Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Work of the Artist Dex Fernandez

Illustration: Dex Fernandez. Good Morning HOBOS, detail, 2015. Acrylic, ink, embroidery, on a digital photograph

Dex Fernandez is an artist that comes from the graffiti/street art tradition. His work is a creative collision of styles, colors, shapes, lines. He often uses his own digital photographs as a background to a whole panoply of information that is built up in layers onto the base photograph.

These layers can and do consist of abstract pattern, religious symbols, body parts, cartoons, tattoos, to name just a few. Dex plays with these references as he also plays with larger ideas, such as the connection and disparity between high and low art, between history and biology, between beauty and crudeness, and between innocence and sexuality.

Illustration: Dex Fernandez. All of a Sudden I miss Everyone, 2015. Acrylic, ink, embroidery, on a digital photograph

Illustration: Dex Fernandez. ATM, 2015. Acrylic, ink, embroidery, on a digital photograph

These are important combinations and complex relationships that dwell within our contemporary society, and they are often ones that are tentatively side-stepped, or deliberately overlooked. It is important for the artist to highlight these most important references to the world we both live in, and perhaps more importantly, the world we pretend to live in.

Dex is able to express himself through a wide range of formats, including wall murals, street sticker art, altered photographs, as well as fashion and accessories, all part of the panoply that is such an integral aspect of our daily lives. The world at large, in all its contrasts and its illusions is Dex's canvas, and his compositions are a reflection of his use of that larger canvas.

Illustration: Dex Fernandez. Burboun, 2015. Acrylic, ink, gold leaf, embroidery, on a digital photograph

Illustration: Dex Fernandez. Don't be a Stranger, detail, 2015. Acrylic, ink, embroidery, on a digital photograph

Dex's portraits are extraordinary pieces of work. Originally photos of friends and fellow artists, he hand paints intricate and colourful patterns and shapes around and over the original portraits. The multiplicity of color, line, and symbol helps to create a new visual for the portrait, grafting a new mask, a new identity even, onto the original.

In some respects, the original face becomes more than it was, as if the artist has added a dynamic dimension to the original portrait, expanding the character of the individual so that they seem ready to burst out of their contained portrait within a new heightened persona.

Illustration: Dex Fernandez. Entrap, 2015. Acrylic, ink, embroidery, on a digital photograph

Illustration: Dex Fernandez. Mr. Cornflake, 2015. Acrylic, ink, gold leaf, embroidery, on a digital photograph

Interestingly, Dex adds an element of stitch to his animated portraits, often in the guise of bright neon thread that is loosely aligned around facial features, often the eyes. This embroidered embellishment adds one more level of interpretation, or perhaps reinterpretation to the facial character of the individual.

The work shown in this article is part of an exhibition of Dex Fernandez work running at the Owen James Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Dex has been able to manipulate the gallery in order to enhance and project his work within his own framework. He has covered the main gallery wall with a mural composed of bright neon yellow and black paint, coloured tape and stickers. The collage and mural are encouraged to interact in order to create an installation that is at once a whole entity in its own right, but at the same time has distinct and singular elements, consisting of Dex's portraits, that are separate, but also part of the larger picture.

Illustration; Dex Fernandez. Plankton, 2015. Acrylic, ink, mylar collage, embroidery, on a digital photograph

Illustration: Dex Fernandez. Shernita, 2015. Acrylic, ink, embroidery, on a digital photograph

The exhibition of the work of the artist Dex Fernandez runs from October 30 till November 29 2015 at the Owen James Gallery, Brooklyn, NY. More about the exhibition can be found at their comprehensive website which can be found here. Also, much more of Dex's innovative and inspirational work can be found at his own website, which can be found here.

All of the imagery of Dex's work that was used to illustrate this article, was kindly supplied by the Owen James Gallery. Please be aware of this, and do not republish the illustrations of Dex's work without the permission of the gallery.

Illustration: Dex Fernandez. Installation within the Owen James Gallery, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Inspirational 7 is Released Today

Just to let everyone know that Inspirational 7 is available for instant download from this site from today, just follow the link here, to be taken to the Inspirational page.

The artists in order of appearance are:

Laura Edgar  - the textile artist
Chris Fennell - the mixed media artist
Jane Davies - the fine artist
Mark Goodwin - the fine artist
Richard Christopher Patterson - the fine artist and photographer
Richard McVetis - the fine art embroidery artist
Seth Apter - the mixed media artist
Tony Plant - the land and fine artist

This particular issue comes in at 201 pages, with 190 full colour photos, which is appreciably larger than the last issue. I wanted to give slightly less text, and a lot more images of work, and I think the balance works really well. I have also decided to reduce the price of this and all previous issues to $7.99.

I would like to say a big thank you again to all of the artists, readers, friends, and supporters of the Inspirational project, a project which would not exist but for the generosity and selflessness of individuals around the planet. There are good people out there and I am forever grateful for that fact.

As always, all issues of Inspirational are available from here, and if anyone would like to sign up for the Inspirational mailing list in order to keep updated as to each upcoming issue of the magazine, then please feel free to sign up here

Issue 8, which I already five artists committed to, will be out in January 2016.

John x

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Work of the Artist Barbara Tomecak

The artist Barbara Tomecak largely works in paper, producing the most beautifully organic shapes, ethereal extensions of nature. Much of her work hangs in its own space, interacting with the world around it, never crowding it, never dominating it, just balancing with it as a moment in time.

Barbara started experimenting  creatively with paper through the medium of origami. It was seemingly by chance that she became connected to papier mache, a discovery by accident, one that was formed out of necessity, and it is one that has served the artist well, as she sees it now as her has since primary means of expressing herself creatively.  

Barbara had already dealt with both paper and gauze as materials, actions, processes within her work, but she began to see them over time becoming something else, something more, viewing them within another context, one very different from that in which she was used to. 

She discovered an inbuilt hardness to the process, a textural complexity, which at the same time lent itself a suppleness, all adding up to a state where Barbara felt free to both interpret creatively, as well as an ability to endlessly adapt.

Barbara begins her creative process by adopting to the material, by knowing and understanding what a certain material will allow her to do with it, allows her to gauge the pros and cons of its state, it is then that she starts with her realisation. 

She believes that as an artist she draws creative inspiration from the 'prototype' of  a single element, be it such entities as a sphere, a cone, and so on. Her works are mostly based on repetitive organic units, often reproduced in large numbers. 

Each piece, each individual moment of Barbara's organic sculptural work, although seeming repetitions, are in fact singular in their making, and singular in their outlook. Each full creative work of the artist is a collective of the singular, groupings of elemental units that gain direction, movement, and space from their connectivity with each other.

Barbara creates mobiles of connectivity, groups with shared experience, they respond to wind and other stimuli within the environment, acting and reacting accordingly. Through the process of  papier mache method, paper and gauze, or the moulding of paper pulp, the artist creates a peculiar and singular natural space that is capable of complementing the already existing natural environment around itself, as well as around ourselves.

Barbara plans to continue her exploration of the materials of paper, gauze, textile, and others, ready to exhaust all its potential capabilities. Most exciting of all, she is keen to work on a much larger scale, and for that we wait in anticipation.

More of Barbara's work can be found at Behance, and she can, and should be followed at her facebook page. 

Please be aware that all the imagery used in this article was supplied by Barbara, and is therefore copyrighted to her. If you want to reuse any of the photos you will have to ask her specifically for that right.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

First Look at Inspirational 7

Here is the first look at the front cover of Inspirational 7, due for release November 16. Some changes have been made, I have changed the font for the title, which will carry on through the inside of this issue, I have also dropped the word issue. I think that it gives Inspirational a more contemporary look and feel, helping to move it in the general direction it needs to go.

However, everything else is the same as with all the previous issues. There are eight diverse contemporary artists, each artist having an 18-20 page feature with the same number of full colour illustrations. The eight artists to be featured in number 7 are as follows:

Laura Edgar  - the textile artists website can be found here
Chris Fennell - the mixed media artists website can be found here
Jane Davies - the fine artists website can be found here
Mark Goodwin - the fine artists website can be found here
Richard Christopher Patterson - the fine artist and photographers website can be found here
Richard McVetis - the fine art embroidery artists website can be found here
Seth Apter - the mixed media artists website can be found here
Tony Plant - the land and fine artists website can be found here

The cover of this issue features the fascinating and suitably inspirational work of the fine artist Richard McVetis. Richard uses stitch as a graphic tool, with cool, tidy, minimal pieces of work, an artist who uses embroidery as part of his creative perspective. 

Some of the eight names will be familiar to you, some not, but give their websites a look and you will soon see why they have been included within this issue of Inspirational.

As always, if you want to check out the Inspirational site, then go to the top of the page and press the Inspirational tab. You will be able to check out all of the other issues of Inspirational, buy and instantly download whatever you need. Remember that you can also sign up for the Inspirational mailing list where you will be kept informed as to what is happening with the Inspirational project, as well as release dates for each successive issue of Inspirational.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Work of the Artist Dennis Potter

Illustration: Dennis Potter. Big Boro

Japan and Japanese culture has both fascinated and inspired creative individuals across the planet for generations. The defined nature of Japanese culture, both in the visual and in the conceptual, lends itself to a broad interpretation and reinterpretation by artists from a range of backgrounds and disciplines.

The artist Dennis Potter is inspired by a number of different elements of Japanese, and East Asian culture. He has travelled and lived in a number of environments through East Asia, and has been correspondingly influenced within his creative work by those environments.

Illustration: Dennis Potter. Big Boro, detail

One specifically Japanese inspired creative theme that Dennis has used in his work, is that of the kimono, more specifically the hakui, which is a kimono worn by Buddhist pilgrims who circumambulate the Japanese island of Shikoku. This specific and simple garment works as a metaphor for experience and memory, because it is inscribed with both printed seals and brush painted blessings and sutra written by monks visited by the pilgrim whilst wearing the kimono.

The kimono of the pilgrim becomes the skin of their experience whilst they are on the island. It becomes transformed by creative art, and by the experience of the pilgrimage. Therefore, walking the long treacherous path around the island, the kimono becomes worn, stained, rain washed, and faded, it becomes an artwork of experience, the experience of the pilgrimage, and in turn the experience of the pilgrim.

Illustration: Dennis Potter. Japanese Rain kimono

Dennis has taken the idea of the pilgrimage kimono and worked it creatively into his work. The kimono's that he produces are a cultural hybrid, or "quote" of the hakui, taken from the stance of a westerner with a painterly background. 

Dennis works in a range of materials and has very much based himself within the mixed media discipline. His kimono's are complex layered works that use and reuse themselves within each composition. In many respects, the artist plays with the conceptualisation of the pilgrimage, the idea that a costume can become a noted pathway of experience, that it can highlight moments and directions, pauses and changes in direction, the fundamental apparatus of all our lives, the trajectory of our experiences.

Illustration: Dennis Potter. Flax kimono

These are indeed extraordinary pieces that tell of the unique experience of the artist, but also tell us something of ourselves. Dennis kimono's show us the patchwork of our lives, the bringing together of experiences, connections, meetings, and partings, of the joy and confusion, the calmness and stress, the jumble of contradictions that is a life lived.

This article can only show a small sample of the artists kimono work, which in turn is a small sample of the artist's life work. Dennis has a wealth of creative and observational experience, and he pours that liberally into his work, hence the great range of work that he has been producing. His work can be found at his comprehensive facebook site, where he has arranged an album of his kimono compositions, as well as regular updates of his work in progress.

Illustration: Dennis Potter. Flax kimono, detail

Please be aware that the images for this article were kindly supplied by Dennis, and are therefore his property, please don't use them without prior permission from Dennis himself.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Work of the Artist Anthony Stevens

Illustration: Anthony Stevens A Good Age

The present art world is such a large and diverse one, we are indeed lucky to live in a period of such intense and widespread creativity. Of course, the internet has helped enormously to connect so many of us together, allowing people like myself to highlight creative individuals as never before, and for that we have to be truly grateful.

One of the creative individuals that I have come across online recently, is the artist Anthony Stevens. Anthony uses his work as a form of therapy, a means of expressing and processing his life, both in the past and in the present, particularly as regards trauma and its after effects. As he says himself, his work is about, " dancing with my inner dynamics so that I can find a rhythm that is both constructive and wonderful."

Illustration: Anthony Stevens Modern Man

We are all trying to make sense of our lives, and to make sense of the environment around us. One of the best ways to do that, to work through towards an understanding, as well as finding a form in which to express that understanding, is through the creative arts.

We all choose the mediums and working materials that we are happiest with, and we all choose a general direction for those mediums and working materials. Anthony chose textiles, for the very reason that so many others do, because he remembers being surrounded by them as a child. It seemed natural to him to gravitate towards using textiles as his personal and creative outlet, as his connections to textiles are personal and long-standing. To be comfortable with a medium, with a form of expression is often a large part of the creative path. In order to find out how best to express yourself, find your best form of expression. It seems self-evident, but it can often be one of the hardest lessons to learn.

Illustration: Anthony Stevens Chew Your Own Tale

Much of Anthony's imagery comes from his practice of Nichiren Buddhism, and the chanting of "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo". It is whilst chanting that the artist tends to see images in his mind's eye, at times coming with an intuitive feeling as to whether the images are worth working with and creatively pursuing.

Many creative artists follow the same course as Anthony, they may make different paths, take different tactics, but they all follow the same general lines of creativity. Ideas and images are turned over in the mind, connections are made, outcomes are formulated, the foundation of work becomes a reality in thought at least, no matter how tentative. 

Illustration: Anthony Stevens Night Bird

When it comes to the actual physical creative process, Anthony allows the image to start its revelation, getting it to unravel its many layers of meaning to him. This is often symbolised ion the textiles that the artist uses, for example Anthony is keen on using striped fabrics in a lot of his compositions as they help to symbolise for him the ongoing drama of life and death, consciousness and unconsciousness. He is also keen to deliberately work with scrap fabrics. He feels that by using scrap fabrics, he is forcing himself to open himself up creatively, to allow the seeming uselessness of fabric pieces to show their potential. 

It is the connection between Anthony's creative path and that of his personal one, that he draws his artistic strength. He defines a direct correlation between how he strives to perceive his creative life, and that of his personal life. The artist readily admits, "As with life, it is sometimes a painstaking and frustrating process, but ultimately I feel joy and satisfaction with the result". It is all an artist can ask of themselves and of their path.

Illustration: Anthony Stevens Wake Up

Anthony has had both solo and group shows in London, Brighton, and Frankfurt. His work can be found at his comprehensive website - Anthony Stevens

Please be aware that all images of the artists work were kindly supplied by Anthony, and are not to be reproduced without his permission.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Next Steps in Weaving by Pattie Graver

Weaving has got to be one of the oldest of human occupations, countless generations have been honing and perfecting their skills across millennia, and continue to do so to this day.

Although industrial weaving now dominates the textile industry, hand weaving is still an important element within the textile world, it has an enviable status and position, and is often considered one of the senior skills within the many that make up the varied textile world.

That hand weaving is still very much with us, still a learnt skill, has much to do with the individuals that have been involved in the hand-weaving world, those who work within hand-production, and just as importantly, those who teach and in teaching, pass on the accumulated skills gathered from seemingly countless generations.

Teaching hand skills in order to bring enjoyment to one generation, and to pass on learnt skills to the next, is an important part of the story of hand craft in any discipline. Without teachers, generational skills would soon shrivel up and die, which is why individuals such as Pattie Graver are so important.

Pattie is a weaver who lives her passion. She sees weaving as being part of the essence of who we are, an integral part of our history, as well as our present-day culture, and therefore in many ways a birth-right to us all, and one that she can share with us if we wish to follow her into the world of weaving.

As a former Managing Editor of Handwoven magazine, Pattie was always well-placed to understand the passionate interest so many in our contemporary world have shown for learning basic, as well as more complex skills involved in hand-production. it is one of the main reasons for the publication of her brand new book Next Steps in Weaving.

This is a book that makes the fundamental practical understanding of weaving, its main drive. It is definitely a technical book, and one that makes the assumption that you have at least some prior knowledge of weaving. As the main title suggests, the book covers the next steps beyond the initial ones of warping up, and answers the often-used question of new weavers, where do I go next?

Pattie has added a useful subheading to her book What you Never Knew you Needed to Know, which very much sums up the emphasis of Next Steps in Weaving. There are main chapters that deal with weave structures and ideas such as twill, color-and-weave, overshot, summer and winter, lace. It also contains a seemingly infinite supply of sub-headings that cover everything that you could possibly want to know about moving forward with weaving projects. Diagrams, color photos, tips, and troubleshooting suggestions also abound, so it would be hard for anyone to lose their way when attempting any of the different sections within Patties book.

Each topic within the book is explained, and then supplemented with instructions for both a woven sample, as well as a more complex project. this is definitely not a book just giving a list of weaving patterns, it is a book that is meant to give you more experience, and with that, more confidence, which inevitably leads to being the springboard for personal projects.

Overall, this is a book for the enthusiastic learner, for the beginner who has passed through the very first initial steps of weaving, and who wants to move fully into the discipline, but it is also a book for those that want to make a connection with the past, as well as to make connections with the future. Pattie has produced an invaluable book that promotes, encourages, and projects her obvious love and affinity towards hand weaving.

This is an invaluable addition to nay hand weaver's reference library, and anyone buying the book will know that with Pattie they are in safe hands.

Coming in at 183 pages, Pattie's book is available from major outlets such as Amazon, as well as Interweave, who have generously published Pattie's book.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Issue 6 of Inspirational is released today

Just to let everyone know that the day has actually arrived at long last, and issue 6 of Inspirational is available for instant download from this site, just follow the link here, to be taken to the Inspirational page.

The artists in order of appearance are:

Christine Chester - fiber and mixed media artist
David Skillicorn - fine art painter
Jennifer McCurdy - ceramic artist
Gopika Nath - fiber artist
Chris Keegan - illustration and screenprint artist
Polly Jacobs Giacchina - fiber and mixed media sculptor
Russell Tomlin - fine art photographer
Terry Jarrard-Dimond - fiber and mixed media artist

Also included are two comprehensive book reviews featuring Stitch Stories by Cas Holmes, and Natural Processes in Textile Art by Alice Fox, both new titles, and both infinitely inspirational.

This particular issue come in at 167 pages, with 152 full colour photos.

I am really pleased with this issue, a lot of work has gone into it, as with every issue, and you are never quite sure how well it is really going to work, until you see it made up fully at the end. The artists work well together, despite their variety, in many ways their diversity works in Inspirational's favour, and I really like including the book reviews, which I think work really well with the theme of Inspirational, both being invaluable books for any working or aspiring artist.

It just leaves me to say thank you again to all of the artists, readers, friends, and supporters of the Inspirational project, a project which would not exist but for the generosity and selflessness of individuals around the planet. There are good people out there and I am forever grateful for that fact.

As always, all issues of Inspirational are available from here, and if anyone would like to sign up for the Inspirational mailing list in order to keep updated as to each upcoming issue of the magazine, then please feel free to sign up here

John x

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Inspirational Issue 6 - less than a week to go!

Illustration: Mosaic of the work of all eight artists featured in issue 6 of Inspirational

Less than a week to go until I launch issue 6 of Inspirational, release date September 15. Everything is in place, all the text written, images gathered, permissions granted, it is just a matter of putting it all into place as an issue.

For those who are unaware of the eight artists that will be featured in this upcoming issue, they are in order of appearance:

Christine Chester - fiber and mixed media artist
David Skillicorn - fine art painter
Jennifer McCurdy - ceramics artist
Gopika Nath - fiber artist
Chris Keegan - illustration and screenprint artist
Polly Jacobs Giacchina - fiber and mixed media sculptor
Russell Tomlin - fine art photographer
Terry Jarrard-Dimond - fiber and mixed media artist

All are leaders in their field, all have an interesting personal perspective on the world, all are highly creative artists, and all are both inspirational and aspirational. 

Also included in this coming issue is a first for Inspirational. I have included two book reviews of new titles just now available. The first is Stitch Stories by the fiber and mixed media artist Cas Holmes, who was actually featured as an artist in issue 5 of Inspirational. The other title is Natural Processes in Textile Art by the fiber artist and embroiderer Alice Fox. 

This may well be an ongoing feature as I have a book review earmarked for issue 7. I also have another first for issue 7, but more about that nearer the time.

I am excited about this release, as I have been about all the previous issues, but there have been some changes made in this coming issue that separates it to an extent, from those previous issues. For the first time I have allowed the artists themselves to choose the imagery that they wish to see in the issue. Therefore, all of the imagery that you will see in this issue has been specifically chosen by each of the featured artists. This is a feature that will now continue into all future issues.

I have also made sure that the photos are much sharper and clearer than they have been before. All the photos are now of a particular standard and will remain at that standard for all future issues. By raising the standard of the visuals, it has also raised the standard of Inspirational, which is now getting to the place that I want it to be. 

Inspirational was never meant to be a rival to any other creative arts magazine, they all have their unique place and all have their unique path to follow, as does Inspirational. I feel that Inspirational is beginning to find that place, and is definitely on a path. Inspirational was always meant to be part of a larger project, and that project will start to make itself known within the next few months. There is an Inspirational website on the way, which is going to give me much more room to release more projects under the umbrella of Inspirational, but that is for another day perhaps.

Until, then I leave you with less than a week to get yourself prepared to welcome issue 6 of Inspirational. As always, all other issues of Inspirational are available from the Inspirational page, which can be found by pressing the tab at the top of this page, just under the banner. You may also want to sign up for the Inspirational newsletter, which will give you information as to the progress of each issue as it unfolds.

Just time to say a big thank you to all of you who have bought, read, featured, liked, supported, praised the Inspirational project. Nothing like this would ever have been able to have been launched by me without the support of you all, and for that I will always be truly grateful. Thank you.

John x

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Inspirational, Issue 6

It is time to release the cover for issue 6 of Inspirational, which will be released on September 15. I am particularly pleased with the cover of the new issue, I have used the work of the artist Jennifer McCurdy who works in porcelain and produces the most extraordinary ethereal shapes, her piece couldn't be better fitted for the title of Inspirational, perfect!

As stated in the previous post, I have eight artists lined up to be featured in issue 6: Christine Chester, David Skillicorn, Jennifer McCurdy, Gopika Nath, Chris Keegan, Polly Jacobs Giacchina, Russell Tomlin, Terry Jarrard-Dimond. You never quite know whether they are all going to gel as one cohesive whole, so far in each issue they have, though with this particular issue they seem to be more connected than ever before, which is great news.

I have made some changes in the way that I gather imagery for Inspirational. This time round I have asked the artists to supply me with images that they wish to see appear with their article, rather than getting images directly from their respective websites.

Interestingly, a number of artists have taken the opportunity to supply me with images of new work, rather than the tried and tested, and that suits me fine, there is nothing better than being able to reveal new directions, or ongoing explorations of the artists own perspective, so I am grateful for that.

Another change is that I have made sure that all imagery is of a much higher calibre than has been available so far. This issue of Inspirational will see artists work in a much clearer, sharper, more concise detail than previously, all adding to the projection of the artist and their work, which is what a large part of this magazine is about, being a showcase for the artist and their work.

I am also adding a couple of book reviews for this coming issue, courtesy of the publisher Batsford. The titles are Stitch Stories: Personal Places, Spaces and Traces in Textile Art by the fiber/textile and mixed media artist Cas Holmes, and Natural Processes in Textile Art: From Rust Dyeing to Found Objects by the fiber/textile artist Alice Fox. I am looking forward to including those reviews in this next issue of Inspirational, an exciting addition to the issue.

All in all, I am feeling particularly confident about this next issue, it is definitely set to be the best so far, and so I am really excited for the release in September.

As always, if you are keen to see all of the issues of Inspirational, as well as more details about the Inspirational project in general, then please feel free to go to the dedicated Inspirational tab at the top of this page directly under the banner, that will take you directly to the Inspirational page where previous issues will always be available for purchase, you can also get yourself a free downloadable sample, a featured article about the work of the artist Jude Hill.

If you want to sign up for the free Inspirational newsletter, where you will get regular information regarding new issues of Inspirational before it is released on social media, then please feel free to sign up for the Inspirational newsletter.