Artist Adds Pop Culture Figures to Thrift Store Paintings

david irvine
david irvine

Artist David Irvine of the Gnarled Branch makes all kinds of of interesting artwork, like painted upcycled vinyl records, sculpture, and even puppetry. He also finds old thrift store paintings and adds his own unique touch to the landscapes. These remixed paintings feature pop culture characters, animals, and creatures you've seen before—just not like this.

The project started years ago when Irvine was a struggling artist. He would frequent thrift stores for old, discarded paintings he could use for art supplies. He would reuse old frames and paint over canvases that would otherwise be thrown away. Irvine first got the idea to use the pre-existing art after finding a particular landscape on one of his trips. 

"One piece I came across at a yard sale was a seascape and for some reason I had a vision of two reapers standing on the shore playing with a beach ball," he explained in an e-mail. "I painted in this vision and posted it online where it sold immediately and generated a big response—I knew at that moment I had to start a series of redirected paintings along with the other types of artwork that I do."

Irvine is careful to respect the original art and artist (as much as one can when repurposing a piece), and never paints over signatures. He explains: 

Over 90% of the work I redirect are prints on board or heavy paper with the remainder being originals on canvas or anonymous paint by numbers. I take great care in touching up any damage from sun bleaching, scratches or buffs, before I add in any of my own ideas. I also do research on each work before I begin paint, to make sure it's not a valued work. Most are generally mass produced and have little historical or monetary value. In many of my redirected works I try to emulate the original by use of similar brush work, coloring and rendering style.

He also tries to avoid cleaner, nicer pieces that might still be being purchased and enjoyed. Instead, Irvine looks for worn and broken artwork that he can breathe new life into. You can check out more of his work on Facebook and Etsy

All images courtesy of David Irvine.

Turn Your Favorite Photos Into Works of Art With Google’s Art App

Edvard Munch's "The Scream"
Edvard Munch's "The Scream"
Edvard Munch, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

If your local art museum is closed, a new app from Google Arts & Culture will make the photos in your camera roll worthy of gallery consideration. As Gizmodo reports, the Art Transfer feature uses artificial intelligence to reimagine any image you upload in the style of a famous artist.

If you've already downloaded Arts & Culture for Android or iOS, hit the camera icon at the bottom of the app and select Art Transfer. From here, you can either snap a photo or choose an existing picture saved on your phone. Google then gives you a variety of art styles to choose from. You can transform your cat into Edvard Munch's The Scream, for example, or turn your brunch pic from last month into a piece of Yayoi Kusama pop art.

The feature doesn't just apply filters; it uses machine learning to edit the colors, textures, and even shapes in the image you upload.

Dog image inspired by Man from Naples.
Michele Debczak/Mental Floss, Google Arts & Culture

Pizza picture inspired by The Scream.
Michele Debczak/Mental Floss, Google Arts & Culture

Two years ago, Google Arts & Culture rolled out a similar feature that matched users' selfies to their art lookalikes. The difference with this one is that instead of showing you existing art, it creates an entirely new image by combining your photo with a famous artwork.

You can download Arts & Culture for free today from the App Store or Google Play. After having fun with the new feature, you can use the app to virtually explore landmarks, museums, and other cultural institutions from the comfort of your home.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Kids Can Join Children's Book Author Mo Willems for Daily "Lunch Doodles" on YouTube

Screenshot via YouTube
Screenshot via YouTube

For children interested in taking drawing lessons, there are few better teachers than Mo Willems. The bestselling author and illustrator has been charming young readers for years with his Pigeon picture book series. Now, from the Kennedy Center, where he's currently the artist-in-residence, Willems is hosting daily "Lunch Doodles" videos that viewers can take part in wherever they are. New lessons are posted to the Kennedy Center's YouTube channel each weekday at 1:00 p.m. EST.

With the novel coronavirus outbreak closing schools across the country, many kids are now expected to continue their education from home. For the next several weeks, Willems will be sharing his time and talents with bored kids (and their overworked parents) in the form of "Lunch Doodles" episodes that last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. In the videos, Willems demonstrates drawing techniques, shares insights into his process, and encourages kids to come up with stories to go along with their creations.

"With millions of learners attempting to grow and educate themselves in new circumstances, I have decided to invite everyone into my studio once a day for the next few weeks," Willems writes for the center's blog. "Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons. We are going to doodle together and explore ways of writing and making."

If kids don't want to doodle during lunch, the videos will remain on YouTube for them to tune in at any time. The Kennedy Center is also publishing downloadable activity pages to go with each episode on its website [PDF]. For more ways to entertain children in quarantine or isolation, check out these livestreams from zoos, cultural institutions, and celebrities.