If there’s one thing Marcel Duchamp’s conceptual art has taught us, it’s that the term “art” is broader than oil paint and canvas. Art has no rules, some might say, and paintings shouldn’t be restricted to canvas or paper.
The following artists will inspire you to broaden your horizons when it comes to your definition of art. Who knows, they might just inspire you to pick up your brush.
First up is Japanese artist Akie Nakata. Using small stones and pebbles as her canvas, Nakata’s miniature paintings take after the natural world. Cats, owls, and frogs come to life as she paints them on stone. According to Nakata, she chooses stones that already resemble animals. She then paints straight onto them, using acrylic paint. The end result is quite remarkable.
Ruby Silvious uses a different material altogether as her canvas: used, dried-up teabags. Her miniature art includes recreations of classic paintings such as Gabriël Metsu’s painting, Woman: “I want viewers to keep an open mind and think beyond the boundaries of what they may consider traditional art,” Silvious remarked once.
“In today’s throw-away culture, where we have immediate access to an abundance of materials and numerous mediums to choose from, all things become possible.” Alongside used teabags, Silvious also paints on broken eggshells and wine corks.
Illustrating with Everyday Objects
Chances are, you’ve stumbled across Christoph Niemann’s illustrations at least once. Celebrated as the world’s best illustrator, his work appears regularly on the covers of The New Yorker, National Geographic, and The New York Times Magazine. Part of his charm and wit is his unique use of everyday objects, incorporating physical objects like matchsticks and socks, into his illustrations.
“More than a specific visual style, my trademark has always been to autonomously, swiftly, and conceivably map out and execute an idea,” Niemann once shared with The Creative Independent. “Nobody ever approached me asking for a drawing of, say, a dinosaur with a fridge as a head done ‘in my style.’”