Maybe you don’t have a green thumb and all your plants eventually wilt. You know what? That’s okay. Because thanks to the mushroom felt crafts by Close Call Studio, you can still have something life-like in your home. Amanda Adams, the illustrator and sculptor behind Close Call, creates playful plants and vegetables that are an eye-catching fusion of crafted nature with a piece of the real outdoors. She hand-sews and mounts small fungi, colorful blooms, and prickly cacti on a slice of hand-cut wood. The result is a unique homage to nature that brings the beauty of the outdoors inside—but no extra care required.
Almost a year to the day, I wrote about Joanne Ho’s exquisite swimming paintings. From a bird’s eye view, she introduced us to a bevy of anonymous characters who were so tiny they looked like ants among the grandiose landscape. Well, Joanne is back with more! She recently shared with me some of her latest works, which still feature miniature folks doing what they do best—enjoying the scenery.
I’ve featured a fair share of hoop art on Brown Paper Bag, and it generally involves embroidery thread—but not for crafter Olga Prinku. Rather, she’s reimagined this popular format with her floral wreath weavings. Using a tulle (or mesh) fabric, Olga places small blooms—both fresh cut and dried—into artful arrangements. They compose half crescent shapes around the circles in a variety of different-sized flowers, leaves, and berries.
If you’re in the midst of winter, Becky Blair’s landscape paintings are a beautiful escape from dreary skies and frigid temperatures. Fusing realism with abstraction, she layers colors, textures, drawing, and printing to create imagery that are like vivid dreams. These reveries are inspired by her extensive travel through India, Australia, and Europe, and she, in turn, “reflects the experience, rather than the visage” of a place. Through her paintings, we are part of these moments, too.
Once again, Kirsten Sims has captured an incredible energy in her paintings that recall the spontaneity of pencil sketches. Her latest series was created for the Turbine Art Fair in Johannesburg, and they feature vibrant outdoor and indoor scenes that act as a yin and yang—the beauty of solitude, as well as the hustle and bustle of large groups. Each is lively in its application of paint; the colors swirl and mix on canvas, diffusing and abstracting the illustrations. It’s as if they represent one long, fantastic dream… or better yet, a memory!
I’ve written here before about my penchant for 100 days projects, and artist Samantha Russo has recently completed one that’s full of color and pattern—plus, it’s all contained in her sketchbook. Page after page, she uses paint, markers, and pastels to create vibrant abstract compositions that experiment with scale and texture.
If you’re looking for a project to start 2017 (or finish 2016), this seems like a good one. It makes you focus on play, and I’m sure that elements from these pages will be incorporated into Samantha’s work somehow.
Artist Robert Bowers paints tranquil jungle scenes that feature four-legged friends nestled within their lush green leaves. His work is 50% to 75% plants that make it impossible to see beyond their walls of tropical flora… but I’m not complaining. The low depth of field is otherworldly, and Robert’s images offer a form of escapism in which animals rule the land and we’re merely visitors.
Robert has an Instagram that includes a lot of works in progress—so a lot of plants. Give it a follow if you want Henri Rousseau-inspired botanicals in your feed.
Tomorrow, I’m traveling from Baltimore to Los Angeles for an exciting reason—I’ve curated a show at the Flower Pepper Gallery in Pasadena! It’s called Inside / Outside features works that explore indoor and outdoor spaces. I’ve lined up fantastic artists and illustrators, so I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together.
The opening is this Saturday, August 13, from 6:30PM to 9:30PM at Flower Pepper Gallery on Union Street. If you’re local, please stop by! I’d love to meet you and say hello.
Here’s a sneak peek—a few more pieces that’ll appear in the show!
Anna Valdez, Plants on Black Wool Embroidered Bed Cover
Betsy Walton, Resting Garden Two
Sarah Burwash, Dawn and Dusk
If it looks like a stump of wood… it might not be a stump of wood—it could be a book! Artist Pochiko HO has done exactly this with a handmade text that’s about insects. The clever book’s natural-colored pages are contained within a small chunk of tree bark. Simply remove the book from the circular stump and reveal the winged insects that live inside.
Here’s another mixed media piece, also about insects:
Hayley Mitchell paints people that you want to meet. Clad in bright colors, the Cubist-inspired ladies are adorned with beautiful headpieces and jewelry. They’re abstract, yes, but still display unique personalities, and the pigments give us some insight into who they are. Wouldn’t you like to know?
Hayley has created prints of these characters and sells them all on Etsy.