Looking at the detailed leopard portrait below, you’d be inclined to think Franziska Treptow is a photographer. Every detail, from the tiny hairs of the animal’s fur to the reflection in its eyes, is so perfect that it’s almost impossible to believe that the young German artist paints or draws every one of her artworks.
Franziska’s ideas start as sketches and photos of wildlife. Using her skills in digital photo manipulation technology (Photoshop), she creates a digital model for her works, which helps her become aware of the composition and accentuation of light and shadow. She then sketches that model on paper or canvas and uses pencils or paints to create the ultra-realistic animal portraits exclusively by hand. The whole process, can take anywhere from a few hours to more than a month, depending on the complexity of the project. The end result is always breathtaking.
Artist Song Peilun is being hailed as “The Father of Yelang Valley” after spending the last two decades turning a forested patch of land into an artistic village as a tribute to the ancient civilization that once thrived in the area.
Yelang was an ancient political entity first described in the 3rd century BC centered in what is now western Guizhou province, China. Experts believe that many ancient cultures were rooted here, but there are unfortunately no architectural remnants left standing in the great valley. Inspired by Crazy Horse, a mountain monument dedicated to a Native American warrior, in the US state of South Dakota, after visiting the United States, Chinese artist Song Peilun dedicated his life to building a memorial to the artistic heritage of Yelang Valley and restoring part of its former glory.
It never ceases to amaze me the kind of amazing things talented people can create using only the simplest of materials. Case in point, artist Shinichi Furuya, who uses pencils and paper to make these stunningly-realistic portraits of Japanese celebrities.
The level of detail in Shinichi Furuya’s artworks is so breathtaking that it’s hard to believe they are only pencil drawing. But even more unbelievable is the fact that Furuya is just an amateur artist. He describes himself as a “middle-aged businessman who wasn’t able to become a professional illustrator” and says that creates these masterpieces in his free time. So this guy couldn’t find a job as an illustrator?!? There must be something very wrong with the world…
Taiwanese artist Chen Forng-Shean uses little things like grains of rice and sand to create awe-inspiring miniature artworks. The self-taught artist spends up to several months in front of a magnifying glass, working on a single piece.
Chen Forng-Shean has gained international recognition for his amazing talent of making incredible works of art out of the simplest and tiniest things, but the 58-year-old Taiwanese wasn’t always a miniature artist. Although he had an interest in the arts from a very young age and developed an interest in drawing and calligraphy, after his military service Chen got a job at the Central Engraving and Printing Plant, a division of Central Bank of China. It wasn’t a dream job, but it introduced him to various engraving tools he would later use in his artistic career. Each day after work, for 10 years, Chen Forng-Shean ran into his art studio, located on the second floor of his house, where he would work on his miniatures. Since miniature making was a disappearing art, he had no masters to consult with and learn from, so he had to not only develop his own tools and techniques, but also his very own style. It was a painstaking and time-consuming practice, but Chen slowly started to create amazing works of art, and the world began to notice.
50-year-old Brent Christensen, an artist from Alpine, Utah, creates extraordinary structures that I thought only existed in my imagination and really cool fantasy stories. For the past four years, Christensen has spent his time perfecting the craft of making structures as tall as 20 to 25 ft, using nothing but intertwining icicles as building blocks. He developed an interest in the unique craft began way back in 2000, when he and his family moved from sunny California to chilly Utah, and he was looking for some fun outdoor activities.
“We started off doing winter stuff in the yard, playing around with the kids, making igloos, ice forts and slides and stuff,” he says. “And it just evolved. One year I stumbled upon the concept of doing icicles by spraying water. We made one with a big wooden frame under it, and when it melted in the spring it was a huge mess with a pile of soaking wood. The following year I didn’t use any wood so it would just cleanly melt away. During the course of that winter I stumbled upon the concept of fusing icicles together to make a lattice to spray water on and build upon.” It was then that Chirstensen began building his magnificent ice fortresses. Utah locals would often stop by his house to gawk at the castles. Once he got pretty good at making icicle castles, he approached a few resorts nearby and asked if they would be interested in displaying his work for their guests. It took a while before the manager of a small local spa and resort agreed, in 2009, but this small opening got him into the public eye and there was no looking back from there.