Self portraits

Art creation for me has always been a very introspective process.  Being a human is a surprisingly complex thing, and I think knowing yourself is a big part of finding your place in the world. It’s something I explore a lot in my art. (I don’t make many self portraits, but the theme of self-examination is prevalent in most of the art I’ve made.)

The portraits you’ll see below span 10 years of my life. It’s interesting to see what self-perceptions have changed, and what have stayed the same.

Oil pastel self portrait (age 16)

Oil pastels were a new, exciting medium for me when I created this portrait. I’d just started developing an approach to depicting light and shadow in a way that became more central to my style as a whole.

Self portrait oil pastel drawing age 16 Laura Kranz

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Time lapse painting + drawing (11 videos)

The act of creating can be a cathartic one, where the creator is so zoned in that he or she is oblivious to the overarching process. When an art piece take shape under your hands, it’s easy to be so focused that you miss the magic of the big picture coming together.

I started filming time lapse videos so I could watch my art come together from a new vantage point. My friends seemed to enjoy them, so I published some online, and am just now aggregating them all into one page for you to watch.

These time lapse art videos are made with a pretty simple process: I set up a tripod with my camera on it, and hit record once I start working. When it’s finished, I take the footage, cut out major pauses, and speed it all up. The amount it’s sped up varies depending on how simple or complex the piece is; it’s anywhere from 400% to 2000%.

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100+ surreal drawings, paintings, and sketches

Surreal imagery is often described as “having a dreamlike quality to it.” If you’re curious, I’ve theorized about what this means in more objective terms in my post about how to get surreal art ideas. If you’re reading this, you probably enjoy surreal art as a genre. We have that in common—ever since I started scribbling concept art in grade school, I loved it, and a large portion of my body of work is surreal in nature.

For your browsing enjoyment, I’ve organized my surreal drawings, paintings, and sketches into galleries. To those of you with a critical eye, I’ll make an admission right up front. The focus in much of my work is not on the execution, but on the concept, so even the more polished paintings and drawings you’ll see below lack a certain level of detail-oriented finesse. If nothing else, I hope you’ll find that the concepts help stimulate some ideas of your own.

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Bible verse art: one drawing for every book

Verse art for every book of the Bible

For each of the 66 books of the Bible, Jeffrey at the Overview Bible Project has identified a verse that sets the tone for the whole book.  I’ve undertaken the project of hand-writing and illustrating one piece of art for each book of the Bible’s theme verse.

Many of these Bible verse illustrations aren’t exactly the out-of-context inspirational quotes that tend to be so popular on sites like Etsy and Pinterest. Many books of the Bible actually have sad or violent stories to tell, and some of the verse art reflects this.

This series is in progress, and should be completed by March of 2016.

You can see all the Bible verse art that I’ve created for the series below, in order of books in the protestant Bible. I’ll be adding about one verse per week until the whole series is complete.

(This was originally posted on October 27, 2014, but reposted with many updates).
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Surreal art meets creative writing in “Lest More Navigate”

“Lest More Navigate” is a collection of collaborative work between me and Jeffrey Kranz. It’s been displayed in two venues so far—one in Bellingham, WA and one in Colorado Springs, CO. The collection consists of 20 surreal art pieces with creative writing snippets that caption each one. They’re more than simple captions, though—the pieces of writing weave the art pieces together in unexpected ways.

You can see all 20 art pieces with corresponding poetry and prose below.

The idea behind these art/writing pairings was to make a show that was both more interesting and easier to engage for observers then just the art alone would be.

How this collaboration made the art more engaging

Art shows can be interesting or boring, awkward or thrilling … and anything in-between. They feel very hit-or-miss. A lot of this is subjective; some people love things others hate. And even when you think the art is fantastic, it’s easy to feel distanced as a viewer.

I’ve put some thought into what I find exciting in an art show, and I’ve learned that many of my previous shows may have been poor viewer experiences.  Jeffrey’s collaboration in both art piece curation and storytelling introduced a new ability to engage. We did this in three ways:

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Proverbs 30 art: surreal graphite drawings

Proverbs 30 is a strange and somewhat dark chapter in the Bible written by an obscure author named Agur. These 33 verses are his only piece of writing in the Bible. (Note: The following chapter, Proverbs 31, is extremely famous and quoted often in regards to biblical womanhood. If you were looking for art on that, you’re in the wrong place.)

The most popular verse in the proverb comes from verse 5, which is very quotable out of context.

Every word of God proves true;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

If you know that verse, you probably know more about Proverbs 30 than most Christians. But the book also has other notable snippets that tend to go unmentioned, like this bit from verse 14:

There are those whose teeth are swords,
whose fangs are knives […]

Or the imagery in the following verse:

The leech has two daughters:
Give and Give […]

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Organic forms [a surreal drawing series]

The organic form drawings make up an ever-growing colorful series of tiny detailed art pieces. The idea behind these surreal drawings is both simple and vague. I’ll do my best to explain, starting with the concept of “organic forms.”

Organic Form drawing: Tree Arm (abstract & surreal) by Laura Kranz
An organic form drawing using a single purple pencil

About organic forms

“Organic form” is a broad term used to describe something irregular, asymmetrical, or naturally occurring. These forms contrast from others that are geometric, structured, or mechanical.

You might immediately think, “but wait, some naturally occurring forms are totally geometric!” Crystals are an obvious example. In an artistic sense, these are not organic forms. Organic forms are characterized by an absence of patterns, but they aren’t so hard to identify that the art piece is an abstraction.

I like to think of organic forms as sitting right in between abstract art and surrealism.Continue Reading

Free music: stream a solo piano album

Listen to 30+ minutes of original piano music

Piano hands stream free solo piano album

The music in this solo piano album (still in progress) is somewhat soundtrack-ish, which makes it easy to listen to while working.

It plays on a lot of nostalgia-inducing themes, which makes it better to listen to while drawing or writing moody pieces. It’s probably not the best background music to planning an upbeat social media campaign. 😉

I’m still composing and recording more piano solos for the album, so check back here later if you like what you hear and want to hear more.

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The Writer: a surreal portrait

Whether you’re a writer, musician, visual artist, or creator of any kind, you’ve probably noticed that your opinion of your own work can change over time. Since we humans are regularly changing (and hopefully growing), often creators are ashamed of their old work because it doesn’t represent who they’ve become.

On the other hand, sometimes a creative will stumble upon an old piece of work they almost threw away years ago, and find themselves pleasantly surprised.  That thing that almost ended up in a landfill has become work they’re proud of.

This happened to me with this blue ballpoint drawing. There’s a reason it bothered me then, but that has since become irrelevant.

surreal portrait drawing in blue ballpoint pen by Laura Kranz

The story behind the surreal portrait drawing

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Photos from Castle Rock (a short hike in Tumwater Canyon)

This collection of photos is from a short but rewarding hike in Tumwater Canyon right outside of Leavenworth, Washington. It’s a relatively popular spot for top-rope and lead climbers during the summer, but it’s also a great place to go if you want a gorgeous view in a short time and are OK with some scrambling. The spot gets extremely warm in the summer, so it’s good to bring lots of water even though the whole hike can be completed in under an hour.

Castle Rock Tumwater Canyon-24
Can you spot the human?

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