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The Art of the Jack-O-Lantern: More than just a pretty face!

Streeter Seidell explained the history of the pumpkin made into a Halloween Jack-O-Lantern yesterday in 7 Burning Halloween Questions: Answered! Once it became a tradition, the carving of the pumpkin has evolved into an art form, and in many places, a competition. Everyone knows who the best pumpkin carver in your neighborhood is. Many communities have pumpkin carving contests. And on the internet, all you have to do is post a picture and your jack-o-lantern will be judged and compared to the best in the world. Here are some of them.

3D Jack-O-Lanterns

Ray Villafane is a master of pumpkin carving. This Predator pumpkin shows off his 3D technique. You'll also find intricately-detailed cartoonish faces of all kinds on his site, as well as a tutorial on how to make your own 3D Jack-O-Lantern!

Fantasy Pumpkins

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Noel Dickover carves designs from science fiction and fantasy. One of his more popular designs is the Death Star Jack-O-Lantern, which he carved into a 120 pound pumpkin over a period of nine hours in 2006. Dickover's website Fantasy Pumpkins has a tutorial on carving the Death Star, and patterns you can use for many other icons and characters.

Pumpkin Gutter

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Scott Cummins is an artist by trade, but this time of year he turns into the Pumpkin Gutter. See the dozens of Jack-O-Lanterns he's carved over the past dozen years or so in the galleries.

Extreme Pumpkins

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Tom Nardone does Extreme Pumpkins, a site that will fire your imagination beyond Jack-O-Lanterns with traditional smiles. There, you'll find flaming pumpkins, drowning pumpkins, puking pumpkins, mooning pumpkins, conjoined twin pumpkins, cannibal pumpkins, radioactive pumpkins, and pumpkins that have been wounded by guns, axes, and other implements of destruction. Extreme Pumpkins has a pumpkin carving contest every year.

The Toothy Look

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Nathan Wesling of Pumpkin Way tends to emphasize teeth in his pumpkin carvings. He posts his carved Jack-O-Lanterns for ecards, wallpapers, and screen savers.

World of Warcraft

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Last year, World of Warcraft sponsored a pumpkin carving contest that attracted quite a few wonderful designs. This geeky Jack-O-Lantern by Keeff stood out among the game characters.

Yes We Carve

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With a presidential election so soon after Halloween, it was inevitable that Jack-O-Lanterns are used to display the carver's political leanings. This "Barack O'Lantern" by Scott Gierman of Marion, Illinois is one of many featured at Yes We Carve.

Pumpkin Artists for Hire

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You don't have to be talented, or even experienced, to have an expertly-carved Jack-O-Lantern. Masterpiece Pumpkins is a professional pumpkin carving service to do it for you! They will carve or etch a design onto either a pumpkin or watermelon, including your own portrait if you like, or they can come and give a pumpkin carving demonstration.

Snap-O-Lantern

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From Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories comes a Jack-O-Lantern wired to snap its teeth open and shut! The Snap-O-Lantern has a hinged jaw controlled by a tiny servo motor. Instructions for making your own are included, plus a video.

Painted Pumpkins

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If you want to keep your pumpkin intact for cooking, or if you just don't like carving, painting your pumpkin may be the way to go. Tagyerit Presents Painted Pumpkins has a large collection of submitted painted pumpkins from all over. Terri Matschilles painted this pumpkin for her daughter's kindergarten class in Munich.

If you'd like to try some art Jack-O-Lanterns, there are plenty of web resources to help you out. First, some basic carving tips. Here are instructions for adapting a photograph into a pumpkin-carving design. The Pumpkin Wizard offers free carving patterns and a forum for carvers.

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The Getty Center, Surrounded By Wildfires, Will Leave Its Art Where It Is
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The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state. While art lovers worried when they heard that Los Angeles's Getty Center would be closing its doors this week, as the fires closed part of the 405 Freeway, there was a bit of good news. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility.

“The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty,” Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s vice president of communications, told the Los Angeles Times. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 “to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region,” but as of now, the art inside is staying put.

Though every museum has its own way of protecting the priceless works inside it, the Los Angeles Times notes that the Getty Center was constructed in such a way as to protect its contents from the very kind of emergency it's currently facing. The air throughout the gallery is filtered by a system that forces it out, rather than a filtration method which would bring air in. This system will keep the smoke and air pollutants from getting into the facility, and by closing the museum this week, the Getty is preventing the harmful air from entering the building through any open doors.

There is also a water tank at the facility that holds 1 million gallons in reserve for just such an occasion, and any brush on the property is routinely cleared away to prevent the likelihood of a fire spreading. The Getty Villa, a separate campus located in the Pacific Palisades off the Pacific Coast Highway, was also closed out of concern for air quality this week.

The museum is currently working with the police and fire departments in the area to determine the need for future closures and the evacuation of any personnel. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood.

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This 77-Year-Old Artist Saves Money on Art Supplies by 'Painting' in Microsoft Excel
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It takes a lot of creativity to turn a blank canvas into an inspired work of art. Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi makes his pictures out of something that’s even more dull than a white page: an empty spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

When he retired, the 77-year-old Horiuchi, whose work was recently spotlighted by Great Big Story, decided he wanted to get into art. At the time, he was hesitant to spend money on painting supplies or even computer software, though, so he began experimenting with one of the programs that was already at his disposal.

Horiuchi's unique “painting” method shows that in the right hands, Excel’s graph-building features can be used to bring colorful landscapes to life. The tranquil ponds, dense forests, and blossoming flowers in his art are made by drawing shapes with the software's line tool, then adding shading with the bucket tool.

Since picking up the hobby in the 2000s, Horiuchi has been awarded multiple prizes for his creative work with Excel. Let that be inspiration for Microsoft loyalists who are still broken up about the death of Paint.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist's process in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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