I want to introduce you to an amazing artist today! Kimmy Cantrell is a contemporary artist from Atlanta who makes beautiful, colorful works of art out of clay. His subject matter usually consists of faces!
Kimmy Cantrell discovered his artistic vision in high school when he fell in love with clay in an art class. After his first hand-built vase was chosen for display at the local board of education, his teacher suggested he study art in college. Instead he decided to study business at Georgia State University and spent 15 years in distribution management.
In 1991, he accepted a job in Tifton, a small rural town three hours south of Atlanta. (Do you know where Tifton is? Not too far from Albany, where the art museum is!) It was there, after almost 20 years, that he decided to reconnect with clay. First there were vases, then bowls with faces. Those led to clay pieced collages. The self-taught evolution of his art continues today.
Cantrell enjoys developing fresh variations on several recurring themes: faces, still lifes, bodies and fish. He uses many forms to tell his stories, from free standing sculptures to still life collages. He uses asymmetry to challenge traditional definitions of beauty.
“I want to show the beauty within flaws,” he explains. “Imperfections tell stories that are far more compelling than perfection.”
Through his fragmented flowers and fish, for instance, he recounts fond childhood memories of his grandmother (Bama) who was a very important figure in his upbringing. Bama taught Cantrell lessons of perseverance, living within your means and how to be responsible for your own success.
His work has been exhibited at galleries, festivals, and museums nationally, and is represented in private collections abroad, including Sweden, Italy, France and England. He has exhibited at art Expo in New York, Miami, during Art Basel, and currently shows at Sausalito, St. Louis Arts Festival and the Philadelphia Museum Show.
Cantrell currently resides in Atlanta.
Check out this video to see him at work!
A relief is a kind of sculpture that is attached to a background, so it is not designed to be viewed from the back. It often is used on buildings, but can also be made on a piece of art that hangs on the wall!
What similarities and differences do you see in Cantrell's masks?
Notice how each set of eyes don't really match, or line up.. they are asymmetrical! (meaning both sides of the face don't match, if both sides matched they it would be symmetrical.)
Look at all of their noses, what shape do they make? I can see an L shape in each one!
What about their mouths? Are they similar or are they different?
Here's what you will need:
Black paint & Brush
This artist almost always draws his idea with a pencil and paper before he starts working. So first, we are going to draw out some ideas! On one piece of paper, draw many different kinds of eyes you could use on your mask. Make sure you draw them large enough! Look back at Cantrell's eyes for inspiration. Then, do the same thing for the lips and the nose! When you are done drawing out all your features, carefully cut them out.
On a new sheet of paper, draw a face shape. It can be a long, thin face.. a wide face.. a square face.. whatever you choose, make sure both sides don't match so it is asymmetrical. After you have drawn the outline a face that you like.. place your features on the face and arrange them in a why that you like!
STEP THREE: (variation one)
If you are following variation one for a very low relief, you can now glue the features you choose down to the face outline in the way you arranged them. Let the glue dry and then color in your mask with crayons or markers! Notice how Cantrell often used patterns on his masks, what patterns could you use? What about the colors? Try using some bold colors, and a lot of them! You're done!!
STEP THREE: (variation two)
If you are following variation two for a deeper relief continue on for the rest of the steps. After you have chosen your features that you want on your mask, and an outline of the face.. find a piece of cardboard and draw the outline of your mask. Carefully cut this out. On a new piece of cardboard, draw the shape of your eyes, nose, and mouth. Carefully cut these out. Draw any other features or patterns you want on your face and carefully cut those out too! Glue them all down to your cardboard mask.
Once your cardboard has dried, paint the entire mask with black paint. Set aside to dry completely.
Once dry, use your crayons or color paint to add color and patterns! Notice how Cantrell often used patterns on his masks, what patterns could you use? What about the colors? Try using some bold colors, and a lot of them! Set aside to dry.. and your done!