Artist Calvin Nicholls crafted ordinary sheets of paper into astonishing relief sculptures using standard carving tools. He finds inspiration for his paper art in the diversity of wildlife and uses his honed skills to recreate feathers, furs, and fins with stunning precision.
Nicholls said: “They all presented their unique challenges and rewards while showcasing the possibilities of paper as a medium. “I was struck by the hidden properties in a simple sheet of paper as we explored grain orientation, structure limits, scoring, and folding in the lab at art school.”
Since then, the artist has devoted himself to transforming paper into highly detailed sculptures that look like anything but material. Nicholls had to pay attention to how the light would interact with the paper to create this illusion.
“Beginning with careful dissection of the planes in the object, patterns are drawn and built to create the basic form,” he explains. “While working under specialized lighting, attention was paid to how light plays across these surfaces drifted from highlights to shadows in subtle transitions.
The surface detail is then drawn and mapped to preserve flow and accuracy while transitioning from a flat drawing to a three-dimensional low relief base form. “The paper he uses for his animal artwork is archival quality and comes in varying thickness and finishes depending on the embossing technique and required point.
After creating sculptures on paper for nearly 40 years, Nicholls’ portfolio includes a wide range of relief sculptures — from large lions to small birds and more. He said, “The large sculptures are 6 feet long, and the small pieces are about a few inches as fun as forming the paper, and the light is harnessed.”
You can purchase original sculptures and prints through Nicholls’ website and stay up to date with the artist’s latest projects by following him on Instagram.
Paper artist Calvin Nicholls creates amazingly low relief sculptures of animals by manipulating paper with different tools.
He is able to recreate the textures of furs, scales, and feathers through different folding and paper cutting techniques.
Watch this video for more details on Nicholls’ process:
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