Monday, October 3, 2011

Style, Theme and Technique in Art Licensing - Contemporary Whimscal Folk Art

In this issue I want to explore a bit more the contemporary whimsical style, but this time with a twist of folk – and since folk is such a broad genre, in upcoming weeks I will be hosting more artists to fully illustrate it in its different representations.

The words Style, Theme and Technique were three basic terms defined in my first article in this series.  It's now time to define what Contemporary, Whimsical and Folk mean since we'll talk about them extensively. 

 According to the New Oxford American dictionary:

Contemporary - following modern ideas or fashion in style or design.

Whimsical - playfully quaint or fanciful, esp. in an appealing and amusing way.

Folk - of or relating to the traditional art or culture of a community or nation, or originating from the beliefs and opinions of ordinary people. 

As a way of example, my own style has evolved much over the years and I ended up with a bit of a fusion of creative concepts (also the name of my design studio) with an "organic" and crafty twist so I call it contemporary whimsical-folk. I was curious about what that meant to other successful art licensing artists. 

© Cherish Flieder / Something to Cherish
I welcome this week licensed artist Cherish Flieder. Her illustrations have been considered whimsical, elegant and fresh while also being called "folksy." In her "Something to Cherish" style she focuses on simple and graceful shapes that build up her little stories or the particular emotion she's trying to convey. Beauty, kindness and whimsy are three things that she feels strongly about, and they are at the core of her art style. She believes many people want to surround themselves with things that highlight the good and fun parts of life and give our minds a much-needed balance. 

And as for the theme, her art is not tied to any theme but rather inspired by them. When Cherish first developed her style, she wanted an approach that could work with a plethora of topics. However, she has a few categories that encompass many of her recent creations such as nature, femininity, faith and family. She's always on the look out for themes that could develop into her next art licensing collection. Travel, museums, hiking, reading and shopping are all wonderful sources for that next spark of an idea.

© Cherish Flieder / Something to Cherish
When Cherish studied at Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design, she was infamous for experimenting with different mediums and mixing them together on the same illustration. Pastels, oils, alkyds, egg-temperas, acrylics, charcoals, watercolors, gouache, colored pencils, digital painting and more… they all went into the mixing bowl of opportunity.

However, since she never could stop experimenting, she didn't think she would ever settle for one technique to call her own. That was until the day, several years later, when she was deeply contemplating about where she wanted to begin her career in art licensing.

As a young artist, Cherish's favorite medium had always been watercolor. She found out that deep down inside, it still is: "I love the way I can glaze with liquid color and watch it build up, light to dark. I love the purity and fragility that it brings as it transforms and settles before it dries."

© Cherish Flieder / Something to Cherish
This is the story on how she came up with a very unique technique to represent her style and themes. "One summer night, as I was painting in my studio, I had a bookmark project near me for which I was using embroidery floss as the tassels. As I looked at that thread, I wondered how awesome it would be if I actually stitched on my watercolor paintings! I had never seen anything like it before, although I knew instantly they would work together. After all, I paint on 100% cotton paper and I had lots of embroidery design experience in my background as a textile artist.

It turns out that the love of embroidery that mother spent teaching me as a child, which she got from her grandmother, actually came to settle with me too, just in a slightly different way." So, Cherish went for it and she was instantly like a little kid carrying around her latest artistic creation, sharing it with everyone she knew. She also started sharing it with clients and immediately found herself embroidering on commissioned illustration assignments.

© Cherish Flieder / Something to Cherish
"There is something about the contrasting textures of the paper and the 3-D stitched threads that are so light-hearted and fun as you see them dance in the light. The best part is that it is handmade." Cherish wants the human touch and whimsical qualities to come through the stitches and breathe life into her illustrations.

Now, has she stopped experimenting you ask? Absolutely not! That is how great discoveries are made. But, she is content that she have found a watercolor-embroidery style that for her is "Something to Cherish."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"Great article, Alex. I really enjoy your blog. I agree there are many ways to define folk art. My favorite part of the definition is "opinions of ordinary people." It is art that is humble. To me it's why it resonates with people and is lasting." - Kat

From a friend's email :)