review: Portrait Revolution

Portrait Revolution

Portrait Revolution: Inspiration from around the world for creating art in multiple mediums and style (with 450 portraits from the artists of Julia Kay’s portrait party) by Julia L. Kay

Author Julia Kay challenged herself to do a three-year project in which she made a self-portrait every day. At the close of those three years (in 2010), she started JKPP: Julia Kay’s Portrait Party, which she defines as “an international collaborative project in which artists all over the world make portraits of each other.” She created a flickr group (which now includes around 1000 members) and participants began making portraits of one another and the discussion and interaction became quite lively (this project started on flickr at a time when it was much easier to form communities there and in the years since, changes to the site have made it more difficult in my experience). Between 2010 and the creation of this book, artists from over 50 countries created and shared over 50,000 portraits, highlights of which are included here. Chapters arrange the portraits by media, by style, and by theme, and each portrait includes the title (first name and country of the subject), artist, media (physical and digital techniques are both included), original size, and a brief statement from the artist about the piece. The portraits are reproduced here in varying sizes, from just a couple inches square to an entire page (~9×7″). In some cases, a variety of portraits based on the same photograph are included, offering half a dozen or so interpretations. A separate chapter features a few portraits created by each of 15 artists with a paragraph or two of information each shared about their own style and process. The final chapter discusses things to think about and choices to make when creating portraits. A directory of artists, general index, and index of subjects are included.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: Red-Blooded American Male

 Red-Blooded American Male

Red-Blooded American Male photographs by Robert Trachtenberg

This book contains dozens of very skillfully-taken photographs of mostly celebrities, all of whom are men (there are a few women in a few of the photos with these male celebrities, but not all of them are even named). There’s no denying the care that has been taken to set up each photograph including the setting, wardrobe, pose, timing, and all the other things that go into taking a good portrait. Many have been set up to elicit surprise or laughter in the viewer (Jimmy Kimmel wearing a Daenerys Targaryen costume, Bill Maher in a friendly hug with a spot-on George W. Bush impersonator, etc) and some are just very editorial fashion shots. Some capture the thing that the person is most known for and some seek to show an aspect of their personality. I can’t fault the skill with which this aesthetically appealing coffee table book was put together, but I just can’t get very excited about a book that has the sole purpose of celebrating a bunch of hyper-privileged mostly white dudes. I get the feeling that it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but that isn’t successful for me.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: Photographs from the Edge

Photographs from the Edge photo photographs from the edge_zpscn9kirew.jpg

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe with Rob Sheppard

Each of the photos contained in this book was shot by Wolfe and is described in a few paragraphs. The camera and lens used is also detailed and a photo tip is offered related to the way that shot was taken. Each also includes a sentence or two in a section called the nature of the photo, many of which relate to the specific content of the photo, be it the location, an animal or person featured in the photo, or some other aspect. These are very much the type of photos you’d expect to see in National Geographic magazine and many seek to enlighten the reader about an environmental or other conservation-related issue. When I see photos like this that include people, I always wonder what permission the (Western, white, male) photographer had to be there, to be taking photos, and to publish those photos in a book that they will be making money from. Are the people being exploited? Some photos are taken in what appear to be very remote and in some cases environmentally fragile areas and I wonder what care was taken not to exploit the land. I didn’t find any answers to those questions here. Maybe it’s fine, but it would be nice to see more information about how those arrangements were made, or at least to know what protocols were followed. The book takes a more artistic approach so it’s not surprising that these details aren’t included, and it’s undeniable that the photos are stunning and expertly executed.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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Art Walk Central wrap-up

Modern Venus - on display at Helios Art Gallery

Here’s a much better photo of Modern Venus on display at Helios Art Gallery! I went in with the DSLR and of course managed some higher quality shots.

I am so honored that my art was displayed in this gallery! It made my Art Walk Central experience so much richer this year – big thanks to the folks at Helios for welcoming me, being interested to know more about the piece, and encouraging me in every way during every interaction we had throughout the festival. It was such a pleasure to be involved with such good people.

Overall my experience this year was a bit of an up-and-down. I had received a call from ArtReach informing me that my piece was in the judges’ top ten and I was both stunned and elated! But then when we attended the judges’ round table discussing their top picks, mine was not among them. I felt so embarrassed in that moment, even though as far as I know, K and I were the only ones expecting to see mine in the slide show. I am pretty sure that someone confused my name with the other art quilter from Mount Pleasant (named Ann, oddly enough) on their contact list and called me by mistake. The folks at ArtReach were extremely apologetic about it and really did everything they could to make things right, so I have no ill feelings on that front, just a little residual disappointment and embarrassment that I had to then tell everyone that my big happy announcement was the result of an error.

Listening to the judges discuss their top picks was extremely enlightening. It’s clear that they both appreciate fiber art, which is awesome (the top 10 had two art quilts, which seems unlikely to happen very often). They both also spoke a lot about political art and how much they value pieces that address specific current events (#blacklivesmatter and the Flint water crisis in particular featured in several of the top ten). For me as an artist, I think I’m less likely to address a specific event – I think that my work, so far at least, is less likely to be so direct and specific. I would rather address a theme or idea in less literal ways, I guess. I wonder if this is a current movement among art critics or in the art world in general? Or maybe it’s always a preference some folks have? I should ask the Art Assignment! It was also interesting to note that the judges seemed to be very in sync with one another – I don’t think I heard either of them express an opinion that the other didn’t echo. I wonder if it’s a challenge, when working in that capacity, to keep one’s own voice strong and distinct. It could be that they were just that in tune with each other.

I also quite enjoyed the artist talks that I got to attend. I could have signed up to do one myself, but I was so intimidated that I didn’t. Having seen some others now, I think that I could manage it, though I’m sure I’d still be quite nervous. It was reassuring/notable to me that the artists I heard all took somewhat different approaches to the talk – and all seemed to be equally acceptable. That gives me a bit more confidence for the future as well.

For now, I’m still working on the planning stages of my next piece, so I need to get to the drawing board for that. Once again, big thanks to everyone I worked with this year and big congrats to all the other artists!

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Art Walk Central 2016!

My piece, Modern Venus, is on display at Helios Art Gallery as part of this year’s Art Walk Central! I am so geeked and honored to have my art hanging in a bona fide art gallery!

Modern Venus by Anne Heidemann at Art Walk Central 2016 - Helios Gallery

For some reason the pics we took on our first visit didn’t turn out very crisply – I think that the overcast weather outside made the lighting weird or something. I’ll try to get some better ones!

Local folks, you can vote for me in the people’s choice contest! Register to vote at Art Reach or the CMU Art Gallery!

Modern Venus by Anne Heidemann at Art Walk Central 2016 - Helios Gallery

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review: Lessons in Classical Painting

Lessons in Classical Painting

Lessons in Classical Painting: Essential techniques from inside the atelier by Juliette Aristides

This book is outside the realm of my expertise, but it appears to be a thorough guide to the elements of painting in the classical style. Throughout the book, concepts are tied to specific examples, and the print quality is excellent so it’s a treat to flip through just for the sake of admiring the art. Each chapter is supplemented with several step-by-step lessons. The book assumes that you know how to paint already but are looking to develop your skills in this specific genre of painting.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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no longer a WIP Wednesday: Fall Frolic

It’s done! I finished it just in time for the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show competition this weekend. šŸ™‚ Whew!

Fall Frolic quilt

The challenge was to incorporate their fabric in some way and to use the Fall Frolic theme. I used only a small portion of the fabric, but it fits with the overall vision I had and it counts! šŸ™‚

Fall Frolic quilt

The challenge fabric is seen here in the two yellow leaves. There are four of these leaves in the quilt (as there were only four in the fabric swatch provided).

Fall Frolic quilt

I’m happy with my two witchy figures. I used different shapes (cut freehand) for their hair and used different embroidery on each of the two cloaks. Their cauldron is emitting smoke in varying colors which is billowing out between them.

I’m quite pleased with the techniques I used for the background – I think the sunset sky and land work well and the contrast in construction helps achieve the look I was going for.

Fall Frolic quilt

If you’re in the area, please check this out (along with my Modern Venus quilt) at the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Festival of Quilts this Saturday between 9am and 5pm in the middle school gym.

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WIP Wednesday: frolicking figures

This weekend I focused a ton of time on my Fall Frolic quilt. The Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival is coming right up so I’ve got to wrap it up!

I cut out the very small pieces for the center of the quilt and decided that I wanted to use free form hand applique to attach them.

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

I did things one piece at at time for the most part, and just focused on getting things ON – I’m going to add more decorative applique stitches to some bits later on.

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

All this tiny stitching makes me VERY glad for the table top OTT light I picked up awhile ago. Especially since it was all snowy and gross all weekend and there wasn’t as much natural light as there usually is.

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

I’m looking forward to attaching the leaves soon!

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Review: Paris Street Style

Paris Street Style: A Coloring Book

Paris Street Style: A Coloring Book by Zoe de las Cases

The grown-up coloring book trend means that there is a coloring book for every interest these days, and this one will appeal to those who love fashion and Paris. The coloring pages feature garments, street scenes, buildings, and floral patterns in a style reminiscent of fashion design sketches. The book itself is petite compared to a traditional coloring book, and has a stylish gold-printed black cover – with elastic band to keep it closed and a satin ribbon to mark your page. The coloring pages are printed on both sides, so a non-bleed-through medium is recommended – colored pencils or pastels would be a perfect fit for these outlines.

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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