South African artist shapes salt into famous faces

PRETORIA, Jan 26 (Reuters) - South African artist Percy Maimela stumbled upon his talent by chance, when some salt crystals spilled on the floor of the shop where he worked and as he tried to collect them he realized they formed shapes that he now turns into portraits.

His latest inspiration is former U.S. President Barack Obama.

"You can just take small stones and make something that no one ever thought of," he told Reuters in the capital Pretoria.

"Even salt companies, they wouldn't say salt is just for food anymore," he said, crouching over his portrait of Obama on his dining room floor.

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Artists create masterpieces using salt
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Artists create masterpieces using salt
Percy Maimela, a self taught artist, poses next to a portrait of former U.S. President Barack Obama which he draws using salt, at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, January 24, 2017. Picture taken January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Large Salt Tiger work The newest large work done only with kitchen salt =) Wanted to do something a bit different - this is the first time i have done a animal portrait with only salt =D By far the easiest creation so far i would say =) will share a video with you when i have edited it =D As you probably know i have done many large painting of a large variety of large animals ( bot large and small format in all mediums ) love the feeling of creating stuff with different mediums - the image might be the same but the process and the mind set are completely different =D any good requests form you on what to do next ? =)
Percy Maimela, a self taught artist, puts finishing touches to a portrait of former U.S. President Barack Obama which he draws using salt, at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, January 24, 2017. Picture taken January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Large salt mandala This is what I did on the 3 day convention in Long Island Such wonderful experience meeting all the people and hearing all the don't sneez jokes haha Thank you for inviting me to your convention @worldfamouseink / @united_ink You guys really do know how to take care of both your customers and artists - great vibes all the way :) . . . . . . #art #arte #arts #artsy #artist #artwork #artoftheday #artistic #artofvisuals #arts_help #arts_gallery #art_spotlight #artgallery #worldofartists #worldofpencils #pencil #persian_art_sharing #draw #drawing #illustration #follow #followher #nawden #artfido #amazing #awesome #instagram #artshelp #creative
Percy Maimela, a self taught artist, puts finishing touches to a portrait of former U.S. President Barack Obama which he draws using salt, at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, January 24, 2017. Picture taken January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Jon Snow made with Salt King of the North ! Made entirely with regular kitchen salt =) I know i said il take a break from the salt projects after the last Mona Lisa project - but the last season of GoT was to epic! I got way to eager and inspired to do one more. =D Can believe how got that series is ( i guess you can see that im a fan from all the fan art i did over the last 5 years ) =D What did you think of the last season ? =) Will edit the process video soon as well =)
Percy Maimela, a self taught artist, puts finishing touches to a portrait of former U.S. President Barack Obama which he draws using salt, at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, January 24, 2017. Picture taken January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Percy Maimela, a self taught artist, poses next to a portrait of former U.S. President Barack Obama which he draws using salt, at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, January 24, 2017. Picture taken January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Morgan Freeman Made with SALT This portrait is probably the the longest i have spend doing with salt in that size - i really enjoyed working on it =D ( look at my other post for the video of this project To be honest i missed doing other stuff like salt - i was tattooing wait to much than what im used to =D I hope that is ok and that i have not done something wrong by using Freemans voice in the video - i really felt like it would work nicely with the video - it might be a but dramatic but it should be a nice opposite to the fun salt thing i did yesterday =) Now packing up for the Berlin trip tomorrow =D will update you all how it goes with ubisoft during the time there =D
Percy Maimela, a self taught artist, puts finishing touches to a portrait of former U.S. President Barack Obama which he draws using salt, at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, January 24, 2017. Picture taken January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Made with Salt :) So here is my work of @nusr_et viral salt sensation :) I got so many requests that I just had to do it :) will share the progress video in a few hours :) #saltbea
Large Salt mandala 25 hours of work Different angle than i previously posted and as promised here is the school assignment im doing : Through my research of mandala design, I noticed that symmetry was the one thing that absolutely every mandala I came across had in common. The smaller salt projects I did prior to this project were also symmetrical. They were done without much research, and were created intuitively.. Even though it came naturally to work with symmetry on the smaller projects, I did the necessary research and planning for this large project so that it the composition would stays balanced on this grand scale. In a design like this symmetry is incredibly important. Humans have such a strong preference for symmetrical designs that symmetry might be a signal of something positive and good. Good things are often represented through symmetry while asymmetrical things represent chaos / bad things Creating symmetry is not simple task; calculation and precision is a must. Calculating how many patterns it would take to make a whole and how many lines would be just enough so that the design looks stable is not as easy as it sounds. The trick I used was to focus mainly on primary/key elements and try to make them look as precise as possible (the first tier group). Those were the main shapes/ biggest circles and longest lines in the design. While the secondary elements are not as important (second tier ), these are the fill elements: like smaller decorative images, simpler shadows and overall aesthetic shapes and patterns. Exploration study is used to give us understanding and insight on an unclear problem I have been exploring new and fascinating ways of using salt as a medium. You can almost say that this medium is unforgiving, because if you make a mistake it is a lot of work to fix or recover from it. There are countless things that can go wrong. Like a small gust of wind or just someone tripping over the project and ruining it. - the whole paper is 3500 words - instagrm is limited to 500( if you want to read the whole paper go to my Facebook page : atomic circus ) :)
Rose made with Salt I have been experimenting lately with salt , where i did portraits, animals and mandalas - so i wanted to try out something different. Something with more layers and shadow/light variation. =) Like all the previous once ( at the first try ) i dont think i did a good job - but i do know what i did wrong and what i can do better =) Learning by doing is my favorite motto . You can read as much as you want and observe others while they work , but you will never gain as much experience as by just doing it yourself - and really finding out first hand whats happening and what you can improve.
Salt Portraits of the Game of Thrones cast Here is the newest large salt creation from me =) Last time i did 1 portrait with salt so i figured why not make 5 this time =D This took me way more than expected , and it was also a lot harder then the previous one. The biggest problem i had was when i would finished the first portrait and start on the second one and than go back to the first one to retouch some parts, the second one would be in the way. Also the smaller you make them the harder it gets to work with salt - its really not a fine medium to work with =) By now im sure you all know what happens at the end of a salt drawing like this ;) and yes i once again have a video of the whole process + the removal of all portraits =) Will start editing the video when i get some spare time =) right now im working a lot on the prints that you will be able to buy - if all falls into place the first one should be out for sale tomorrow =D I know i dont show a lot of teaser of all of my work ( like many other do ) , but thats why i have snapchat ;)
Large Mandala made with Salt First of all i would like to thank you all for the overwhelming response /comments on my drawings yesterday. So many heartwarming comments and so much love given!I have read all comments on all my pages at least twice - thank you all! You guys are the best !! me and my family really appreciate it! As you can see i finished another salt mandala - i like to work a lot when i want to take my mind of things and get distracted , and with recent events i really needed that a lot. This one is way bigger and way more detailed and also more accurate than the first one i did the other day. Im still not that happy with the final result , but i do know what i have to do /change/ do different on the next one. 1. : I need to get a larger surface so i can make a even bigger one. 2. : I need to make more tools to help me do different patterns . 3. : Get better and finer salt to work with Also this post here is my 1000 post on instagram - i cant believe how time flies . I have been there for the last 4 years or so and updated my instagram almost daily - i have even been longer on facebook and deviantart where the number on drawings is even higher that i have uploaded =) My appreciation is endless to how much support i have gotten all these years, it really helped trough all the ruff periods in my life. Special thanks to the people who have followed me the longest and liked, commented and supported me from the beginning =D Stay creative my friends! Dino Tomic
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The 31-year-old applies glue to cloth and then sprinkles table salt to sketch the portrait. Some of the famous faces he has drawn include global icon Nelson Mandela. Often, he'll chance his luck with passers by.

"I'll just carry just a black cloth and a bag of salt, then you can just come and give me 300 rand ($23) and then I'll just sketch your face, quick," he said. "And for you it's a memory and you'll never get that anywhere else."

Maimela - who quit his job at a retail store last year to pursue his craft - said he has loved art since he was a child but could never afford professional training.

Getting started on a commissioned piece of work requires a tiny investment of less than 50 US cents for salt and a little extra for glue. He said he can sell a piece for about $30.

Maimela, who also works in pencil, has not been able to get any of his work shown in galleries and relies on the Internet to generate interest in his work.

"Being an artist in total is not easy, because not everyone understand art and then not everyone is willing to buy art. But everyone is willing to buy something that's provoking to their feelings," Maimela said.

($1 = 13.3255 rand) (Editing by James Macharia and Richard Lough)

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