Category Archives: Art

Top 5 Macabre Artists


Hello my goulish friends!! I wanted to first apologize for my neglect.  I recently graduated with a master’s degree and decided to put my focus on job hunting.  Luckily, I landed a public relations job with an agency in the Detroit area and will be moving this weekend!

This post shall be brief because I am supposed to be finishing a book chapter for one of my professors on advertising and the Great Depression… I’m procrastinating at the moment.

Brittni’s Top 5 Macabre Artists

This is in no way accurate, it’s just a list of some of my favorite macabre artists along with a photo of their work and a brief description.  I tend to shy away from gore and surrealism, so you won’t see any of the amazing artists who focus in those areas on this list.  I prefer dreamscapes, psychological horror and skeletal interpretations.’ve written about some of these artists before, but a little reminder never hurt, right?

5. Zdzislaw Beksinski (Feb. 24, 1929-Feb. 21, 2005)- Beksinski was a renowned Polish painter whose work focused on post-apocalyptic landscapes, nightmarish scenery and death. His technique included a dark vs. light color palette of oil paints. Beksinski was found dead in his Warsaw home with 17 stab wounds, two of which were confirmed to be fatal.

4. Edward Gorey (1925-2000)- First of all, what a great name!  Gorey was an American author and artist most known for his Gothic illustrations. His past work includes illustrations for Dracula by Bram Stoker and War of the Worldsby H.G. Wells. My sister bought The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which was written by Gorey, for me because the artwork reminded her of me. ha! It is a small book that lists the alphabet along with a child whose name begins with the accompanying letter and a grim description of that child’s passing.  It has a dark humor to it and reminds me of American poet Shel Silverstein mixed with Tim Burton. I highly recommend it.

The first two pages of “The Ghashlycrumb Tinies”

3. Mia Makila (1979-present)- Ms. Makila is a Swedish artist who specializes in mixed media, painting, drawing and digital art.  Her work is FANTASTIC!  It is usually colorful, whimsical and humorous.  In her blog, she says, “You could describe my art as horror pop surrealism or dark lowbrow.” She accepted my friend request on Facebook! I’m excited to stay updated on her latest work! I imagine her status updates will be art-related and sarcastic-my favorite kind! I chose to show this darker artwork because it offers a different side to Mia’s work.

Weird Baby

“Weird Baby” is mixed media on an antique photo.

2. Sylvia Ji (1982-present)- For those of you who know me, it will be easy to see why Ji’s work is one of my favorites.  Not only are her paintings absolutely stunning, her interpretation of the Day of the Dead is engaging, sad and beautiful.  According to her blog, “Sylvia Ji is at once contemplative, spiritual, enigmatic, and yet whimsically funny. Above all else, it is perhaps beauty that emerges as her defining characteristic, and her art reflects this: an extension of herself; a passionate appreciation of simple aesthetic pleasure fused with intimately complex subject matter.”

1. Tim Burton (1958-present)- Tim Burton is probably most known for his work in film.  While he is a successful director, writer and producer for such cult films such as Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland and Beetlejuice, he is also a celebrated illustrator.  His partnerships with composer, Danny Elfman and actor, Johnny Depp have proven a recipe for success as he continues to wow audiences all over the world.

His work has been featured at an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Illustrations, film screen shots and sculptures were all available for viewing.  Above is a photo of “Untitled (Romeo and Juliette)” which was on display in another exhibit at LACMA in Los Angeles.  His illustration techniques include pen and ink, colored pencil, water color and marker. His high contrast in color creates a whimsical world for his misfit characters to live.

Untitled (Romeo and Juliette)

I leave you with a recorded interview with Tim Burton at MOMA in New York so you can hear for yourself his process, inspiration and character.  He is truly a visionary, and I’m always excited to see what he’ll do next. *cough* Frankenweenie. In conclusion, I love Tim Burton. His work makes me feel better about the scary, awkward, and lonely parts of the adolescent experience I had.

St. Valentine and Macabre

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is not a holiday created by greeting card companies.  It is not a day to make single people feel left out or a day to lavish your significant other with candies, cards and other crap.  As with every other religious holiday, marketers have found a way to commercialize history and exploit the celebration of faith.  I’m not saying I don’t participate in chocolate covered strawberries or sarcastic valentine cards, but I can say that I know the history.

For my loved ones...

Saint Valentine

St.Valentine was a catholic priest in Rome in 269.  He is the patron of love, marriage and the young, and his day of feast is February 14.  The story of St.Valentine is unclear.  Some say he was martyred for his faith, others say he was jailed for defiance against Claudius (king at the time).  The story I learned goes a little something like this… St.Valentine married couples and taught Christianity when it was a crime to do so.  He was caught, beaten and stoned.  He survived and attempted to convert Claudius which was the last straw and was ultimately beheaded.  Regardless of the details, we know he existed because archaeologists found a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to St.Valentine.  In 496 AD Pope Gelasius dedicated February 14th to honor his martyrdom.

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

This next story provides a little more relevancy for the ol’ blog.  Gangsters and cuddly love just don’t mix.  It is said that  Al Capone organized the brutal 1929 mass killing on a rival gang to become the Crime King of Chicago.

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre 1929

Several of Capone’s goons dressed as police officers raided the SMC Cartage Company garage that the Moran gang used for illegal business and pumped seven men with 90 bullets from submachine guns, shotguns and a revolver which was dubbed the St.Valentine’s Day Massacre by the media.  No one was ever sentenced to jail for pulling the trigger.  The following decades, Chicago fell victim to Al Capone’s mob and organized crime.

Scary Valentine

A valentine found at, a wonderful blog.

Roses Are Red

This post isn’t meant to put a damper on anyone’s plans with their sweetie.  It’s just a reality check.  Instead of getting caught up in the flowers, the reservations and the raging hormones, we should take a few minutes to think about why this celebration really means.  Let’s celebrate love, appreciation and gratitude instead of empty wallets.  Normally I measure my love through the amount of glitter caked on my crafts, but I will take it seriously for once.  I love my family for our colorful history and for raising me with strong values.  I appreciate my friends for giving their time to support me through good and bad times.  I am grateful for a boyfriend who is proud of his faith, works hard towards big goals and treats me like a queen even when I’m being a brat.  What are some uncommon ways you celebrate Valentine’s Day?  Don’t be afraid, this is a judge-free zone.

Violets Are Blue

I know a few people who swear off Valentine’s Day, chocolates and anything heart-shaped in February.  These people are not all single either.  Some feel attacked by society and lash out at public displays of affection, others refuse to allow one day to change their routines.  I’ve heard so many justifications… “It’s stupid to treat my boyfriend to gifts today because I love him just as much all of the other days of the year…” or “Valentine’s Day just reminds me that no one loves me except my mom…” or “If I plan something big then she’ll know I can do it and expect it all the time.” and my favorite, “Flowers just die anyways.”  Why does it have to be about boyfriends and girlfriends?  Everyone has someone to appreciate.  Celebrate Valentine’s Day by making that person feel loved.

Tim Burton is Macabre

Tim Burton

Tim Burton

It hit me today that I have yet to pay tribute to my favorite movie director, illustrator and storyteller, Tim Burton.  That was unbelievably rude of me.  If you’ve only experienced his movies, (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, etc.) then I highly suggest you investigate other avenues of his work.   Before you dive into your research, allow me to give you a summarized version of the fantastic journey in which you are about to embark.

According to his bio at IMDB, the California native began his career with a fellowship from Disney.  He worked on mainstream animation (The Fox and the Hound) but was also granted the freedom to pursue his own ideas, thus his 6-minute film, Vincent.  This short production is full of life and sadness with a powerful message.

The Director

I’m not philosopher, but every time I watch a Tim Burton movie, I’m left with lingering thoughts about relationships, time and meaning.  If you let them, the films leave us with so much to think about.  The dialogue, characters and cinematography are only the obvious things.  His use or lack of color and what that means to the story is always fascinating… and I will admit that when I come to these realizations on my own, I feel smart.  For example, one of my favorite claymation films is Corpse Bride because the living world is dark and lonely while the deceased world is colorful and lively.  This is parallel to El Dia de Los Muertos within my own culture and I appreciate that. The truth behind the visual effects is scary, but the storytelling is playful.  Is it ironic?  Yea, I think so.  See for yourself below.

His vision is original, relatable and genius.  The stories are not too far removed from what we experience every day.  Some of his films are dark and creepy (Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) while others are bright and odd (Mars Attacks! and Beetlejuice), some are revisions of classics (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland) while others are hypnotizing tales through life’s journey (Big Fish and Edward Scissorhands).

The Poet

A poet is an artist of words.  Language can be an eerily dividing thing or an incredibly unifying thing.  Crafting a message that’s both full of symbolism and realization takes us on a semantic journey to wherever we want to go.  The power of interpretation creates an individualized experience that can make one stanza more personal than anything else you can think of.  I could spend hours analyzing a line of poetry from Edgar Allen Poe and just get lost in the meaning.  It’s a beautiful thing.

I am the proud owner of a copy of The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy which is a roller coaster of epic proportions.  Romance, comedy and tragedy all wrapped into one little book of poems.  One of my favorites is called Voodoo Girl.  Which one is yours? Like all poetry, this book can be interpreted in infinite ways.  It’s simplistic rhymes and smooth rhythms are addicting and the accompanying artwork is beautifully executed.

Opinion Paragraph

I wish I could say that I transform into something more artistic when I experience Tim Burton’s work.  The truth is that I don’t change into what I wish I could be, instead I reflect on where I’ve been, how I want that to change or continue and why I ended up where I am.  That reflection is important in growth.  How can I evolve without understanding where I come from?  All I can say is that I am a collector of Tim Burton’s work for reasons that are beyond visual appeal.  The $300 Deluxe edition of The Art of Tim Burton will grace my bookcase when I get my first big-kid job after graduation.  I don’t worship the guy, but I appreciate his work.

Mixed Media Art and Macabre

Excuses and Mixed Media

I’m bAAAaaaack!!!  Now that I don’t have the class that forced me to hammer out these posts every week, I’m finding more and more excuses to neglect this poor blog.  In honor of the Halloween season full of The Walking Dead, zombie video games and pumpkin-carving madness, I decided to resurrect the ol’ Acrylic Zombie.  Now, I’m not-so-fond of uber-gore, but I can appreciate the concept.  Today’s post will be dedicated to mixed media art that has a horror focus and tones down the queasiness.  Mixed media art is a combination of different art mediums (paint, texture, found objects etc.) to create a piece that reflects several techniques.

The Mechanical Man by Rena Hopkins

Now this is my type of gore: subtle yet mind-bending. Artist: Rena Hopkins.

Rena Hopkins

Over the summer I went to a local art festival in little Cambridge, Ohio where I met mixed media artist, Rena Hopkins.  Not only did I spend 40 minutes bugging her with questions, but I also managed to spend a large chunk of my summer’s disposable income at her booth.  Needless to say, my apartment looks phenomenal with its high-class spooky.  Check out her Etsy page to see prints available for purchase.  There’s just something about this horror and steampunk mixture that catches my attention.

Zombie Girl by Rena Hopkins

This is the pretty little print that graces my black-and-white striped bedroom wall. The Zombie Girl by Rena Hopkins

In a stalkerish Facebook chat, I learned that Ms. Hopkins is busy gearing up for Halloween performances (she’s also a burlesque dancer and vocalist) and has been inspired to create a new line of steampunk-ish necklaces which will probably be available at her second Etsy site.

Starting next week (October 24, 2011) [I’ll be] working on a new line of necklaces made using vintage compasses. A bit higher of a price point than my watch line by virtue of the difficulty finding the compasses. Also a line of Steam Punk /Found object lockets and a group of collages created from old bingo cards.

Halloween Rant

hermmermferm's Flickr Stream

If anyone can tell where this amazing (and terrifying) homemade Halloween costume idea came from, I'll send you a Halloween spider ring.

Not only is this the only time of year in which my blog is relevant to most people, but it’s also the time of year in which we all get to escape ourselves to become someone else!  I’m a firm believer in adult costume parties with Michael Myers themed Pandora stations, Hallow Weekends at Cedar Point and the long-awaited release of Paranormal Activity 3.  My only issue is the bad rep halloween brings to college campuses with its drunken nonsense, jaywalkers and slutty animal costumes.  Please put some thought into your costumes this year!!  If I see another slutty cop, Snooki or Playboy Bunny, I might think about gouging my eyes out.  Put some clothes on!!  It’s cold outside!!

The Horror of Disney

Note:  This post highlights inappropriate content connected to Disney, so please read with caution.

The Walt Disney Company

Believe it or not, there is a lot of horror surrounding the Disney company.  Sex scandals, subliminal messaging and evil villains all feed this growing rep.  I bet you’re unfamiliar with the real stories behind Disney’s fairytales.  Some of the classics are rewrites based on the Grimm Brothers’ stories which are collectively dark and often cruel.  The Walt Disney Company is most known for its animation, theme parks and media channels.  Disney’s persistent use of the Horatio Alger Myth, or rags-to-riches stories, tells us that no dream is too big to achieve and no person to small to achieve it.  Numerous scandals threaten Disney’s very existence, but it’s continued goodwill and outstanding movies continue to keep it afloat without too much scrutiny.

Disney Princesses by Daekazu on

Disney Princesses by Daekazu on

Subliminal Scandals

Aladdin– During one scene in which Aladdin floats up to Princess Jasmin’s balcony while standing on the magic carpet, a whispering voice says, “Take off your clothes.”  When I first heard about this I didn’t believe it.  I decided to investigate with an old VHS copy of Aladdin and turned up the volume as high as I could.  Lo and behold a creepy voice proved the rumor correct.

The Rescuers– Approximately 38 minutes into the animated feature, two frames of a topless woman can be found in a background window.  This rumor was confirmed by Disney and has since been corrected in later releases.  Anyone with an older version can play the animation in slow motion to see the nudity.  No thanks…

The Little Mermaid– The wedding scene towards the end of the movie portrays an over-excited priest and the original VHS cover art shows what looks like a giant penis drawn into the castle architecture.  I remember watching this movie dozens of times when I was little and never noticed these erections, but now that they’ve been pointed out, it’s clear that someone has a sick sense of humor.

Grimm Brothers

The Brothers Grimm by Fran85 on

The Brothers Grimm by Fran85 on

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in Germany during the 1780s and both were professors and scholars.  Their fairytales include stories featuring royalty, talking animals and magic (just like most of Disney’s stories).  What people are surprised to learn is that the Grimm stories are just that– grim.  They are sad, cruel and sometimes scary.

Cinderella– This a story about an abused girl with horrid stepsisters and an evil stepmother.  Cinderella is constantly ridiculed, forced to work long hours and receives no positive reinforcement.  Cinderella’s fairy godmother grants her a night at the prince’s ball.  He falls in love with her and vows to marry the anonymous party-goer.  A glass slipper is his only clue to her identity, and he scours the village to find her.  The Grimm story is very similar except that the fairy godmother is a bird who brings a dress and gold shoes, the step-mother forced her daughters to cut off their toes in order to fit into Cinderella’s shoe and the step-sisters’ eyes are pecked out by pigeons as punishment for their cruelty.

Cinderella by Jeffery Thomas

This depiction of Cinderella inspired investigation into the horror of Disney.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs–  Snow White is an innocent, beautiful girl whose jealous step-mother hires a hit man to kill her off.  The evil queen tricks Snow White into eating a poisoned apple, and it is up to her new friends (seven hard-working dwarves) to find the prince and rescue her.  The Grimm story is again similar except that the evil queen did not fall off of a cliff to perish, instead she was forced to dance in iron shoes until she fell down dead from exhaustion and infected burns on her feet.

Snow White by Jeffery Thomas

Another inspiring photo by Jeffery Thomas

The Little Mermaid–  We all know about Ariel’s dream to explore the world of humans and her love for the prince.  We know that Ursula, the evil sea witch, is defeated in the end and Ariel is free to marry her true love.  Hans Christian Anderson tells a very different story.  The mermaid falls in love with a prince who is already in love with another woman.  She goes to the witch for a chance to be with him, but a curse causes excruciating pain with every step she takes with her new human legs.  In the end the prince marries the other woman (whom he’s loved the entire time) while the mermaid is offered a knife by her sisters in order to kill him.  Instead she accepts a broken heart and returns to the ocean only to disintegrate into a suicidal sea foam.

For more Grimm stories, I suggest Grim’s Complete Fairy Tales.  It is currently on my Amazon wish list.  Also, for more Disney heroines of horror by Jeffery Thomas, click here.

The Little Mermaid by Jeffery Thomas

Another Disney image by Jeffery Thomas

Whether Disney actresses are in the middle of some nudity scandal, seen scantily clothed or dancing suggestively, the company will always recover.  Poor public relations, ill-humored subliminal messaging and racial stereotypes are no match for this animation god.  Children will continue to enjoy Disney productions and theme parks as long as we are all alive and most likely for hundreds of years to come.  We can all appreciate the art, storytelling and spin-off ideas including the work of Jeffrey Thomas.  Disney will always have a place in my heart and in my memories.

The Art of Nightmares

Childhood Fears

Bed Monster

A Joshua Hoffine Horror Photo

Everyone is afraid of something.  When we were children, it was easy to rattle a list of scary, horrible things.  Our imaginations were full of doubt, fear of what’s lurking in the dark and of over-detailed nightmares.  I was terrified of the dark when I heard strange noises, felt scrutinizing eyes on me or saw unexplainable shadows.  My first line of defense was to hug my stuffed bear as hard as I could and “hide” under my covers.  If  I couldn’t see the monster, then it couldn’t hurt me.  My mom was forced to spritz “Monster Spray” (a mixture of water and perfume in a spray bottle) under our (my younger sister and I shared a room) bed and in the closet to protect us from monsters so we could sleep.

Fear and Sleep

Traumatizing events and anxiety are fuels to experiencing nightmares and night terrors.  According to WebMD, nightmares are vivid situations that seem real until the person wakes up, while night terrors are more confusing because the person wakes up extremely scared but don’t know why.  Duration, subject and the frequency of nightmares vary from person to person, but there are similarities.  The most common nightmares involve inability to escape danger and falling from steep heights.

The nightmares I remember have strong helplessness and time-constraining themes.  I also remember some outrageous nightmares that make no sense:  Forks marching under an orange sky while holding samurai swords with loud saxophones playing in the background.  I mean, it gets pretty ridiculous.  Other common themes in nightmares include violence, pain and suffocation.

Horror Artists

A horror artist is dedicated to recreating unpleasant feelings through photography, painting, sculpture, etc.  Mia Makila is a painter who mixes humor and death into her work.  Joshua Hoffine finds inspiration in psychology and fear for his photos.  Zhang Peng reveals cultural flaws through mixed media.  Below are some quotes from these artists with a sample of their work.  Each tells a different story for a different cause with different perspectives, and they all fall under the horror artist umbrella.  Take a look!

Mia Makila

“I guess everyone’s calling me a “horror artist” because I deal with difficult emotions and themes such as fear, angst, madness, rage and sorrow in my art. But I also use a lot of humour. Making my demons having fun on the canvas. You could describe my art as horror pop surrealism or dark lowbrow. My work includes mixed media, paintings and digital collages.”

Horror Painting by Mia Makila

"That Little Girl" by Mia Makila

Joshua Hoffine

“I am interested in the psychology of fear.  We are born with certain inherent and instinctual fears, such as fear of the dark, fear of lurking danger and fear of being eaten.  As we grow older, these fears lose their intensity and are slowly shuffled away into our Unconscious.  Horror, as an art form, draws its strength from the Unconscious.  Horror photography is able to present these abstract and forgotten fears in literal terms.”

Demon Robot Photo

Joshua Hoffine's Demon Robot

Zhang Peng

“In a broad sense, all of my works demonstrate a kind of oppression. If condi­tions allow, parents plan a future that they think will be good for their children. If they are not wealthy enough, they hope their children will have a skill and then they force them to develop it. As children grow up, their character is dis­torted by the inappropriate pressure of their parents and their school. The appearances of my figures drift between real people and dolls. While the image is aesthetic, I also want to reinforce the strong sense of distortion.”

Depicted Nightmare Art

A suffocation nightmare depiction by Zhang Peng

Channeling Your Inner IMC

What is IMC?

In my own words, integrated marketing communications (IMC) is mixed strategic communication efforts meant to build meaningful and lasting relationships with customers.  Companies use IMC strategies to ensure a single message is consistent across all marketing channels that reach all audiences.  The problem is the assumption that each audience should hear the same message.  Instead, a different message should be crafted for each audience and then the appropriate channel to reach that audience should be chosen.

Artist by Verprikov

Concept art by Verprikov on

Why should you care?

Think of your own personal IMC program on a smaller scale.  By integrating your existing social media portals, you can reach a larger audience.  Social media is a HUGE advantage when producing strategic communications online.  If you’re already established online via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and etc, then this process will be easier.  If you’re new to social media, it may take some time to grow a network.

Beginning your IMC program

Most of us don’t have access to a multi-million dollar budget so we’ll rely on free online resources.  The tools available online are our best bet at reaching an audience with a message about our product (artwork) or service and integrating that message throughout our online channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)  Below is a list of social media and digital marketing tips found Jay Baer’s blog.

  • Build credibility before you sell via social media
  • Clean up your landing pages (aka profile/home pages)
  • Create an open forum and ask for feedback (this helps build relationships)
  • Engage in other online communities to establish yourself
  • Offer valuable information your audience will appreciate
  • Avoid too much self-promotion
  • Demonstrate passion across all platforms

    by Krazyy1 at

    Still Life photo of a science beaker

Measuring Success

Believe it or not, there are free internet tools to help measure success!!  Some calculate how many unique (or new first-time site viewers) visitors to a blog, how long a visitor spends on a web site or on a specific page of a website and there are even tools that illustrate the amount of traffic from one of your platforms to another (how many people find the link to your online art gallery on your Facebook page and click through to it).  Below is a list of online measurement tools that I’ve used to track my own blog success.

  • Technorati– a blog search engine and directory that tracks the authority and influence of blogs
  • Google Analytics– illustrates how people find websites, how they spend time on them and how to enhance their experience
  • Google Adwords– identifies most searched and  most relevant keywords that allow search engines to find your sites
  • Crazy Egg–  provides visual data about your web site visitors
  • Google Alerts– collects all online articles mentioning your chosen keywords, it’s a way to monitor buzz

Mexican Culture, Tradition and Macabre

El Día de los Muertos

Day of the Dead depiction

We all come from different places and different cultures.  You may not agree with the traditions of where you come from, but it’s important to at least be aware of them. I’d like to share one of mine with you.

I’m Hispanic and I continue to follow my Mexican and Puerto Rican customs out of love and respect.  Like a typical Hispanic person, I am Roman Catholic, I value family and music, and I am very familiar with El Día de los Muertos, also known as The Day of the Dead.

Celebrating our dead ancestors is not only important because it keeps their memories alive, but it also gives us hope that we won’t be forgotten when we’re gone. Despite the skulls and death, El Día de los Muertos is a happy and beautiful holiday.

Sugar Skull

Day of the Dead Traditions

Many people make sugar skulls to identify and honor each deceased family member.   The skulls are then decorated with paint and frosting, jewels, fruit and feathers to create a cheerful atmosphere. This symbolizes the belief that we are dreaming in life and truly awake when we die.  It’s a celebration of the continuation of life, even though our ancestors’ bodies are no longer living.

The altar is the center-point for each family, and can be set up inside the home or at the cemetery.  This ritual is celebrated differently depending on where you are, but the point is to choose a central area for the spirits to meet. The altar usually incorporates the four elements of nature: earth, wind, water, and fire.

Day of the Dead Alter

  • Earth is represented by crops.  People leave a feast of fruits and vegetables for the souls to eat when they arrive.
  • Wind is usually represented by something that moves easily if air is blown near it, such as tissue paper.
  • Water is offered in a container for the souls to quench their thirst.
  • Fire can be found by candle.  Each burning candle represents a soul, and any extra candles represent forgotten souls to ensure all the deceased are recognized.

Day of the Dead parades can be found in Mexico and parts of the United States.  Dancing, live music and dining are all typical activities that occur during a celebration.  If you ever find yourself near a celebration site, don’t be afraid to participate.  The opportunity to witness other cultures’ traditions is one I wouldn’t pass up.

Day of the Dead Art

Portrait by Sylvia Ji

Portrait by Sylvia Ji

Sylvia Ji is one of my favorite artists.  Her work is feminine with shadows of beauty, decay and power.  She seems dedicated to mixing her techniques with cultures different from her own.  The exploratory approach she takes is admirable and the paintings she produces are breath-taking.

Skeleton Painting by Jose Posada

Calavera Catrina by Jose Posada

Jose Guadalupe Posada was a Mexican engraver and illustrator in the late 1800s.  Although he worked on many projects with different job titles,he’s most famous for his calaveras (Day of the Dead skulls) and humorous paintings of skeletons interacting with the living.

Sugar Skull Tattoo

Sugar Skull Tattoo

Artists everywhere are embracing death.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many tattoos, paintings and sculptures I found that were created by non-Hispanic artists.  An area of expression that I’ve come to love is skeleton make-up.  People are so much creative. The concepts, shadowing and color are endless!  I could look at this stuff all day.

Thanks for taking some time to learn more about the Day of the Dead. Please enjoy more artistic ways to experience one of my favorite holidays with the photos below. What is one of your favorite holidays that isn’t so popular in the U.S.?

Day of the Dead beauty shot

Imperial Trio by CaptainMagnificent on Etsy. See?! The Day of the Dead is even mixed with American pop culture icons. How cool!



Macabre Spotlights Non-Traditional Art Materials

Found Materials

Found Material in Macabre

A William Hundley Photo downloaded from Flickr

Acrylics, oil pastels, chalk, pencil, clay, markers, water color and paper mache are all materials we’d expect an artist to use.  Found materials are non-traditional media which are not meant for artistic use but are intended for a different purpose entirely.  For example, one wouldn’t expect bed sheets to be used as an art medium or for an artist to use ball-point pens on canvas.  It’s meant to be something you just come across, not something you’re looking for.  I have this box-o-crap that holds a plethora of odds and ends for my crafting collection.  I found a broken pair of aviators on my way to class last fall that I want to turn into something cool.  It may work for a shadowed face or something… I’m still brainstorming.

Blood Art

If blood makes you squeamish, you may want to skip this section.  Casey, aka The King of Unpop Art,  uses rattlesnake blood to paint.  In an interview conducted by Valerie Christopher, a contributing writer at Suite101, Casey says his preference for rattlesnake blood is nothing special.  He hunts them, eats them, and uses their blood for artwork.  He calls it “creative recycling.”  When asked about the satisfaction of blood painting, Casey replied,

I get satisfaction from knowing this type of medium gets ridiculed by the conventional “art world,” not to mention how much it disgusts the stuck-up, art snob douche-bags that think they are authorities.

I tried to find some photos of his work which according to the interview include some high profile serial killers and Alex from The Clockwork Orange, but I couldn’t find any photos that are of good quality.  If you’d like to learn more, visit Casey on his Myspace page.

Vanessa Tiegs is another artist who prefers to paint with blood, but not just any blood; her menstrual blood.  According to her website, Vanessa was a professional ballet dancer.  She went on to college where she discovered a new passion in design, model making, and architecture.  It wasn’t until after beginning her master’s thesis titled Spiraling Moon: A System for Menstrual Insight, did she start painting with her menstrual blood.  She uses the unconventional paint to create pieces that represent femininity and strength.  Below is a video compilation of the pieces from Vanessa’s Menstrala collection. 

Mixing the Madness

It’s not likely that we’ll stumble upon some new medium that has yet to be used.  There’s a guy who uses poop and urine to create his work… I doubt there’s much more that could top that.  It’s not about discovering something new, it’s about mixing materials to create something different.  We all have a story, we all have different ways of communicating, so why not experiment a little bit?


Stronghold by Real Rotten Candy at DeviantArt

This photo is a great example of mixing art media.  We have some acrylic paints, some hair, latex, plastic, a freakin’ fork and so on.  Nothing too extreme here, yet just look at the outcome.  It’s disturbing, well executed, mysterious…  It’s open for interpretation.  That’s the beautiful thing about art:  It means something different to everyone.

Reuse Repaint Repeat

Instead of trashing unused materials. toss them in a box for future use.  My junk box is full of odds and ends including, guitar strings, bubble rocks, sculpting wire (I don’t sculpt), mixed glitter, shoe laces, feathers, butterfly stamps, beads, toilet paper tubes, and a plastic skeleton-shaped lollipop stick.  As soon as I use anything in that box, I’ll be sure to post a photo on here.  Until then, happy recycling!!