Sunday, January 17, 2010

Portraits Done in Unconventional Materials: Your Face Can Stand Out in the Crowd

Have you ever had your portrait done? Artists are creating portraits in materials other than or along with paint and any time I see artwork created in unconventional materials, I want to hear more. That's an artist to keep your eye on.  (Image at left from CadiGirlDesigns, Etsy)

This is another installment in my Anatomical Art series. If we must be specific, let's say it's about faces, 3-D portraits. These offer up interesting textures and often fascinating feats of construction as well as eliciting double-takes from the viewer. Some artists go for realism while others are more a caricature.
Lisa Kokin is an artist whose work I've been wanting to talk about for a while. I like buttons, partly for their diversity of material and form and partly for their history. Kokin is so creative using them in amazing portraits. (see image below, from her web site.)

"My work has always had an obsessive quality and this body of work is no exception. Every button is stitched to its neighbor to form a low-tech pixilated composition. 

"Up close each piece is an abstract melange of colors and shapes; the further back one stands the more decipherable the image becomes. This interplay between abstraction and representation intrigues me. 

"It is as though I am painting with buttons, building my palette as I go along, adding and subtracting until the interplay of colors and forms coalesces into a coherent image." -- from Lisa Kokin's web site

Among Sally Heller's artworks are portraits of pinup girls created with acrylic fingernails. I featured Heller in my post on fingernail art a while back.

Betty Milliken uses materials such as chewing gum, caulking compound and dried grapefruit peel in her portraits. There's an online tutorial, The Chewing Gum Portrait Project. You, too can be unconventional.

Jo Hamilton's crochet work includes portraits that she's made by turning photographs of people's faces into fiber. She also stitches colorful 3-D distorted cityscapes incorporating fibers of different types. (Jo Hamilton's work above)
Artist Michael Murphy mixes manure with paint for his portraits of some public figures including politicians.  Murphy's work appears to be bi-partisan.

In 2009, an exhibit called Faces: Chuck Close and Contemporary Portraiture as at the Nevada Museum of Art. 
Can a face tell a story?

On Etsy you'll find artists who make custom portraits in different materials.

zJayne offers an ACEO Copper Collage custom made for you. (left)

A portrait/fiber art piece consisting velvet and decorator fabric on a burlap backing is at CadiGirlDesigns.

For those of you who are into cross stitch, visit Weesandy. You can get a custom Cross Stitch Pattern from something like a photo or your child's artwork.

Moonikins can create a 3-D portrait of your pet on a wooden magnet or keychain. A portion of sale is donated to AHS.

So don't keep your good-looking face in a jar by the door. Get an unconventional portrait made. Or try your hand at creating one yourself. I'll bet you've got some materials handy right now.

Like the other installments in the Anatomical Art series this portrait post just skims the surface and may well have a sequel in the future.

If you're reading this on my Facebook Fan Page, you may also want to check out my blog.

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