Small Talk Tag: Miniature

Visit Beautiful Elgin Park

Elgin Park

Part of the allure of miniatures is that they give us the opportunity to create entire worlds in a small amount of space. For Michael Paul Smith, that corner of the world is Elgin Park, a fictional city based on mid-twentieth-century small-town America. Inspired by painful childhood experiences, Elgin Park is a utopian place that allows Smith’s creativity to flourish. At first glance, Elgin Park may seem a bit like Mayberry, but a closer look will reveal some of its mysterious secrets.

Using skills he learned by being an architectural model maker (and other numerous jobs), Smith constructs 1:24 scale buildings, houses, and streetscapes that appear realistically worn and weathered. These miniature scenes are outfitted with appropriately scaled die cast vintage cars. In order to achieve the realistic background in the photos of Elgin Park, the miniature scenes are photographed outside against the (full-scale) horizon, a technique called forced perspective photography. Over the last few years, Smith unexpectedly gained international attention after his Flickr page began receiving millions of hits, which eventually prompted him to publish a book of his photography.
Photo: Studio Back Lot, Michael Paul Smith.

Imagining Home

Eugene Kupjack

We already know that fine-scale miniatures are an important part of any fine art collection. And the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) agrees. The Cheney Miniatures Gallery at the BMA features miniature rooms with English and American interior styles of the 17th to the 19th century. BMA honorary trustee Elizabeth F. Cheney commissioned Eugene Kupjack to create the rooms.

Four of the BMA’s 1:12 scale rooms are included in their newest exhibition Imagining Home, which explores different ideas and aspects of the places in which we live – whether decorative or functional, real or ideal, celebratory or critical. The exhibit, on view until August 1, 2018, will continually rotate works so there will always be something new to see. We for one would like to see Kupjack’s Shaker Community room, Southern Plantation entrance hall, New Orleans Rococo Revival Parlor, and urban New England Dining Room.
Photo: Eugene J. Kupjack. Entrance Hall in a Southern Plantation, 1780-1810. 1963-1984. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Chicago, and Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth S. Battye, Baltimore. BMA 2012.626

Paintings for Ants

Lorraine Loots

It’s not often that an artist gets to exhibit over 700 of his or her works in a solo gallery show. For Lorraine Loots, this feat was accomplished at Brooklyn, New York’s Three Kings Studio, in part because all of her highly detailed paintings are no larger than 1 inch by 1 inch. The 2015 gallery show, Ants in NYC, was her first international exhibition, which is pretty impressive since she hadn’t intended to become a professional artist.

Loots’s paintings began to take the spotlight back in 2013 with her Paintings for Ants series. She made a commitment to paint one tiny work for one hour per day as a way to stay in touch with her creative side while working a 9 to 5 office job. Not long after posting her work on Instagram, she began amassing followers and receiving numerous requests to purchase her tiny paintings. Today, Loots’s miniature art has been so widely featured that she has committed her work life to painting. Goes to show that sometimes you should quit your day job!
Photo: Lorraine Loots.

Allegory of a Lullaby: The Dreamy Details

Johannes landman

Johannes Landman’s miniature Dutch cradle is entitled Allegory of a Lullaby. What exactly is an allegory? We’re glad you asked! In visual art, an allegory uses figures or characters as symbols to illustrate an overall theme, value, or moral. The allegory of Landman’s cradle illustrates themes of childhood.

All four painted panels feature cherubs in a variety of actions: happily dancing, sheltering an infant, and even recoiling in loneliness. The cradle’s headboard panel depicts a muse playing a lullaby that “rocks” the cradle.

Landman is not only a master of painting, but also of miniature woodworking. For this work, he used dogwood from his home province, British Columbia, and added 22 karat gold accents.

A Gilded Palace Comes to America

Catherine Palace

It’s hard not to be amazed by Russia’s eighteenth century Catherine Palace. With its sky blue and gold gilded façade, the building is three stories of “whipped cream” Rococo architecture. The interior is equally stunning: grand halls with marquetry floors, ornately-painted ceilings, and, of course, wall-to-wall flowery molding dripping with gold leaf.

Private collector Carole Kaye commissioned Robert Dawson of The Modelroom to miniaturize the fairy tale magic of the Catherine Palace. Nearly a decade later, the finished product has been gifted to the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collection at the Kentucky Gateway Museum (on view through April 30, 2016). One of the most stunning rooms in the miniature palace is a 1:12 scale interpretation of the Amber Room, in which Dawson hand painted and engraved hundreds of pieces of veneer to emulate amber. The full-scale Amber Room was once considered the “eighth wonder of the world.” Maybe the miniature Catherine Palace could be considered for the ninth!
Photo: KSB Miniatures Collection.

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