An Insightful Demonstration Recreates Donatello’s Marble Carving Technique

April 25, 2023

Grace Ebert

To coincide with the first major U.K. exhibition of works by the Renaissance great Donatello, the Victoria and Albert Museum released the latest addition to its How was it made? series, which explores the process behind some of art history’s most lauded pieces. The short video follows sculptor Simon Smith as he creates a scaled-down iteration of the 15th-century Prato Pulpit, a relief featuring dancing cherubs made for the Cathedral of Prato.

Referring to marble as “the emperor of all stones,” Smith draws a portion of the original work on a small block and explains the unique characteristics of the material as he carves. “It’s all about trapping shadows,” he says. “Carving is all about having deep cuts here and lighter here and the angle here and how the light plays on it. And certainly in relief because relief carving like this. It’s kind of halfway between sculpture and drawing.” While demonstrating how Donatello might have approached his work, Smith offers a compelling glimpse into how two artists’ techniques overlap and converge centuries apart.

Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance is on view through June 11 in London and includes Smith’s panel, which viewers are encouraged to touch. Find more about the demonstration on YouTube. (via Kottke)


Smith's panel featuring two dancing cherubs

Smith carves the marble block in his studio

Smith holds his panel featuring two dancing cherubs





Susannah Carson Evokes the Amorous Tradition of the Lover’s Eye Through Antique Plate Paintings

April 25, 2023

Grace Ebert

Two painted figures peer out from antique serving plates

All images © Susannah Carson, shared with permission

On vintage serving ware and ornately decorated plates, artist Susannah Carson renders fragmented portraits of women who peer out from the center of the vessels. The oil paintings evoke the Georgian tradition of the “lover’s eye,” sentimental miniatures depicting the facial features of a spouse, child, or family member often found on jewelry of the time. These tiny works would also allow the wearer to obscure the exact identity of the subject, making them ambiguous keepsakes for affairs and other clandestine activities.

For Carson, this amorous practice becomes the basis of inquiry as she imagines her lively characters, their stories, and how they connect to the history of such unconventional canvases—an avid antique collector, she’s currently working on an illustrated guide on the process, as well as a series of paintings paired with the antiques they depict. Blending past and present, her pieces highlight the unknown, whether the lineage of the vessel itself or the identity of the subject. She explains:

I’m interested in painting as not just an optical illusion, but as an illusion of life—of otherness, of richness, of engagement, of that delicate connection we have with other beings which allows us to feel, for a moment, not so alone. With compositions highlighting the gaze, these subjects tell us their stories with a single look and ask for us to tell them our stories in return, thereby creating—unlike the alienation of much modern art—a welcoming intimacy.

Carson will soon release a series of works combining coveted Staffordshire dog figurines and painted portraits, which you can watch for on Instagram. Shop originals and prints on her site.


Individual eyes peer out from seven dinner plates decorated with primarily red patterns

Two images, both of eyes peering out from antique dinnerware

A fragment of a portrait peers out from antique dinnerware

Four eyes peer out from antique dinnerware

Two images, both of eyes peering out from antique dinnerware

Four eyes peer out from antique dinnerware




Barbora Batokova’s Enthralling Photographs Vividly Capture the Gilled Underbellies of Fungi

April 24, 2023

Jackie Andres

Mushrooms with circular orange caps springing up from mossy grounds.

All images © Barbora Batokova, shared with permission

Pittsburgh-based photographer and self-proclaimed nemophilist Barbora Batokova has cultivated a deep passion for fungi ever since her childhood in the Czech Republic. Growing up mushroom hunting and foraging for hearty meals, Batokova shares the cultural nuances linked to moving overseas as she explains that the “Czech Republic is a mycophilic country, which means people are not afraid of mushrooms, unlike people in mycophobic countries like the U.S.” 

Yearning for her roots, Batokova created fungiwoman, an ongoing photography and cooking project that allows her to reconnect with nature. Venturing into the woods year-round, she explores new regions, hunts for mushrooms, captures images to learn about different species, and brings the fruitful yield home to cook. Her mesmerizing photographs show small orange caps springing up from mossy grounds and vibrantly fruiting polypores branching from trees. Devoted to protecting precious corners of the woods, she hopes to inspire others to look closely at the surrounding environment.

Batokova’s forthcoming book about mushrooms will be released in 2024, and she has prints and cards available in her shop. In the meantime, you can follow her Instagram to tag along as she traverses new thickets and shares her findings.


Vibrant polypores branch off of bark donning hues of bright green and purple.
Vibrant polypores branch off of bark donning hues of indigo and orange.
Small circular tan mushroom caps with intricate gills emanate from tree bark.
Vibrant polypores branch off of bark donning hues of red, orange, and yellow.
Vibrant orange polypores fan out on the side of a mossy tree.
Vibrant polypores branch off of bark donning hues of beige.
Vibrant polypores branch off of bark donning hues of bright orange.
An oblong-shaped tan mushroom cap stands amongst bark on the ground.
Mushrooms with circular orange caps springing up from mossy grounds.



Design Food Illustration

Voxel Shops and Food Stalls by Shin Oh Tuck Traditional Malaysian Culture into Nostalgic Renderings

April 24, 2023

Grace Ebert

A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic food stall

“Nasi Lemak,” 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls. All images © Shin Oh, shared with permission

Illustrator Shin Oh nestles childhood memories of visiting traditional Malaysian shops and food stalls within tiny three-dimensional renderings, placing the immense affection she feels for such spaces in small confines. Part of two companion series titled 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops and 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls, the digital works are made with voxels, or volumetric pixels used for building in popular video games like Minecraft and Roblox. Whether depicting a bakery or dim sum stand, Shin constructs each stall uniformly with two walls and soft color palettes “because nostalgic memories are warm, and hawker stalls always give me fuzzy warm feelings as they serve affordable and great food,” she says. The “hawker centre is hot and stuffy, too.” 

126³ Tiny Voxel Shops was the first of the pair, which Shin created for a group exhibition in 2021. “During the pre-production phase of this project, I had conversations with my mother about the shops that we used to visit back then,” she shares. “I listed down as many shops as possible and filtered the list down to ten shops I think have unique visual characteristics that people can immediately recognize when they see them.” Included are both ubiquitous and rare sights, like a tailor’s studio and a well-stocked biscuit store. “There is no modern-style décor in this shop, no bright lights, no air-conditioning. One uniqueness about traditional biscuit shop is having lots of aluminum tins and glass jars, literally stacked from floor to ceiling,” she says.

This description is typical for Shin, who shares insights into her process and the objects she chooses for each space. Her ongoing series of open-air hawker stalls continues this approach with information about the dishes served from each kiosk. Bak Kut Teh, for example, translates to “meat bone tea” and is a broth with Chinese herbs and spices, pork, mushrooms, tofu, cabbage, oil rice, and fried dough known as youtiao, and Shin’s rendering of this stand includes various pots and friers used for making the dish. Although each space is imagined, the idea is to use such commonplace and easily interpretable items to create scenes that are understandable across cultures. “People can recognize the stalls from the objects even without having to understand the signboard or read the captions,” Shin shares. “In my opinion, food connects every human together, and it conquers all, from language barriers to cultural differences. I hope it’s the same for this foodie series.”

You can find more from both of the collections on Instagram. (via Present & Correct)


A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic shop

“Biscuit,” 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops

A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic food stall

“Bak Kut Teh,” 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls

A digital voxel rendering of four tiny cubic food stalls

Top left: “Bakery,” 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops. Top right: “Economy Rice,” 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls. Bottom left: “Char Kuey Teow,” 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls. Bottom right: “Kopitiam,” 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops

A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic food stall

“Dim Sum and Bao,” 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls

A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic tailor's shop

“Tailoring,” 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops

A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic shop

“Sundry,” 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops



13 Illustration Graduates to Watch From the Maryland Institute College of Art

April 24, 2023

Maryland Institute College of Art

Birds intertwine with ribbons and vessels

Kefan Shi, MFA ’23 (Illustration Practice) (@langshiart), “Garden” (2021)

As the premiere visual storytelling form, illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is a truly interdisciplinary practice using experimentation, reflection, and point of view. Confronting subjects of importance can be achieved with bold strokes or with a whisper, drawing the viewer closer to a place of understanding. Through their envisioning the world of an author, contemplating life, or delving into one’s gender identity, these young illustrators are giving us a roadmap to the future. They imagine and build worlds of fact, fantasy, and poetry that go beyond the page using ink, ceramics, pixels, paper, cloth, graphite, time, and sequence.

Where these inspiring illustrators come from is as unique as their culminating work. With many having studied in the field, others emerge from animation, health care, advertising, design, and social sciences. They bring not only their deep passion for illustration as a practice but their attention to the needs of society through art. Distinct in how they reach this goal, the one-year MA in Illustration and two-year MFA in Illustration Practice programs give current practitioners, or those new to the field, choices on advancing their creative output.

Acknowledged nationally as a premier leader in art and design education, MICA is deliberately cultivating a new generation of artists—one that is capable of seamlessly integrating innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative citizenship with contemporary approaches to art, design, and media.

MICA is redefining the role of artists and designers as creative, solutions-oriented makers, and thinkers who will drive social, cultural, and economic advancement for our future.

What will you create?

See more thesis work and full artist profiles at


Black-and-white flowers overlay a seatedbfigure with several eyes

Alejandro Aguilar Canela, MFA ’23 (Illustration Practice) (@alejandrocanela), “Flower” (2023)

A segment of a building opens to reveal people in rooms wiht a colorful season-like border

Nimo Jiang, MFA ’23 (Illustration Practice) (@nimooko), “Folding World: Agatha Christie” (2023)

Smaller figures appear like cupcakes and appear to emerge from a central teenage like character

Jodie Chiou, MA ’23 (Illustration) (@jiiezuo), “Ice Cream Teen” (2023)

A comet shoots through an apartment building

Dwayne Huang, MA ’23 (Illustration) (@dwaynehuang_), “The Doomsday” (2023)

SEveral characters go about their day surrounding a cut out of a teapot with words in the center

Yuanyuan Zhou, MFA ’23 (Illustration Practice) (@yuanyuanzhou_art), One spread from the book, A story of Wedgwood: Bringing elegance to the daily table (2023)

A park scene in oranges and greens with people enjoying the day

Rainy Zhang, MFA ’23 (Illustration Practice) (@rainyyyyz), “Fountain Plaza” (2023)

A figure's shadow is seen on a pond of lillies

Andromeda Xie, MA ’23 (Illustration) (@andromeda_x), “Waterlillies” (2023)

A figure is atop an abstract box of colorful lines

Di Liang, MFA ’23 (Illustration Practice) (@di_liang_), Keyframe from animation “Cut &” (2023)

People and a monster ride in a blue car against the backdrop of a city with the words "a night ride to the day"

Breeze Hu, MFA ’23 (Illustration Practice) (@breeze_hu_art), Cover art from graphic novel, A Night Ride to the Day (2023)

Two mirrored figures appear lost in thought surrounded by a messy room

Andrew Haener, MFA ’23 (Illustration Practice) (@andrewhaener), “Digital Quilt” (still) (2023)

A portrait of a man wearing a shirt that says "Black Art Matters"

Madalyn Drewno, MA ’23 (Illustration) (@madalyn.drewno), “Portrait of Eric Skinner” (2023)

Two portraits of people wearing patterned garments that blend together

Sissel Tan, MA ’23 (Illustration) (@sissel.tre), “Nautical Fashion” (2023)




Dressed in Soft Cushions and Bulbous Garb, Colorful Personas Emerge from Frode Bolhuis’ Daily Sculpture Project

April 21, 2023

Grace Ebert

A polymer clay figure wrapped in colorful cushion hangs on a gallery wall

All images © Frode Bolhuis, shared with permission

Bound with colorful cushions and twine, draped in chains of spheres, or sprouting a single leaf from their head, the characters that originate in Frode Bolhuis’s Almere studio embody the Dutch artist’s playful imagination and desire for experimentation. Part of an ongoing sculpture project, the expressive cast is currently comprised of 117 miniature figures made primarily of polymer clay with wood, fiber, and metal additions, each of which has a distinctive personality.

Bolhuis (previously) began the project with the intention of creating a new work each day, although he shares that in order to refine the characters’ features and fashion their garments, he’s more likely to complete two per week. While much of his process remains the same as when he began the project in February 2022, the artist is currently branching into textile design in collaboration with the studio Byborre and a loom in his studio. He shares about the evolution of the collection:

I don’t know if they get better but they continually find new forms, forms I didn’t know of before I started. It’s like I’m getting to know myself through the sculptures. It’s a wonderful paradox that the set form, size, and discipline give so much freedom. It really feels as if I can continue this forever and continually develop. It’s magic.

If you’re in Philadelphia, you can see a few of the artist’s works later this year as part of Hi-Fructose’s group exhibition at Arch Enemy Arts. Otherwise, find more of the whimsical personas on Instagram.


A polymer clay figure in a blue wheelchair hangs on a gallery wall

A polymer clay figure with a puffy suit hangs on a gallery wall

Several polymer clay figures hang on a gallery wall

A polymer clay figure with striped gown and a towering headpiece hangs on a gallery wall

Several polymer clay figures hang on a gallery wall

A polymer clay figure with a bulbous peach gown hangs on a gallery wall

A polymer clay figure with a striped gown decorated with silver coins hangs on a gallery wall

A polymer clay figure with a gown made of brown fibers hangs on a gallery wall

A polymer clay figure with a bulbous white gown hangs on a gallery wall

A polymer clay figure with a bulbous white skirt hangs on a gallery wall



A Colossal


Artist Cat Enamel Pins