with Calvin Nicholls
Wild Personalities Flirt With Their Frames in Calvin Nicholls’s Meticulous Paper Sculptures
In exacting detail, a giraffe nuzzles its young and a panda noshes on eucalyptus fronds in Calvin Nicholls’s paper sculptures (previously). Working primarily in white and neutral-toned paper, his pieces capture the intricate details of animals’ musculature, fur, and feathers in meticulous cuts and creases. Mounted onto dark backgrounds and situated within a border of mat board, Nicholls’s subjects resist being contained altogether, as a paw, bill, or ear projects just outside the frame. “I often reach out to wildlife photographers and stock agencies to fill gaps in the gestures and moments I’m eager to create,” he tells Colossal, sharing that these kinds of collaborations have led to some of his favorite works.
Based two hours north of Toronto in the Kawartha Lakes region, Nicholls has ample opportunities for walks in nature and viewing wildlife, which inspire an ongoing series called Backyard Birds, along with individual commissions. Find more information on his website and Instagram.
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Intricate Paper Animals Spring from Textured Sculptures by Artist Calvin Nicholls
In Calvin Nicholls’s sculptural forms, feathered and furry creatures are meticulously crafted from small pieces of white paper. When viewed up-close, their texture resembles the fullness of a wintery landscape, but in full form, the Canadian artist’s animals are so vivid that they appear as though they could leap, fly, and spring out of the canvas. Nicholls (previously) seamlessly examines and sculpts every detail of an animal’s body, from the difference in plume texture in doves to the strained muscles of a giraffe to the intoxicating stare of a tiger stalking its prey.
Every work is crafted from archival cotton paper that prevents yellowing and fading. Nicholls uses minuscule amounts of glue to secure the individual pieces, employing knives and texturing tools to precisely sculpt each delicate part. For the artist, crafting fur and feathers are equally challenging, and how long a piece will take is difficult to predict. He shares:
The largest sculptures I’ve done require several hundreds of hours while the more modest pieces keep me busy for two or more weeks. Familiarity with the subject is a big factor as well. My love of birds often propels me through pieces much faster than when sculpting subjects with (an) emphasis on musculature and structure.
Nicholls’s fascination with paper as a medium stems from graphic design classes in college, in addition to later collaborations with a colleague. These experiences further forged his interest in experimenting with various materials and papers that he had become familiar with through the graphics trade.
Follow additions to Nicholls’s monochromatic menagerie on Behance and Instagram, and see the originals and prints he has available in his shop.
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Haut-Relief Portraits of Animals Come Alive in Detailed Paper Sculptures by Calvin Nicholls
Canadian paper artist Calvin Nicholls (previously) continues to build striking likenesses of wildlife, featuring birds, bears, and foxes rendered in haut-relief sculpture. Despite working in monochromatic palettes of white and off-white paper, he imbues the animal portraits with a sense of liveliness and realism. Innumerable slivers of paper create lifelike feathers and fur, and each creature is shown in a naturalistic pose—snuggled down for a rest, or wings stretched in flight.
Nicholls accepts commercial commissions and some of the works shown below are from a holiday window display for the jeweler David Yurman. You can see a video of the process and installation here, and find more of the artist’s works on his website and Facebook page.
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Delicate Layered Paper Sculptures of Birds and Other Animals by Calvin Nicholls
Straddling a line between 2D and 3D, paper artist Calvin Nicholls forms carefully cut and layered paper sculptures of animals that seem to break free from the surrounding matboard and hover just above the surface. To achieve the haut-relief effect (a process he shares online), Nicholls first works from a drawing which he uses as a template for the various paper components. Using an X-ACTO knife, scalpels, and scissors he then carefully cuts pieces of paper and glues them in place. Each piece can take anywhere from a few weeks up to two years depending on scale and complexity.
Nicholls recently sculpted five birds of paradise as part of a private commission that are currently on view at the Society of Animal Artists annual ‘Art and the Animal’ show at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, NY. The pieces won both an Award of Excellence and the “Artists’ Choice” awards. You can also keep an eye out for his work at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum later this month for the Birds in Art exhibition.
Seen here is a collection of artworks from the last year or so, but you can explore hundreds of additional pieces on his website and Facebook.
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Editor's Picks: Art
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