Spiral with a pearl earring

December 15, 2011 • 4:02 am

Well, it’s more than just a spiral, and it’s done totally freehand, with no mapping anything out in advance.

The artist is Chan Hwee Chong from Singapore, who specializes in this strange form of art (his portfolio is here, which includes the world’s smallest sushi). Here’s a video:

You can see more of this work here.  I’ve put another example below.

17 thoughts on “Spiral with a pearl earring

  1. The picture look too perfect to me. Either the guy is a genius or he uses a trick. There is a possibility that the paper is prepared in advance (i.e. covered with some substance which reacts with the marker’s fluid).
    I actually incline to the opinion that this guy is cheating. The pictures are just way too perfect. There is no flaws in the image. Flaws would actually indicate that it is genuine skill and not a trickery.

    1. I have room for doubt too, but also I’m thinking ~ “Just because it’s beyond you Michael…”

      The video is misleading though (if this quote I found is accurate):

      “Each re-creation is one spiral line, but requires thousands of brush strokes and the subtle showcasing of the pen’s precision and control — a formidable challenge to this immensely talented artist. […] The three pieces took several months to complete as he had to patiently start over many times”

      Perhaps Chan Hwee Chong has a brain that’s built a little bit differently like Stephen Wiltshire for example?

      Anyway, it’s a successful advertising campaign…

      1. I think he is something like a Stephen Wiltshire.
        Most draughtsmen sketch out an overall plan then fill in the details but a few like Wiltshire do it differently. I knew a boy in school who would start somewhere on the paper, usually in a corner and make very detailed bits of a scene that spread like an ink blot until the whole paper was covered.
        He said that he could see the whole scene in his head in all its detail and could start anywhere in it. His were imaginary fantasies but I don’t see why one couldn’t do the same for well known paintings.

    2. If you look at the close-up images of these portraits you can see where the line thickens and curves and these lines look very much hand-made and imperfect. If you compare the original artwork to what he is replicating with his technique you can see that it’s not a perfect reproduction. I could draw a spiral with the same variations, whether it would looke like anything when I was finished is the difference between a practiced artist and some jackass with a felt-tipped pen. I imagine there are many failed attempts at this technique.

      Also, Chan Hwee Chong isn’t the first artist to practice this art. There’s actually a book from the 1880’s on penmanship that exhibits this artform: http://www.iampeth.com/books/real_penwork/real_pen_work_page42.html

    1. Sure, I remember Uri Geller, but I don’t see what he has to do with this. Geller claimed to be bending spoons by psychic power, contrary to the laws of physics, but was shown by James Randi to be using conjuring tricks to do it.

      As far as I know, Chan Hwee Chong makes no such supernatural claims. He’s just drawing lines on paper, which is well within normal human capabilities. What makes him exceptional is his (apparent) ability to visualize the entire finished drawing before he starts, and mentally project it onto the page as he draws. But that’s not impossible or even unknown; there are a number of artists that can do it, such as Stephen Wiltshire mentioned above.

    2. I know fine artists who can do amazing things, so I certainly believe it is possible. But really… comparing ANYONE to Uri Geller?

  2. At first I thought he was trying to draw a perfect spiral, freehand, and I thought, meh I could do better… then I saw the picture develop… Ok maybe I couldn’t!

  3. See this 2:51min vid of Two-Handed Drawing

    The artist appears to be drawing two portraits ~ one with each hand, but it’s recorded as a time lapse. Thus there’s no evidence that he’s actually attending to two complex manual tasks simultaneously. All we can say is that if both hands belong to him, then he’s ambidexrous.

    1. President James Garfield was so ambidextrous that he could write with both hands at the same time — one hand writing in Latin, the other hand writing in Greek!

  4. The ability to visualize the entire finished piece is necessary for other art forms, too, like rock sculpture — where you take away the bits that aren’t part of the result you want. Some people just have the ability. (I don’t; my medium is beads, and I honestly seldom know what the piece will look like in detail until it’s done.)

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