Legos and cupcakes and crayons, o my!
Painted portraiture fell by the wayside when the (supposedly) more truthful camera came out in the 19th century. The traditional portrait medium has since regained some of its popularity but, these days, it’s no longer the only alternative to photography.
Sean Kenney is just one of many artists who are making art—and specifically portraits—out of legos.
He uses a version George Seurat’s pointillism—a precursor to your computer screen’s pixelation—to make an image out of little bits of color. And it’s not just Kenney who’s caught on to this simple deconstruction of an image into points: it seems to be the method of choice for the new wave of portrait makers.
Zilly Rosen’s medium is just a bit more delicious than Kenney’s—each of these 5000+ dots represents a cupcake in the final piece!—but the process is the same. The source image is deconstructed into color bits using Photoshop or some other software to manipulate it. A plan for the final image is created and then the artist carries out that plan.
In the case of Rosen’s cupcake portrait of Obama and Lincoln, the artist saved her team of assemblers some work by putting together portions of the work in the correct color order in boxes. The people who laid out the yummy points of light only had to focus on using the proper box in the corresponding area of the work.
The double portrait was created for the Smithsonian. Christopher Toothman of NPR captured these images of the installation process.
The finished piece looks good enough to eat, but, honestly, part of me finds the pixellated planning for both the cupcake portraits and the lego ones just a little bit boring.
Though I can’t say for certain that Herb Williams doesn’t make his crayon creations based on a computer-generated plan, I do know that his works avoid the feel of pixelated pointillism. It’s for that reason that I like his work best. It may not be a perfectly photo-realistic representation of Sherry, but the eccentricities are what bring this portrait to life.