Wednesday, April 11, 2018

You Can't Take Yellow for Granted – Documentary and Paper Dolls Inspired by Nature

Leaning Into the Wind Documentary

I was not blown away by Leaning Into the Wind, the 2018 documentary about nature artist Andy Goldsworthy. In 2002, however, I was spellbound by his first documentary Rivers and Tides, bearing witness to poetic art forms created in nature with nature—a bright red poppy petal covered rock nestled among a pile of boulders, a spiral made of broken ice, or a collection of red berries nestled inside geometric shapes of leaves floating down a river. But this new documentary did not give me the same harmonious feeling. His art creations were more strange and I found the score to be eerie and unsettling.

Nature Art by Andy Goldworthy

I didn’t dislike the documentary. It was truly fascinating to see the world through the eyes of an innovative artist. Goldworthy explains, “There are two different ways of looking at the world— you can walk on the path or you can walk through the hedge.” And indeed several times during the film we witnessed Goldsworthy painstakingly navigate through a bramble of hedges next to a sidewalk or alongside a country road. He is also fond of lying on the ground when it starts to rain, staying long enough to create a dry shape of his existence, visible for a matter of seconds until the rain blots it away. Much of what Goldsworthy does is ephemeral, taking hours or days to carefully create an artistic expression only to be washed away, blown away or melted. Color in nature is often temporary, especially yellow. Fall leaves can so quickly change from a yellow green to the perfect vivid yellow and then one cold night can turn them black. “You can never take yellow for granted,” he says.

Throughout the film I wondered what it would be like to spend an entire day outside creating art with nature. Could I have that kind of patience? I thought about people who do gardening or landscaping and the gratification they must feel working with elements of the earth. I thought about our own innovative paper doll artist, Kwei-lin Lum, who infuses her background in biodiversity with her paper doll art as evidenced in this example from her self-published Wonder Garden Paper Doll Set.

Wonder Garden Paper Doll by Kwei-lin Lum
Pages from “Wonder Garden Paper Doll Set” by Kwei-lin Lum, 2013
Kwei-lin is truly one of the most interesting people in my life and I’m grateful to have her as a friend and as an artist for my publishing company. I’m wild about her MOD POP Paper Dolls, a Paper Studio Press title published in 2012. She’s also done some terrific books for Dover Publishing including Day of the Dead, Chinatown, Voodoo, Speakeasy and Twisted Fairy Tales.

Her paper doll art is both whimsical and intelligent, each page a cacophony of color, design and pattern. Kwei-lin is not afraid to use strange shapes and whacky patterns for her paper dolls, costumes, scenes and props, and it’s easy to get lost in the details on each intriguing page. Kwei-lin Lum’s paper doll books are available on and And I encourage you to visit her website, for her wild and wonderful self-published paper doll sets.

MOD POP Paper Dolls
MOD POP Paper Dolls by Kwei-lin Lum, Paper Studio Press, 2012

Innovative paper dolls by Kwei-lin Lum
Intriguing subjects and innovative designs in Kwei-lin Lum’s paper doll books for Dover Publications

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