Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mattias Adolfsson’s Wildly Intricate Sketchbook and Doodle Artworks

Mattias Adolfsson's Wildly Intricate Sketchbook and Doodle Artworks
// Colossal

Like a mad hybrid of Where's Waldo meets Dr. Seuss—with healthy doses of absurdity and science fiction—Swedish illustrator Mattias Adolfsson (previously) fills his sketchbooks and canvases edge to edge with his manically dense drawings of… well, just about anything you can imagine. Around the framework of a known destination such as a small village or the interior of a church, the artist populates nearly every square inch with bands of unruly characters, Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions, and overly complex spacesuits. The purpose of everything seems to be a mystery, but the time spent trying to understand it all is always rewarding, a first-glance view can turn into minutes of exploration as each piece slowly unravels like a story.

Adolfsson is as meticulous in the documentation and sharing of his work as the subject matter itself. You can follow his process and peek inside numerous sketchbooks on his website, where you can also find many of his drawings gathered into a series of books. He also shares prints and a few original watercolor works in his Etsy shop.


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dark Matter: The art of Santiago Caruso

Dark Matter: The art of Santiago Caruso
// Muddy Colors

The Lady of Haschisch
I've been a fan of Santiago Caruso's work for more than a decade now. I came across his work for the first time when I was 22 years old and, to witness such a talent on a guy my age (we were both born in 1982) was devastating. Completely heartbreaking. I'm 35 now, and I make a living as a full time Illustrator, but every time I see Santiago's beautiful, insightful work, I feel the same I did 13 years ago: Like absolute crap. Come on, you all know the feeling...

Creative Creature - Gouache - 2012
Creative Creature - Detail
For those of you who might not have heard of him, Caruso is a Painter/Illustrator from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and while his work is mainly associated with the dark/horror genre (to narrow it down) he has worked with a wide range of themes through his career, doing pieces that can be found in magazines, Illustrated books, book covers and album covers for several bands across the globe.

I won't bore you with a huge list, but if you want to know exactly which books, which Albums, or which magazines he's illustrated, here's a link to his Curriculum 

What I think is important here, what I think many of you will be happy to know, is the fact that Santiago has recently released a 192 page book, full color, Hardcover, with a selection of his work from the past 15 years. This book is "Materia Oscura – Dark Matter", and it's absolutely beautiful (in a very special and haunting way).

Cover of "Materia Oscura - Dark Matter"
Beside of his works, the book includes a few texts from Santiago himself, both in English and Spanish (Although the content of the book is 90% images). You can take a quick look at the interior pages in this video.

I got the chance to talk a bit with Santiago and here's what he has to say about the book:

Styria - Scratch - 2014
"I wanted to gather all the art that I made for covers and other single projects with my absolute free creations, all together in the same corpus, separately of my other illustrated books, you can find with many artworks. During the process of selection, I find that the book could be a manifest, a new body that represents the work of art I've been doing for 15 years. So the art is not ordered as a catalogue, it is displayed as some kind of poetic thesis, and then the need of the writings intervening the series of images."

Looking at the quality of the book (The paper and printing is impeccable), it's hard to imagine that the book was fund by himself. No crowdfunding, no backup from a publisher.

"As all the thing was a personal creation, I didn't want to call a publisher to release it. The idea, selection, display, design, calibration of color, writing, printing and part of the distribution. I had savings to cover the printing costs, and I used those to avoid the whole complication of crowdfunding."

Styria - Detail
As mentioned above, Santiago has worked with a wide range of themes and genres, but it's worth mentioning that the selection of images in this book includes mostly his darker works.

"Yes, I've started doing children illustration. However, my heart is with the fantastique and decadent symbolism, since I've read Marcel Schwob, Poe, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and many others. It is literature what ties my step into many territories that show us the fissures of the order we put over reality".

"I believe that the strange perspective that the genre of horror opens in our vision is a key to discuss the order and the corsets of injustice. MATERIA OSCURA - Dark Matter, is about that. The artworks I've been creating talk about that."

Album cover for Big John Bates - "From the Bestiary to the Leathering Room"

Juventud Pasionaria
One of the think I like the most about Caruso's work is that it doesn't fall in the many clichés of the horror genre. There's always a haunting quality in his images, but never in an obvious way. What is also an unusual choice for a young illustrator is the medium he tends to use the most : The scratching.

"Since 2002 I developed a special mixture of techniques on the line of ink and scratch, washing or scratching with hard brushes, using rags, rubbers, etc. The other line of work, of color schemes, is done with gouache, mostly."

"The technique of ink and scratch offers me the chance to explore the darkness and to use the liquid shapes of the ink to have a background of influence, a space to move into. There, I can extract some things from the dark, and bring them into a style that is related to old engravings, a kind of art I love so much."

Zottique, Empire of Nigromancers
Sucubo - Sketch

When asked about his influences Santiago states "I think I can mention Kent Williams, Mike Mignola and Quique Alcatena and Jorge Zaffino from comics. Klimt, Mucha, Goya, Kupka, Redon and Nerdrum from painting. I would be satisfied if something from their sensibility and wisdom remains on my artwork"

"Materia Oscura - Dark Matter" is a limited edition of 1000 copies and it's available for purchase here. If you have any questions regarding the shipping costs, you can get in touch with the distributors here. I already have my copy and I strongly recommend you to get yours.

Caruso is one of those artists who seemed to know who he was from a very young age. It's rare to find a young artist with such mature and vast body of work on his back, excellent craftsmanship and such a personal and complex visual language. The guy is 35 years old and has already an artbook with almost 15 years of work!

As a bonus track, and to show you Santiago's range of styles, I'll leave you with a selection of works from when he's not visiting the dark side. Because he's good at that, too.

Mujer al Poder


Over the Berlin Wall


To get in touch with Santiago Caruso, you can write him at:

You can also follow him on Facebook and Instagram

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Google Arts and Culture: Art Collection

Google Arts and Culture: Art Collection
// Free Technology for Teachers

This is the second post in a series about Google Arts and Culture. In the first post, we took a look at the history of the project. Today we are going to explore some of the ways to access the artists and galleries. To access the menu of options you will need to click on the "hotdog" menu on the upper left corner of your screen once you open Google Arts and Culture.

Collections- This option lets you explore collections of art from hundreds of museums from around the world. When you open a collection from one of the museums you will see items in their collection that you can view by popularity, the year they were created, or color family. Information about the museum is available in this view as well including hours of operation and a link to the official website for the museum. In many instances when you open a collection you will see a little yellow Pegman icon. This indicates you can explore the collection by touring the museum using Street View. It is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the experience. The Musee d'Orsay is just one example of how this works. Click on Pegman to jump into the museum then navigate using the arrows, selecting an image from the tray, or by jumping around on the floorplan.

Artists- This is the best way to search the collection if you are searching for a particular artist. You will find biographical information as well as all of their items. Each of these collections can be shared directly to Google Classroom using the sharing button.

Mediums- If you are looking for a specific medium this is a great way to search the entire website for those pieces. There are well over 200 options which help narrow your search to very specific results. For example, there are numerous items for clothing including cotton, leather, gauze, nylon, wool, felt, satin, and velvet.

Art movements- This is one of my favorite ways to search Google Arts and Culture because I can rearrange the items by when they were created. It's fascinating to compare what artists were creating during different world events or to compare works from different artists during the same time period.

Applications for Education

Google Arts and Culture is such a versatile product and it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and used in many different subjects. Art can be used in math to teach about shapes and patterns. Social studies teachers can use art as a visual way to teach about what was happening around the world during different periods of time. It goes without saying this can be a very powerful way to get students interested in art.

This video demonstrates how to navigate using Pegman. There is no sound on this video.

This post originally appeared on Free Technology for Teachers if you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission.


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Eye Candy for Today: Rembrandt lion drawing

Eye Candy for Today: Rembrandt lion drawing
// lines and colors

Lion Resting, Turned to the Left; Rembrandt van Rijn; ink and wash drawing
Lion Resting, Turned to the Left; Rembrandt van Rijn

Pen and brown ink, brown wash; roughly 5 1/2 x 8 inches (14 x 20cm).

Link is to WikiArt, which has a downloadable file (choose "Original, 1600×1067"); there is also a cropped version on Wikipedia. The original is supposed to be in the Louvre, Paris, but the Louvre website is so terrible, I can't find it, only a reference to a show in which it was included.

Rembrandt's drawings are among my favorites in all of art history, and this seemingly simple drawing of a lion is among my favorites of his drawings.

Rembrandt did a number of lion drawings, presumably of the same animal. This one stands out, however.

It has the calligraphic elegance of Chinese ink painting, but over the classical draftsmanship of the premiere Dutch master.

The rough, gestural application of wash succinctly defines the lion's head and mane, giving them an impression of texture, as well.

I love the implied geometric strength with which he's noted the lion's rear leg, suggesting the structural anatomy of the skeleton, the fluid sweep of the tail and the fierce but composed expression of the captive animal.

I'm sure to Rembrandt, this was just a sketch, a visual notation of something he found interesting, but it's completely satisfying as a finished work of art.



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Sunday, November 12, 2017

70sscifiart:Bernie Wrightson

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Reference Sketching.

Reference Sketching.
// Pencil and Leaf

This last week I went out most days to make small sketches of the trees for the book. I find that just a short time sketching is a million times better than working from photos. Making a sketch, especially on a very cold day, requires you look hard and make fast, hopefully intuitive, decisions. So you tend to record just the essence of tree, very useful for the woodcuts which will have to be bold and simplified.

Also I have to say that once I have sketched something I understand much more about the thing, how it is put together, what interests me about it and I remember all those things more easily, especially if I make notes. I am in a hurry too because I need to draw the trees before they all lose their leaves. I need to make sure I draw the right tree. My bark ID skills are not brilliant.


Hazel and Lime


Alder and Elm




I have a tight deadline so I also took the woodblock out to draw directly from the elder tree. This old, much pruned, tree has snaky spotted branches which twist back on themselves. Wonderful and slightly sinister as befits the magical elder!

The tree prints will be based on trees I know well, what I like about them and what I know about them. A personal view rather than an archetype. I have discovered that one elm can look very different from another :). 


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Wednesday, November 8, 2017