Stories, Musings & The Vision Thing

Tag: whimsy

Digital Artist Ben Heine is a Whimsical Wizard

Call it magical realism… call it fantasy…  but this digital artist is a whimsical wizard.


Pencil Vs Camera – 6 (AOC) by Ben Heine

Ben Heine’s art is powered by his finely-honed technique. Although self-trained, he’s a superb sketch artist and photographer – and much more, as he’s shaped his disparate skills into something at once surreal and sublime.


Pencil Vs Camera – 46 by Ben Heine

What makes this Belgian artist’s work truly wonderful is his playful imagery. Melding his skill as an artist with a childlike sensibility, the constructions he calls Pencil Vs Camera reveal a fertile but quirky imagination.


Pencil Vs Camera – 61 by Ben Heine

It’s the juxtaposition of realistic photographic images with his fanciful sketches that set him apart from most other visual artists. Still, I can see references in his work to an earlier Belgian Surrealist, Rene Magritte, as in the piece below.


Pencil Vs Camera – 63 by Ben Heine


“Self-Act by Erik Johansson


Ben Heine’s images remind me of Erik Johansson, a digital artist I profiled a few posts ago. Erik also transforms his photography with Photoshop to invent a physically realistic but impossible tableaux, adding his own sense of fantasy to the concrete imagery. Photoshop has enabled many digital artists to place the unexpected within the realm of the familiar.  You can check out my post on Swedish Surrealist Erik Johansson’s impossible images here.

Getting back to Ben Heine, besides cheerfully portraying the mischievious moment, his pieces are surprising and fun, with a whimsical sensibility that insures broad appeal. But key to making them work is his ability to draw. From a recent interview:

Ben Heine - Barcelona - Sagrada (2012)

Ben Heine

Drawing was my initial obsession and my first love, because it’s easy to carry a pencil and a piece of paper. I used to draw all the time, everywhere. I needed to draw to express my emotions. 

I realized very early in my life that I would spend a huge amount of time and energy working on visual projects. I never sought to become an artist specifically or to conform to what it might mean to be an artist— it’s just the closest descriptor for what I am.

Pencil Vs Camera - 74 - Tiger and Owl

Pencil Vs Camera – 74 – Tiger and Owl by Ben Heine

He’s often drawn to animals and nature as an inspiration for his art. From a recent interview about his Pencil v. Camera pieces:

Nature represents a divine energy for me. I spend several hours a week walking in forests, parks, and natural places to fill my creative well and take time to think about my future projects.


Pencil Vs Camera – 58 by Ben Heine

Animals are a great inspiration too. I love to portray them in my drawings. I am also fascinated by interactions between people. I love observing them and getting inspiration from their actions and decisions.


Pencil Vs Camera 55 by Ben Heine

Rambling through his web portfolio gives you a strong sense of Ben as an observer, at a slight remove. Everything seems to be fodder for his imagination.


Pencil Vs Camera – 42 by Ben Heine



Pencil Vs Camera by Ben Heine

Below is a documentary trailer that gives you a glimpse into what Ben Heine is all about. If you want to watch the whole 30 minutes, you can find the full documentary here. It’s an excellent profile of the work, his artistic process and his efforts to open new portals for exploration.

If Ben Heine is something of a magician, what makes his magic so appealing? We can admire his technique – he’s a master of the well-crafted moment – but there’s more to it than his impressive ability to execute. I think we like being tickled by visual illusions – those manipulated moments make us confront how we view and interpret the world. Ben goes to great lengths to create an alternative image of reality, with a gentle humor that invites us to step on over and take a look.


Pencil Vs Camera 61 by Ben Heine

It’s that childlike playfulness – reminding us of fanciful days when we might have imagined unicorns munching day lilies in the garden or pictured ourselves soaring through the air on mighty winged-steeds breathing fire.


Ben Heine



I started doing very simple visuals and my work became more complex and time consuming in the recent years. My leitmotif is to push boundaries and do innovative art. I like to live every creative moment intensely. I always want to renew my goals and find new challenges. It’s also important for me to constantly follow new directions and not be afraid of criticism.

I need to surprise myself if I want to surprise the people who follow me.



Just Dreaming by Ben Heine

I like being reminded to make room in my day for play. It makes life a richer experience. For all that, I say a big “thank you” to Ben Heine.

What do you think? Do you like his work? Leave a comment and let me know.

Happy Holidays: A Bit of Whimsy With a Whiff of Hope

Recently I spent some time perusing the best videos from the NYT website and found some to share for the holiday season.  Actually this one’s from last holiday season… but who’s counting?  It’s a frothy little animated piece that made me giggle.

Next, a little canine caper with William Wegman, as he cavorts with his beloved Weimaraners, trying to capture that whimsical moment.

Now, moving squarely toward the real world, this one’s a true story.  And if it doesn’t reaffirm your faith in your fellow humans, I don’t know what will.

Finally, this one’s much more complicated… as it moves from the mysterious, to the frightening, to the inspiring.  A video profile of a young woman, Suleika Jaouad and her odyssey with sickness and health.


Suleika Jaouad by Emma Dodge Hanson for the NYT

Suleika had just graduated from Princeton and was poised to launch… “my first job offer, a one-way ticket to Paris, and a new pair of heels.” A few months later she returned exhausted and suffering a mysterious illness, later diagnosed as cancer.  Her only hope for survival would be a bone marrow transplant.  If she could get one in time.

In this video, NYT award-winning producer Shayla Harris follows Suleika as she takes the first steps on a life journey that is so alien and yet so familiar.  As you watch, think about the stillness… of the camera and the people captured by it.  There are rare moments within this piece… inviting empathy and insight…  and suggesting the calm that comes from acceptance.

There are several more videos in the series.  There’s a link to the second part of her story here, describing how her cancer affects her family.  Her dad says, that despite the feelings of helplessness, “we feed on her sense of optimism and hopefulness.”

And the last video in the series has lovely quiet moments that offer a sense of guarded optimism as Suleika begins to regain some control over her life.  She blogs about her experience too, as Life, Interrupted.   I’d like to share her more recent entry, largely because it has such a sense of celebration.  And you can see from the photo below that she’s finally well on the road to recovery.  You can read that post about her mother’s cooking  here.


Suleika and her mom

Lots to think about… and to celebrate.  So here’s wishing everyone a joyous holiday season.

Something Silly

Every once in a while you run across something so sublime it just begs to find expression.  And here’s a great example.  A blog and site called capturing some whimsical moments in the urban landscape.  Giving a new look to an old problem:  the Pothole. 

They have several slide shows from different cities.  These sample photos come from the site and there are plenty more. So take the plunge and you may start to see those annoying little black holes in a whole new light.