Fifteen of Delaware’s finest artists are currently displaying a yummy collection of eye candy artwork in Delaware By Hand’s “Masterworks 2011” exhibit at the Biggs Museum in Dover.

Fifteen of Delaware’s finest artists are currently displaying a yummy collection of eye candy artwork in Delaware By Hand’s “Masterworks 2011” exhibit at the Biggs Museum in Dover.

The exhibit runs through Feb. 26, 2012.

Every two years, DBH (a Lewes non-profit designed to raise the awareness of talented artists throughout the state) hosts a membership-wide juried competition to select individual artists throughout the state who are deemed masters of their craft.

The 2011 artists were selected by Bryan Young (curator of the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Md.) and Sally Hansen (retired owner and director of The Glass Gallery in Bethesda, Md.). Selected artists were judged on technical skill and innovation, said Ryan Grover, curator for the Biggs Museum and board member of DBH. Selected artists are displaying three of their works in the Masterworks 2011 exhibit.

Something’s a little ‘fishy’
Most people would describe Delaware as a flat state, topographically speaking, but Wilmington photographer and nature lover Heather Siple sees the First State through her homemade fisheye lens.


WHAT ‘Delaware By Hand: Masterworks 2011’

WHEN 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE Biggs Museum, 406 Federal St., Dover


INFO; (Heather Siple); (Laura Hickman) and (Sy Blinn).

For Masterworks 2011, Siple has a collection of photos that are nature based, but feature distortion achieved with the special lens.

Her photo titled “End of Day,” which was shot at Elk Neck State Park in Maryland, features a distorted image of her children (Zach, 10, and Becky, 12) sitting on large tree roots during a sunny day. Her intention behind taking the photo was to show spectators the thick tree roots her kids were sitting on, since she wanted to emphasize that the roots reflect “the character of the park,” Siple said.

“I think those gnarly roots are pretty magical,” she said.

As for her homemade fisheye lens, Siple made it by purchasing a glass peephole from a hardware store, then she glued it to her lens cap. The idea came from a friend who creates “homemade gadgets,” she said. Siple’s lens features a unique, circular border that she refers to as a “halo.”

Siple said she feels privileged about the opportunity to showoff her photos in Masterworks 2011.

“I really think it’s an honor. There are always so many people there that are appreciative of the art that is hanging on the walls [at the Biggs Museum].”

Around the world
Bethany-based pastel painter Laura Hickman’s love of travel has spilled over into her artwork in Masterworks 2011.

Her piece titled “View from Apartment” was inspired by her trip to Prague, Czech Republic, in which the piece displays the sun smiling down on homes she observed from an apartment she was renting.

In addition to “View from Apartment,” Hickman’s other pieces also feature environments that haven’t gone unnoticed by the sun.

Grover described her work by saying it feels like “you’re walking into a situation where the sun just set.”

Hickman said she’s able to successfully replicate sunlight by “drawing backwards.” She begins her pieces by applying a coat of black gesso on Rives BFK paper – paper that offers a smooth texture that meshes well with dry media. From there she illustrates sunlight and then she crafts an environment. This process is “a lot easier” for Hickman because her pastels display a “brighter” glow, opposed to when she didn’t illustrate sunlight first.

Working with pastels has been a hand-in-glove fit for Hickman because she loves to draw; and pastels don’t need time to dry.  

“It’s really [like] drawing,” Hickman said of using pastels. “You’re not painting. You’re using your fingers rather than [paint] brushes.”

Alphabet soup
Wilmington’s Sy Blinn has a unique way with letters and wood.

Blinn, 82, is a typecrafter – someone who uses wood to design objects.

Blinn’s pieces in the Masterworks 2011 exhibit are of wood type letters he assembled to craft various shapes, as well as a piece inspired by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, titled “Outrage!,” in which he  used dual lowercase “L” letters and a series of exclamation marks on both sides of the letters to convey a sense of frustration about the attacks.

Aside from “Outrage!,” his pieces “Cube” and “Marilyn Collage,” named after his wife, are mostly comprised of random letters and not words, since Blinn feels words would further complicate his creation process, he said.

He assembles his pieces on plywood and uses his vast collection of wood type letters he has amassed over the years to create each design as if he were building a jigsaw puzzle, he said.

Blinn’s fascination with letters stems from his 20 years of experience working in a print shop with an offset printing press. (Offset printing is a technique where the inked image is transferred or offset from a plate to a rubber blanket and then to the printing surface.)  

At the end of the day, Blinn is hopeful spectators will appreciate his artwork because it’s one of a kind, he said.

“I don’t think anyone else in this country is doing what I’m doing.”