For Happiness

So I haven’t been around much lately. I’ve become a tad bit obsessed with making polymer clay jewelry. It started out as a little endeavor to add a summer-friendly product to my etsy store, but now it’s probably what I think about the most after the cute husband and my lovely daughter. I am having so much fun with it, and there are so many things I can still try. Here’s just a few of the things I’ve been working on.

Jewelry 3

Jewelry 4

Jewelry 5

Jewelry 7

Jewelry 8

I have to say that I’ve been pretty inspired by the artist profiles I’ve been doing. I expected that the last question, what is your unique purpose for creating work, would lead to all manner of profound and earth-shaking answers. I was surprised to find that several artists make art because they like to make art, or because they think it makes people happy, or just because that’s what they do. Hearing that from artists that I really respect and admire has set me free to make these pieces just because I love making them, without having to worry about what kind of impact it’s having on the world or whether this will fulfill the thirst of my soul for significance.

Artist Profile: Emma Van Leest

What do you love about your medium?

I’ve often said I love the way that paper cutting is about transforming an everyday material which we all use all the time, into something amazing, precious and beautiful. It’s almost an alchemical quality. Also, I consider myself as working in a female craft tradition – my mother taught me to sew, my grandmother taught me to knit – these are practices which require repetition, patience and skill in addition to imagination and creativity, and they are small scale, practiced in the home, in the quiet moments.

Emma Van Leest 4

Describe a piece of artwork that you find superficial or boring.

Mine or someone else’s? Lots of art is superficial, decorative even and not boring. I find a lot of conceptual art boring. I guess I’m a bit of a traditionalist in that I want to be visually engaged, I want to entranced by art, I want there to be skill involved, that I can see. I love it when I can see that the hand is involved – it’s not compulsory but I do prefer it, I think.

When did you first call yourself and artist and why?

I can’t remember – I would try it on for size but I never really believed it for myself. At one point I got a tattoo, which in a way was an act of marking a point in time after which I couldn’t turn back, that now (as this was more than 10 years ago, before everyone started getting tattoos) I was definitely different and had chosen a different path. One moment that had a big impact too was when I did my first commercial solo show, and someone else, a big collector, said it to me that I was now a real artist – then I felt some affirmation! I was a bit insecure back then. I’m much more comfortable with it now. Recently someone joked to me about being paid so I ‘don’t feel like a hobbyist’ and I responded very firmly that I was definitely not a hobbyist!

Emma Van Leest

Describe a piece of artwork and/or an artist that you find consistently inspiring.

I love Vermeer’s work. The way the light hits everyday objects, making them magical, it makes you remember that everyday things are beautiful and transcendent too. In fact, I love the whole story of Vermeer – a normal man with normal, everyday concerns such as paying the bills and running a business, but he quietly produced these incredible works about everyday events and concerns.

Emma Van Leest 2

What is your unique purpose for creating work?

I don’t even know anymore, it’s my profession. It’s what I do, I just don’t even think about it. The process started a decade ago and I’m just rolling with it.

Emma Van Leest 3

Nihal Erpeden

I’ve started a new little endeavor recently, making jewelry from polymer clay. I’ve successfully created one respectable piece with a minimal amount of cursing. I love the range of polymer clay, how it can look like leather, glass, stone, wood, ceramic, whatever you can imagine. It’s a joy to work with a medium like that.

Which brings me to today’s artist, Nihal Erpeden, whom I came across while I was looking for a little inspiration (hubris, really. There’s nothing I saw that I can even close to approximate), and I found this amazing jewelry artist.

Nihal Erpeden

I love how she combines the free-form, organic detail on a surface so precise and geometric. It really is lovely, and anyone would be lucky to own such a piece.

Jason Decaires Taylor

My quest for unique artists doing truly original work is just going bonkers this week. Today I have the pleasure of showing off one of Jason Decaires Taylor‘s work. He makes sculptures and then sinks them into the ocean, creating the first underwater sculpture garden in the world.


This sculpture garden is in the West Indies off the coast of Grenada. This artwork was made in large part to help rejuvenate coral structures, providing new places for coral to attach and grow. His work is in a constantly transitory state because of it’s location in the ocean, which inevitably adapts and assimilates the sculptures into itself. In the image above, the “wings” on the figure are not sculpted, they are coral growths. As time goes on, the figures become more and more part of the ocean.

This is a really amazing interview with Jason Decaires Taylor, which is long but totally worth watching. I can’t describe the gentle and transcendent nature of Taylor’s work with still images, and hearing him speak about the purpose and nature of his work is just fascinating.

Lena Arice Lucas

Today, I am looking at the profound work of Lena Arice Lucas, who caught my eye with this piece, entitled “Shelter”

Lena Arice Lucas

I can look at abstract sculptures forever. Really. They strike me in a way that abstract paintings don’t, and I cannot come up with one cognitive reason why. Even though I most often look at abstract sculptures online, I still love how visceral they are. If nothing else, I can imagine how they would feel. They feel more real somehow, because they stand somewhere and have weight and texture. I’m making that up, because I really just love them and that’s all there is.

Zadok Ben-David

There truly are days when I feel like I can’t find anything I really want to post here. Or I find one thing I’m kind of excited about and spend the next hour trying to find the artist’s full name. then there are days like today, when I look up and an hour has evaporated, and I realize I’ve pinned about a hundred new images. Then I have to decide which one is the one for today. It’s tough being me.

This is a phenomenal artist named Zadok Ben-David, who does these distinctive metal sculptures that range from intricately miniature to soaring larger-than-life. I love them all. His depiction of nature and especially the human form is so delicate and yet so inevitable in it’s execution. As always, I’m just posting this one image, but you really should check out his website because everything he’s done is worth seeing.

Geraldine Gonzalez

Okay, so I wasn’t as much better as I thought last week, but I’m pretty sure I’m back now. I figure it’s better to post something than not, especially since I found the amazing piece of installation art by Geraldine Gonzalez today.


I very highly recommend checking out Geraldine Gonzalez’ whole website, all of her creations are just fantastic. When I’m choosing artwork to go on this site, I try to pick something that gives me this particular feeling when I first see it. It’s a feeling I get when I watch ballet, or hear live opera music, and I get it a lot while cruising around Pinterest. I call it a light-filled emptiness, and it’s the same feeling I get when I worship God. It’s my spirit recognizing the divine in something I see on earth. I get that feeling with all of Gonzalez’ sculptures, which is why you really should take a closer look.

Artist Profile: Daryl Stokes

I’m loving that I’ve had three Mondays in a row with artist profiles, hopefully I can keep it up. I love reading the responses to my questions, and seeing how each artist’s identity emerges so uniquely from any other artist. Here is a profile of Daryl Stokes, a redwood sculptor who’s been working with that specific medium for 30 years. Daryl Stokes makes these lovely abstract sculptures from found redwood displaced by fires or floods. You can really see the love and wisdom he puts into his work in these images.

What do you love about your medium?
I work with natural redwood burls and root materials and what I love most is that they are all unique. It has been a constant challenge and inspiration to create sculptures and furniture designs with random materials such as these. It is a combination of utilizing natural forms and visualizing what can be created from such forms in a way that is aesthetically rewarding.

Daryl Stokes Sculpture 1

Describe a piece of artwork that you find superficial or boring.
I create types of abstract expressionistic wood sculptures and for that matter I have not been excited by many types of realistic works such as seascapes or or portraits, depending on how they have been executed.

When did you first call yourself an artist, and why?
I have been an artist ever since I was in junior high school and that’s when I discovered that I had a talent and that it eventually became an integral part of my mental well being.

Describe a piece of art and/or an artist that you find consistently inspiring.
I have always been drawn to surrealistic artists such as Jim Warren and I am constantly fascinated by their approach to creating realistic objects in abstract settings. I have attempted to translate some of the surrealistic aspects into my sculptures such as transitional effects where gnarled wood forms have transitions into crisp geometric counterparts.

Daryl Stokes Sculpture 2

What is your unique purpose for creating work?
My art is my passion and allows me to express my inner consciousness to the best of my abilities more so than anything else I could do aside from dancing.

Niyoko Ikuta

Today, a wonderful, airy, glass sculpture by Niyoko Ikuta.


I really love sculpture like this, the bold and elegant lines, the motion, and such great negative space. This is the kind of piece I always wish I could have in my house so I could see it at all its different angles all the time. Then I remember that my living room floor is covered with rubber matting in primary colors from Sam’s Club, and I go about my business.

Philippe Farout

This is a really lovely nude sculpture by Philippe Faraut. It is entitled “Serendipity.”


Philippe Farout has a large collection of really intriguing figural sculptures, and you should check them out on his website. I particularly admire Farout because he is actively seeking to teach his methodology to other artists. I believe this proves that he truly believes in his form and medium, and that he has a spirit of abundance and generosity. It is really wonderful to see an artist being generous with their work.

This piece is awesome just by being there and itself, but I particularly like it because it features a female figure who is smiling. The vast majority of female depictions fall into one of three categories.

1) Woman looking away. I would put any art in this category that contains part of a female form but not the face. This is extremely common.

2) Woman with blank look. The staring, glassy-eyed at the viewer with a total absence of expression that is supposed to be sexy or something.

3) Woman crying or otherwise in distress. It’s true that distress or tears can be forms of expression, but I have yet to find one single piece of artwork depicting a man crying.

Lots of these pieces of art are fantastic, and it’s possible you’ll see images like this on this blog (or have already). I’m not commenting on the quality of these artworks or on any single piece or artist in particular. I just think it’s strange as a trend, that women are so rarely depicted as happy. What’s really frightening to me is that almost all happy female images are little girls. As if joy is only lovely on the young, or women are slated for distress and tears.

If you have a work or know of a work that depicts a happy woman (with a face), please post it below or send me the link. I’d love to have the next art update be a collection of happy, smiling women.