Minimalist Sliced Firewood Lamps by Split Grain 

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Harnessing the beauty of foraged firewood found in California’s forests without setting flame to the wood, LA-based designer Paul Foeckler produces lamps made from gathering trips for his appropriately named online shop Split Grain (previously). Utilizing precise slices, Foeckler transforms the cuts of wood into minimalist light sources, having each emit an inner glow from the wood’s form. The modern objects are either standalone or placed on an equally minimal base, allowing one to bring the beautiful shape and grain of the California woods indoors without sacrificing it to a fireplace. You can see more of Foeckler’s lighting designs in his Etsy shop or website. (via My Modern Met)

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Sponsor // Learn Travel Sketching in Mixed Media With 50% Off This Online Craftsy Class 

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Capture the energy and excitement of travel in spontaneous sketches!

Whether you have just a few minutes to jot lines, or a half hour to make a small watercolor, start depicting your surroundings in stunning sketches. Learn how with professional artist Marc Taro Holmes in his online Craftsy class, Travel Sketching in Mixed Media. You’ll get 50% off Marc’s video lessons — a special, one-week offer for Colossal readers — and learn fun, fast and flexible techniques for sketching on location.

With these lessons, which you can watch anytime and as many times as you like, Marc will guide you through everything from elegant observational sketches in line, to bold silhouette drawings with a brush pen, watercolor sketching, layering techniques and more. Along the way, you’ll also pick up skills for visual storytelling and perspective drawing.

Visit Craftsy now to get 50% off the online class, Travel Sketching in Mixed Media, and enjoy your video lessons risk-free with Craftsy’s full money-back guarantee. Offer expires August 8, 2016 at 11:59pm MT.

Cycle: A Trippy Experimental Animation About the Human Form by Kouhei Nakama 

Cycle is a new animation from art director Kouhei Nakama that uses a wide range of physics-based particle animations to explore the human form. We’ve seen a number of similar short films in recent weeks including the AICP award video and Asphyxia, both of which also used motion capture techniques. If you liked this, see Nakama’s prequel of sorts titled Diffusion. Music by Kai Engel. (via Vimeo Staff Picks)

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Amazing New Balloon Sculptures of Animals and Insects by Masayoshi Matsumoto 

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Forget your run-of-the-mill cutesy balloon dogs and crowns twisted at kids birthday parties, Japanese artist Masayoshi Matsumoto (previously) elevates the inflated craft of balloon animals to an entirely different level. The Japanese artist uses a multitude of balloon colors and shapes to sculpt creatures you might not normally associate with the children’s party activity including insects, giant isopods, baboons, and scaly lizards. You can see more of his latest works in this gallery.

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Prismatic Paintings Produced From Refracted Light by Stephen Knapp 

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Stephen Knapp has been making work that is transformed by light for over thirty years, producing vibrant light installations he refers to as paintings. These large-scale works utilize minimal tools, harnessing simply light and dichroic glass to throw a multitude of colors against the walls and room. The installations are not sketched out beforehand or programmed by computer, but rather created during the installation process as Knapp moves intuitively to choreograph his intricate light patterns.

“The fun of what I do with light, is that there is nothing in our visual memory that prepares us for what I’m doing,” said Knapp in a short film about his work. “The fact that what I create can just be done with light, that there is no paint on these panels, is absolutely astounding to people. What I am trying to do most of all here is challenge any traditional notion of perception. What is it? Is it real? Is it not real? Does it matter?”

These works have been featured in solo exhibitions around the country including the Boise Art Museum, the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Naples Art Museum, the Butler Institute of American Art, and the Flint Institute of Art, among others. Knapp’s solo exhibition Lightpaintings is currently on view through August 27, 2016 at the Pensacola Museum of Art. (via Colossal Submissions)

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New Photos of Extremely Unusual Mushrooms and Other Fungi by Steve Axford 

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It’s been well over a year since we last checked in with Australian photographer Steve Axford (previously here and here) who ventures into forested areas near his home in New South Wales to photograph the unusual forms of fungi, slime molds, and lichens he finds growing there. The permutations in color, shape, and size found in each specimen are a testament to the radical diversity of living creatures found in just a small area.

A handful of the images seen here, namely the “hairy” fungi called Cookeina Tricholoma, were photographed last year on a trip to Xishuangbanna, China and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Axford suspects that some of the species he encounters may be unknown to science and that he may have documented them for the first time. You can see more mushroom goodness on Axford’s Facebook and Flickr pages.

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