Flattening three-dimensional installations into two-dimensional images, Alexa Meade compresses reality by covering models in specifically applied paint, making sure to focus on painted shadows and highlights to transform her posed subjects into paintings. Meade’s works, which she has referred to as “reverse trompe l’oeil” combine installation, painting, photography, and even performance, as many of her works are done live and with little room for error. Mistakes made during her painting process however, often add to the overall dynamism of the piece, creating an aesthetic tension for each of her living works.
“There are so many things going on at once in my process that something is always bound to go wrong,” Meade recently told Colossal. “Having to problem solve in the moment and hack together a solution will typically result in me bringing something new and fresh to the painting that I didn’t intend or expect. The artwork often turns out so much better than I had originally envisioned.”
Often these errors are due to the fact that Meade is creating her works on live models, and unlike swathes of canvas, her medium has interests, personalities, and needs which influence the work. “If you are a painter painting on canvas you don’t have to care about its feelings or emotions,” said Meade, “the canvas doesn’t have to go to the bathroom.”
Meade didn’t always start out as an artist, in fact she studied politics and worked in Washington D.C. before experimenting with her current practice. “I discovered my method completely by accident,” said Meade. “Then I had to actually teach myself out to paint.” Now Meade is a represented artist in three countries and is often asked to do live painting performances, such as this month during FORM Arcosanti, an outdoor micro arts and music festival which we attended with WeTransfer and came across Meade’s work. You can see more of her process and images on her Facebook and Instagram.
Alexa Meade’s live painting during FORM Arcosanti, base makeup by Josephine Lee
For their latest video game INKS, London-based State of Play Games have created a new spin on classic pinball by turning the background of a pinball game into a piece of interactive art. As the ball traverses the course, the bright lights and clanking sounds of traditional pinball are replaced with pockets of watercolor paint that explode into flourishes. The ball in turn leaves trails of color as you solve each level.
State of Play are no strangers to turning a more tactile world into a digital game. You might remember their groundbreaking work in Lumino City (which won a BAFTA award) where real paper sets and characters were filmed and photographed as components of an immersive digital puzzle game. INKS has much of the same polish a detail, though allows for quicker gameplay. One of my favorite details is that every time you complete a level, the game board complete with paint trails is saved as a thumbnail like an artwork. You can even print and share them.
Inspired by artists like Miro, Matisse, Jackson Pollock and Bridget Riley, each table becomes a unique work of art in its own right, sculpted by the player as they fire an ink covered ball around the canvas. The player is encouraged to share their final work of art on social media with the iOS share function. They can even print them out if they like – with the story of their perfect game literally drawn on the canvas in front of them, something to be proud of and share.
Luke Whittaker from State of Play tells us they were partly inspired by Sam van Doom’s ink-based pinball game from 2012. It’s a visually stunning game with some pretty innovative ideas, even if you don’t particularly enjoy pinball. You can download INKS for iOS here.
From the smallest details expressed on canvas to the cracked facade of a multi-story building, Dutch artist Collin van der Sluijs is comfortable investigating what he refers to as “personal pleasures and struggles in daily life.” Working without sketches or notes, the artist dives into each artwork with spray paint, acrylics, and ink as ideas take hold and images slowly emerge. He frequently examines themes of the natural world such as the cycle of life, the depictions of various species of birds, and the psychology of beings both human and animalistic.
Van der Sluijs was most recently in Chicago where he completed a tremendous mural in the south loop as part of the Wabash Arts Corridor that depicts two endangered Illinois birds amongst an explosion of blooms. He also opened his first solo show in the U.S. titled “Luctor Et Emergo” at Vertical Gallery, featuring a wide range of paintings and drawings. You can follow more of his work on Flickr.
Artist Sara Landeta (previously) continues to use the back of used medicine packaging as a canvas for depictions of various birds. The artist most recently created a series of 120 paintings for her exhibition titled “Medicine as Metaphor” at gallery 6mas1 last year. From the Jealous Curator about the poignancy of the series:
The project includes a collection of 120 boxes of drugs that have been consumed by different patients to overcome their illnesses. All boxes are illustrated inside with a broad classification of birds from different families, being the only animal that although it gives it a meaning of freedom, because it is the only one able to connect with the earth and the sky, is also one of the main animals in captivity. This juxtaposition of the natural and the synthetic interprets the patient as a captive animal, and the bird as its metaphor.
Draw a collection of birds inside these boxes holding a single reflection ; l will learn to be birds in captivity, but they are wanting to fly, and that is what keeps them alive.
Esther van Hulsen at work on an octopus drawing using 95 million-year-old ink. Photo by Stian Steinsli
Photo of the fossil on the left by Hans Arne Nakrem, photo of the powder on the right by Esther van Hulsen.
Image of the completed octopus ink drawing. Photo by Esther van Hulsen
Dutch wildlife artist Esther van Hulsen was recently given an assignment unlike her typical drawings of birds and mammals from life—a chance to draw a prehistoric octopus 95 million years after its death. Paleontologist Jørn Hurum supplied Hulsen with ink extracted from a fossil found in Lebanon in 2009, received as a gift from the PalVenn Museum in 2014. After several millennia Hulson was surprised to find that the color had remained so vibrant, preserved all of this time in the cephalopod’s ink sac. “Knowing that this animal has used this ink to survive is absolutely amazing,” said van Hulsen of the prehistoric ink.
The idea to make such a drawing came from the story of Mary Anning, an English paleontologist and fossil collector who made a similar drawing from a fossil’s ink sac in the 1800s. Hulsen’s replication of the octopus now hangs beside its material origin in the Natural History Museum in Oslo. (via MetaFilter)
We’ve long enjoyed the work of painter and architect Maja Wronska (previously) who depicts unique vantages of architectural sites through detailed watercolors. Not only does Wrońska capture these buildings in their entirety, but also focuses on the specific details of their construction and environment such as chandeliers that hang within an ancient church, or the pigeons found circling its exterior. These elements are all produced with an eye for how to capture the character of a space rather than just its aesthetic, imbuing her paintings with the rich history found within each location.