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Monday, March 30, 2020

Leonardo's Anatomy

Vitruvian Man as seen by Leonardo da Vinci
There's probably no serious artist today who has not seen and/or heard of the Vitruvian Man. Most such artists would tell you that it was a drawing contrived by Leonardo da Vinci. It would, no doubt, surprise them to know that they're only partially correct. There's more to the story than that. As the name would suggest, Vitruvian Man was the brain-child of a Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, (commonly known as Vitruvius). He was a Roman author, architect, civil engineer, and military engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work titled De Architecture. His discussion of perfect proportion in architecture and the human body led to the famous Renaissance drawing by Leonardo da Vinci of Vitruvian Man. Vitruvius was also the one who, in 40 BCE, invented the idea that all buildings should have three attributes: firmitas, utilitas, and venustas, meaning: strength, utility, and beauty. These principles were later adopted by the Romans. The concept of the Vitruvian Man emerged through his belief that the principles governing the representation of the human form also applied to temple architecture in terms of weight, symmetry and proportion. It was he, rather than Leonardo, who first gave birth to the concept of the Vitruvian Man (above).

Leonardo's Human Skull, 1849
One might therefore think Leonardo "stole" his Vitruvian Man from the ancient Roman intellect. In all fairness, Leonardo gave credit where it was due, titling his work: Le Proporzioni del Corpo Umano Secondo Vitruvio (The Proportions of the Human Body According to Vitruvius). Thus, more accurately, Leonardo was merely "influenced" by Vitruvius. Leonardo began his studies of the human anatomy with drawings of the human skull (above) in 1489. He borrowed three-dimensional drawing techniques from architecture that had never been seen applied to anatomical studies before. A new technical vocabulary for anatomical drawings was created and da Vinci's sketches in plan, section, elevation, and perspective marked a massive progression in how the body was documented. If getting your gear together and heading out for an evening of life drawing sounds like more trouble than it's worth, consider what Leonardo endured for the sake of educating his own singular vision. Rumors of his resorting to grave robbery persist to this day, but the truth is that he was allowed to dissect and study corpses at the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence. Criticized for his undertaking, Leonardo passionately defended the purpose of his anatomical drawings.

An early anatomical drawing by Leonardo
Medical students, barber, surge-ons, anatomists and doctors who wished to study the human body in depth in that era still had a large stigma attached to them. As such, it was not easy for people like Leonardo, Vesalius, Malpighi, and others to get access to or even look at human anatomy. Consequently, many of the ana-tomical errors that Galen, an earlier anatomist made were still being taught to doctors and anatomists right into the 17th cen-tury. Quite often, they had to content themselves with working from animal models and deducing human forms based on those carcasses. in the early sketches, Leonardo was very much influ-enced by the accepted wisdom about anatomy--showing, for ins-tance, a man's spine connecting to his penis, and the woman's spine going into the womb. Then in later works show-ing much more accurate pictures, although in some cases with inaccuracies based on extrapolation from animal dissections (animals presumably being easier to get hold of than people).

Studies of human musculature interested Leonardo
as an aid in the drawing of nude figures.
Leonardo da Vinci is well known for his varied interests, experments, and his endless curiosity. However, his anatomical studies are unlike his famous paintings, of which there is direct physical evidence, and his engineering plans, both architectural and mechanical, few of which historians believe were ever executed. The anatomical studies in his notebooks are particularly interesting because they represent explorations that he actually undertook but of which there is no remaining direct evidence.

Leonardo's drawing of the human heart.
Chalk this up to pure curiosity rather than a drawing aid.
There is an ongoing debate as to what extent Leonardo’s anatomical studies were meant to aid his painting. While it seems likely that many of his mycological studies had direct relationships with his depictions of humans and animals, it is difficult to imagine how learning about the internal organs (above) would have helped his art. Thus, studies such as the one he did of a pig’s heart are fascinating because they are examples of Leonardo’s thirst for knowledge simply for knowledge’s sake. Leonardo’s entries in his notebooks regarding his dissection of the human heart are themselves worth studying for two reasons. First, Leonardo pioneered the technique of drawing anatomical diagrams and second, there is a clear difference between what one sees during a dissection and what Leonardo sketched. Potential reasons for this dichotomy include simplification for clearer explanations of the dissection, insufficient drawing techniques to depict inner body parts accurately, and plain guesswork as to what was actually going on inside the heart.

Three hearts--Leonardo's drawing is amazingly accurate.
Anatomist now days use technologies like MRI scanners (Magnetic Resonance Scanners) to unlock the mysteries of the human body. Leonardo da Vinci, was equipped with nothing but a scalpel, pen, and paper. Even so, he was able to discover and record information that rivaled that of the MRI scanner. Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452. He is considered by many the greatest painter of all time. However, he is also known as one of the greatest anatomists of his time. When he died in 1519, he left behind thousands of pages of notes and drawings that lay undiscovered for hundreds of years. These notes include hundreds of surprisingly accurate anatomical sketches.

Leonardo experimented drawing the same muscles in
different poses and from varying angles.
Leonardo da Vinci first began his sketches in Milan, Italy during the year 1482, already a full fledged artist. He was very curious about the human body; he wanted to get inside and see how it worked. To accomplish this, da Vinci would acquire bodies from the church and dissect them. He analyzed the different muscle groups and tendons, trying to deduce what made what move and what worked where. He recorded these observations in his notebook. His sketches were done very meticulously and, to modern anatomists surprise, immensely accurate. sketches were done mostly with a special ink quill and gave much information that would not be discovered again until the 20th century, 500 years later. The sketches were done mostly with a special ink quill and gave much information that would not be discovered again until the 20th century, 500 years later.

The upper human body under stress.
After several years of studying and observing the human body, da Vinci put aside his anatomical studies for a decade while concerning himself with other matters. Matters such as: His famous painting The Last Supper and his work in military engineering. During the year 1504, his enthusiasm for anatomy grew again, and he continued his analysis. It is said, that towards the end of his life, anatomy took up a majority of his time (that and his most famous and mysterious project, The Mona Lisa); his main goal was to publish illustrated papers on the human body. Unfortunately, he was side tracked by other projects and never got the opportunity. Instead, he kept his findings in his notebooks hidden from the world for centuries.
The Unborn Child, 1504, Leonardo
People today are overwhelmed by the amount of information da Vinci was able to unravel about the human body so long ago. In fact, it is consistently debated on what the world would be like today if people understood the significance of his discoveries in the 16th century. The drawings spark the interests of scientists of all fields. The attention to detail and draftsmanship of the observations equal, if not surpass, modern anatomical textbooks. He even took into consideration the posture, drawing the models in ballet like positions to highlight certain parts of the body. He is known today as not only the greatest painter of all time, but also an anatomical genius. Making discoveries in the 16th century that would take the rest of the world 5 centuries longer to discover. Leonardo is sometimes arguably the greatest genius to have ever lived.

Leonardo saw the human head in layers.
 Here he depicts the scalp and the 
cerebral ventricles

Monday, March 23, 2020

Tree House Architecture

Architect Aibek Almassov has taken the concept of the tree house
to the extreme by fully enveloping an entire living tree.
A couple months ago I wrote highlighting developments in the area of floating homes (houseboats) and how science, technology, and postmodern standards for daily living had wrought enormous changes in virtually every aspect associated with living the "good life" on the water. Not surprisingly, the same or similar forces have brought about a like number of changes in the way we view living in our green leafy environment. No more cobbled-together hideaways of castoff lumber and cardboard high up in the branches of some stout oak tree. Our childhood treehouses have gone high tech.
The long climb to the top becomes an educational asset
rather than a tiresome trek.
This stunning architecture concept provides a creative twist on traditional treehouses (top). The imposing tubular glass house is the brainchild of A. Masow Architects, a studio based in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Designed to connect dwellers with nature, the house also simplifies everyday living by removing the unnecessary. At the heart of the structure, a large fir tree reaches to the upper fourth level. The tubular glass façade envelops the tree and the minimalist living spaces. The living room contains seating and a bookshelf while the bedroom provides striking views of the dense forest. With various eco-friendly features integrated throughout, including solar panels as well as systems that collect rainwater, this glass treehouse is meant to be as green as the forest that will become its home. Climbing the stairs (above) in this unusual house could be compared with the stages of spiritual purification, enlightenment and harmonizing with the environment.

Sophisticated living, not in a tree but among them.
Situated among a cluster of large eucalyptus trees in Lorne, a small seaside town near Melbourne, Australia, this modern home is a breath of fresh air. FMD Architects worked to a brief from a family, a couple and their two adult daughters, who wanted a large living and dining space with outdoor entertaining areas. The kitchen features flush cabinetry in a gleaming white finish, and a long window running along the countertop in place of a backsplash, allowing light to stream into the space. The unusual rounded cut-outs in the gray kitchen island echo similar details found in the walls and woodwork throughout the home. In the living room, a minimal wood-burning stove seamlessly blends with the rest of the space, with built-in storage areas for firewood. A wall-mounted TV screen hangs above sleek drawers for additional storage, minimizing clutter and ensuring that not an inch of floor space is wasted.
Jungle retreat, Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
Nestled within the dense jungle on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, this home was created by Olson Kundig, a Seattle-based architectural practice. The property is spread over three levels, each of which offers its own unique view of the forest: the ground floor is level with the forest floor, the middle floor is nestled within the foliage, and the top level soars above the canopy and boasts breathtaking views of the nearby beach. An outdoor deck provides a space to relax and reflect after a day in the surf. The huge beams here are made from cenizaro, a tree native to Costa Rica, which is larger than teak--the wood used throughout the rest of the home but has a similar grain. The owners of this 2,140-square-foot treehouse are surfers and environmental activists, and the architects ensured that their personalities and interests were reflected in their home. Designed as an open-air surfer hut, the home is solar-powered and celebrates sustainable local materials--it’s built almost entirely from teak wood harvested on-site. The home operates passively, exposed entirely to the elements in the temperate Costa Rican climate via a wood shutter system, as seen here in the beautifully minimal dining area. Slatted walls allow daylight and fresh air to enter the house, while also offering privacy for the homeowners. A rainwater collection system further reduces the house’s environmental impact.
A treehouse with an ocean view.
Built by architect Ronald Haas, this luxury treehouse in Aptos, California, is over 50 years old. Its owner, Sam Odio, bought it as a retirement home for his parents but until they move in, he rents it out to guests via Airbnb. The treehouse covers 1,200 square feet, and is split over two floors. Its exterior is made from teak and copper, with redwood beams. Inside, the home showcases a mixture of rich woods, with black walnut, mahogany, cedar, rosewood and teak, combined with bamboo floors. Light streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows in this airy living room, which is part of an open-plan space with a kitchen and dining area. It's a stylish spot to take in the breathtaking views, with Mid-century furniture and a colorful floor rug. The sliding doors that lead to this bedroom are inspired by Japanese shoji screens, used to divide rooms.

An architects own treehouse.

Perched on stilts on the side of a steep hill in a forest of bright green eucalyptus trees, this house created by Bark Architects is ideally located in the seaside town of Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The timber, corrugated tin and glass structure appears to float above the treetops, and boasts sweeping views across the surrounding landscape. In the spacious open-plan kitchen, living room and dining area, a wood-burning stove adds coziness, while classic ‘Side Chairs’ by Harry Bertoia for Knoll surround the dining table. Hot pink seat pads on the chairs and a large artwork above the stove add considered splashes of color to this otherwise minimal space, with its crisp white kitchen cabinets and wood flooring. This room flows seamlessly onto the outdoor deck, making it the perfect spot for entertaining in summer The architects kept the environment in mind when planning the design, choosing raw woods intended to weather with time for most of the 2,690-square-foot building’s exterior. These included spotted gum and recycled messmate woods, both of which come from eucalyptus trees – a nod to the house’s stunning forest surroundings.
It's hard to tell where the forest ends and the treehouse begins.

A watery focal point
Architectural practice Atelier Victoria Migliore created this family home (above) in Frehel, Brittany in 2018. With 904-square-feet of floor space, the cozy-yet-contemporary dwelling is a light structure, raised between one and three meters off the ground on stilts. Clad in blackened wood it blends in with the surrounding pine forest. In contrast, the home’s interior is clad mostly in blonde wood, contrasting with the dark exterior. Timber beams are left exposed in the ceiling, while large windows bring the outdoors in. The home’s interior is organized around a tiled water feature, (left) which runs between the living room--complete with a stylish suspended fireplace--and the kitchen and dining area. A deck at the entryway wraps around an existing tree, turning it into a striking natural feature within the house. Amazingly, the home was constructed without felling a single tree on site. The architects carved niches into the building so as not to disturb the growth of the surrounding pines, and used 26 steel piles to make the home hover above the forest floor. Blackened wood clads the bedroom walls, further blurring the boundary between inside and out. Simple furnishings and a neutral color palette allow the view of the forest to take center stage here. This room leads to an outdoor deck, which has two swings attached--providing the perfect spot for full immersion in nature!

A bamboo vacation house.
Aura House is a vacation home on the Ayung River Gorge in Bali, surrounded by tropical jungle is made entirely from locally sourced Asper bamboo, right down to the furniture, fixtures and fittings. The three-story dwelling features winding staircases and outdoor terraces, offering beautiful views of the lush forest and spectacular sunsets from different heights. The retreat is part of Green Village, a compound of hand-built eco-homes designed by a local architectural and design firm called Ibuku, who create sustainable buildings that also look beautiful. Ibuku bent and twisted Asper bamboo to create the curving walls, partitions and staircases within this stunning space. In the open-plan kitchen and living area, the furniture, kitchen cupboards and pendant light shade are all made from bamboo, too. The material was chosen by Ibuku as it’s fast-growing and sustainable, reducing the environmental impact of Green Village. In the bedroom, huge bamboo beams support the structure on either side. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors allow light to stream into the room. The space opens out onto an outdoor deck with a hammock, so guests can relax in the fresh air and take in the breathtaking views of the tree canopy.
Steel and glass
Brazilian architecture firm Nitsche Arquitetos Associados completed the Iporanga Residence (above) in 2006. Named after its location--Iporanga is an area of dense jungle, approximately 120km east of Sao Paulo. The property was designed as a summer vacation home for a family, but as the rainforest is protected, the owner wanted a house that would take up minimal space on the land. It also needed to be large enough to house five bedrooms. Thoroughly modern in design, the open-plan living and kitchen area features stunning dining tables topped with vivid green marble to mirror the lush jungle scenery outside. Ceiling beams are exposed, lending the space an industrial feel. Glass panels and sliding glass doors on all sides of the room offer the residents 360° views of the rainforest. The top-level bedrooms provide an ideal lookout point from which to take in sweeping views of the surrounding landscape, but also offers privacy via a series of Nylon curtains that can be drawn across the floor-to-ceiling windows. Aluminum sliding doors open the bedrooms onto a common veranda.
Modern living in a dense forest
Set in a secluded area near Mount Whitfield in Cairns, Australia, this single-story contemporary treehouse by MMP Architects is made up of three pavilions connected by roofed outdoor passages, elevated above the slope on which it’s built by a steel support framework. A driveway leads to the dwelling, winding its way through a forest of 131-foot-tall terminalia and quandong trees. This central living area can open out to the tree canopy via a wall of glass doors leading to a balcony. Eclectic patterns on the rug, cushions and wall art enliven the modern, airy space, creating a homely atmosphere. Leading off from the kitchen is this outdoor dining area, built at a slightly lower level and protected from the elements by a large canopy roof. It has no walls, and is open to the forest on all sides, making it ideal for entertaining guests. The space leads to a deck with comfortable seating to relax in. The master bedroom and bathroom boast views of a rock face, which transforms into a stunning waterfall during the rainy season. The homeowners can sleep soundly at night knowing their abode is eco-friendly--water is heated using solar power, while durable materials such as sustainably grown wood and locally sourced stone were used in the building’s construction, reducing the need for future maintenance.
This one looks nothing like all the others.
South African architecture studio Malan Vorster designed this house for a client who wanted a Cape Town hideaway that resembled a treehouse. Set in the suburb of Constantia, it was deliberately built on a steep slope so that it would sit above the forest’s tree line, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Made up of four cylindrical towers raised above the ground on stilts, the property offers 360° views in all directions from large windows. The materials used to build the house--untreated cedar wood and steel beam supports--will naturally weather over time, allowing the structure to blend into the surrounding forest. This open-plan living area and kitchen occupies the first floor of the house. Minimal furnishings in a neutral palette allow the warm cedar walls and floors and the stunning views of the treetops to do the talking. The strong black lines of the wood-burning stove, the side table and the floor lamp echo the industrial steel beams that frame the windows. Enclosed by a glass balustrade, the master bedroom on the second floor was designed to double as a lookout platform, offering stunning vistas of the trees below. The bed frame and bedside table are cleverly built into the wall, creating a minimal, seamless finish. An in-suite bathroom is tucked away in a nook behind the bed.
The treehouses chosen above have a broad range of sizes and styles. Some are supported by trees, while others simply cohabitate with their jungle or woodland environment. All are environmentally friendly and...unfortunately, all demand the climbing of steps. I'd have to have one with an elevator.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Eagle Art

Bald Eagle, Betty Cummings
A few years ago I wrote on the subject of Avian Art. Birds are among the favorite subjects of many (if not most) wildlife artists. And from what I can see in reviewing such works it would seem that the favorite among favorites is the eagle. The eagle family tree has as many as sixty branches. Most of the 60 species of eagle are from Eurasia and Africa. Only 14 can be found outside this area. Nine reside in Central and South America, and three in Australia. Just two can be found in North America--the golden eagle (below), and most familiar of all, the bald eagle (above). Thus these two eagles have proven to be the most popular with wildlife artists.
Golden Eagle,  Morten E. Solberg
The golden eagle is one of the best-known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the most widely distributed species of eagle. The golden eagle is a very large, dark brown raptor with broad wings. This species’ wingspan is the fifth largest amongst extant eagle species. The golden eagle ranks as the second heaviest breeding eagle in North America, Europe and Africa but the fourth heaviest in Asia. While many accipitrids are not known for their strong voices, golden eagles have a particular tendency for silence, even while breeding.
Eagles, Lin iang, a Chinese Ming period painting in watercolor.
It's quite likely that the first paintings of eagles were Chinese in origin. Such works no doubt looked much like the Ming dynasty work above. Notice the strong verticality of the composition combined with an exquisite rendering of the feathers. Today, another Chinese artist, Lok Kuang carries on the watercolor legacy (below). Kuang is a Los Angeles-based illustrator from southern China, who graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design. The combination of eastern and western culture allows Lok to create a unique visual language. Lok also creates concept designs for animation films and games; as well as illustrations for newspaper and magazines.

Bald Eagle Landing,  Lok Kuang 
Eagles. as with most birds, are active creatures not likely to pose more than a few seconds for any would-be avian artist. Thus the eagle painter is beholden to wildlife photos, which would account for the fact that most such art is limited to little more than a dozen stereotypical poses. Likewise as the national symbol, they are often linked by artists with various patriotic flag depictions as seen by an artist named Engle Bob (below). Notice too the similarities in the pose.

Eagle Flag, Engle Bob
Eagle, Red, White, and Blue, Carol Cavalaris
One of the other traits no-ticeable in virtually all depic-tions of the bald eagle is that they always appear angry. I'm not sure this is the best "face" to put on a national symbol in that it suggests that our nation is likewise always angry. Perhaps we could call this "look" simply determined. The bald eagle has become such a masculine figure it's hard to think in terms of a female eagle. We might also recall that in selecting a national symbol, the thinking was not altogether unanimous. It's said that Benjamin Franklin lobbied for the turkey. In retrospect, I'm not sure that would have been a wise choice either, given that down through the years, "turkey" has come to be used as a derogatory noun.

About to Launch
One of the more intricate eagle tattoos
Eagle tattoos capture the loftiness and wonder of this valiant bird. The Haliaeetus leucocephalus as a tattoo style is incredibly popular. The ea-gle tattoo is Associate in the American image of military service or to point out our love for the USA. This noble bird of prey is additionally in style as an illustration of freedom. Ea-gle tattoos are usually com-bined with a spread of different style components like crosses, social groups, or military sub-jects to create a very dis-tinctive depiction. The Eagle tattoo is a mainstays in the up-to-date tattoo business as it has been for decades. This motif has become popular with men and women alike. Moreover, eagle tattoos are enticing and distinguished options that might merely capture attention without fuss. This type of tattoo is in style among individuals of several specific clusters, interests, and lines of labor or profession such as service men and women, law enforcement officials, and troopers. This tattoo style encompasses a cultural and historical essence preferred among individuals in authority.

Juvenile Bald Eagle by Corina
One can find a good as-sortment of eagle tattoo styles with top quality patterns, care options, and different vital components that might create a stimulating body design. There are many websites providing access to thousands of styles in their galleries and databases. The eagle tattoo image is essentially an illus-tration of varied meanings connected with public service and security. Eagles represent soaring to new heights. Any-one preparing for such a tat-too can also get voluminous inspiration as to where to place an eagle tattoo. Eagle tattoo designs are also extremely popular among patriots, environmentalists, bikers, and political extremists. In ancient times, the eagle has also been connected with the power of the sun. Egyptians used to worship eagles, while the Greeks considered the eagle to be a symbol of Zeus.

The Eagle Has Landed. Eagles can not only be
found all over the world, but even on the moon.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Rob Woodcox

Dunes Tree, Rob Woodcox
Many years ago, as a high school art instructor I taught a unit on conceptual art. Most people do not like such works...many, in fact, wouldn't even consider them art. Such art is almost always on the "cutting edge" and therefore cuts deep into any traditional definition of art. Unlike most works of art in which the artist chooses a category--landscapes, still-lifes, portraits, etc. Conceptual art deals with ideas (concepts) which are inevitably difficult to render and often so opaque they are likewise difficult to understand. The prime example of such art which comes to mind is Joseph Kosuth's Chair (below) in which he first hung on the gallery wall a dictionary definition, followed by a drawing of a simple, wooden folding chair, next to which hung a photo of that chair followed by an actual chair hanging next to it--thus the concept "chair." and the broad gulf between the description and the real thing.

Chair, 1965, Joseph Kosuth
In an attempt to illustrate conceptual art to my teenage students I invented a "concept generator" on my Commodore-64 computer (this would have been in the early 1980s). The program asked that the user enter twelve random nouns and twelve random adverbs. The computer then added verbs such as drinking, walking, thinking, etc. The result were largely nonsensical phrases such as "cats drinking stupidly," or "neckties thinking wildly, etc. Most of the nearly unlimited number of "concepts" were useless, some were comical, while others seemed strangely wise in an "outside the box" manner. The students' job was to choose one phrase, then "explore" that concept beyond simply illustrating it. Today, Rob Woodcox is a conceptual artist. However, as a former photographer he has chosen to "marry" the two using nude and seminude figures as in his Dunes Tree (top). It would seem that conceptual art has come a long way since Kosuth's folding chair.

The Mountain, Rob Woodcox

Woodcox has also paired his fascination with geological and human forms, witness the beauty of humans living in harmony with the world around them in a book featuring full page gallery spreads in vivid color. From pink salt flats to deep blue mountain lakes to the recesses of a burnt orange canyon, Rob’s visuals are diverse in every sense of the word. Bodies Of Light (right) is a true dreamers paradise, compelling the viewer to examine one’s own presence on this planet, and the beauty we all have the power to access and preserve. With written excerpts channeling Rob’s inner voice of inspiration and imagination, we get an all-inclusive ticket into a world beyond our own.

Bodies of Light by Rob Woodcox

Rob Woodcox
In creating his book Rob promised himself that at least 50% of the photos had to be of people. He recalls always being super imaginative and wanting to capture the environment as well as the people. He has dabbled in drawing and painting throughout the years, creating his own dreamscapes on paper, eventually decided to focus on photography in college. He had no other reason than a feeling that it was for best for him as an artist. He didn’t have the patience for the other more secluded art forms and enjoyed the process of engaging with models, locations, etc. He sensed he couldn’t live with himself doing something he didn’t love. That stubborn voice pushed him through part-time jobs and societal expectations to the point that he has now been a self-sustained artist for seven years. He finds it hard to realize that he's come so far never really having support from his immediate family. However the artist community has been overwhelmingly supportive over the years.

The nude form in an urban environment
Rob went to a photography school in Detroit and got an associates degree learning the basics of photography. From there he learned many of the techniques he currently uses on his own. From tutorials and sharing techniques with friends to simply practicing, he taught myself a lot and eventually just dove into client work and teaching workshops.

Time Travel, Rob Woodcox, a blend of in-camera creativity and digital editing.
One of the most striking elements in Woodcox's work is that some images are partially composed digitally, while others clearly aren’t. Yet looking behind the scenes, he still goes to great lengths to achieve certain effects practically instead of digitally. The question thus arises, where to draw the line between wanting to capture something in-camera versus trying to achieve something similar in Photoshop? Woodcox notes that in having a strong focus on conceptual photography for 11 years he's learned where those lines are⁠—where something will start to look fake if the light doesn’t match between the background and model(s), or where a composition becomes too overwhelming. He constantly works at matching the subjects to the environment thus making a much more successful end result. He goes to great lengths to produce imagery in surreal locations as well as the studio when that is called for.

Not all of Woodcox's work involves multi-figural compositions.
Having enjoyed backpacking as a hobby since he was 14, and his love of practical effects in movies. Rob Woodcox has developed a particular skill for combining bizarre landscapes with performance art and styling techniques that surprise his audience and usually garner a lot of questions. He finds it quite entertaining to field questions as to which pieces are completely real versus slightly enhanced with Photoshop. Usually people can’t figure out which is which. He also owes a huge debt to his collaborators—the dancers, models, makeup artists, body painters and stylists who enhance his visions dramatically. He started out painting and gluing things to models himself, but usually works with collaborators these days.

El Espíritu Asciende 1, Rob Woodcox and dancers
While Woodcox is a master at capturing bodies frozen in motion. He has never actually taken a dance class. He credits his fascination with theater, film, and performance art as having initially pushed him to start working with dancers. After his first shoot with dancers he recalls being stunned by their ability to move effortlessly and create shapes he had never seen before. He didn’t even need to direct much, only express an emotion or story-line, then allow the dancers to use their inherent awareness of their own bodies to deliver stunning shapes for the camera. He likens it to tasting food from a chef then trying to go back to microwave dinners⁠—there’s nothing that compares to working with dancers.

Box Boys, Rob Woodcox
On the road across the desert.
Rob: has been inspired by the likes of Tim Walker, Eugenio Recuenco, René Magritte, Leonora Carrington, Annie Leibovitz, Salvador Dali, Rich-ard Avedon and more. He loves all visual art forms and often pulls inspiration from paint and performance arts. His book encompasses all his most surreal work to date. A few of the images even date back to 2011. A whole decade of his life's work. He shot exclusive new work for the book on a road trip through the desert, and all his dance work is included as well. It’s 180 pages of vibrant, con-scious photographs and writ-ing from his travels. Its mostly visual but there are 10 short-form written pieces that follow the thematic journey as viewers flip through the pages.

Spontaneous Creation, Rob Woodcox

Monday, March 2, 2020

Golsa Golchini

The blending of Expressionism and Realism.
I've always been one to admire palette knife paintings. However, very often that means Expressionist piece in which the artist has tried to render his or her inner-most thoughts a feelings with a thick, impasto style and technique that I doubted I could handle, painting in a more or less realistic style. Nevertheless, I decided to try this rather heavy-handed means of painting in a scene of equestrian foxhunters. I got the painting about three-fourths completed before I realized I just could not render the details typical of my usual style with such a clumsy tool. Even with a knife barely an inch and a half in length, I gave up. The painting sat untouched in a closet for over a year before I decided to try finishing it with a knife bearing a smaller blade only to discover they don't make'em that small. So I had a friend with a grinding wheel fashion one somewhat less than an inch in length. I found it usable in finishing the painting but also decided that the technique was too tedious and time-consuming to use regularly.
Copyright, Jim Lane
Big Ten in Action, 2007, Jim Lane--the realism of a brush, with
the brute strength of palette knife impasto.
Then several years later a gallery owner in Columbus, Ohio, suggested that he could sell as many OSU football paintings as I could produce. Football is a brutal sport so I decided, reluctantly, to once more try my hand with a palette knife. That's when I discovered a marvelous stuff called gel medium. Straight from the tube, it resembles ordinary white acrylic paint. However, as it dries it becomes transparent. So I developed a technique of applying thick globs of gel medium over a finished drawing, letting it dry, then painting the figure in on top of the gel medium. The size of the knife waa immaterial and the finished work (above) was virtually indistinguishable from anything done using a palette knife. Thus I'd arrived at a happy medium between Expressionism and Realism.
A Blue Thought, Golsa Golchini
Iranian-born artist Golsa Golchini took a different road, but also managed to blend the two styles of painting. Golchini combines impasto and digital painting techniques to create miniature worlds of water and ice. Textured mounds of acrylic paint form three-dimensional waves and slopes. Digital paintings of tiny figures are added to the abstract landscapes via ink transfers, with additional details applied by hand (above).The paintings are simple by design. Shadows added beneath the flat transfers, as well as the natural shadows on the raised paint, give the illusion that the swimmers and skiers physically are entering Golchini’s isolated environments. The limited color palette and similar character poses give the body of work a fun, unifying theme.
The Bright Side of My Darkness, Golsa Golchini
Although the artworks are simple, they are usually expressing challenging situations. Her work is composed as if it is meant to look understandable but in the same way, they want to tell the most profound stories of all times. Usually she meets clients who tell her how they see themselves as the protagonists in her work. Mixed media art is breathtaking. The choice of mixing two or more different mediums or materials to create an artwork makes all the difference between "beautiful" and "amazing". The most common examples of mixed media art are assemblages and collages which make use of different materials, from cloth, paper, wood to even random found objects. It looks simple on paper, but when you see what the artist Golsa Golchini has done, the reaction is little short of amazement.

I Am Not a Waterfall, Golsa Golchini
Born in 1986, Golsa Golchini began her artistic career as a photographer, but later moved on to blend it with painting. She now works and lives in Milan, Italy. Her purpose is to portray the invisible behind the visible, through details that allow the spectator to get in contact with his/her soul. She uses a rather limited color palette and the characters resemble one another. In the end, although we're quite isolated in our own little worlds, we're all the same, struggling in the same common situations and having a rather similar spectrum of emotions. The world needs simplicity nowadays. These artworks represent small worlds of ours in which we carry out our dear daily activities in peace. Nevertheless, looking at these swimmers and skiers in their own tiny worlds of molded acrylic paint, their isolated environments eventually strike you. The artist herself has intended for this to happen, as she has added shadows at the edge of the flat transfers, to make you think just that: they're having fun in their tiny little worlds, but they're also isolated from everything else.

A Star, Golsa Golchini
In 2019 Golsa's work was part of a group show "Notice the Small Things" which brought together an eclectic mix of artists for an exhibition dedicated to the art of the miniature. With over 20 contemporary artists spanning two and three dimensions, across a range of disciplines, the exhibition encouraged visitors to slow down and take their time to engage with the intricate details of the multidisciplinary works. Miniature art dates back to the medieval ages, yet became widely popular in 16th century onwards for capturing portraits as keepsakes or mementoes. The most often-used definition of a miniature is something which can be held in the palm of the hand and, as portable objects, they were an apt accessory for remembering loved ones. The small intimacy of the portraits spoke of secretive and passionate love and were at one time a symbol of status.

No Pain No Gain, Golsa Golchini