Monday, October 25, 2010

12 Cool Colored-Pencil Sculptures

Piled high on the floor of Michigan-based artist Jennifer Maestre's loft is a giant mound of Loew-Cornell colored pencils, the artist's building supply of choice. She produces beautiful, albeit dangerous-looking, sculptures by meticulously poking each through a screen. Prompted by a contest in art school, Maestre began creating sculptures of sea creatures using nails. "But I couldn’t get a lot of variations of form, or the kind of shapes I wanted," she says. She needed a new medium—something pointy and cheap—which is when she started using colored pencils.
She sold her first sculpture in 1999 through Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after they saw her work at a local art festival. "They contacted me and said, ‘Oh, we want to represent you. Will you bring your work down?’ I thought it was a joke," Maestre says. Today, the gallery handles her art exclusively and the artist gets e-mails from people all over the world who want to commission her work. Below, we've rounded up 12 examples of her creature- and nature-inspired works of art.

Maestre named this 13" x 10" x 10" work, which she made and sold in 2008, after an ancient Egyptian sculpture. "I've been waiting to make a sculpture worthy of the name, and here she is," she says. "I think the Ibentina is my favorite pencil sculpture."

This is one of Maestre's first pencil sculptures, which she made in 1999 and gave to a good friend as a wedding present. "It is a woven fabric of pencils, like all my sculptures, but unlike most has no rigidity at all," she says. "It can be manipulated into different forms, just like a piece of fabric."

This was made in 2005 for a show at the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh titled "Transformations." In an attempt to express something rising out of a swirl, Maestre disassembled and reassembled the piece a number of times during the building process. "I spent a whole summer trying to get it right," she adds.

This 14" x 12" x 12" creature was inspired by jellyfish, octopuses and sea monsters. "I spent about two months on this one, on and off," Maestre says. "My hands really start to hurt if I don't take breaks and give them a rest." It's on display at Mobilia Gallery.

"I have been obsessed with the idea of the elements of legs and petals, but they are technically very tricky and I am still experimenting," says Maestre. In fact, the 7" x 17" x 17" sculpture, which Maestre made for a basket show at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts, took her several attempts to get right. "I was trying to make a floating element in the center, with petals unfolding like sun rays."

This is another sculpture Maestre's gallery asked her to make for the Fuller Craft Museum's basket show. The 9" x 14" x 13" work has since been sold. "I called it ‘Seethe’ because it reminds me of lava bubbling out of a volcano," she says.

"Married couples have told me that this reminds them of marriage—connected but sometimes a little prickly," Maestre says about the sculpture, which was featured on the banner for the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park Annual Exhibition in 2003. "It was a gigantic thrill to see my work on an 8-foot-tall banner when I arrived to the opening of the exhibit!"

Maestre named this 13.5" x 7" x 6" work, which she made in 2003, after a pug she knows. "I realize that it doesn't look at all like a pug, but to me it has a similar energy—or maybe it is just the way the head tilts?" It currently lives at D Berman Gallery in Austin.

This 12" x 12" x 12" sculpture’s name means a song or hymn of mourning—because it seems to be lamenting loss, in Maestre's opinion. It's been called a gorilla, frog and Egyptian mask, among other things, which is why Maestre likes it. "I don't want people to be banged over the head with what I think my art is—I love it when they bring their own interpretation."

"Sometimes, I just want to make something funny and cute," Maestre says about this 8" x 6" x 6" sculpture, which she completed in 2005 and is now on display at Mobilia Gallery. "This little sculpture makes me laugh," she says.

This 14" x 9" x 16" sculpture, which Maestre completed in 2005, is named after a mythological seal that can shed its own skin to become human. "There is a lot of emotion in this one for me," Maestre says. "The points going in, opening up and transformation— I am a huge fan of transformation myths."

Maestre scanned the thesaurus for the perfect name to suit this 13" x 10" x 9" sculpture. Eventually, she came up with “Terpsichore,” who was one of the nine Muses—the goddesses or spirits who inspire the creation of literature and the arts—in Greek mythology. "It reminds me of three dancing girls, with garlands of flowers," Maestre says.


lf52 said...

haha... looks like someone needs to get a life xD
those are pretty freaking awesome though

Donkote said...

those are awesome...seems kind of dangerous to hold though

Savage Nugget said...

Some tight work there.
Real tinme consuming art there and so beautiful. :D

Rorschach Redemption said...

Those look very dangerous!
Maybe it is my lack of art-appreciation skills, but they all look like lamps without bulbs to me!

rembrandtx said...

it really neesd to be me making that sculpture

Milhouse said...

dude, sick picture

Voacaroo said...

Wauw! That is art even I can understand. :P

brendan said...

lol that looks really cool

Insurance Advice Guy said...

pencils are awesomer than i knew

Arcanist said...

Looks like some kind of deep-sea creature.

Carl K said...


Dave said...

That is majorly cool lol. I thought it was actually something from the bottom of the ocean until I looked closer.

Anonymous said...

those are awesome.

troykan said...

woow, pretty impressive!

holy. said...

wow, pretty and interesting :)

astro pix said...

awesome brother!

CAE.II said...

Didn't even realize it was colored pencils until I read the article, very cool! Nice find!

WoW_Updates said...

This looks like a veeerrryyy weird kind of "art"..