Barcelona-based illustrator Vorja Sánchez depicts comically surreal storybook creatures that look like a cross between mutant dinosaurs and shadowy demons—but also captures the very lifelike spirit of birds and other animals. Working with a variety of mediums from pen and link to watercolor or spray paint, each piece is inspired by events in his daily life, an observation he makes while walking through the forest, or drawing from a recent stint living in Nicaragua where he organized painting classes for children and adults. Sánchez has just begun working as a full-time artist in the last few months and is currently wrapping up work on an illustrated book. You can follow more of his artwork on Facebook and Instagram.
Photographer Jess Findlay recently captured this amazing shot of a fiery-throated hummingbird while shooting in the Talamanca Mountains in Costa Rica. The image is a result of hundreds of photos taken over several hours with a telephoto lens as he waited patiently for one of the small birds to perch at just the right angle. Findlay shares with Colossal:
Several of these hummingbirds were visiting a nectar feeder. As they fed hungrily, often quarreling with one another, occasionally one would get displaced onto a nearby branch. I waited by the branch for a couple hours, staying very still. I used a telephoto lens with a special attachment that allowed me to focus on close subjects. What made this a challenge was how fidgety these birds can be and the fact that the full spectrum of colour is only seen when they pause at a very specific angle.
Findlay is a native of Vancouver where he’s extremely active in the photography community, offering a wide variety of workshops. You can see more of his work on Instagram.
Acilius diving beetle male front tarsus (foot) 100x
If you’ve ever wondered how a diving beetle swims through the water or manages to rest just on the surface, the answer is in part because its foot is infinitely more complicated than your own. As seen above, this microscopic image of a male Acilius sulcatus (diving beetle) by photographer Igor Siwanowicz reveals the extraordinary complexity of this aquatic insect’s tiny appendage. This is just one of many examples of Siwanowicz’s work as a neurobiologist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus. His brilliantly colored images show the tree-like structures of moth antennas, the wild details of barnacle legs, and the otherworldly shapes of plant spores. The photos are made with a confocal laser-scanning microscope capable of “seeing” vast amounts of detail beyond what you might capture with a traditional lens-based microscope. You can see much more of his nature photography here. (via Synaptic Stimuli, Wired)
As part of a fascinating courting behavior, this Costa’s hummingbird flares the feathers around its face to create a poof of iridescent pink that bears an uncanny resemblance to the shape of a cartoonish baby octopus. The near complete lack of interest from the female bird in this video is almost comical, there’s a metaphor here. (via Geyser of Awesome)
Marco Mazzoni (previously here and here) creates works that at first lead the viewer astray, appearing as bouquets or nests until one notices fins protruding from the flora that sprawls across his Moleskine sketchbooks. Some works concentrate on small groups of animals while others serve as finely drawn “I Spy” collages, as he incorporates camouflaged toads and birds into lush, textured gardens.
Colored pencil is the Italian artist’s medium of choice, cool pastels of purple, blue and pink forming most of his paused still lifes. Recently Mazzoni produced a series titled “Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mental Diseases,” illustrations which were included in the group exhibition “Cluster” at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York City this August. You can view more of the artist’s odd animal clusters on his Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr.
For the last several years Singapore-based photographer Nicky Bay (previously here and here) has been documenting the life of the mirror spider, an unusual arthropod whose abdomen is covered in bright reflective panels that appear almost metallic. Bay recently noticed that some of the spiders exhibit unusual behavior in addition to their shiny appearance: apparently the spiders are able manipulate the mirrors in situations where they might feel threatened. In some instances the gaps between the silver plates almost completely disappear creating a larger reflective surface.