This week’s jewelry design challenge for the Self-Representing Artists in Jewelry Design blog is to be inspired by the iconic paintings of Leonid Afremov. Afremov is a contemporary artist who uses only a palette knife – no brushes – to create his stunning oil on canvas impressionist paintings.
Many of Afremov’s paintings depict tree-lined city streets, where the leaves are turning to their autumn colors. I was instantly captivated by the luminous colors in his paintings and found ample color inspiration for a jewelry design. Up close, the paintings have an almost pixelated quality from the palette knife strokes. This also piqued the interest of my muse.
With no shortage of colors to choose from, I also needed to come up with a design and technique. Should I go with the colors alone, or should I also try to incorporate the concept of trees? How can I use the pixelated concept in jewelry?
I am trying to use these challenges to stretch, not just my creativity by finding inspiration from themes not of my own choosing, but my technique repertoire when it fits the theme. I’ve recently begun experimenting with wire weaving as a result of these challenges. It’s a technique with many possibilities, from free-form organic designs to more structured patterns, both with and without beads.
As I contemplated Afremov’s paintings, I thought a free-form wire and bead design could work to convey the pixelated quality of the palette knife strokes. And since cuff bracelets seem very en vogue these days, and I happen to love wearing them regardless of when their fashionable, I decided to try a beaded wire-woven cuff.
As you may notice from this in-progress photo (and yes, those are cat hairs on my bead mat), I also decided to cheat just a bit and use a pre-made wire frame. Because I am relatively new to wire weaving, I haven’t invested in all the tools and materials. One thing I don’t yet have is a mandrel (a thing you wrap wire around to form the shape you want your final piece to have). I could probably fake it with a soup can or something. But I could also pick up a pair of pre-made frames to use as my training wheels in this adventure.
I was not thrilled with my first attempt at this bracelet, and took it apart after taking the photo. The blue color block in the center, which was my attempt at representing the sky in Afremov’s paintings, was too monochromatic. His paintings practically vibrate with color, and this bracelet was just too blah for this theme. I also realized I was being too literal (again!) and trying to duplicate a painting with beads rather than take design inspiration from the art.
For my second attempt, I pulled more colors from my semi-precious gemstone bead stash, adding shades of purple, green, teal, and turquoise. I like this version much better. And I think it better captures my initial impressions of Afremov’s paintings: vivid colors and almost pixelated details.
I am not a painter. I can put a coat of paint on a wall, or do a little doodle on a bead, and that’s the limit for me. I could not fathom how someone could make such spectacular landscapes, much less people and animals, with only a palette knife. Fortunately, there’s this awesome fast-motion (sped up 16 times) video of Leonid Afremov painting. See how he does it and be amazed.
And come back here next week to see how I interpret the paintings of Henri Rousseau in jewelry design. To make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe to this blog by RSS feed, email subscription, or feed servers linked in the right column under my photo. You can also follow me on Facebook, join me on Google+, and tune in to my Twitter feed to get updates on my newest jewelry designs, new listings in my Etsy shop, and other design challenges and adventures from Paisley Lizard.