Made of Summer

Beyond photography, my opportunities to create non-commercial art are very limited due to, you guessed it, time constraints. But the interest is still there. So I've decided to do the next best thing and make something that is less time-consuming than an intricate drawing, yet no less creative.

The result? Another "natural portrait" of Japanese musician Morrie literally made of summer: flowers, greens, blueberries, cherries, apples...Good music inspires what I'd like to think is interesting art.

In general, my "natural portraits" are meant to emphasize the mutability of nature, its growth and decay. The very structure of any given piece is highly unstable: imagine putting each berry together as the wind in the Rocky Mountains decides to play tricks on you! Sometimes, it's worth keeping and documenting such mistakes, as they are part of the process.

Once the portrait is done, its constituent parts get "recycled" back into nature. In this particular case, delicious berries and fruit from a local farm were, well, eaten! 

In the end, the only record of a "natural portrait's" existence is preserved through photography. Though unlike my previous exemplars, I've also decided to go one step further and create a 6-second timelapse out of the consecutive photographs I had taken of the creative process.

Raven Ravenson and the Crescent Moon

My purpose here was to create a simple, heavily stylized illustration in the realm of Slavic mythology--as if for a children's book--using natural materials, in this case, wood, golden buttons (tansy), and tea leaves. 

This illustration features, you guessed it!, two of my favorite characters  as part of a recurrent motif.

Raven Ravenson and the Crescent Moon--they meet again! 

Slightly modifying a particular tale from Slavic folklore, we have:

Simargl, having lost his first-born, died of grief, his heart aching like that of a wounded bird. And he turned into a black Raven Ravenson known as the Iron Beak. And he took off and landed atop the Crescent Moon made of copper. And he began to oversee human affairs, becoming a god.


Whenever I create images out of natural materials, photography is as important as the original. You can see the difference between the pictures above and below: the latter was shot outside, with sunbeams lighting the tansy Moon as if it were its real equivalent up above.  

Natural Art

What time away from social networks allows one to accomplish!

I've caught up on a number of work issues and even had the chance to revamp one section of this website. What initially started off as one project, "In the Snow," has transformed into Natural Art. (Yes, you should click on that link!) So I needed to explain why I keep returning to this difficult-to-control medium (have you tried rearranging tea leaves to make an eye?) and update the slideshow.

The direction that I'd like to pursue here pertains to myth and myth-making, and, in particular, those of the Slavic Dreamworld

Oh, and maybe now I can reconnect Twitter and--eventually--the greatest distraction of all, Facebook!  

Mishima: Fire over Wood

This week's anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings has come and gone. Trite speeches, touching articles, preposterous foreign-policy claims, along with images of candles and peace origami.

I was even going to post one photograph along those lines myself.   

Luckily, I chose another approach, deciding that it was more appropriate to emphasize not the event itself, but the the general aftermath--for decades to come--of WWII, Modernity's greatest ideological and military battle:

We live in an age in which there is no heroic death.
― Yukio Mishima


The cynicism that regards hero worship as comical is always shadowed by a sense of physical inferiority. 
― Yukio Mishima

And so I made a portrait of Mishima out of tea. 


mishima full 800 px url.jpg

As with my other "natural portraits," there is a level of necessary stylization, considering the constraints of the medium. (In other words, it is much easier to draw a realistic image using traditional means.) 

Tea is especially unforgiving.

You breathe, and the beauty is destroyed.

Mistress of the Mountain

As a child, I grew up on Bazhov's fairy tales from the Ural region of Russia, such as the Mistress of the Copper Mountain. As an adult, I've become convinced, as have those before me, that people of the West had lost their links to the archaic, by and large, pushing their myths deep into the subconscious, only to manifest in dreams or during the creative process.  And even when we see patterns that resemble mythic beings, we focus on the scientific, not the symbolic. 

So I imagined that the local mountain here has to have a Mistress, too, and I willed her into existence.  (Admittedly, there likely are authentic Native American legends associated with this part of the Northwest with which I'm not yet familiar.)

Her base is rock on rock, as she is of the mountains, after all. I've deliberately used only local plants and tried to incorporate as many attributes from different seasons as were available.

The Mistress' dress at the neckline, for instance, is made of old, fragile leaves that survived the winter. They reminded me of intricate chocolate-tinted lace, as the closeup demonstrates. In contrast, her pink earrings are fresh flowers. Closed eyes: indifferent, asleep, or deep in thought? And, of course, the Mistress is not always amicable: hence the tiara made of prickly bur. 

P.S. Music sets the mood, the tone, the pace. I've created this while listening to Creature Creature's Phantoms (and a bit of Light & Lust). Consider it an inspiration as well.