Tag Archives: art

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!!

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!!

Digging Deep into Macabre

Before we can really dive into macabre, it’s important we agree upon a definition.  Macabre translates to death.  In art, macabre is a sub-culture dedicated to grim and horror.  It’s difficult to say when macabre began because demons and spirits have been part of life since the dawn of time.  Religious literature tells us about evil, cave paintings tell us about evil, and stories from others’ experiences tell us about evil.  People always say that without a villain, it’s hard to sell the good guy’s story.  It’s impossible to imagine how we all would’ve developed without the knowledge of evil and horror.  Fear is such a huge part of how we live (or don’t live).

Macabre Beauty Shot

Macabre Beauty Shot

Fear mixed with imagination has helped create and shape the world of macabre.   Zombie portraits, gory photos, suicide depictions, dead bodies, monster attacks, alien abductions, and anything else that means death and horror to someone can be used to create something incredible.  It’s definitely a niche market.  I mean, most people probably prefer oil paintings of landscapes or black and white photos of their loved ones, but for those of us interested in the darker side of things, we have macabre.

It’s interesting to think about macabre before movies were possible.  We only had photos, paintings, and stories.  In Victorian times we had theater and costumes.  In Biblical times we had stories of Eve and the snake of temptation.  Every era brings a new perspective on evil and horror.  Now we have video games and fashion.  Each decade pushes the envelope,  I remember hearing about blood painting in undergrad.  Who knows what the next medium in macabre might be.  Hopefully this blog will help me connect with macabre enthusiasts across the globe, so we can stay up-to-date on the latest news and artists.  I just want to be in the loop.

Personally, macabre reminds me to appreciate life, to remember the fact that our time ends eventually and sometimes unexpectedly, and not to take what I have for granted.  I’m not sure if any piece of photography or painted material featuring a skeleton counts as macabre, but I plan to investigate.  I’ve always been interested in the villain, in darkness, and in horror, but I’ve never dived in beyond an entertainment standpoint to learn about it.  I watch movies, I play zombie video games, I like black clothing, but I’m missing out on a wonderful opportunity to explore grim art.

This journey down the rabbit hole of terror should nothing less than interesting.  I hope to learn about how others incorporate macabre into their lives and art, and maybe make some friends along the way.  It’s only fair to hear all sides of a story.  Art can be nice, it can be moving, it can be beautiful, but it can also be disturbing and enlightening.  The most terrifying painting I’ve ever seen is by Salvador Dali.  His melting clocks scares me. *shudder*  It makes me feel eerie and out of control.  I can’t stand it.  Maybe our own fears are what bring macabre to life?

I’m ready to figure this out.  I packed a flashlight, so let’s do this.