animals

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Craft Design

An Adorably Eccentric Cast of Googly-Eyed Characters Exude Joy and Whimsy

November 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Lidiya Marinchuk

The quirky troupe of characters crafted by Kyiv-based doll designer Lidiya Marinchuk sport a wide range of emotions from surprised three-eyed monsters and gloomy rain clouds to sly foxes in polka-dotted socks. Sometimes leaving them as soft, plush creatures and others painting their bodies to create sculptural forms, Marinchuk instills each with a dose of whimsy and play. You can find more of the wildly emotional cast on Behance, and shop available pieces on Etsy.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Innumerable Cuts Transform Single Sheets of Paper into Exquisite Flora and Fauna

November 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Pippa Dyrlaga, shared with permission

Cutting ornate lace patterns, spindly roots, and scaly chameleon skin with meticulous detail, Yorkshire-based artist Pippa Dyrlaga (previously) continues to turn single sheets of paper into elaborate works. Her process involves drawing a design that typically features a floral motif before slicing each component by hand with a scalpel. Once the excess paper is removed, the resulting works unveil intricate patches of wildflowers and painstakingly sliced fur and fins.

Dyrlaga’s works will be included in an exhibition in Paris next month, and she’s in the midst of a collaborative project with origami artist Ankon Mitra. To add one of her exquisitely cut pieces to your collection, check out her shop, and dive into her process on Instagram.

 

 

 



Illustration

An Illustrated Children's Book Is a Sensitive Retelling of a Timber Elephant's Role in WWII

November 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Flying Eye Books, shared with permission

Meet Bandoola, an Asian timber elephant the British Army enlisted in WWII. Purchased as a calf, the lumbering creature was shipped to a teak plantation where he was forced to drag and push logs across the landscape to construct bridges and other structures. Bandoola’s life, while fictionalized by London-based illustrator and author William Grill in his forthcoming children’s book, is based on the true story of Elephant Bill, a soldier who worked with the animals in forestry camps during the war.

In Grill’s illustrated retelling published by Flying Eye Books, Bandoola encounters veteran James Howard Williams, and the two forge an unusual friendship when they’re tasked with leading refugees and 70 elephants from Burma to India. The tale explores themes of animal cruelty and care and conservation, using textured drawings in pastel tones as a soothing complement to the story’s otherwise harsh realities. In a conversation with It’s Nice That, Grill explains that he achieved softer lines by tilting his pencil on its side, and similar to a lithograph, he drew individually colored layers for each scene before putting them together. “My drawing style is somewhat naive and simple. I try to tread a line between observation and impressionism,” he says. “I would say my visual language is observational but has some underlying character and emotion to it. Hopefully, it comes across as warm and not cold.”

Bandoola: The Great Elephant Rescue is available for pre-order on Bookshop, where you can also find Grill’s previous books The Wolves of Currumpaw and Earth Verse with similarly colorful drawings and nature-based themes. Head to the illustrator’s Instagram for behind-the-scenes looks at his process.

 

 

 



Art

Wild Scavengers and Mythological Wonder Converge in Hera's Dreamy Mixed-Media Works

October 28, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Taking a Break From Dancing to Their Tunes,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 35.4 x 23.6 inches. All images © Hera, courtesy of Corey Helford Gallery, shared with permission

In a poetic new series of works on canvas, German-Pakistani artist Jasmin Siddiqui, aka Hera, nods to her background in street art with sweeping, spray-painted marks, chaotic drips and splatters, and snippets of text. The gestural pieces are rooted in narrative and feature wide-eyed characters who wear headdresses of long-nosed rats, wolves, and strange, hairless creatures. In each imaginative rendering, Hera positions the possibility and wonder of adolescence alongside wild animals often deemed nuisances to human society, with “I’m fine really” displayed next to a child whose finger is snapped in a mousetrap and the title of another work, “Love Her But Leave Her Wild,” accompanying a contorted figure.

“My affiliation is always with those who create beauty in the darkest of places. Because the gutter feels closer to my creative home than the artist studio. I come from graffiti culture,” says Hera, who’s also one-half of the street art duo Herakut (previously).  “I used to be the vulture, the raccoon, the street rat, that rummaged through leftover paint buckets left on the curbs of home renovations, treasuring other people’s trash.”

The mixed-media pieces shown here are part of Hera’s solo show Here We Go Again, which runs November 6 through December 11 at Corey Helford Gallery. She currently has a limited-edition print of a fox-clad figure available through myFINBEC, and you can find more of her small- and large-scale works on Instagram.

 

“You Live and Learn,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 35.4 x 23.6 inches

“Smart Rats Have a Thousand Lives,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.4 x 19.7 inches

Left: “Seen It All and Still Have Hope,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.4 x 19.7 inches. Right: “An Ode to You,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 47.2 x 15.75 inches

“I Had This Guy,’ acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 27.6 x 27.6 inches

“Love Her but Leave Her Wild,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 35.4 x 23.6 inches

“Poetry Written in Fairy Language,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 27.6 x 19.7 inches

 

 



Photography

Stunning Shots from the 2021 Close-Up Photographer of the Year Competition Unveil Nature's Minuscule Details

October 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

Johan De Ridder’s “Triplets in Green.” All images courtesy of CUPOTY, shared with permission

Salamander silhouettes, an ant clutching a snack, and the diverse findings of an unintentional insect trap are a few of the winners of the 2021 Close-Up Photographer of the Year contest (previously). Now in its third year, the global competition garnered more than 9,000 entries across 55 countries, an incredible selection that unveils the stunning and minuscule details of the natural world. See some of our favorite shots below, and view all winners on the contest’s site.  (via Kottke)

 

Pål Hermansen’s “Insect Diversity”

Juan Ahumada’s “Dancing in the Dark”

Andy Sand’s “Lachnum niveum”

Laurent Hesemans’s “Snack Time”

Svetlana Ivavnenko’s “Fight”

Alessandro Grasso’s “Circular Octopus”

Ripan Biswas’s “Mating Underwater”

Minghui Yuan

Daniel Trim

 

 



Art

Fantastical Digital Paintings Position Wildlife in Unnaturally Colorful Environments

October 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Grove Square Galleries, shared with permission

Photographic artist Jim Naughten casts a fantastical, candy-colored lens over luxuriant ecosystems and surreal animal portraits in Eremozoic, a solo exhibition on view at Grove Square Galleries through November 18. Comprised of digitally altered compositions, the series centers on rhinos, manatees, and myriad wild animals in strange, unearthly settings: a tall brown bear stands on its hind legs in a field of bright pink grass, a gorilla rests in similarly vibrant foliage, and orangutans swing through leafy branches in shades of blue.

While the animals usually are isolated in true color, the backdrops evoke infrared photography, and Naughten’s unnatural alterations tinge the otherwise realistic imagery with magical elements. The artist says the manipulations convey humanity’s ever-growing disconnect with the environment, which he explains in a statement:

I’m interested in how, in the evolutionary blink of an eye, humans have come to dominate and overwhelm the planet and how far our relationship with the natural world has fundamentally and dangerously shifted from that of our ancestors. I hope the work will create awareness and discourse about this disconnection, our fictionalized ideas about nature and possibilities for positive change.

Although the pieces venture into a strange realm of kaleidoscopic details, they have biological reality at their core, and the exhibition title, Eremozoic, refers to the current era of the earth’s evolution. Biologist and writer E. O. Wilson introduced the term to characterize this “period of mass extinction due to human activity. The Eremozoic Age is alternatively referred to as The Age of Loneliness, and this sense of dislocation and disorientation is captured in Naughten’s depiction of nature as an unfamiliar, unnatural realm.”

In addition to the collection shown here, Naughten shares a variety of otherworldly renderings on his site and Instagram. (via Creative Boom)