Recent Playfulness: Mighty ugly felt

I love working three-dimensionally; I’ve prefered it to drawing or painting for the past 10 years plus. However, when it comes to portraying certain aspects of one of my few favorite subjects, storms on the prairie, I’m starting to wonder if certain two-dimensional media will serve me better. Actually, I’ve been wondering this for more than a year now.

So about six months ago I started messing around with felt (still three-dimensional) and nihonga — a Japanese technique I first heard of about six years ago now when introduced to Makoto Fujimura — after my wife gave me a starter set for my birthday. For Christmas I received some powdered graphite, another new medium for me that has shown real promise in helping me portray the kinds of light and spatial nuances wood and clay may not be best suited for.

Prior to last year, it had been an unfortunate long time since I played around with a new media, since I let myself approach a piece of paper with no other intent besides learning. I felt pressure to produce something for a reasonable portfolio (a goal I had set for myself) every time I sat down to create something. I wasn’t setting out to create something Mighty Ugly while engaging in this recent playfulness, but if the paper ended up being ugly there were no worries.

As much as discipline is important to being a successful artist, so is playfulness. So here starts a new series of my recent ugly works, starting with this felted cloud from my very first foray into felt, four plus months ago.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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