(end of) April Newsletter

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This month's letter is all about drawings.  There are a few events to share, a few new drawings, and a local artist whose work you may enjoy (more drawings - and these are great!).  The local artist of the month is Eli Helman, and he creates wild and wonderfully patterned drawings in a style he describes as "Maximalism".  Unique drawings have always been a special interest of mine, and his immediately grabbed my eye.  More on him and some examples of his work below.

Spider and Bee - Eli Helman


Ongoing Events (through early June):
1.  "Identity" group show, at the Brighton Allston Heritage Museum through June 11, 2011, 20 Chestnut Hill Avenue, Brighton Center, MA; curated by John Quatrale
2.  "Images of Arlington" sponsored by the Arlington Center for the Arts, in the Gibbs Gallery through June 17, 2011, 41 Foster Street, Arlington, MA
3.  "Still Point 3", juried show sponsored by the Still Point online Art Gallery, through the end of May.

1                                                       2                                       3

1.  The Burren's SLAM event, and some nice lunch specials, Saturday, April 30, 2011, Davis Square, 247 Elm St, Somerville MA
2.  The Beacon Hill Art Walk, June 5, 2011
3.  "9x12" in Budapest,  Ferencvarosi Gallery, Budapest between May 26 - June 21, 2011
4.  The Arlington open studios is in October and planning is already underway.

Raffle (ahem ... a Drawing)
I'm holding another raffle, this time for any 12" (largest dimension) print on paper that I offer through my giclee fulfillment website.  Drop me a note if you want me to fill out a card for you.  The drawing will be on May 15, so act before then if you want to be included!

 If you want to be entered twice (or more), refer a friend.  Forward the newsletter signup link, and if your friend signs up and lists your name under "referred by", I'll fill out raffle cards for both of you (even if it's your second or third entry).  You can see the available prints here:  My giclee site (

I will be posting links to archived newsletters on my blog, along with the excerpted portions for monthly featured artists. The blog is called The Nerdly Painter (click to link), where I've also been adding information about the chemistry of paint, post by post.

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Eli Helman and Maximalist drawings
Email Eli      Head to Eli's Website     See Eli's Calendar of Shows  and events  

Eli Helman is a self-taught artist specializing in highly detailed pen and ink drawings.  He's a Framingham native who currently is based in Watertown, MA.  His work includes drawings of people, places, and things as well as more abstracted pieces, with intensely detailed patterned areas meshing to create distinct forms, shades and depth.  Often the representation dissolves into meditative and almost mandala-like patterns that fill the page.  At other times the meshing patterns and forms infuse the drawings with a vibrating energy, like a taut plucked string. He calls his mode and style of drawing "Maximalism".
   Sprinter                                                                       Solar Mass

The overall effect is intriguing and captivating, as if one is glimpsing the logic behind everyday objects.  Pattern is a common thread throughout his work, but his choice of subjects and of pattern elements reveals his love of nature and of animals.  A warm yet quirky sense of humor and an intense curiosity permeate his drawings.  

He shows at a number of fairs and festivals in both Massachusetts and on Long Island, NY.  Click the link to his Calendar for details.  To purchase prints, head to his website where you'll find a handy store.  Email Eli to purchase originals (or to tell him you like his work!)

Email Eli       Head to Eli's Website       See Eli's Calendar of Shows  and events            

New Drawings - fun with ACEOs

ACEO stands for "Art Cards Editions and Originals".  They're very small format originals or prints and they can be drawings, paintings, collage or even tiny sculptures.  The standard size for an ACEO is 3.5 x 2.5 inches.  When they're traded among artists, to compare styles and techniques, they're often referred to as Artist Trading Cards.   I've always done miniature drawings and paintings.  WHen I was living in small apartments and dorm rooms, there were years when my work was almost exclusively miniature (under 5 inches).

 The really nifty thing about ACEOs is their size.  SInce they're small they're a great way for artists to noodle around and experiment with different ideas without using up a lot of resources on something that might not "work".  As a result they can be very creative and engaging little works of art.  They have charming litttle ACEO sized mats and frames available, and even the originals tend to be relatively inexpensive.  They can be a great way to collect pieces representative of a number of contemporary artists on a small budget and to display a variety of work in a small space.  

I've worked up a small series of black and white ACEO drawings on Bristol Board, which are a bit more representative and a bit more Surreal than most of my drawings.  Their titled "Flora", "Fauna", and "Mechanica" , and basically refer to the "animal, vegetable or mineral" question that began the games of 20 questions I'd played as a child.  You can see the new ACEOs and read more about my drawings in the Drawings Portfolio on my webpage, where you can see larger images and details (and order direct from the artist prints or originals).  Flora is also posted on FAA, and you can see details there (click the title to go).
Flora                                                Fauna



In addition to the tiny ACEO drawings, I have another, larger drawing to share called "Bacteriophage Ballet", which has also been posted to my website's Drawing Portfolio. 
Bacteriophages are viruses that invade bacteria.  They hijack the E. Coli bacterial cellular machinery to make copies of themselves.  These phages typically look like little NASA landers, with geometric heads, a stem, and then some "Landing gear" at the bottom.  A colleague at Tufts spent a lifetime studying these viruses and then trying to reverse engineer them to create nanotechnology scaffolding.  I spent many hours at the transmission electron microscope and scanning electron microscope, trying to see and image the results of his group's reverse engineering.  "Bacteriophage Ballet" is a nod to those experiences, and is the sort of bleary-eyed image that would float into my head as I drifted off to sleep after 10-12 hours of capturing and analyzing ghostly electron images of tiny viruses.
A detailed look at an older Drawing, Merry-go-round Horse
I thought I'd end the "drawing" newsletter with a few comments on an older drawing "Merry-go-round Horse".  This older drawing is also fairly large (for me), at around 9"x12"  and incorporates the dreamlike, distorted reality of Surrealism.  The way the drawing is constructed reflects a consistent theme in many of my drawings, and I suspect some overlap with Eli as well.  When I create these drawings, I sometimes have a loose idea of a theme or subject in mind.    
Regardless of the intended subject, I always start from the pattern and the elements of the pattern. The size of the pattern elements and the thin lines of the smallest shapes make them act almost like the dots in a newspaper grayscale.  At the same time they also have clear geometric shapes.  Shapes that act like shading play off against larger bolder shapes that clearly create more rhythmic patterns and define the forms that make up the image.  The image thus coalesces out of tiny randomized and patterned shapes, larger shapes, forms made from shapes, etc. in a hierarchy of structure and form.


Similar hierarchical forms and the idea of a statistical set of objects getting together, coalescing, and forming an ordered structure are found in Biophysics and Soft Matter Physics.  We look at structures within molecules that seem random or staistical, but when you step back and look at the whole molecule, the substructures have gotten together to form the regulaqr folds of an enzymatic "machine".  Or a patterned tissue, which forms part of an organ, which is in turn part of a body, (which lives in a community, etc.).  Even when the subject isn't explicitly about Science, I rarely fully step away from the ideas I'd worked with every day for many years.

I hope you've enjoyed all of the drawings in the newsletter, and please don't forget the raffle-type drawing ends May 15.

Regina Valluzzi, The Nerdly Painter, online

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