’m so proud that I am surrounded by talented folk and that in this digital age, this type of collaboration can occur across the country or globe. I’m grateful to live in the age of Web 2.0 – where consumers are publishers. I will consume. I will publish. And I will invite others to get involved in “group art” and communal promotion. There are too many unsung talent heros out there.

Additionally, this slick link was posted to my Facebook wall by a friend and I would highly encourage everyone who has a Facebook account (because login is required) to try this. Even though it is a very egocentric interface (all social media is) it is a cool way to visualize your network.

Font-astic Friday

I could rattle off a string of technical typography characteristics; ascenders, descenders, kerning, leading, etc. etc. but when I see a font I really like, I usually have an emotionally associative reaction to it. Here are 6 of my favorite fonts with my very non-technical impressions of them.

You can see this font used in the header on this blog, too.

This font makes me want to visit 1895 Savannah, Georgia.

I used this font for my wedding programs in 2000.

This lighthearted Honeymooners-era font speaks of more innocent times.

This font reminds me of the Art Deco filled video game, BioShock.

I've never been to the Ravinia Festival north of Chicago but would like to go.

Illustrator Aubrey Beardsley: Victorian Ink Lord

When I was a freshmen undergrad at Columbia College Chicago one of the first reports I gave was on the Victorian illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. I remember spending hours thumbing through his works and admiring his editorial-like style, with sweeping curves and masterful line control. His use of standard black and white mixed with provocative and sexually erotic subjects juxtaposed biting social commentary – he pulled culturally profound statements out of bottles of India ink. This I have a huge respect for. While Aubrey’s frustrations with Victorian society were apparent his scandalous drawings were consumed almost as a precursor to Playboy magazine.

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Per Wikipedia, Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (21 August 1872 – 16 March 1898) was an English illustrator and author. His drawings, executed in black ink and influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A. McNeill Whistler. Beardsley’s contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau style and the poster movement was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his early death from tuberculosis.

Bursting with talent from an early age, Aubrey began illustrating literature that he owned at age 15 (Madam Bovary and the like). A mix of the industrial age in which he lived and Greek art which one would find on a classical urn, his style was often described as “grotesque” and “naughty”. A homosexual who carved his name into art history with subjects including the evil female power figure Salome holding the severed head of John the Baptist, there is no question that a Victorian sensibility could be so easily offended. Amongst his famous works are illustrations for Le Morte D’arthur.

According to Erin Smith, he was fully aware that challenges to Victorian values came not only from the avant-garde, but from the Women’s Movement, which by the 1880’s, had made some gains in the areas of education and economic rights. Through his bizarre and symbolic style, Beardsley’s drawings blur gender lines and mock male superiority. They also play on Victorian anxieties about sexual expression and men’s fear of female superiority.

As a feminist, I am truly drawn (forgive the pun) to his fantastical and masterful ink drawings.

Further Resources:

The Savoy: The Art of Aubrey Beardsley

Ragnarokpress.com

VictorianWeb.org

Travis Sylvester, Master of Natural Reflectives

Travis Sylvester. What can I say about his work except “WOW”. This man has the uncannily ethereal ability to capture water and beautiful reflective fish in his amazing and dynamic color pencil works. I had the pleasure of encountering his work on the Prismacolor artists forum and I follow his progress on Facebook as well. Anyone who is into nature or who appreciates the beauty and skill of creating reflective surfaces should look at his work.

“Brookie” by Travis Sylvester

Travis was born in the Salt Lake City area and still calls it home. He states “I love what Utah has to offer as far as the mountains, desert, and countless lakes and streams. I can leave my home and be at 10,000 feet in elevation and far away from the crowds within an hours drive.” Loving anything fishing-related it is obvious that Travis channels this love into his art. Among other venues, Travis’s art has been displayed in galleries in the Salt Lake area. He also enters competitions and unsurprisingly works on commissioned pieces. “Since November of 2009, I have completed twelve new drawings, four of which have been commissioned. I entered one of them, “Bonneville Cutthroat” into the Utah State Fair and won two honorable mention ribbons on it.”

“Rainbow Reflections” by Travis Sylvester
Artist, Travis Sylvester

In addition to fishing / nature / outdoor subjects, Travis also creates abstract / surrealism, portraits, and digitally enhances works.

I highly recommend viewing his extensive and masterfully crafted showcase on his website. One can also purchase giclee prints of Mr. Sylvester’s works from his website http://travzart.homestead.com/