Tag Archive | Black & White

Elizabeth Yoo x Alain Robbe-Grillet

What do you get when you cross one masterful filmmaker with another masterful artist? You get more art, of course! I recently chatted to the talented creative, Elizabeth Yoo, about her recent work that uses the erotic cinema of Alain Robbe-Grillet as muse. Yoo’s expressive artwork is a treat on its own but, incase you are yet to meet, let me introduce you to Robbe-Grillet in the clip below. Yoo’s interview and artwork follows.

Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about your series of paintings based on the films of Alain Robbe-Grillet. I’ve actually never seen his films, as embarrassing as it is to say, but I’ll definitely be checking them out soon. 

It was the first series I’d ever done and it was also the first time I’d picked up a paintbrush in several years. But I guess I needed that long hiatus from making art in order for me to expand my frame of reference, collect my inspirations, see what my true interests really were. This series was kind of a rebirth for me. Through painting my interpretations of these scenes from the first four films Robbe-Grillet directed (L’Immortelle, Trans-Europ-Express, The Man Who Lies, Eden and After), I was coming into my own. I felt like I was finally freed from inhibitions. These paintings are not just scenes from films—I also see them as self-portraits. They communicate my own desires. Although more widely known as a writer, pioneer of the nouveau roman (“new novel”), and a screenwriter, his films deserve to have a wider audience. I’m drawn to the ambiguity of his films– the line between reality and fantasy is indistinguishable. And of course, I’m drawn to the sadomasochistic eroticism and this desire mixed with fear present in most of his films.

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What about sexuality in art do you find appealing? Who are artists that you feel perfect the art of eroticism? I’ve always loved Egon Schiele and you can find newcomer Kaethe Butcher on most erotic art sites, she’s taking the world by storm.

Egon Schiele is definitely one of my favourite artists. His aggressive, expressionistic style heightens the eroticism of his paintings. The angular bodies, the bones jutting out, pale skin marked by bright spots of red or blue that look like smears, eyes looking directly at the viewer, intertwined lovers: you really feel the energy. Another favorite painter of mine is Balthus, whose style is kind of the opposite of Schiele—there’s a calmness and a stillness to the figures in his paintings. There are defined, domestic backgrounds unlike Schiele’s work which has all this negative space. Kaethe Butcher is fantastic. Her style is incredibly provocative and I love the way she incorporates text into her drawings.

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You use a limited colour palate in your work, does this act as a vehicle to explore darker undertones in your subjects? Or is it purely an aesthetic/style preference? 

I think I express myself better in black and white than in colour. Black is the colour of nighttime and sensuality—perfect for my subject matter. I don’t have to think as much when using only black paint and ink—I can transmit all my raw emotions onto the paper without hesitation or forethought; spontaneity is key in my work. When I use colour, I’m usually drawn to bright, primary colours– but I worry if the colours will work together. Sometimes the cheerful colours contrast with my dark themes— I like that disparity.

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Eros And After: Pleasure & Pain in the Films of Alain Robbe-Grillet was your first solo exhibition. How did you find the process? Was selecting the final work for display difficult or are you a total planner? How did outcomes meet expectations? 

Originally, I was going to paint scenes from several more of his films. But due to lack of time, I ended up only doing his first four films—and I like that limited focus. I’m happy with how I ended up with twenty paintings. The perfect symmetry: we hung ten paintings from the ceiling on one side and ten on the other. I tend to over-plan and since it was my first show, a lot of stress was definitely involved! But I was very happy to see that people who came to my exhibit understood the work and saw how powerful and in control of their sexuality the women in the paintings are.

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Your second exhibition is underway as I write this. How does this compare with your first exhibition? 

The audience is very different and the way in which my paintings were exhibited is also very different. The walls of the gallery at my second exhibition are coloured (blue, orange, and magenta) so I feel like that becomes part of the artworks and changes how they look, which is interesting. At my first exhibit at Holyrad Studio in Brooklyn, we showed one of Robbe-Grillet’s films during the reception—so the audience (mostly twenty-something year olds) got a really full experience. At my second exhibit at Home Art Gallery in Long Island– it’s a suburban area and it’s an area with people of all ages, so the reaction was a bit different. Most of the Robbe-Grillet paintings were shown, as well as other artworks of mine with thematic and stylistic similarities. Most of the people at both exhibits had never seen a Robbe-Grillet film—so it was a pleasure for me to introduce them! I was able to meet Robbe-Grillet’s widow (and a very famous dominatrix in France) Catherine Robbe-Grillet twice shortly after my show and she told me I was “converting” people into “Alain fans”—so my work was done!

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How important do you think exhibiting work is as an artist, especially given the plethora of online spaces art can be showcased these days?

I think it’s extremely important because you don’t get a real sense of the size, texture, and detail in a work of art unless you see it in person. I like to stand for a long time in front of an artwork when I’m at a gallery because I try to see the artist’s process: the brushstrokes they made, how many layers of paint they used, etc. It’s a totally different experience, too, seeing an entire series or a body of work in a gallery—you’re totally in that artist’s world and there’s almost a private communion between you and the artworks. Online,you may get a more scattered, incomplete experience.

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You obviously love film. Can you recommend five films and/or directors to us? 

Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Trans-Europ-Express (which I screened at my first show) is very playful and sexy—about a film-within-a-film. A director (played by Alain Robbe-Grillet himself), a script supervisor (played by his wife Catherine), and a producer, riding the Trans-Europ-Express from Paris to Antwerp, discuss ideas for a crime movie about a man who will travel on the same train they are on. This character, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, smuggles cocaine into Antwerp and becomes involved with a prostitute played by Marie-France Pisier. The two have daytime trysts involving sadomasochisticplay that eventually become fatal.

Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï. Melville is my absolute favourite director—a Frenchman who loved American gangster films and film noir, like me—this film stars my favourite actor Alain Delon playing a quiet hit man who follows the code of a samurai.

Roger Vadim’s Barbarella: Jane Fonda in some of the sexiest costumes ever. I adore her combination of innocence and total lack of shame about her sexuality. Campy fun. Shirley Clarke’s The Connection. I worked with director Immy Humes on an upcoming documentary about Shirley, who was an independent filmmaking rebel. My favourite film of Clarke’s is about a group of jazz musicians jamming in this Greenwich Village apartment as they wait for their drug dealer to come. A documentary film crew shoots them and it raises all sorts of questions about “realism.”

Agnès Varda’s Le Bonheur—absolutely beautiful, colourful film about a happily married couple, which takes a devastating turn after the man cheats on his wife. I really love the disparity between the colours and this dark undercurrent.

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From your website I can see you are a total all-rounder when it comes to creativity! I love this. I also dabble in many art/creation forms. I’ve often felt the pressure to pick one art-form to focus on and excel in. Can you relate to similar concepts? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by having such an active mind? 

I often do feel very overwhelmed! I have terrible insomnia due to my overactive mind. I often do most of my work into the night because I have no sense of time passing. My other passion besides painting is writing. I write very dark, twisted noir stories, psychological thrillers—a bit like Patricia Highsmith—and stories that fuse eroticism with horror. Once I am completely happy with my stories (I’m too much of a perfectionist which is why it takes me so long to complete a story!) I will eventually post them on my website with an illustration to accompany each story. My goal is to find a way to link my love of visual art with my writing.

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See more of Elizabeth’s work on her website.

Lina

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There’s something really powerful about this image by Marco Michieletto. The whole series (available here) has a very sensual energy but this image has a darker side that made me love it. The black and white colouring, amazing setting and pose and expression model Lina delivers all work together to make a piece of art. I just had to share! Hope you are all having a good week and getting through Mercury Retrograde… My computer keeps restarting itself with no warning…better post this lest I lose it! xx

Genital Panic

valie export

Valie Export’s photograph Action Pants: Genital Panic shows her sitting with genitals exposed while pointing a gun at the viewer. Export’s work draws attention to the ideas of phallic power and whether it truly comes from biology or can be attained otherwise. Export showcases her lack of penis by exposing her own vagina but reclaims the gun as her phallic object and power. It was rumoured that this photograph came after a live performance, where Export walked around people seated in a theatre, her vagina at their eye-level, and pointed a gun at them while offering sex until the theatre was empty. This imagery reminds me of the film Magic, Magic where, post-hypnotism, the female protagonist walks into the room of a man who has been sexually harassing her (verbally) and rubs her naked vagina in his face, all while being asleep. The woman has no recollection of events the next day and appears mortified when the man confronts her about it. This scene acts to remind us that such overt sexuality is not ‘acceptable’ in a woman with both male anger and female humiliation driving this. Export’s photograph works in the opposite way, purposefully pairing femininity with macho aggression (common in a lot of her work) to blur set gender boundaries.

Performance artist and photographer, Claire Doyle, recently paid homage to Export’s work in her performance piece Habitual Body Monitoring: The Costume. Doyle draws attention to female body hair through her performance which you can watch above. The acceptance and freedom of female body hair has been gaining support in recent years with other artists like Petra Collins and Rhiannon Scnhiederman springing to mind.

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weapon Rhiannon Schneiderman

Stephen Swartz

Firstly, I just want to acknowledge how cool it would be to have ‘art’ somewhere in my name. Lucky for Stephen, not so lucky for me. Stephen SwARTz is an analogue photographer who studied the craft well before digital was around. His work dates from the late 90s to the present but most of his work carries this 90s energy. I would put this down to the look of the women Stephen uses in his work, although I’m sure the analogue technique plays a part. It is pretty rare these days, with my beloved Ellen Rogers being the main contemporary analogue photographer I am aware of. I have chosen a selection of images from Stephen’s portfolio that appeal to me the most but I would recommend taking a look yourself to fully absorb yourself in his intent. Soft female forms are juxtaposed with geometric architecture to comment on the contrast between organic figures and structured forms and, on a deeper level, intuition and rationale. Stephen uses female figures to express his own feelings as a man, allowing him to explore his own emotional state – something he notes men often try to push down. It is important to respect the skill and patience it takes to work as an analogue photographer, especially in the age where digital technology runs rampant. I’m not one to talk, being a digital artist myself after all. I suppose at the end of the day, the most important thing is to simply acknowledge and respect art, both as the end form, as well as the techniques used to get there. I hope you enjoy these striking photographs. I just adore the first image and find some connections to William Mortensen’s work in a few of the others. Delightful.

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Francesca Woodman

I love the connections between these photographs by Francesca Woodman. Both are feminist pieces (and obviously stunning!) in my opinion. The first positions Woodman’s girl-like face and ribbon with a more developed body through breasts and underarm hair. I really dig this part of the image because it is really quite subtle but entirely transforms the image from look at me to what are you looking at? So much strength and power as woman is conveyed.

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The second image is cropped in a similar way and while the subject matter is also similar it expresses another concept. The idea of submission and rape come to my mind. Woodman’s face and body language retreat, her arms up and blank face saying ‘take me’, ‘do what you want with me’. Her hands scream I am innocent, don’t shoot through a familiar gesture, but the painted hand on Woodman’s chest indicates violation, unacknowledged hands. We can tell it is her hand that she has painted around, but ideas of other hands touching her come to mind. Combined with her submissive position, and the police aspects (hands up, painted body outline from crime scenes) this adds a sinister aspect which really makes the image so amazing. Francesca Woodman, you were one talented photographer. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, we are lucky.

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David Bray

David Bray is one truly talented artist. His amazing pen and pencil drawings are detailed and emotive, making them significant both for the technique and content. I have selected a few pieces that appeal to me, but with such a great portfolio you really should check out his other work where you can see more variety in mediums. I love drawings that are evocative. The way Bray balances detail with raw artistry results in his work being a captivating, aesthetic experience that is most certainly evocative. Enjoy!

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Shaina Hedlund

I just love this image by photographer, Shaina Hedlund. I find it one of the best photo-layering images I have seen in a while. I think there is something about this style that is always powerful and evocative, as well as often being very clever and always worth sharing. Enjoy this stunning image and enjoy the weekend that is upon us (yay)!

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Dark

Here’s a quick curation of five images that work beautifully with each other. They are all a little dark and mysterious as well as being utterly feminine. In order: Ellen Rogers, Feline ZegersPaulina Otylie SurysMira Nedyalkova and Sam Weber.

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Shen Plum

I stumbled upon Shen Plum‘s work today and was rather happy to have done so. As an illustrator, Plum has a lovely, varied portfolio which you can see here. I have selected three pieces that I enjoyed that also fit within The Visual Female’s aesthetic. Overall, her work is quite playful and fresh, which is never a bad thing! This first piece was done for Bitch Magazine, which is pretty cool! (Check out the mag if you are unfamiliar – lots of great articles and feminist opinions to keep your brain ticking). Enjoy xx

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Suji Park

Suji Park is a freelance photographer based in South Korea. Her work is enigmatic, enchanting and very beautiful. Women and nature meet in dreamy settings that are carefully framed to create careful variety and interest. Suji creates many photographic series which communicate with the viewer. I have only chosen a selection of her work here, so you must check out her website to fully experience her intent. You can also check out her Facebook page to stay up to date with her latest projects, which I would highly recommend.

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Beauties

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I came across this image today in a blog post showcasing historical images that reflected the changing times and the enduring humanity of people. Some pieces were serious while others were of a more humorous nature, like the four person bicycle that allowed Mum to sit down and continue working on her sewing machine while the family peddled around. (I wonder why that never took off?). Among the selection of images this picture stood out to me. The caption said these were winners in a 1922 beauty pageant and then went on to comment about the changing ideals of beauty. I found that a bit disappointing, because what makes this photo stand out to me is the women’s attitudes towards beauty, rather than whether they are supposed to be fatter, taller, shorter… or whatever the author’s comment was meant to indicate. (I really don’t know). What makes this image worthy of being shared is the wonderful carelessness both winners exhibit. The woman on the left looks away, rather disinterested in the whole thing (looks like there might be a boy she’s eyeing up) and our staunch lady on the right stares out at the camera with complete authority backed up by her open, yet unapproachable body language. There are no false smiles or over-enthusiastic gushing at the ‘honour’ of being crowned good-looking by some panel of (let’s assume, ugly) old men. These women’s attitudes towards the whole charade that is beauty is so refreshing, which makes it even more of a shame that pageants have gone from this to what we know now.

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Move Monday: Lulu vs. Gaga

I found this mash-up on YouTube and was pretty impressed. I’m not always a fan of Lady Gaga’s music and had never heard this song before, but it is pretty catchy and the lyrics work well with the images of Lulu (Louise Brooks) from Pandora’s Box (Pabst, 1929). As you probably know, I love Louise Brooks. She is so captivating and enigmatic in a photograph and is even better in motion. For me, Brooks epitomises the Scorpio actor/actress. So much charisma, emotion and sincerity. Consider what your mind goes to when it thinks ‘black and white movie’ and then compare that with the fluid images you are about to see. A pity she wasn’t allowed to do more (cut out when the ‘talkies’ arrived), but such a privilege to be able to see her move, smile and shine as our cheeky yet passionate Lulu.

Enjoy xx

Ahh Louise…

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Hadassi Reuben

London-based photographer, Hadassi Reuben is something special. Her amazing work takes on a dreamy, ethereal nature through her use of forest-like environments and natural light (often shooting at sunrise). Drawing inspiration from Romanticism, you can certainly tell Reuben is re-imagining a time gone by. When her subjects aren’t dressed in vintage costume, the style of her photography works to transform the images to a different era. The combination of nature and femininity makes Reuben’s work perfect for The Visual Female, but also creates a very accessible, understated beauty that I imagine would appeal to a wide audience. I could easily see any of her photographs framed in large-scale looking amazing in a variety of homes. Her work reminds me a little bit of Nishe, who I shared not so long ago. One main difference would be that Nishe uses colour whereas all of Reuben’s work is in black and white. But as I mentioned in my The Black and White Image post, I am a huge fan of black and white. There is some sort of magic it creates. A pleasure to share such amazing, pure photography.

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Fashion Week with Conrad Roset

Pretty impressed with the work Conrad Roset is producing for London Fashion Week. Prints are now available for sale which I would highly recommend checking out. They are all really superb and I like the added edge they have over some of his other work. Here’s a few sneak peaks, but honestly go have a look and splash out and buy something if you can!

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Nishe

I found the photography of Nishe and was quickly in love with the beauty of it. Soft, feminine focus and dreamy subject matter make for stunning images that I would happily display on my walls. Her website has a great selection of work, as well as deals on prints and links to other web presence. I selected some images I quite like, but as you can imagine it was hard to limit it to just a few.

Photography can be so amazing and capture the essence of a painting which is quite unreal. Nishe’s work certainly delivers on this while also evoking great wonder and beauty. I hope to find more photographers like her. So do let me know if you know any similar by leaving a comment. I would love to showcase more photography in this style.

For now, enjoy these delightful images and get carried away in the beauty.

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Happy New Year!

Happy new year lovely readers! I hope you have had a bit of a relax (or party-time if that’s more of what you were desiring!) over the Christmas and New Year period. I took a break from art and blogging, had some days at my day job (how appropriate), and did a bit of family holidaying. Not too bad. I am looking forward to 2014 and hope that with the influence of Neptune that it will be a dreamy, feminine and creative year. I’m also into my moon year in my cycle, which might make my creative juices take a feminine approach as well. I’m excited to see what art I create and if this is different from my sun year.

I didn’t really set any resolutions, but I want to continue all the good I did in 2013, as well as push my art onto the world (watch out) and try to get some pieces into shops and stuff like that. I want to have a group or solo exhibition too! And I also want to reach a wider audience here, as well as work on my writing and connections with other creatives. Hey, look at me, no superficial resolutions! That makes me proud. Oh, and I want to try to help out the world a little bit more, ideally in some area related to women’s rights. Wish me luck! And I wish you all the best with whatever endeavors you set yourself for the year that is 2014.

I thought what better way to kick off the new year than with a pic of the stunning Kate Moss (digitally edited by me)? With Moss being a Capricorn it seems the ideal way to get into the swing of things. Enjoy and all the best for the year ahead xx

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Bernhard Handick

Loving the photography and mixed-media collage from Bernhard Handick. His work is interesting and sensual, and just what I feel like looking at today. Hopefully you enjoy it too! One piece reminds me of an image by Richard Prince that I shared a while back, see if you can find the connection x

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Simone Klimmeck

Berlin-based artist Simone Klimmeck creates stunning illustration and mixed-media works. Her aesthetic is feminine and fierce at the same time which gets The Visual Female’s seal of approval. Beauty, colour and texture bring these pieces to life. I love the combination of grayscale media with the vibrant prints and patterns Klimmeck chooses. To see more of her work visit her website.

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Rod Luff

I’m loving the amazing, vibrant work of Sydney-based artist, Rod Luff. Beauty dominates these pieces, alongside neon colour and whimsical animals. What more could you want to liven up your Monday? Enjoy these lovely pieces, and see more at his Facebook or Tumblr pages.

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XOOOOX

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XOOOOX is a street artist from Berlin. His work is pretty wonderful – not only in aesthetics, but also because of what he is trying to communicate. Beautiful women stenciled onto grubby walls and surfaces. They are life-sized – I can only imagine their impact in real life. He takes photographs of models, styles and directs them how he wants, and uses them for his stencils. The message he wants to share: the beautiful illusion of the fashion industry with the alternate, commercialised reality.  The women vs. the wood.

I find this quote explains him a little better than I can (my impressions are only recent).

“Beguilingly beautiful, XOOOOX’s women convey a sense of melancholy and introversion and allude to the growing displeasure with the uniform, consumption-driven hype of the fashion industry. Using transitory media such as exposed building facades, worm-eaten wood, rotting fabric and rusty metal, XOOOOX grounds this apparently glamorous theme in the street, but the artist’s aim is not to deconstruct fashion culture. XOOOOX pays homage to traditional haute couture while levelling criticism at the over-industrialization of fashion as a cultural artefact of our time.”*

I like the visual impact and style of the work, and coupled with the message, find his work fresh and interesting. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what is next for the man with no name, XOOOOX.

*See the rest of the feature on XOOOOX here

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Elsa Isabella – Paper Dolls

I am so in love and so impressed by what Elsa Isabella can do. Her work is truly amazing. Not only is the subject matter great (who doesn’t love a Pin-up girl?) but the size she works in just blows me away. They are so small! Yet so wonderfully detailed. The quality of her work is amazing, especially when you see the scale she is working in. It’s hard to draw small even with a fine pen, but I would find it even harder in charcoal. I don’t know what else to say other than that I am so impressed. So, I am truly happy to be sharing her work here today. You must like her on Facebook where you can see a whole lot more of her outstanding work (I mean, it was pretty hard to limit what I showed here today, so imagine how much more there is!) I have chosen some complete pieces, as well as in progress shots because they look pretty great too. Enjoy xx

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Friday the 13th

It’s Friday the 13th! This doesn’t really impact me (apart from a few friends to wish happy birthday to, and $13 pizzas at my favourite pizza place). However, I thought I may as well put together some horror inspired images (13 seemed appropriate). I do quite love horror movies (especially Rob Zombie films), and while horror art can be pretty cool, it’s not really something I can imagine hanging in my home. It is something I would be interested in trying for myself though, so maybe these pieces can be inspiration. Enjoy, and enjoy whatever you are up to today, spooky or otherwise! xx

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Emanuele Cassina

Italian photographer Emanuele Cassina creates very sensual and evocative photographs. I love the softness and peacefulness in the images. Another positive is how they are erotic without being overly sexual or low brow. In fact, they are quite the opposite. Always a pleasure to share such beautiful photography. Enjoy x

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Yong Sung Heo

I’m loving these paintings by Yon Sung Heo, especially the top piece. It’s so wonderfully creepy. The pale skin combined with the Asian features is quite delicious. The clothing and the environment make it extra creepy and it is an overall cool piece of art. It reminds me of a scene from a book I have been reading lately. While the subject matter isn’t entirely the same, the idea of a strange (slightly demonic) adolescent half-dressed surrounded by nature rings true. All she needs is to be covered in leeches. Enjoy these delightfully unusual pieces.

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A little naughty.

This series by Richard Prince takes black and white photographs of an erotic nature and simply adds CD/DVD labels from famous albums or movies. Each label adds a new context to the image and also works to cover up certain naughty bits. I like the really raw aspect to the pieces, especially when they have hand drawn numbers or details on the edges. Prince also uses self-control when choosing what labels to the add to the images. I can imagine it would be easy to go towards more overt titles that would either be ironic or too literal. Prince shows restraint making the pieces interesting and engaging rather than making them seem like porn titles.

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What do you think? Do you like these pieces? Can you think of better titles that you may have used? As always, feel free to let me know. I love comments xx

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Mercurial

We are almost nearing the end of Mercury retrograde – thank goodness! For those of you that don’t know about Mercury retrograde, here’s a brief rundown. About three times a year, the planet Mercury starts turning in a backward motion which begins to cause some havoc. Mercury governs communication and transportation, so in retrograde you may notice that issues arise surrounding these matters. Examples of such include computers crashing, missing appointments, buses running late, things going missing and so on. Essentially, it is not such a flash time of the year. Mercury is a bit of a trickster, so if you have noticed things going a little weird you can start to relax, as retrograde will finish in the 20th of July, and things will start to go back to normal. I find Gala Darlings run down of retrograde pretty good, so check it out here. Plus, retrograde isn’t all bad, as Gala explains.

Like myself, Gala is a Virgo. This may explain why she has an interest in Mercury retrograde, as Mercury is the ruling planet of both Virgo and Gemini. And this means that us Virgos, and all those Geminis out there, feel the effects of retrograde quite a bit harder than the other signs of the zodiac. I haven’t had too many issues this time, but have had hard-drives break and other serious mishaps in the past. Although, I have to wonder about where my emails are going lately… I am not getting the usual replies, which is making progression quite difficult. But nevermind, enough about me. Here are a few artists that may be feeling, or could have felt, the effects of Mercury retrograde. Yes, they are all Virgos or Geminis.

Virgo

Joel-Peter Witkin – September 13, 1939

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Jen Mann – September 17, 1987

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Man Ray – August 27, 1890

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Gemini

John Baldessari – June 17, 1931

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Egon Schiele – June 12, 1890

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Diego Velazquez – June 6, 1599

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Jennifer Madden

Jennifer Madden is an English illustrator, designer, and fine artist that makes work that I just adore. Her pencil sketches are refreshing – having a beautiful raw, natural energy – something that can sometimes get lost under the search of perfection. Her paint work is also exquisite and maintains the same energy. A lot of her work focuses on children or young girls and incorporates a connection to nature, such as an animal. In some pieces this is as simple as holding a rabbit, but in others it can be incorporating antlers into a headband of sorts. The girls seem to always have their heads adorned with animal features or oversized bows. It is fun and frivolous, but the essence of each piece also has a withdrawn, muted aspect. The girls look historical in some pieces which adds an allure of mystery. What is their story? Where do they belong? Like all good art, Madden balances beauty with an aura of wonderment that makes you want to linger on the pieces. A definite star in my opinion. You can see more of her work on her beautiful website.

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Alice in Aotearoa

Sorry I haven’t been posting for a while – the internet hasn’t been quite up to speed, so I figured I would save the frustration and wait ’til it was better (which is today!) Having slow internet can be annoying, but also rather helpful in terms of getting stuff-you-need-to-do-but-are-too-lazy-to-do done. Without that temptation of the web, one can get back to those things we used to do. In my instance, I started reading my book again (what joy), and worked on a design to submit to The Kiwi Diary 2014. I hadn’t really heard of The Kiwi Diary before, but saw it on The Big Idea – my favourite website for finding creative opportunities in New Zealand. I must have saved the info before the internet went dawdling, so I could read all the info offline and begin to work on a piece to enter. The Kiwi Diary takes all sorts of stuff that represents or relates to New Zealand and then curates a selection to go in the final diary – it can be poems, illustrations, recipes, tips and tricks and so on. Unsurprisingly, I sought about making an illustration. The result is what I called Alice in Aotearoa, which you can see below.

Alice in Aotearoa - Anna McKay

I ended up working in Illustrator and digitally adding to a scanned pen drawing I had done recently. To me, the piece always had a sort of Alice in Wonderland essence. I have another version where I made the traditional Alice connection more apparent, and you may get to see that one day (just not today). But I decided that it would be fun to see if I could connect the piece with New Zealand (which is called Aotearoa in Maori). I added some native insects and a touch of  Maori symbolism and, to my delight, created what I strongly see as Alice in Aotearoa. I have sent it away to be judged and hopefully it will have a special place in The Kiwi Diary 2014. If not, I am happy to have made it.

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Bette Davis

I’m posting this painting I did a few years ago, today, because somebody (somebody cool) purchased a print from my Etsy store. Woohoo! I made an Etsy store ages ago, and only put up a few pieces that I have printed already (but more to come soon). I had almost forgotten that I had done this, when I received notification that I had sold my Bette Davis print. So, I thought I may as well share this image with my viewers.

Bette

It’s a lovely, simple painting that I did quite a while ago when I was rekindling my love for art. While I studied art at high school, I focused on still life and abstract art. Only when I left school and began more self-taught art did I start painting people (well, just women… what a surprise). In my third year of University I developed a renewed passion for art and anything creative. I was loving my film studies, writing interesting essays on all sorts of creative topics, and teaching myself how to paint women. I began with some classic actresses whom I was then watching in class. They were the perfect place to begin, and allowed my minimal resources (paper, black paint, a few brushes) to flourish. What better way to translate black and white movie actresses than in black and white? During that year I also experimented with women in colour, and while I like what I produced, it seems the public prefer my black and white pieces. Perhaps it’s the style, or the subject, or  the combination, but they seem to do alright.

I love this image and have the original hanging in my room. So, I am really glad that somebody else seems to agree! I hope the print brings them some joy. If you like this image, I have one small print left for sale on my Etsy store, as well as various prints and products you can purchase on Society6, and my most recent outlet, Redbubble.

Also, let me know if you like artwork like this, and whether or not I should dip my brush back in this style.

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Aneta Ivanova

A while ago I posted a piece called Layers, which looked at photo collage-like images that had a lot of depth in terms of layering within the piece. I recently came across these beautiful long exposure shots by Bulgarian photographer, Aneta Ivanova. They immediately reminded me of the images in Layers. I love them. They are so striking and each one is unique and special. The series is titled ‘Scars”, and is simply imprints of landscapes onto a human form (I think I’m solely showcasing female bodies here, but she does put them on men too!). Thinking of it now, the general concept is kind of similar to my recent post, Land + Face, in that a body/face is paired (primarily) with a landscape to create a compelling piece. Of course the results are different as different mediums create different results. Perhaps I am becoming too wishy-washy, getting drawn to feminine pieces that connect woman with nature (how generic!) and need to change it up with some gun-wielding robotic woman next time. Hah. Well, maybe something just a little bit fiercer will do. But enjoy these for the meantime xx

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P.S. If you love The Visual Female as much as I do, you can now follow on Twitter, like on Facebook and view on Pinterest.

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Land + Face

I found these two collages and was taken by the similarity between the two. The first piece is by Sammy Slabbink, and the second is by Clinton Santana. Both images take a beautiful, wintry landscape and connect it with a beautiful woman’s face. Both have paths in them – the bridge and then the track in the bottom image. Arguably, the top piece has a little more collage going on – the mountains sit above clouds, the bridge houses little people who conflict with the size of the main woman. Are they coming out or are the going in? I think it looks like they are coming out of her mouth, entering the world. The second piece is a little simpler, in that it appears only two or three pieces have been used in the collage. The bottom half of the image is a simple landscape, and at the top we have a starry night’s sky. In the middle the beautiful woman. But what made me stop and notice this piece was exactly who this woman was. I have her stuck to my kitchen door, so I am very familiar with her face. It is a piece from the “Semblance” series by HelloVon. I posted the image and some more from the series in a post called HelloVon almost a year ago. If you check out the post, you will be able to see how Santana has cut and pasted from the first piece.

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love both images, and it amazes me how something as simple as a collage can be so effective. Yet, I know that when I briefly tried to do my own collage, the result wasn’t as polished as these two pieces. I guess we are drawn to the art forms that connect to us individually, and while I love collage, it is not something I have really considered pursuing. But you never know, perhaps one day I will be as memorable for collage as the Dadaists.

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Barbie by Jansson

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I found these photographs taken for Vogue Paris by Swedish photographer, Mikael Jansson. What attracted me to them was how much they reminded me of Barbie dolls. The models (Diana Dondoe and Missy Rayder) appear so casual about being naked it is almost as if that is all they know. Much like Barbie, it seems their own bodies are desexualised and their nakedness is made very secondary. This is why the photography works so well – the product is emphasized through the very casualness of the naked bodies, and in doing so the product has nothing to compete with. Very clever work in my opinion. The models are shinned up to add a lovely glossy sheen to their skin which looks flawlessly beautiful, and very much plastic (hence the Barbie connection). In this first image the poses of the models (especially the one on the left) look rigid, as if the models (dolls) have been positioned manually and are unable to move themselves. And despite the models having beautiful figures, it is not their skinniness or shape that really makes them look like Barbie dolls, but rather how they are positioned, the colour choice, the way the light hits the skin making it shine, and how disconnected to their own bodies they appear. I think it is a wonderful accomplishment from Jansson.

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On another note, I found a black and white image (above) from the series which despite being more beautiful (in my eyes), completely loses the doll-like aspect. I find that without the colour, and with the shine diminished, that the models’ human quality returns and they appear as two naked girls hanging by the pool (seductively, of course). So I suppose in this instance colour photography really achieves something that is arguably otherwise unachievable through a black and white image. Normally I prefer black and white photography, so it is great for photographers like Jansson to impress me with the accomplishments of colour.

Zodiac

zodiacpiece

I’m quite a fan of astrology, so I am always interested in art that depicts signs of the zodiac. I stumbled upon this piece a while ago and while I can see many of the 12 signs, I’m not sure If I can see them all! Which is a little odd, and frustrating. Aires (The Ram) is top left, Pisces (The Fish) are bottom left, then it has to be Virgo (The Maiden) in the middle, which moves across to Sagittarius (The Centaur/Archer) in top right, Leo (The Lion) is clearly there in the bottom right corner along with Cancer (The Crab) and Libra (The Scales). But I believe that is all I can see! So who is left and why aren’t they there?! I’m missing Taurus (The Bull), Capricorn (The Sea Goat), Aquarius (The Water Bearer), Gemini (The Twins) and Scorpio (The Scorpion).

I wonder if this piece was designed for someone specific. Either these signs could be the strongest influences in their Natal Chart, or perhaps it was done for a family that comprises of the shown zodiac signs. I quite like this concept if it were to be the latter, or even the first. It really is beautiful as a piece of art, and then has a deeper meaning through the astrological aspects. From my experience, not all people are that open-minded to astrology, so I like the fact that it works as a piece on its own (to those non-believers) and to someone with knowledge of astrology. I think it would be so cool to do custom pieces like this for each of your children, as each piece would come out unique to them, and maybe they would even prefer their own piece aesthetically. Imagine being a small child and having this painted onto a whole wall in your room. It would be so magical and dreamy and then also tie in to your personal astrological attributes. Wow, I’m making myself excited. Hah. If I ever have children I am definitely doing this (lucky them!). And maybe hubby and I could have our own ones above the bed on the side we sleep on. Dreamy.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Feline

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P.S. There is still time to vote for design as seen in Vote for me!. Click on this link to vote – and don’t forget to tell your friends!

Vote for me!

Hey everyone! I was hoping you could do me a huge favour and go and vote for my design. I’m coming 11th in the competition which runs until the end of the month. Share with your friends, and help me get to the top! Although the top 10 get prizes, I would love to win it. $500 would be the perfect start to put towards my clothing design business I am formulating. If all my followers voted, I would have a chance! So be kind and I’m sure good karma will come your way! Vote here!

Below is the design I submitted. It is for a black and white t-shirt competition. So, if you like the design or just want to help me out, don’t forget to vote! Thanks followers!! xx

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Layers

I love how much digital technology can offer art and design. There is literally so much we can do with visual images to enhance and alter them. Here is a small selection of collage style pieces that use what I collectively call ‘layers’ to create some interesting compositions. I love how they all connect but also stand alone as complete pieces.

For your viewing pleasure I have also grouped them within the grouping. I’m tossing up between the first four (by Erin Case) and the second four as my favourites. Hmm, maybe the second four as a collective, but I do love the very first image in the first four as a piece on its own.

Ahh, the possibilities in this world truly feel endless! Why not try to get creative today, I’m sure you will surprise yourself with your inner mind x

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The night calls

I love the dark sensuality of these selected images. I am a huge fan of the simplicity of black and white artwork as it can be so powerful. I agree that effective use of colour can be equally as striking, but today I felt like pairing some darker pieces that have a powerful and controlled sexuality to them. I suppose when I think of girls that look like these subjects I think about Scorpios. I am a bit of an astrology freak and when I think of a Scorpio woman I see long black hair, dark clothes and make-up and an overall mysterious and alluring sexuality. Obviously, not all woman born under the Scorpio sign look like this, but it is a beautiful image to conjure up and seems to run true with quite a few Scorpios I know.

I love all these images and they kind of make me want to transform into this sometimes. I have a strong Scorpion influence as it is my rising sign, but paired with my Virgo sun, I think I never quite appear as dark or intense as these women. I love my long dark hair and my only must have makeup is black eyeliner, but I never ever seem to get sultry enough. It’s a funny thing. I suppose to look a certain way, it really has to be a strong desire in you, or something that is instinctive and from your core. I personally don’t believe in dressing in a way that feels put on or insincere. I think this is why I never can quite commit to the dark sensuality these images possess. I can certainly catch glimpses occasionally, but at the end of the day I’m not an actual Scorpio.

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mood board

Hey all! Hope you have had some good times over the holiday season, with more still to come.  I’ve been away so have been a bit slack with posting, but here’s something I was playing with before that I thought I would share.  Sometimes I get so fixated on having to be creative from scratch that I never bother doing anything.  But there’s no reason why creativity can’t just be playing or creating in any method, like I have done here. A kind of mood board for you all to ponder. Peace and happiness xx

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This vs. That: Round Three

My third edition of This vs. That is up. This was a hard one for me, so be sure to check out Round Three: Double Faces and let me know what you think.  It’s always so great to hear your thoughts. Go on, get involved x

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Dark and Light

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I think both these photographs are truly stunning.  I paired them together as they have a similar kind of vibe with a female in nature, but both contrast due to the use of light and dark.  The first image is quite dark and really works as a piece.  The silhouette the leaves of the tree cast and the woman confronting us as she moves forward; sensual, strong, controlled. Then the second image, which works because of the white lace top and fair hair which adds to her overall lightness.  She closes her eyes and rests amongst the grass and daisies and exudes a sweet serenity. She seems younger, more innocent.  While these images are not connected by artist, they seem to showcase a duality of the feminine. I quite like looking at them together, I hope you do too.

Colette Saint Yves

I found Colette Saint Yves work through Society6, and instantly adored the astronomical aspect to these first pieces. Her work is a mix of photography and collage. Simple, but impressive and very engaging.

  

After doing a bit more digging I found some more of her work as seen below. There is such a beauty in her art.  An enticing, dreamy quality that exudes the feminine.

There are so many talented people in the world making such superb art, it is really inspiring. For all you creatives out there, keep it going.  I know I can find it hard to keep creating, but there is real reward when you do, so it is definitely worth it. Happy Friday everyone. Be inspired, be great.

Distorted Image

I thought I would put another of my original pieces up seeing as I haven’t done this for a long time!  I did this one in a drawing class while I was studying.  We had to find a photograph of a person we admire and then create a random grid that would distort the image.  The concept was that we couldn’t tell how the image would turn out until we had finished drawing it.  So, despite it being an exercise about ‘letting go’, the Virgo in me couldn’t help but somewhat try to plan the grid in my head to make an image I could visualise and thought would be aesthetically pleasing.  As I’m no mathematician, the final result didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned. But, I really like how it worked out.  To me, the image I created has such a likeness to a witch.  And, despite this not being what I had intended, I quite like it.

Here is the image.  It was made using black pigment liners of varying point sizes.

If you like this drawing, it is available for sale on Society6.  I especially like it as a tote which you can see below.

And for those of you that are curious, the original image was of one of my favourite ladies, Louise Brooks.  Points if you had guessed that!

Pieces

I paired these images together due to aspects of their collage-like nature. Collage is quite an effective art method, but one that can easily get forgotten. Although these images are very different from one another (in form and technique) they do all seem to fit under that collage umbrella. So simple yet so powerful.

They have kind of inspired me to try my hand at some form of collage. I wonder if I will opt for the (easy) computer over the old cut and past style…  I’ll be sure to share my results once I accomplish something!

Melancholia

I watched Lars von Trier’s Melancholia last night.  I suppose it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I still enjoyed it.  I thought this image connected with the film a little bit.  Maybe facially the woman looks somewhat similar to Kirsten Dunst, but more so due to the planetary nature of it.  It is very beautiful.  I love all the detail, it works with the image and doesn’t distract from the woman’s face, but adds that nice astronomical feel.  While it doesn’t quite exude the-end-of-the-world, it does have a certain sadness and hopelessness to it.  I am quite captivated.

Spring

Today it almost felt like spring.  It has been a bit rainy recently, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the sun shining this Sunday.  Free coffee (go coffee cards) in the sun, followed by a crisp glass of Sav and some fries at a newly opened restaurant right near my house was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. So, I thought I would post something bright and spring-inspired to hopefully brighten your day too.  Enjoy xx

The black and white image

I love the serenity of these images by photographer Dylan Forsberg.  And Kasia Struss is an exquisite androgynous beauty.  There’s certainly something wonderful about a black and white image.  It almost instantly transforms something into art I think due to the fact that it becomes more disassociated with reality through the lack of colour.  A beautiful image in colour, can of course still be incredibly artistic, and certain images wholly depend on colour for meaning.  But I think black and white makes us see it in a different way, a way that we cannot see in the everyday, and that makes it special.  I don’t think many people would choose to only see in black and white, so it is that fleetingness of both photography and colour-blindness that make the black and white photo so wonderful.

Looking at these two last images I overwhelmingly prefer the black and white one.  But perhaps that is just me.  I guess the beauty of photography today is that we can see one image in multiple ways due to computer technology.  I’m sure if we could still only develop photos in black and white we would long for colour.  We should just be grateful we have both. x

The female type

I thought it would be nice to put up some typography, and seeing as this is a female based blog, why not incorporate the two?  I found this stunning image by Stana Tomsej (view more of his work here) which shows a fierce woman constructed mostly out of type.  I believe the piece is about women in rock, and you can see names of artists he likes in the piece.  I love seeing empowered women who are ready to take you on – and this piece does just that, as well as being pretty sexy and using typography well.

I love how many colours it has been done it, and this gif shows them well, but I also like this image below as it gives you a bit more time to study each piece and colour combination and shows how many different combinations there actually are.  That has got to be the best my favourite thing about digital design / art – it is so easy to make changes and alternative versions.

While searching for images I also found my subject matter reversed.  So, rather than making an image of a woman out of type, the type has been made out of women.  I did find some horrible clip art version where the women are all legs and bums and boobs, but decided not to show that.  Instead, I wanted to share this beautiful and sophisticated incorporation of the two.

I love the use of photographs and how only touches of the female are shown.  Really evocative and sensual (especially the ‘N’).  And then when shown altogether it creates a nice wee alphabet too.

Two really different ways of incorporating women into typography, but both work well for what they are trying to achieve. I must try to do something similar one day. Enjoy x

HelloVon

I love this image.  It’s truly beautiful and captivating.  It’s by HelloVon, a studio established by London-based illustrator, Von.  This Image is part of HelloVon’s “Semblance” series. This one is number 2, and is by far my favorite.  The others are good too, but to me this one is kind of in a league of its own.  I think it might be due to the negative space – like she is floating in the air and will evaporate or break apart in the wind.  She reminds me of a cloud.

I also like this above shot which shows it printed and displayed.  You can engage with the texture of the paper which is quite nice.  Having just completed my print portfolio, I realise the importance of photographing and displaying work in professional and interesting ways.  It can be nice to see work framed or displayed sometimes as we can get a bit used to seeing everything one-dimensionally on the internet these days.  Even a photograph of something displayed can add that extra element and tactility to a piece.

Here are the other three images from the “Semblance” series. Enjoy.