Creating Creatures From Paper

Are you creative? Do you like to see if you can catch the essence of an animal in a piece of art? What medium do you use? Paint, pencil, color crayons, clay, etc.

Paper is my favorite medium to use in art. It is inexpensive and can be manipulated in a variety of ways to create almost any form.

Once you choose your medium you have to come up with a unique way to use it. So where do you start? Solomon once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” It’s ok to take an existing form and work with it in a new way. About 50 years ago my college roommate and I were seeing what we could make using the traditional German Bell fold. Although we manage to combine about 50 of these base units into a large sculpture it was not the most “user- friendly” shape to work with due to its beveled edges. We figured out a way to flatten the surfaces and make it into a pyramid. With these units we were quickly finding many ways to combine them to make Stars, satellites, rockets and more. Through the years I have taught students how to fold the units as well as written a couple of earlier blogs on this site so others could explore the possibilities of making their own art work. (To learn how to fold the square and triangle pyramids read my two earlier blogs in the Origami section.) There is always more to learn! Just this last week I came up with two new ways to interlock the units. Maybe you can come up with an original interlock system using these units.

In the picture above you can see the original German Bell in front of several of the straight sided pyramids in the back.

Creating New From Old:

So.,…What are some new things you can create from the old? I decided to create some animals. Obviously God did a great job when He made the real ones. We can only try to capture the essence of these creatures when we try to make our own versions. When you look at an animal you have to recognize its symmetry. You also look for the features that set this animal apart from others.

Think of the Giraffe:

Think of a Giraffe. What is the most remarkable thing about this animal? That’s right, its neck.

It also has four long slender legs, little horns on its head, ears and a tail. It has skin with strong patterning. Can you see how I tried to capture these characteristics in paper?

Consider Relationships:

You can also add animal relationships to your piece. Think of the Great Horned Owl. What are its major characteristics? What other animal is its most common prey? That’s right, the mouse.

Owls have big eyes and a round face and sharp grasping claws on their two feet. By adding the mouse it adds animation to the project. You can easily imagine the owl pouncing on the mouse after tracking it with its big eyes.

Explore Color and Texture Variations:

Whimsical animals do not have to be exact replicas of the original. You can explore using unusual colors and patterns. In the following creature I thought of the Ostrich and many cartoon birds I have seen through the years. As I created this Big Bird I kept adding elements until I was satisfied with the end result. Did you see what was added to capture a more representational wing? That’s right, the wing feathers. Even before that I had added the tail fan using another of my Origami base units. (It is made from Bird-Beak units, found in another blog post in the Origami section). Part of the design also had to do with balance. I needed more weight on the front of the bird so it would not fall backwards.

Use Your Imagination:

Fictional creatures also stretch the imagination. Think of the dragons you have seen in picture form. In making this Paper Dragon I wanted to create a spiky creatures with sharp teeth. I did not want him to be too scary so I kept him cartoon like in character.

Here are a couple more creatures. Can you guess what they are?

Some are more abstract than others. It is fun to try several ways to create the same creature. If you have looked through the Origami page you have probably seen a couple other Bird models: a Chicken and a Nesting Bird.

Who Is the Most Amazing Creator?

In the Bible we read that “man was created in the image of God.” Even though every person is different we all have several things in common. When God created each creature He added variety to each one. Each of us are a special unique design. There is only one “You”. Design has purpose. Much of what makes us up has been designed for function and balance. Why do we have two ears and two eyes? It allows us to have depth perception in sight and hearing. Our bodies are balanced for movement and we have joints in just the right places to bend in many directions. Much of our design is invisible on the outside. Each organ of your body is made up of a variety of cells which combine to make up the tissues from which the organs are constructed. If one were to look even closer, inside of the cells, he would find even smaller units (the organelles) which allow the living cells to function in specific ways.

What is your purpose? Why did God make you the way your are and give you the special talents you have? As you ponder the idea of design realize the complexity your Creator used to make you. As I try to create interesting art pieces I often think about how awesome an artist God is. We can have a lot of fun trying to capture some of the elements of His wonderful designs in the artwork we make.

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