This photographer shot the birth of her own child

Megan Mattiuzzo, a professional wedding photographer, had a baby last month. She wanted to document the wonder of her child's birth and she knew that if you want something done right, you do it yourself.

“I’m used to capturing moments that you can’t retake,” Mattiuzzo tells PetaPixel. “So when I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to capture my son’s first breath, first moments, seeing his face for the first time...

“Due to a failed epidural that was not 100% effective, I was able to feel the right side of my body and a spot on my left abdomen,” Mattiuzzo says. “When it was time to start pushing, my husband [Ryan]’s job was to hand [the camera] to me when it was time for the last push...

“I took the camera and tucked my chin to my chest, rested the camera on my stomach, pulled my head to the viewfinder, and started pushing,” she says. “I then saw a moment I will never forget… my son’s hair… then his head… then his body… all while shooting. It was the most amazing moment of my life.”

More at PetaPixel: "This Photographer Shot Her Own Childbirth"

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This talented courtroom artist has drawn the trials of John Gotti, Martha Stewart, and Donald Trump

Starting in 1974, illustrator Marilyn Church has spent her workdays in court. Church is a courtroom artist who masterfully captures the intensity, drama, and strangeness of high profile proceedings involving John Gotti, Martha Stewart, OJ Simpson, David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz, and even Donald Trump. From an interview with Church in Topic:

How and when did you begin working as a courtroom artist?

It was 1974. I had been doing fashion illustration, which is really based on drawing gestures and being very quick to get everything down.

I had a lawyer friend who was covering a big case, and he told me that there were these artists, hired by television channels, sitting there drawing in court. I was not really a television watcher, so this was a revelation to me. So I turned on a news program and it was the first time I saw a courtroom drawing on television. I was so thrilled to see it, because I can remember seeing drawings in Life magazine when I was young, courtroom drawings, and thinking, God, how exciting. An artist can sit in court, draw some life, and watch these amazing cases happen.

So, right away I just thought, I can do that. I know I can do that. I showed up in court the next day.

You were in the courtroom with Donald Trump a couple of times—for the 1986 USFL v. NFL case, and also his 1992 divorce from Ivana. Can you tell me a little bit about the experience of drawing Trump?

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The Family Acid: California, a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. With his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.  

My Ozma Records partner Tim Daly and I are honored to share with you this new collection of Steffens’ spectacular snapshots taken between 1968 and 2015 during the foursome’s freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home. Think of it as a family album belonging to a very unconventional family. 

This is The Family Acid: California.

Based in Los Angeles, the Steffens family traveled up and down the West Coast, from the wilds of Death Valley and reggae festivals in Humboldt to fiery protests in Berkeley and the ancient redwoods of Big Sur. Along the way, they’d rendezvous with friends like Bob Marley, Timothy Leary, and war photographer Tim Page, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now. They’d take in the wonders of nature and, of course, the adults would occasionally lose their minds in psychoactive celebrations of creativity, freedom, and hope.   

The Family Acid: California is a 192-page, large format book manufactured with the finest materials and attention to design as you've come to expect from Ozma Records, producers of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Read the rest

Banksy's art authentication system displays top-notch cryptographic nous

Banksy's anonymity makes it hard to authenticate his pieces and prints, so Banksy has created a nonprofit called "Pest Control" that issues certificates of authenticity: you send them an alleged Banksy print and £65 and if they agree that it's authentic, they'll return it with a certificate that has a torn-in-half "Di-faced" fake banknote with Lady Diana's face on it, with a handwritten ID number across the bill. Read the rest

The Forbes Pigment Collection

How do you know for sure if your carefully-recreated 18th-century paint would fool pass muster as art dealers a legitimate recreation long enough to get away with it? of the authentic originals? Tom Scott visits the Forbes Pigment Collection.

The Forbes Pigment Collection at the Harvard Art Museums is a collection of pigments, binders, and other art materials for researchers to use as standards: so they can tell originals from restorations from forgeries. It's not open to the public, because it's a working research library -- and because some of the pigments in there are rare, historic, or really shouldn't be handled by anyone untrained.

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J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore and Grindenwald had ‘Incredibly Intense' sexual relationship

J.K. Rowling earlier declared wizarding headmaster Albus Dumbledore a gay man. Much discussion centered on why it wasn't on the page or the screen. Once again, she highlights a sexual dimension to her characters that surely motivates them, yet—for reasons unexplained—remains unspoken and unseen.

“So I’m less interested in the sexual side – though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship – than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other, which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationship,” Rowling adds.

Everything you say about your art that isn't in your art is criticism of your art.

Photo: Daniel Ogren (CC BY 2.0) Read the rest

"Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase," a wonderful claymation from 1992

Joan C Gratz's animated short "Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase" is a lovely and trippy 2D claymation of iconic artworks transforming one into another. After spending a decade on the piece, Gratz won the 1992 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Gratz called her animation technique "clay painting." From Educational Media Reviews Online:

“Clay-painting” is a unique process that blends film and painting, and an innovation that garnered Joan Gratz’s Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase a 1992 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In this true landmark of animation, numerous famous and iconic paintings from 20th century art are “reproduced as exactly as possible but the transitions between these paintings [are] used to communicate the relationship of artistic movements” as Gratz has stated. “In the clay painting technique, which I began developing in 1966, I work by painting directly before the camera, making changes to a single painting, shooting a frame, repainting and shooting, etc. In the end there is one painting with the process recorded on film, the product is the process.”

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Capitol Police arrest man projecting 'Discrimination is Wrong' on Rayburn House Office Building

Not all heroes wear capes.

How to easily draw a fantastic optical illusion of a 3D city

As a high school student, I would have enjoyed learning to use ruled paper to draw anamorphic illusions instead of (not) taking notes. (via The Kid Should See This)

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Creative Adversarial Networks: GANs that make art

Generative Adversarial Networks use a pair of machine-learning models to create things that seem very realistic: one of the models, the "generator," uses its training data to make new things; and the other, the "discerner," checks the generator's output to see if it conforms to the model. Read the rest

Andrew Jackson becomes Rambo and other great moments in money art

Illustrator Boden Him makes fantastic money art, transforming US presidents into pop culture icons. See more here: Illegal Tender.

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DIY: Video game cartridges laser-carved in wood

“I originally only made NES/SNES cartridges out of wood. Someone kept on bugging me to make him a Soul Reaver cartridge, so I eventually made him one. This was made out walnut, cherry and poplar using a laser engraver.” Read the rest

Animal photo art search engine

x6udpngx's x6ud is a single-purpose search engine that offers high-quality animal photographs for use by artists seeking reference material. It also has a 3D head that you can rotate Read the rest

Carolee Schneemann, pioneering performance artist, RIP

Carolee Schneemann -- a performance art pioneer whose deeply provocative and thoughtful work focused on gender, sex, the body, and power -- died yesterday at age 79. My first exposure to Schneemann's work was in the mid-1980s on a grainy VHS dub of avant-garde art films that also included pieces by Karen Finley and Annie Sprinkle. That videocassette, along with the RE/Search book Angry Women and a few other underground tapes and texts, opened my eyes and mind to a multitude of new genres in feminist art and radical thought. From an obituary by Andrew Russeth in Art News:

Schneemann’s corpus of work is so gloriously diverse that it is impossible to summarize with a single defining piece, but among her most famous (and infamous) works is Meat Joy, a 1964 film of a performance featuring eight scantily clad dancers who writhe together, with animals parts soon joining the melee. It’s a bacchanalian display—unapologetic and exploding with pleasure—and an utterly indelible work of art.

“Meat Joy has the character of an erotic rite: excessive, indulgent; a celebration of flesh as material: raw fish, chickens, sausages, wet paint, transparent plastic, rope, brushes, paper scrap,” Schneemann wrote. “Its propulsion is toward the ecstatic, shifting and turning between tenderness, wildness, precision, abandon—qualities that could at any moment be sensual, comic, joyous, repellent.”

Describing the work on another occasion, in terms that could very well serve as a manifesto for her entire career, she said, “The culture was starved in terms of sensuousness because sensuality was always confused with pornography.

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Roger Wood's latest haul of wheeled, steampunk clocks

Roger Wood (previously), the bonkers steampunk assemblage clock sculptor, just sent this to his Klockwerks mailing list: "This is what I created in February." Read the rest

If contemporary singers were around in the 80s

A masterfully-executed selection of LP covers that "imagine how your current favorite singers would look like in a 80s version." The artist is Fulaleo from Australia. Read the rest

Realistic paintings of Nintendo Smash Bros. characters

Raf Grassetti, the Sony Art Director behind God of War's look, is painting realistic portraits of characters from Smash Bros. Ultimate. Some are charming, such as Princess Peach. One the other hand, there's always Sonic...

Via Metafilter. Read the rest

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