Illustrated Letters

Illustrated lettersAs my letter subscription project crosses the half-year line and hits 50 subscribers, I’ve been inspired to go deeper into what a letter can be by exploring the different kinds of art, of writing, and interactive possibilities that can be included in this versatile, remarkable form of self-expression.

Gradually, more books about letters are finding their way into my personal library. Inspired this week by Illustrated Letters: Artists and Writers Correspond,  a collection curated by Roselyne de Ayala and Jean-Pierre Guéno.

Taken entirely from French sources, there are letters by Gaston Chaissac
Illustrated letters
Georges Hugnet…

Edouard Manet…

Illustrated letters

Paul Gauguin…

Illustrated letters

Arthur Rimbaud (swoon!)…

Illustrated letters

And this heart-stopping beauty by Victor Hugo…

Illustrated letters

…as well as letters by Picasso, Corbusier, Van Gogh, Turgenev…so many brilliant artists and writers. They’re just scrumptious! If I ever received a letter like Hugo’s, I think I would eat it…

Echoes of the Mazaruni…

Remember my post Shipwrecks and Sand Shoals? A couple of months after the post went up I got an exciting e-mail from 7-year-old Thom (and his mum, Noemie). Based on the sketches and photos in my post, Thom (who tells me he is “really into wrecks”) made a gorgeous drawing of the wreck.

Thom's drawingAnd then he went into 3D and built a Lego version of the shipwreck.

Thom's Lego wreckThom’s a charming young man, one of maybe three people who immediately recognised that the name of our boat, Kehaar, was taken from the book Watership Down by Richard Adams.

Note: In the book, about rabbits, Kehaar is a blunt old seagull who speaks with an Eastern European accent. He is very knowledgeable about the world, and he often confuses the rabbits by talking about things that they do not understand or cannot comprehend, such as bullets and oceans. Kehaar is the reason our boat is painted black and white (or was, at any rate…right now it’s a patchwork of cheap paints found in South Africa, Brazil and, soon, Venezuela).

This is the most rewarding part of blogging, for me…when something I’ve posted resonates with someone else, spurs them to create a reciprocal work, or to look into the matter further. A lot of the time my posts are just the bare bones…I don’t do as much research as I should, or don’t include everything I’ve gathered about the topic because I worry that it will bore readers.

And then someone like Thom comes along, digests what I’ve published, gets busy (at his beautiful table covered in drawings—Love! We should all draw as freely on our tables…) and hands the idea back to me, imbued with a seven-year-old’s magical enthusiasm…fleshed-out, and given dimension. Thom and Noemie even did an internet search of the shipwreck, looking for more information…but found nothing (neither did Kris, who hunted obsessively for any stories about the Mazaruni and what happened to her). And it thrills me so much that I, schmaltzy sponge cake that I am, get teary-eyed.

Thanks for the photos, Thom! I’ll keep my eye out for more wrecks as we go, and be sure to send you whatever I find!

Zero the One: Muse and Tools for Wildish Creatives

So proud of my friend Kat’s evolving blog, Zero the One…it’s got a new look, stunning photographs combined with fun fonts and design, light-flooded videos featuring creatives and thinkers that she has met on her travels (and at home, which happens to be Rome…a historically rich seam for creative mining), and a brave, beautiful, distilled raison d’être:

We are shameless artists, seekers and movers who care about epic shit.
And a good story (that we live out).

Muse and Tools for Wildish Creatives

The blog’s official re-launch is this October. Get inspired!

über embroiderers : : Maricor/Maricar

I’m trying to keep up a sort of regular ‘feature’ on über embroiderers on The Smallest Forest: These are the big kids, the crème de la crème, the leet of needle and thread…that runts like me long to play with, but will never even exist in the same universe with…

Not necessarily technical virtuosos or professional embroiderers, but artists who do strange, new and wonderfully unusual things with embroidery…creativity, concept, media, message. Just…different, somehow.

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Maricor / Maricar have done it again. Hong Kong Airport commissioned them to do billboard graphics celebrating the food of the world. The word “Delicious” is spelled out in different languages, the letters made up of images of the foods from that particular region.

The über embroiderers designed these whimsical letter forms in various alphabets, and then stitched them up beautifully. The colors and clever play between images of yummy things and letter forms is a real treat for the senses. Impeccable work, as usual, ladies!

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12 Days of Painting on Flagler Street

And since I’ve got painting on the brain these days, here’s some painting news that has inspired me to try and work more spontaneously, more expressively, and to create pieces that dialogue among themselves, that converse with each other:

Up and coming talents,  Annie Blazejack and Geddes Levenson, mounted a show of 728 paintings all based on the idea of triangular numbers.  For twelve hours a day, twelve days straight, they churned out painting after painting beginning on Day One with (78)  nine minute paintings each and ending on Day Twelve with (1) twelve hour painting a piece, each time responding to what the other had created. Read More

This thrills me…it’s not just the 728 paintings—many of which look great, fresh, uncontrived and have this irresistible “of-the-here-and-now” edge—but what obviously must have been an energizing, exciting, amazing experience for the two artists. To work at that pace (78 nine-minute paintings!) and in immediate response to the ongoing work of a partner, must have opened each artist up so much…the faster and more often you draw from that well of creativity and playfulness, the faster the well fills and overflows, or at least that’s how I sense it. What a great way to evict the ego and start the flooding of ideas and images and expression!

*sigh* Love.

via Flagler Arts Space

Leigh Salgado

Leigh Salgado is a nationally exhibiting Los Angeles artist. I came across her work whilst browsing the alternative art site Picklebird.Leigh Salgado

double your pleasure, double your trouble
Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Trouble 2007 by Leigh Salgado
and eat it too
And Eat It Too 2008 by Leigh Salgado

(all photos from the artist’s website)

Leigh’s “sculpted drawings” are detailed, obsessive, sexy, feminine, and marry  the elements of sacredness and profanity, the chaste and the erotic (which may seem like a contradiction until you read St. John of the Cross, Hildegard of Bingen, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī (جلال‌الدین محمد رومی), or many other ecstatic mystics). Technically, they are meticulously worked pieces of paper art, combining drawing, painting, cutting and burning…

In some, she uses Sharpie pens and Exacto knives to turn high-end artist paper into lace-like abstractions. For other works, done on wood, she uses burning tools to draw busy scenes of flowery netting and vaguely familiar fleshy regions. [from her website]

leigh salgado's sculpted drawing technique

All my favorite things rolled into one art practice! I adore virtuosity with paper. Anything with paper, actually.

In an article in the magazine Tentaciones (April 2002) Leigh recalls “reading about St. Clare and St. Francis and being awed at their utter devotion, submission and commitment to the Divine. Out of the rejection and repudiation of the body came an erotic-like, ecstatic love for the Divine, which interested me. These artworks attempt to deal with space where the physical and spiritual and erotic and religious meet.”

The ‘about’ section of her website states:

Her labor-intensive compositions are of abstracted imagery occasionally morphing into recognizable subject matter. Viewers are simultaneously looking at interpretations of netting, lace, clothing patterns and original woven abstraction.Salgado is a leading proponent of Sculpted Drawing. This burgeoning medium brings a third dimension into pictorial space without compromising the elements of drawing. X-acto knives are used to eviscerate the negative space between the lines in her ink drawing. Hung away from the wall, this medium delivers the spatial sensation of a third dimension in static two-dimensional drawings.

“the spatial sensation of a third dimension”?Oh. Shadows. Love shadows… (Nevermind the art school gobbledygook, we’ve all been there, having to come up with those opaque, pompous phrases for a professor who demanded Quantity  of syllables rather than Quality of thought in an essay.) If this doesn’t inspire you to play with knives, I don’t know what will!

Leigh Salgado
via Picklebird