Artist Research

Contrary art project – Research


So… 6 artists, all of which have to be related to my personal project…

The 6 I chose were M.C. Escher, Natalie Shau, Sam Flores, Ito Hirotoshi, James Hugonin & Tim Burton.

All of these artists have a rather surreal, and out of the ordinary style to their work…

Let’s begin with me introducing and giving a background on these artists.

M.C. Escher –

Maurits Cornelis, nicknamed “Mauk”,[2] was born in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, in a house that forms part of thePrincessehof Ceramics Museum today. He was the youngest son of civil engineer George Arnold Escher and his second wife, Sara Gleichman. In 1903, the family moved to Arnhem, where he attended primary school and secondary school until 1918.

In 1922, an important year of his life, Escher traveled through Italy (FlorenceSan GimignanoVolterraSienaRavello) and Spain (MadridToledoGranada). He was impressed by the Italian countryside and by the Alhambra, a fourteenth-century Moorish castle in Granada, Spain. The intricate decorative designs at Alhambra, which were based on mathematical formulas and feature interlocking repetitive patterns sculpted into the stone walls and ceilings, were a powerful influence on Escher’s works.[4] He came back to Italy regularly in the following years.

In Italy Escher met Jetta Umiker, whom he married in 1924. The young couple settled down in Rome where their first son, Giorgio (George) Arnaldo Escher, named after his grandfather, was born. Escher and Jetta later had two more sons: Arthur and Jan. [5]

In 1935, the political climate in Italy (under Mussolini) became totally unacceptable to Escher. He had no interest in politics, finding it impossible to involve himself with any ideals other than the expressions of his own concepts through his own particular medium, but he was averse to fanaticism and hypocrisy. When his eldest son, George, was forced, at the age of nine, to wear a Ballila uniform in school, the family decided to leave Italy. The family moved to Château-d’ŒxSwitzerland, where they remained for two years.[6]

Escher, who had been very fond of and inspired by the landscapes in Italy, was decidedly unhappy in Switzerland, and in 1937, the family moved again, to Uccle, a suburb of BrusselsBelgiumWorld War II forced them to move in January 1941, this time to Baarn, the Netherlands, where Escher lived until 1970. Most of Escher’s better-known pictures date from this period. The sometimes cloudy, cold, wet weather of the Netherlands allowed him to focus intently on his works, and only during 1962, when he underwent surgery, was there a time when no new images were created.

Escher moved to the Rosa Spier Huis in Laren in 1970, a retirement home for artists where he had his own studio. He died at the home on 27 March 1972, at age 73.

An image created by M.C. Escher.

An image created by M.C. Escher.


Natalie Shau –

A variety of works from painting to 3D installments, her surreal style has only just began to flourish, and I’m sure will become and icon to those who appreciate her work.

Part of an instalment created by Natalie Shau.

Part of an instalment created by Natalie Shau.

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Sam Flores –

Some might say that Sam Flores was born an artist. Painting and drawing since he was a little boy, Flores is always looking to develop his creative side, no matter how much success he’s achieved. He paints characters that are immersed in tragic worlds, where beauty and darkness seem to be able to harmoniously coexist. Given their brightly colored surroundings, why are his characters’ eyes almost always closed and their hands tightly clenched? Flores tell us that they are “hiding from the viewer, blind to their surroundings. They are withdrawn and self-involved. To see into their eyes means that you can see into their souls.”

The artist was born in New Mexico where he lived for the first twenty years of his life until he packed up and moved to San Francisco in 1995. His paintings take inspiration from his years as a graffiti artist but also have elements of fine art in them. He has a keen eye for color and contrast, creating spellbinding stories that make you feel as though you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole.

One of the many art pieces created by Sam Flores.

One of the many art pieces created by Sam Flores.

Ito Hirotoshi –

Ito Hirotoshi studied at Tokyo University Of The Arts and was then destined to take over from the family business in masonry.
From here, Ito began to experiment with materials in his spare time and took on a few metalwork courses to expand his knowledge.
The result of Ito’s art education and material knowledge has resulted in these strange stone sculptures.
Ito Hirotoshi’s aim is to “soften” the reputation of stone as a material, by introducing more human counterparts and manipulating the curves of each rock.

The interesting aspect of these sculptures for me, is that Ito Hirotoshi has taken a raw material straight from the landscape (stones taken from a river bank), and transformed the material in to a product of his own imagination.

A small piece, which is part of an instalment of sculptures create by Ito Hirotoshi.

A small piece, which is part of an instalment of sculptures create by Ito Hirotoshi.

James Hugonin –

Hugonin’s paintings are composed of marks of close toned colour with an underlying grid, each mark shifting slightly from its neighbour and building to a rhythmic whole. These are deeply subtle paintings with an understated clarity: quietly musical and filled with a kind of contained light that relates keenly to the place in which they are made. There is a slow and deliberate colour notation that forms an integral part of the making of each work. As Michael Harrison (Director of Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge) has observed, “the paintings carry with them that pace, that slowness, that sense of time. They ask us to slow down, and to look, and to settle as we would to listen to a piece of music, allowing time to take effect – to acknowledge that, for all their quietness and stillness, our relationship to them is one of continual change”.

A selection of Hugonin’s work was shown at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea which then toured to BALTIC, Gateshead in 2006. A new set of three 30-colour screenprints was published by Ingleby Gallery in 2009, representing a significant new body of work by the artist. Last year, Hugonin completed a commissioned stained glass window in St John’s Chapel in Northumberland and Ingleby Gallery presented a survey of his six most recent paintings, alongside two early works that saw the beginning of this series over twenty years ago.

An image created by James Hugonin.

An image created by James Hugonin.

Tim Burton –

An extremely well known artist, varying from simple still images to full feature length films.

A small example of his exhibitions.

“Tim Burton” at the Cinémathèque Française

“Tim Burton, the exhibition/Tim Burton, l’exposition” was exhibited at the Cinémathèque Française from March 7 to August 5, 2012 in Paris, France.All Tim Burton’s movies are programmed during the exhibition.

“Tim Burton” at Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA)

“Tim Burton at Seoul Museum of Art” is exhibiting at Seoul Museum of Art from December 12th, 2012 to April 15th, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea.This exhibition will feature 862 of his works including drawings, paintings, short films, sculptures, music and costumes that have been used in the making of his feature-length movies.

The exhibition is divided into three parts. The first part, titled Surviving Burbank covers his younger years from 1958 to 1976. He was born Timothy Walter Burton in Burbank, California, United States. He was an introvert with a wild imagination that often gave birth to unique creations. The second, Beautifying Burbank, covers the years 1977 to 1984 including his time with Cal Arts and Walt Disney. Most of his work in that period was based on his fascination with childhood fantasies, inspiring the wacky but humorous Tim Burton characters that many of us recognize today. The last segment of the exhibition, Beyond Burbank, covers his most productive years from 1985 to the present. This is the period in which he created the great movies that made him world famous.

An image created in the style of Tim Burton, unfortunately I'm unable to declare how official this piece is.

An image created in the style of Tim Burton, unfortunately I’m unable to declare how official this piece is.

( )

Sorry about how much space this has taken up, unfortunately it’s a necessity.

As you may be able to tell, I’ve had a serious focus on surreal art in comparison to what I would normally go for (Fine art – Realism.) I’m one of these young minds that has trouble trying to understand the concepts behind abstract art, there’s a few pieces which I really like generally for the use of colour, many surreal images focus on line and shape, but that’s all… This is what I find annoying or displeasing about abstract art, and thus I’ve gone to surrealism… To many minds there isn’y any difference between surrealism and abstract art, however as many fine artists will tell you, there is a whole world of difference, surrealism stands its ground in all fields, it can be created in fine art, illustration, graphics design, architecture, etc.

I used James Hugonin as a prime example of art which I personally don’t understand as well as others, I can appreciate the work and use of colour, but it just seems so soul-less, as if everything that can make that piece stand out has been stripped from it. The sheer lack of obvious form also annoys me when it comes to abstract art, as generally people have made these forms by accident and not by studying the subject of which they are drawing…

Overall I feel that surrealism has a much stronger outcome and outlook on art, and should be appreciated more than it is currently, and abstract art needs to be left behind, it has given art a bad name, many people believe that when it comes to art you can do literally anything, and as long as you have a good explanation behind it, you can make money out of it… Unfortunately once an artist has a name, this seems to become the case, I’m hoping to see a shift in hearts and minds in the near future…


First year – Final Project – Research & resources.


Jean-Paul Bourdier’s “Bodyscapes” Integrates the Human Form with the Environment

“Unusual in this day and age of Photoshop madness, French-born, California-based photographer Jean-Paul Bourdier—whose “day job” includes an address in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley—relies on the natural environment, the perfect light, some paint, and a collection of beautiful bodies to bring to life his vision for his first book, called Bodyscapes.

For this series, the models’ bodies are painted to become part of the surrounding landscape; it is clear that a great deal of attention is paid to matching the paint colors exactly to create a seamless integration of human and earth. Bourdier’s fascination with texture and form have given rise to a compelling series of surreal images. A recent Kickstarter campaign for his second book, called Leap Into the Blue, was successfully funded as of August 17, 2012 (though Bourdier has invested $300,000 over the past 12 years toward this project).”



I found this artist to have an interest concept, blending the human form with landscapes seems to give a striking output, although I still find his work has elements of modernism about them, his traditional tuition shines through in his work.

The next artist I looked at produced his work in the 1500′s, which I thought would be good for influences as I find traditional art to be more

Dong Qichang

His work favored expression over formal likeness. He also avoided anything he deemed to be slick or sentimental. This led him to create landscapes with intentionally distorted spatial features. Still his work was in no way abstract as it took elements from earlier Yuan masters. His views on expression had importance to later “individualist” painters.

Art theory

He considered there to be a Northern school, represented by Zhe, and a Southern school represented by literati painters. These names are misleading as they refer to Northern and Southern schools of Chan Buddhism thought rather than geographic areas. Hence a Northern painter could be geographically from the south and a Southern painter geographically from the north. In any event he strongly favored the Southern school and dismissed the Northern school as superficial or merely decorative.

His ideal of Southern school painting was one where the artist forms a new style of individualistic painting by building on and transforming the style of a traditional master. This was to correspond with sudden enlightenment, as favored by Southern Chan Buddhism. By relating to the ancient masters style, the artist is to create a place for themselves within the tradition, not by mere imitation, but by extending and even surpassing the art of the past. Dong’s theories, combining veneration of past masters, but also a creative forward looking spark, would be very influential on Qing Dynasty artists.

Scholar and calligrapher

Dong Qichang was the son of a teacher and somewhat precocious as a child. At 12 he passed the prefectural civil service examination and won a coveted spot at the prefectural Government school. He first took the imperial civil service exam at seventeen, but placed second to a cousin because his calligraphy was clumsy. This led him to train until he became a noted calligrapher. Once this occurred he rose up the ranks of the imperial service passing the highest level at the age of 35.

His positions in the bureaucracy were not without controversy. In 1605 he was giving the exam when the candidates demonstrated against him causing his temporary retirement. In other cases he insulted and beat women who came to his home with grievances. That led to his house being burned down by an angry mob. He also had the tense relations with the eunuchs common to the scholar bureaucracy. Dong’s tomb was vandalized during the Cultural Revolution, and his body dressed in official Ming court robes, was desecrated by Red Guards.



The beauty of working with mixed media is the unlimited amount of possibilities an artist can come up with: the ideas really, are endless. Although some may say it is getting harder to create an original piece of art (you know, the old “everything has been done before” mantra) everything in actuality has a derivative. Taking advantage of this happy situation, Oriol Angrill Jorda uses nature and the human form for the inspiration in his collection titled “Blendscapes”. He takes two images, one a landscape and the other a portrait, and then melds them together creating an image which reminds us that we are at once individual and of the world.

At the age of 12, Jorda first started drawing. At this young age he would study the light that would shine through the window casting shadows on his classmate’s faces, it was then when he developed an appreciation for light, for shading, and for the many colors he would later experiment with. He studied illustration in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, where he grew up, and later attended Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design and The Art Academy in London. See more of his work on his website. (

greydy web copia

Considering I’m trying to get into the level design area of the games industry, I wanted to work with environments, and so I thought I’d consider artists who try and implement items into environments to see what effect it gave.

I found a museum of environmental art, more so a park of environmental art.

Throughout this site I found numerous collaborations of interest, namedly Invasive by Steed Taylor, I found his use of floral patterns on pavement to be extremely interesting, they seemed to give more life to the area. Even though they are lacking in colour, their shape gave more form to the road.

“Steed Taylor’s temporary “road tattoos” are painted on sidewalks, trails, and streets and eventually disappear as the paint is worn away by weather and traffic. With the help of 45 community volunteers, the artist painted a road tattoo over 1,000 feet in length on the paved trails of the Museum Park. The design forInvasive is based on 18th-century European floral fabric patterns and contemporary tattoo designs. Before the final pattern was painted, names of invasive plants were written within the outlines of the design and then painted over, a symbolic act of containment.”


The next site I came across through general browsing of interests, I thought it was an interesting one to look into as there is a strong focus on form throughout the collaborations.

Although all the artists have impressive work, the one that caught my eye most was Sonja Brass, She takes images of natural disasters, so that you can see the full definition of the chaos.

“The artist’s photographs have nothing in common with the customary images of earthquakes, fires, tornados and floods regularly presented to us by the media. We are accustomed to low-definition pictures often taken with cellular telephones or jerky, almost amateurish video material.
On the contrary, the images of natural catastrophes created by Sonja Braas are devoid of all narrative intention and transmit a feeling of serenity. Wholly uncontaminated and unconnected with human destiny, they appear as though frozen in time. The tornado threatens no city and lava flow can be admired in all its majesty because the eruption seems to have no consequences whatsoever.
The viewer is prompted to wonder how the artist was able to take these photographs, how she managed to get so close to the tornado and how she positioned her camera. The images presented by the artist do not in fact come the scenes of devastating natural catastrophes but were created in her studio as idealized models of reality. Sonja Braas offers us photographs of models of volcanoes and tornados that she herself constructed with extraordinary precision as a basis for ideal and perfect images that simulate natural events. Sonja Braas has worked on artificial images of nature from the very outset. You Are Here consists of a series of photographs of “manufactured” natural landscapes taken in zoological gardens or natural science museums and placed alongside shots of “real” landscapes. Viewers comparing these images find it hard to tell what is “true” from what is “false”. Her works thus address the idea of nature typical of modern mankind, which is deeply characterized and influenced by mass-media images. It is the ubiquitous nature of the media that then generates the demand for an “authentic” representation of natural disasters. Sonja Braas circumvents this demand with her photographs and challengingly confronts the viewer with the representation of a representation.”


All the images and artists I’ve looked through made me want to try and work with human form and landscapes, and so I continued my research with that in mind.

Leonardo da Vinci

Renaissance humanism recognized no mutually exclusive polarities between the sciences and the arts, and Leonardo’s studies in science and engineering are as impressive and innovative as his artistic work. These studies were recorded in 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which fuse art and natural philosophy (the forerunner of modern science), made and maintained daily throughout Leonardo’s life and travels, as he made continual observations of the world around him.

Leonardo’s writings are mostly in mirror-image cursive. The reason may have been more a practical expediency than for reasons of secrecy as is often suggested. Since Leonardo wrote with his left hand, it is probable that it was easier for him to write from right to left.

His notes and drawings display an enormous range of interests and preoccupations, some as mundane as lists of groceries and people who owed him money and some as intriguing as designs for wings and shoes for walking on water. There are compositions for paintings, studies of details and drapery, studies of faces and emotions, of animals, babies, dissections, plant studies, rock formations, whirlpools, war machines, helicopters and architecture.

These notebooks—originally loose papers of different types and sizes, distributed by friends after his death—have found their way into major collections such as the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, the Louvre, the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan which holds the twelve-volume Codex Atlanticus, and British Library in London which has put a selection from the Codex Arundel (BL Arundel MS 263) online. The Codex Leicester is the only major scientific work of Leonardo’s in private hands. It is owned by Bill Gates and is displayed once a year in different cities around the world.

Leonardo’s notes appear to have been intended for publication because many of the sheets have a form and order that would facilitate this. In many cases a single topic, for example, the heart or the human fetus, is covered in detail in both words and pictures on a single sheet. Why they were not published within Leonardo’s lifetime is unknown.

Scientific studies

Rhombicuboctahedron as published in Pacioli’s De Divina Proportione

Leonardo’s approach to science was an observational one: he tried to understand a phenomenon by describing and depicting it in utmost detail and did not emphasize experiments or theoretical explanation. Since he lacked formal education in Latin and mathematics, contemporary scholars mostly ignored Leonardo the scientist, although he did teach himself Latin. In the 1490s he studied mathematics under Luca Pacioliand prepared a series of drawings of regular solids in a skeletal form to be engraved as plates for Pacioli’s book De Divina Proportione, published in 1509.

It appears that from the content of his journals he was planning a series of treatises to be published on a variety of subjects. A coherent treatise on anatomy was said to have been observed during a visit by Cardinal Louis ‘D’ Aragon’s secretary in 1517. Aspects of his work on the studies of anatomy, light and the landscape were assembled for publication by his pupil Francesco Melzi and eventually published as Treatise on Painting by Leonardo da Vinci in France and Italy in 1651 and Germany in 1724, with engravings based upon drawings by the Classical painter Nicholas Poussin.[citation needed] According to Arasse, the treatise, which in France went into sixty two editions in fifty years, caused Leonardo to be seen as “the precursor of French academic thought on art”.

While Leonardo’s experimentation followed clear scientific methods, a recent and exhaustive analysis of Leonardo as scientist by Frtijof Capra argues that Leonardo was a fundamentally different kind of scientist from Galileo, Newton and other scientists who followed him in that, as a Renaissance Man, his theorising and hypothesising integrated the arts and particularly painting.


Leonardo’s formal training in the anatomy of the human body began with his apprenticeship to Andrea del Verrocchio, who insisted that all his pupils learn anatomy. As an artist, he quickly became master oftopographic anatomy, drawing many studies of muscles, tendons and other visible anatomical features.

As a successful artist, he was given permission to dissect human corpses at the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence and later at hospitals in Milan and Rome. From 1510 to 1511 he collaborated in his studies with the doctor Marcantonio della Torre. Leonardo made over 200 pages of drawings and many pages of notes towards a treatise on anatomy. These papers were left to his heir, Francesco Melzi, for publication, a task of overwhelming difficulty because of its scope and Leonardo’s idiosyncratic writing. It was left incomplete at the time of Melzi’s death more than fifty years later, with only a small amount of the material on anatomy included in Leonardo’s Treatise on painting, published in France in 1632. During the time that Melzi was ordering the material into chapters for publication, they were examined by a number of anatomists and artists, including Vasari, Cellini and Albrecht Dürer who made a number of drawings from them.

Leonardo drew many studies of the human skeleton and its parts, as well as muscles and sinews. He studied the mechanical functions of the skeleton and the muscular forces that are applied to it in a manner that prefigured the modern science of biomechanics. He drew the heart and vascular system, the sex organs and other internal organs, making one of the first scientific drawings of a fetus in utero. As an artist, Leonardo closely observed and recorded the effects of age and of human emotion on the physiology, studying in particular the effects of rage. He also drew many figures who had significant facial deformities or signs of illness.

Leonardo also studied and drew the anatomy of many animals, dissecting cows, birds, monkeys, bears, and frogs, and comparing in his drawings their anatomical structure with that of humans. He also made a number of studies of horses.


Finally, I decided to look into the Kano school of painting, which I found whilst looking into traditional Japanese artists.

The Kano school was the longest lived and most influential school of painting in Japanese history; its more than 300-year prominence is unique in world art history. Working from the fifteenth century into modern times, this hereditary assemblage of professional, secular painters succeeded in attracting numerous patrons from most affluent social classes by developing, mastering, and promoting a broad range of painting styles, pictorial themes, and formats.

The Kano school was the longest lived and most influential school of painting in Japanese history; its more than 300-year prominence is unique in world art history.

Kano Masanobu (1434–1530) is credited with establishing the Kano school as a professional atelier in Kyoto. Although not himself a Zen adherent, Masanobu was closely associated with influential Zen temples and adopted the Chinese painting style that they favored. Imported along with Zen philosophy and practice, Chinese-style painting was characterized by a strong emphasis on brushwork, predominance of ink with little or no use of pigments, and preference for Chinese subjects, especially images of Zen patriarchs and landscapes. Taking advantage of the close relationship between the Zen monks and the Ashikaga shoguns, who looked to the temples for cultural and religious advice, Masanobu and his followers secured and maintained the highly lucrative favor of the military rulers of the day.


So with all this in mind, I’ve found myself in a position where I would like to try and create landscapes using human form, as I’m going to work on this digitally, it will no doubt be a compilation of still images.

-$ UPDATE $-

Okay, so my tutor Ozi had a chat with me, and helped me realise how little I’m actually putting onto this site. I have an extremely annoying habit of keeping my ideas in my head, and then trying to remember them later… Which as those of you who do the same thing will know, just results in broken thoughts.

This has led me onto expanding my research and noting down what I’ve been developing, why I like it, what I did to get there, and where I can go with these images…

Let’s begin with a bit of extra research material.

Yesterday whilst in work I was looking through various types of animation and came across one I have never witnessed before, analog lenticular animation… For those who don’t know what that is, check this “how to” video   –

Methodology – Same way as lenticular animation (which is basically the same thing except it’s using refraction instead of masking stuff with vertical bars). The frames are cut into vertical strips and arranged so that as the mask moves across the paper, you can only see the strips that make up one frame at any one time. More or less.

And for those interested, here’s some sample images –

( I found these through this video – )I followed this with a talk to my tutor, who recommended I look into Roger Dean, as I have such a fascination and focus on landscapes and environmental design. artists I need to look into – John Romero, Richard (levelord) Grey,




– (Yamaha ocean to mountain)





– (Check the image of the tree of life – cherie dirksen)




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