This blog will often feature art made from recycled objects and other non-traditional materials. I was excited to come across the website of artists Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang because their work is an excellent example of using non-traditional materials.
In 1999, the Langs began to collect plastic debris washed ashore at Kehoe Beach, located in Point Reyes National Seashore in California. They have been visiting the same 1,000 yards of shoreline to gather their materials.
Using the discarded objects, the Langs create art ranging from large-scale sculptures to small jewelry. They even embellished a car with found plastic objects. Their work has been in over 70 exhibitions.
Through their work they hope to bring awareness to plastic pollution and its devastating effect on the environment, while also transforming otherwise useless objects into beautiful and imaginative works of art.
Below is an enjoyable and informative video about their work.
To see more of their artwork, visit their website here.
Image Credits: (top to bottom) Bosky Dell, Shovel Bands, Chroma Purple via the artists’ website: One Beach Plastic.
Séraphine Louis (1864 – 1942), also known as Séraphine de Senlis, was a French self-taught artist. She was from the town of Senlis, north of Paris, and worked as a house cleaner. She struggled with mental illness most of her life and seemed to find solace in her paintings.
She worked in solitude by candlelight, creating colorful and whimsical paintings of flowers and plants based mostly on her imagination. In order to afford paint, she made her own pigments using household and plant items, such as red wine, flowers, and candle wax.
Séraphine was discovered by German art collector Wilhelm Uhde in 1912. He was a collector of Henri Rousseau and Pablo Picasso’s work, among other notable artists of the time. Uhde came across a painting by Seraphine at his neighbor’s home where she worked as a cleaner. Uhde did his best to support her work as an artist and included her an exhibition held in Paris in 1928, called “Painters of the Sacred Heart,” The other artists included: Henri Rousseau, André Bauchant, and Camille Bombois.
In 2008, a film by Martin Provost was released about Seraphine’s life. You can view the trailer here.
Image Credit: Séraphine Louis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Holly Farrell was born in 1961 in North Bay, Ontario. Farrell is self-taught and has been a full-time painter since 1995. She turned to art making as a hobby to de-stress from her work at a group home for teenagers experiencing developmental and psychological obstacles.
Farrell mainly works with oils and acrylics. Her use of color creates a calming effect. Her subjects, which are familiar everyday objects (including many vintage items), seem to be elevated to a higher level, conjuring up a peaceful feeling amongst the chaos of daily living. They are almost portrait-like, asking you to see their personalities.
Personally, I was drawn in by her work due to my photography interests. I often photograph objects that have been discarded or lost in hopes that their former beauty or meaningfulness in someone’s home can reveal itself again. I see some of that in Farrell’s work, too.
“When the objects started to take on a character of their own, I realized I was really painting portraits without any people in them.”
(From Garde Rail Gallery)
Image Credits (top to bottom): ©Holly Farell
Bowl, acrylic & oil on masonite, 12 x 16 inches.
Couch, 2009, acrylic & oil on masonite, 18 x 28.
Phone, 2016, acrylic & oil on masonite, 18 x 14 inches.
Harry Underwood, Flame Vine of Florida. Pencil, latex paint, wood. 36″x 42″.
Harry Underwood, The Pepsi Principle of Refreshment. Pencil, latex paint, wood. 3’x 4′.
Harry Underwood, Sit. Pencil, latex paint, wood. 26″ x 26″.
Harry Underwood is one of my favorite painters. I first saw his work at the Outsider Art Fair in Chicago about ten years ago and immediately purchased a piece (which was a rare occurrence back then). It’s hanging above me as I write this.
Harry was born in Florida in 1969 and currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a self-taught artist who began painting in 2001 while working as a flooring installer. Harry dedicated his spare time to working on his art, and his persistence eventually paid off. His work is represented by several notable galleries and has been in shows in the United States, France, and England.
Harry’s paintings evoke a sense of nostalgia and are slightly surrealistic. They conjure up feelings of simplicity, summertime vacations, childhood memories, and a longing for another time or an imagined place. The nostalgia is enhanced by his use of beautifully subdued and expressive colors.
His process involves outlining his painting on plywood using a mechanical pencil and then filling it in with latex house paint. The pencil marks become part of the picture, adding an extra element to them. He also layers poems and words onto his paintings, and has referred to his work as “illustrated poetry.”
“And there’s no truer sound than a sound never found from the shy, the innocent, and the unknown.”
Today’s featured artist is Merrit Wallace. Wallace was born in Japan in 1963 and was an artist at the Creative Growth Center in California from 2005 to 2013. Creative Growth is a non-profit studio art center that supports the work of artists with disabilities. Wallace’s lively drawings begin as black and white lines and end up covered with bursts of spontaneous colors and movement.
In the below video, the artist describes his work and process:
CGAC Featured Artist: Merritt Wallace from Michael Hall on Vimeo.
Michelle Stitzlein is an artist from Ohio who works with found and recycled objects. She uses unexpected materials to create her artwork, such as bottle caps, garden hoses, shards of china, old piano keys, and license plates. She has a great sense of color and design and knows how to transform the discarded items into intricate details that make her work come alive. Her butterfly and moth series is striking.
Michelle is also the author of two art books for children, Bottlecap Little Bottle Cap and Cool Caps! Her website has several great examples of bottle cap art projects.
Artist Bill Miller was a founding member of Industrial Arts Co-Op in Pittsburgh, a group that created large-scale sculptures made of discarded materials found at abandoned industrial sites. The goal of the installations was to bring attention to the damaging impact of industrialization.
While constructing the sculptures, Miller came across an unusual art material: vintage linoleum scraps. He has been creating linoleum masterpieces for over 20 years. His collage-like linoleum paintings are made using only recycled and vintage flooring, no extra paint is added.
Miller’s artwork has been exhibited in several museums and galleries. To view more of his work, please visit his website at billmillerart.com.
Australian artist, Jill Lewis, is a trained artist with a B.A. in Fine Art & Grad Dip Painting from BMIT. This distinction is not necessary to appreciate artwork (in general), but it is interesting to see how her work shares a particular quality that is often seen in the work of self-taught artists.
Her work is reminiscent of primitive and folk art with its playful patterns and animal motifs, and yet completely unique to Lewis’s style and vision. View more of her work at libbyedwardsgallieries.com and www.jilllewisartist.com.
Image Credits: © Jill Lewis www.jilllewisartist.com (top to bottom):
Rivergarden, acrylic on canvas
Journey with friends through gardens, acrylic on canvas
Return of Pegasus, acrylic on canvas.
For the past several years, I have been a fan and advocate of studio programs for artists with disabilities. I have had the honor of visiting and volunteering with several studio programs in the U.S. The work being done by many of these organizations helps de-stigmatize developmental disabilities and mental illness. The participants are given the encouragement and resources they need to develop their own artistic visions and build confidence while gaining a supportive community.
I recently came across the work of Jonathan Campos. I love the repetition and color in his work. Campos is a participant at Pure Vision Arts (PVA) in New York City. Pure Vision Arts was started in 2002 by a non-profit called The Shield Institute and is dedicated to helping individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities find opportunities for artistic expression. Their website includes a gallery of other talented artists worth checking out.
Image Credits: © Jonathan Campos, Pure Vision Arts
1) Birds, color pencil on paper, 18″ x 24″. 2016
2) Cats, color pencil on paper, 18″ x 24″, 2016
3) Amphibians, color pencil on paper, 18″ x 24″. 2016
Emma Kunz (1892-1963) was a Swiss artist, healer, and researcher. Kunz’s intricate large-scale drawings were made with colored pencils on graph paper. She created each drawing using a pendulum and a form of divination, called radiesthesia. Her artwork was part of her research on vibrational energy, and it also served as a healing tool for her patients. Kunz would often have her patients sit or lie near the drawings in order to help them with the healing process.
Kunz was also interested in finding alternative remedies to help her patients. In 1941, after working with a seriously ill patient, Kunz discovered the healing properties of a rock found in the Roman Quarry of Würenlos, Switzerland. She named the rock AION A. The powder form of the rock was used to treat her patients with inflammatory issues and other illnesses. AION A is still sold as an alternative medicine in Switzerland.
Kunz’s first exhibition, The Case of Emma Kunz, was held after her death. Today, there is a museum dedicated to her work and life in Würenlos, Switzerland.
Image Credit: Emma Kunz
Sources: Emma Kunz Museum