November 2014 -

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Art Around the World Blog Hop

This month's newsletter has a formatting that's a little bit different. I've been invited to participate in the Art Around the World Blog Hop, an online tour of artists’ work, studios and processes. You'll also see a behind the scenes peek into my studio, which has just moved into a new location in Boulder, Colorado. This issue is a long one, so don't forget to scroll down past the interview for upcoming holiday gift buying opportunities.


I was invited to the Blog Hop by Jennifer Blair-Cockrum, an artist who I met years ago at a show where our work was hung together. We've kept in contact online, and I'm glad to be reacquainted with her work through the blog hop. Jennifer's pastel abstracts are beautifully layered, full of depth ethereal moodiness.


    I've been asked to answer the following series of questions:

  1. Why do I do what I do?
  2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
  3. How does my creative process work?
  4. What am I working on now?
  5. Who will be next on the Art Around the World Blog Hop?
Why do I do what I do?

I think discovery is what motivates me most. Discovering artistic concepts and new uses of materials, discovering new things about the world through exploring the animal subjects of my work, and discovering my own capabilities. My creativity stems from the connections I make between concepts. I am an idea person. I love the ah-ha! moment when ideas connect.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Within the large world of art, my work is a strange encounter. Relief sculpture is an odd beast. It presents itself both as a three-dimensional sculpture with many sides and viewpoints, and also as two-dimensional creation which can represent greater depth within a scene. At the same time, it is both and neither, and holds the appeal of multiple genera. You can look at it for a long time, and with the changing views and changing light, new things can be discovered within.

There are many artists using similar paper sculpting techniques. The artform is gaining in popularity. Most of us paper sculptors approach their artwork as illustration; I have seen many paper sculptures used in books and advertising. My background is in illustration as well, it was my major in college. (I cannot imagine doing paper sculptures under an art director's tight deadlines, myself!) I study concepts of fine art painting, as well as sculpture in the round. Sometimes I think I am having a case of mixed identity, I think my paper sculptures are really oil paintings! I always try to push the media into new places, considering painterly concepts like edges and brushstrokes, and physical concepts like the way light enters the piece and bounces from surfaces.

How does my creative process work?

Concept Sketches and Reference Studies - Tiffany Miller Russell


Everything begins with a concept. I develop thumbnails and a rough sketch, then I seek out references. These can include drawing from life at zoos and museums, motion studies from film footage, and lots of internet reference photos. I fill many sketchbook pages with studies of my subject's anatomy, movement, and personality. Using what I've learned, I revisit my sketch and correct gesture and anatomy. I use sheets of tracing paper to work out problems and areas that will be obscured by foreground elements. This initial drawing is complete, but always small - fitting comfortably in my 9" x 12" sketchbook. I then scan, enlarge, and print at full size. Details are drawn directly on the print out and color and value studies are made on smaller prints.

Then it's off to the art store for a paper shopping spree! I'll choose what inspires me with color or pattern. The drawing is transferred via tracing paper, which allows me to align the image into just the right area of texture on the paper to be cut.
After cutting, the flat paper gains shape as I score lines with a bone needle, and create forms by pushing the paper with my fingers. I bend edges with my fingernails and the bone needle. Elements may be subtly tinted with a paintbrush dusted with pastels. Acid-free tacky glue is applied by toothpick, and all but the largest elements are placed using tweezers. To float foreground subjects, I wrap foamcore supports up like little Christmas packages in paper that matches the background. Wire supports are wrapped in paper strips and driven through the backing support board. The sculptures are protected in shadowbox frames behind Conservation UV Glass or Museum Acrylic. Many of the frames are made by myself or my husband Steve... but that is for another newsletter!
What am I working on now?


Lately I have been thinking in series and considering how multiple related paper sculptures can explore different angles of one concept. Currently I am working on a series of hummingbirds that will be sold through my gallery. These sculptures explore movement and gesture, featuring males and females of both well-loved and lesser known species.

This sculpture is a species that is rare in America. This large, dark hummingbird has a beautiful turquoise gorget and purple crown, and is appropriately named the magnificent hummingbird.


I also just moved into a new studio space. I've been wanting a place where I can better focus away from distractions. It is modest, but the small size is perfect for the first studio location I've had outside of my home. With an easy move-in, I've been up and working within days. It's a transition adjusting my daily schedule, but I've already noticed a difference in how I approach my work. My studio mates provide great support. It keeps me excited every day!
Who will be next on the Art Around the World Blog Hop?

Next week we travel to Argentina to meet plein air painter and podcaster Antrese Wood of the Saavy Painter Podcast. Originally from California, Antrese was a concept artist in Disney's video game division for over a decade. Antrese visited Argentina for a friend's wedding, and fell in love - twice - once with the man that became her husband, and once with the land to become her home. She has made it her goal to paint portraits of the land and people of her Argentina - all while running a successful art marketing podcast and interviewing some of the most influential names in fine art and entertainment art.



Art Around the World Blog Hopper Artisans:

Tasha Goddard's Blog Hop Link List

Upcoming Events 
Boulder County Audubon Annual Holiday Art Bazaar
September 25th, 5:30pm-9pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder
Boulder, CO
More information
A portion of proceeds from all sales goes to benefit the Society's funding of youth scholarships and Dodd Reservoir prairie restoration.

NoBo Art District December
First Friday and Saturday


Studio Warming Party!


Friday, December 5th, 5:30pm-9pm
Saturday, December 6th, 12pm-4pm

Silver Sage CreateSpace
1650 Yellow Pine Ave
Boulder, CO
More information

Please help welcome me into my new studio location. I am happy to be here!

The seven artisans of Silver Sage CreateSpace will be providing refreshments, live music on Saturday, and of course, many items will be available for purchasing special holiday gifts.



Society of Animal Artists
Art and the Animal
National Tour

More information

November 15th - January 4th
Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum
Oradell, NJ
More information

February 1st - March 15th
Ella Carothers Dunnegan Gallery of Art
Bolivar, MO

April 17th - August 30th
National Sporting Library and Museum

Middleburg, VA

Dragons in Darkness, winner of the SAA's President's Award for 3D.



Tiffany Miller Russell

I sincerely hope you enjoy receiving this newsletter, but if at any time you would like to be removed, send a request in your reply. Always know that I am on the other end to hear your response.