Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Thursday, December 31, 2015

From Tears to Hope

It has been about 2 years since I last cried. 

In February 2016, it will be 2 years since my mother's passing. Because of a promise that I had made to her and to myself, I have not cried. In a way, I have been suffering with depression during that time but I haven't told anyone about it. it is probably because of my mindset of so many people that I care about are having their own cases that they have been suffering from for much longer and on much more extreme ways that the last thing that they need is to hear of my troubles. So I've kept things locked up inside and forced myself to push forward. Sadly, my work has been affected. I would look at my paintings during this period and compare it to how my skill level was previously and I could see that the quality has dropped. Frustrated and angry at myself, I have lost count of how many pieces that I have discarded in the trash because what I was producing was no longer at the high level I was creating previously to my mother's death. This year has been especially difficult and at several points I have asked myself if I needed to just give up on everything that I had spent my entire life fighting to achieve. That's when a little voice in the back of my head suggested that it might be time to completely reinvent myself. 

The contents of 1 of 4 book cases
of my research books.
This one is my main one which is
located next to my desk.
About midway through the Autumn through a series of discussions with one of my best friends that I realized that unlike my past younger self, my work has no focus. Technically this was my fault because I had it in my mind for the longest time that to run my business, I needed to be as flexible as possible in order to have a little bit of something for everyone. What do I mean by having no focus? As a child, I have always been fascinated in studying various cultural beliefs. In high school, my AP Art Class (advance placement classes are designed to function as a college level class) had the requirement of having a theme which mine was female deities in various world religions. By college, I had expanded my research to include some of the darker aspects of religion and in the process started collecting books that varied from crystals to demonology and everything in between. It's a rather odd collection but one that I am rather proud of. As I went ahead and analyzed myself and my work, I realized that the pieces that I was always extremely proud of where those of some religious annotation or had reference to cultural beliefs. I concluded after much thought that what I needed to do was not just make a side project for myself, but completely start from scratch to make what I do into something that I could truly be proud of. 

For a lack of a better title, I thought that I would slowly ease my viewers and clientele into the transition that I was going through by calling the pieces that I was beginning to create by calling them part of an Altar Piece Project.  As I had explained to my Facebook followers, I realize that with so many having various beliefs and traditions that it is always difficult to find
'Sacred Vessel' by Dawn Star Wood
Created in 2013 before the conception of
the 'Altar Piece Project', is an
interpretation of Quan Yin.
something that may a good gift. With this project, I will be creating small altar piece art for various religions and beliefs. These small pieces of art are meant for personal sacred spaces. My goal is to have a little bit of as many religions as possible represented- from Christian and Pagan to Islamic and Judaism to Hinduism and Buddhism. What I hadn't had a chance to explain to anyone as of yet was that my ultimate goal is that this particular project, per-say, would be the stepping stone that will allow me to continue my research into various cultures and religion along with giving me a reason to travel more in order to establish connections with outside of my current web of resources.

As of this point, besides a small piece that I had done for myself, I have done 3 pieces so far (1 having already found a loving home). I am hoping that as I am able to continue forward with this that I will be able to create increasingly larger pieces that I will make available. I have been absolutely enjoying being able to research and learn more about the various deities and philosophies as I work on these pieces, learning about how they were originally supposed to be and seeing how over time due to region, outside influence and even changing opinion that these beings and thoughts were changed to what we know them as now. One thing I have noticed as I work and share my creations is that not only have I been receiving an incredible amount of positive feed back about the pieces  and the project but have taken note that each one seems to have been giving a sense of hope to those who have seen them. That has actually given me so much conformation that my decision to reinvent myself in this manner has been the correct thing to do. Here is what I have done up to this point:

Lady of Guadalupe (Virgin Mary)
Religion: Catholic (Mexico)
Watercolors, white acrylic and gold calligraphy paint on paper (5x7 inches)
I have never been much of a fan of the traditional depiction of the Lady of Guadalupe, the interpretation of the Virgin Mary that is commonly seen throughout Mexico. So I decided to keep the traditional roses and veil of stars that she is usually shown with and bring a different view of the serenity that she is said to have.

Quan Yin (Guanyin) 
Religion: Buddist 
Watercolors, and gold calligraphy paint on paper (5x7 inches)
Here is the second small piece in my Altar Piece project. Since there's so many variations of Quan Yin, I will probably visit her through out the project and also include her original male form which was more common before the 1200s. With this version, I wanted to keep to the traditional white gown she's usually in but with at least a little bit of texture but without realizing it leaned towards the version of her which was originally Princess Miaoshan.

Cernunnos (Horned God)
Religion: Celtic
Watercolors, white acrylic and gold calligraphy paint on paper (4x6 inches)
This time around I decided to go with something for the Horned Forest God, Cernunnos, of Celtic belief. I wanted to balance out the previous, rather feminine pieces I had been doing with something a bit masculine. Incorporating one of the better known metal reliefs of Cerunnos with an elk, I was aiming to have a feel of natural with some mystic tones.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Meeting of Artistic Minds: SoMK

It has been a long time coming but I'm thrilled to bring you all a new installment of 'Meeting of Artistic Minds'. In case some of you are unfamiliar with this little segment, MoAM takes a behind-the-scenes look of how artists come up with their material, thoughts on various things, and introduce people to their work. This time around, I have been able to contact the delightfully talented SoMK for a nice little Q and A session. From Illuminated paintings to hand crafted jewelry, I couldn't wait to hear her thoughts on things.

Orchar WarBird by SoMK
23.5 ct Gold leaf, Copper and Brass leaf on paper
1. As a creator of both hand crafted jewelry and illuminated paintings, what attracted you to either medium to cause you to focus on both?

I strongly believe that illuminated paintings and jewelry are 2 faces of the same coin. We deal with metal in both and some design researches end up in jewelry because the 3rd dimension just seems obvious, and sometimes not.. Actually, History shows us that for instance Renaissance italian enamelist/jewelers often doubled up as illuminators in between commissioned pieces.

One of my favourite illuminator, Nicola da Guardiagrele is especially renowned for his jewelry works. 
I'm not pretending to be at their level by far but this was of course a huge confirmation I was going the right way ;)

Roman de la Rose by SoMK
Based on a 1565 copy of the Roman de la Rose.
Gouaches and 23ct gold leaf on paper.
2. Who or what has been the greatest influence in your work?

Possibly the fact that I was a very lonely child (not sad, just very 'in my own world') and that precise and long works are soothing, like a hunt for something pure and absolute. I surely was influenced by my grand dad who combined scientific background with a very artistic fibre (he painted gorgeous watercolours), and by my mother who taught me to be independent and hard headed ;)

3. On the subject of your jewelry creations, it can be arguably suggested that your Lovecraftian pieces are perhaps some of your most popular among a great many of your viewers. If you chose another literary source of inspiration for a future collection of pieces, which would you like to explore?

Cthulhu Ring and Garnet
by SoMK
So many ! But I'm very worried about copyrights so I don't think I'll do a whole line this time. I will surely make a few 'hommage' pieces, be them paintings or jewelry or figurines around novels I loved (Elric, The Skaith trilogy - I'm a Leigh Brackett's fan, Katheryn Moore's, etc..) but I'll be mainly exploring my own little world.

Jewelry wise, I'll tackle Lovecraft 2.0. New designs, smaller sizes, weird metals. But my illuminated paintings idea list is way way bigger than my jewelry one.

4. With your illuminated paintings, you seem to balance between rather traditional imagery and pieces showing whimsy though subtle humor. Is there any particular scene or imagery that you favor more then another?

Hilarius peripatens by SoMK
Watercolours and 23.5 ct Gold leaf
Nope. I am actually working on bigger pieces, challenging ones, from my own small world and, in between, dealing with smaller funnier pieces helps to relax (and prevents mistakes!) So no, I don't prefer one over the other. They go together. The level of workmanship is the same but there is way less emotional pressure when you draw a MIB or a frolicking dinosaur X)

5. If there was another artist's work you enjoy, who's work would you like to have on the walls of your home or office?
Bronze Durrow Bracelet by SoMK
Based on illuminated borders from the Book of Durrow 

So many !!!! And I have to admit I have a collector streak in me as well so … myeah, I do buy small originals of people I adore like Stephanie Law, Aaron Jasinski, Daniel Maidman, Claudia Hahn or Niroot Puttapipat and many others…. and then some that I can't afford… yet. :p
Soon… sooooon!!!!

Thank you so much SoMK for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer questions! If you want to see more of her work or follow her on social media, then I encourage you to do so.

Facebook: SoMK (Artist) 

deviantART: SoMK
Twitter: SoMK

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Humble Ballpoint Pen

Octopus by Ray Cicin
Original Photo Source - ThisColossal.com
Recently, through my wanderings of the internet, I came across an interesting artist spotlight posted up by ThisColossal.com. This particular feature gave people a glimpse into the intricate and beautiful work by artist Ray Cicin. Using discarded and used ballpoint pens, he created a massive octopus which captures the imagination. 

Work by Enam Bosokah
When I had originally spotted Ray's beautiful feature by Colossal, I couldn't help but remember how MyModernMet.com had featured the works of artists who have used a ballpoint pen- most notably Ghanan-based artist Enam Bosokah earlier this year in April 2015 and Portugal-based artist Samuel Silva back in August 2012. Both of these artists had been able to capture a fascinating amount of detail in their works from such an understated medium. Could these pieces be used as examples of not needing expensive supplies? That is completely possible. Personally I think that it also shows the public and potentially the established art world that, depending on the execution of unconventional mediums (in this case common office supplies), that you could create tantalizing works of art out of nearly anything. Of course, bare in mind, that there are perhaps several art critics out there that would disagree with me on this matter but I am just sharing my opinion.

Work by Samuel Silva

If you decide to look at other examples of works by artists who have used a ballpoint pen to create their pieces, you will be delighted and mesmerized by the variety. From insects to hyperealistic to fantasy, there seems to be no end to the amount of creativity that can be shown by using such an understated medium. Just looking around deviantArt, I was pleasantly surprised by the slowly growing collection of works. It was difficult to narrow down some examples of ballpoint pen art but here are my personal Top 3. 

'Eagle' by XRlS
XRlS.deviantart.com (Greece) - A traditional artist specializing in color pencil works, Greecian artist Christina Papagianni creates stunningly vivid works. Though she mostly focuses on color pencil, she does have a lovely example of ballpoint pen art within her collection of viewable work.
Facebook: Christina Papagianni Artist

'Adam Savage' by ArtisAllan
(Work in Progress)
ArtisAllan.deviantart.com (Ireland) - Self labeled French ballpoint pen artist Allan Barbeau currently residing in Ireland has a wonderful array of examples of both whimsy and hyperealism. As an illustrator and portrait painter, Allan's works are astoundingly detailed. Animals. People. Fantasy. His viewers are certainly in for a treat when viewing his works. 
Facebook: Allan's Ballpoint Pen Art

by Vũ Mạnh Hoà
vumanhhoa.deviantart.com (Vietnam) - With his works ranging from pencil, color pencil and ballpoint pen, Vũ Mạnh Hoà of Vietnam shows his viewers that his interests are also just as wide in variety.