Posts tagged
with animals


Fanciful Characters Inhabit María Jesús Contreras’ Whimsically Illustrated Worlds

January 30, 2023

Grace Ebert

A vibrant illustration of calves pollinating a flower

All images © María Jesús Contreras, shared with permission

Fluffy calves with wings and a knack for pollination, picnicking bunnies, and a cow enjoying a grassy meal at the dinner table are a few of the adorable creatures that populate María Jesús Contreras’ illustrations. The Chile-based artist envisions fantastical worlds of play and whimsy, inhabited by characters that express strong emotions. Saturated with bright colors, her illustrations brim with texture and grainy details that give the scenes a retro feel.

Contreras works between analog and digital mediums, and her process often begins on paper. “In Chile, we have many stray dogs and cats and street vendors. I like to take a notebook and write life (into) my characters,” she shares, noting that she often references the surreal qualities of her dreams in her pieces. “The rest of the process is just drawing, keeping a colorful palette, and working with texture, but most of the time the idea is what takes most of the time.”

In addition to her personal projects, Contreras works with newspapers, magazines, and various brands including Penguin Random House, The New York Times, and The Atlantic on commissioned pieces. You can find prints and other goods in her shop, and follow her latest illustrations on Instagram.


A vibrant illustration of rabbits at a picnic

A vibrant illustration of a cow eating dinner at the table

A vibrant illustration of fish in glass vessel

A vibrant illustration of a butterfly on flowers

A vibrant illustration of a meal steaming in rabbit shapes

A vibrant illustration of plants growing in pots

A vibrant illustration of a goose, fish, and lounging cat in a surreal scenario





Whimsical Woodland Creatures and Sea Life Carved by Zoe Feast Inhabit Raw Wood Rounds

January 26, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of a raw wood slice with a bird motif

All images © Zoe Feast, shared with permission

Designer Zoe Feast has an affinity for patterns, and her practice revolves around motifs of flora, fauna, and organic forms that she creates for a variety of personal projects and commissions. After a visit to her local library and an encounter with its laser engraver, Feast decided to translate her whimsical illustrations to a three-dimensional surface. She sourced slabs of wood from a nearby habitat restoration project and carved seals in whispy waves, hedgehogs lounging among flowers and foliage, and a family of wide-eyed owls perched on branches. Nestled within the gnarled, bark-laden edges, the woodland creatures add a playful texture and motif to the raw material.

See more of the collection on Feast’s site, and pick up prints and other goods featuring her designs in her shop and on Society6.


A photo of a raw wood slice with an owl motif

A detail photo of a raw wood slice with an owl motif

A photo of a raw wood slice with a forest motif

A photo of a raw wood slice with a flower motif

Four photos of raw wood slices with a forest motifs

A photo of a raw wood slice with a seal motif



Art Craft

Dramatic Flora and Fauna Emerge from Maude White’s Exquisitely Detailed Cut Paper Sculptures

January 23, 2023

Kate Mothes

All images © Maude White, shared with permission

Created from single pieces of paper, Maude White’s sculptures (previously) reveal the veins of petals and leaves, braided locks, and vivid animal portraits. Making countless tiny incisions on archival sheets with a size 11 blade, the artist begins by referencing a photograph and creating a loose sketch to maintain general dimensions. She then carefully selects the location of the first cut, telling Colossal that “every cut expands outward from there, and I have to make sure that the piece can maintain its integrity when complete and not fall apart.”

White continues to pursue nature as a subject, focusing on expressive animals and diverse flora. “I will always come back to my love of elephants and flowers,” she says, sharing that she has been experimenting with new forms that are less visually literal. The net-like, “sketchy” composition pictured below appears at first glance like a bird’s nest, but upon closer inspection, an elephant’s eye and trunk emerge. “I really enjoyed this piece, and it was quite a challenge to design and execute!” she says.

In December 2022, White published Resilience Alchemya deck and guidebook featuring her artwork that focuses on creative self-discovery and empowerment. “I’m really proud of this project, and even though it’s a departure from the more intricate cut-paper work, it explores resilience in a way that I think can be helpful and hopeful for a lot of people,” she says. Find a copy on Bookshop, and keep an eye out for a new deck slated for release this December. Follow White’s updates on Instagram, and explore more work on her website.


Photograph by Melissa Hope






Photography Science

Nature’s Diversity is Captured in Minuscule Detail in the 2022 Close-Up Photographer of the Year Competition

January 8, 2023

Kate Mothes

A photograph of yellow slime mold.

Nathan Benstead, “Hemitrichia calyculata,” Young Category Winner. All images © the photographers and Close-Up Photographer of the Year, shared with permission

Among the winning images of the Close-Up Photographer of the Year contest, a frilly slime mold stems from leaves, elegant insects splay colorful wings, and microscopic patterns create vivid abstractions. Now in its fourth year, the competition attracted more than 9,000 entries from 54 countries.

The overall winner of this year’s competition was captured by Samantha Stephens and glimpses two tiny amphibians trapped inside a carnivorous plant. She explains, “typically, these plants feast on invertebrates such as moths and flies, but recently, researchers at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station discovered a surprising new item on the plant’s menu: juvenile Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum).” It was a timely capture; by the following day, the creatures had sunk to the bottom of the pitcher.

See some of our favorite captures below, and visit the contest’s website to view the Top 100 photographs of the year.


A photo of a moth on a leaf.

Uday Hegde, “Atlas Moth.” Second Place Dragonflies and Butterflies Category Winner

A photo of two juvenile salamanders in a pitcher plant.

Samantha Stephens, “Nature’s Pitfall,” Overall Winner and Animals Category Winner

A photograph of an insect that has been eating holes out of a leaf.

Minghui Yuan, “Little Naughty Draw Circle,” Third Place Insects Category Winner

A photograph of slime mould that looks like tiny mushrooms.

Andy Sands, “Slime Mould [Didymium Squamulosum] on Holly Leaf,” Third Place Fungi Category Winner

An abstracted photograph of water in seaweed.

Angelo Richardson, “Sea in Fan,” Third Place Intimate Landscape Category Winner

A microscopic image of algae.

Marek Miś, “Batrachospermum Red Algae,” First Place Micro Category Winner

A photograph of a gordion worm knot.

Ben Revell, “Gordian Worm Knot,” Second Place Invertebrate Portrait Category Winner

Pietro Cremone, “The Martian,” Underwater Third Place

A photograph of a pink fish among shells on the sea floor.

Kate Jonker, “Beauty and the Beast,” Second Place Underwater Category Winner

A photograph of two birds on a table outside of a pizza shop in Germany.

Anton Trexler, “Doner Kebab and Pizza,” Third Place Young Category Winner





A Chicago Mother Raises an Abandoned Baby Squirrel in the Heartwarming Documentary ‘My Duduś’

January 6, 2023

Kate Mothes

In the summer of 2020, photographer and director Tom Krawczyk returned home to Chicago from Łódź, Poland, where he was studying film. “When I got there, my mother quietly walked me into a room where she gently pulled a strange, hairless creature out of a shoe box,” he recounts. “It looked as if it had plummeted to earth from another planet.” Meet the star of “My Duduś,” a friendly gray squirrel that tumbled out of its nest when it was only a couple of days old and into the endearing care of the filmmaker’s mother.

Krawczyk’s nine-minute Op-Doc presented by The New York Times chronicles the developing bond between his mother and the young squirrel, which she nurses and shelters in the family’s house at a time when animal shelters were filled to capacity. “My intuition told me to pick up a camera,” he explains. “I knew something special was happening. My mother, a Polish immigrant who had raised me by herself, had been dealing with her newly empty nest after I left for school, and I knew the joy that raising the squirrel would bring her.”

As Duduś grows, so does their emotional connection, but his instincts begin to take hold. He spends more time outside, and the relationship transforms as the young rodent matures. See more of Krawczyk’s work on his website and Instagram.


A still from the short film 'My Duduś' featuring a young squirrel raised by a woman in Chicago.

All images © Tom Krawczyk and The New York Times

A still from the short film 'My Duduś' featuring a young squirrel raised by a woman in Chicago.

A still from the short film 'My Duduś' featuring a young squirrel raised by a woman in Chicago.

A still from the short film 'My Duduś' featuring a young squirrel raised by a woman in Chicago.

A still from the short film 'My Duduś' featuring a young squirrel raised by a woman in Chicago.

A still from the short film 'My Duduś' featuring a young squirrel raised by a woman in Chicago.   A still from the short film 'My Duduś' featuring a young squirrel raised by a woman in Chicago.




Hapless Hangups and Silly Spoofs Abound in the 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

January 5, 2023

Kate Mothes

A photograph of an animal with a bird behind it so that it appears as though it has wings.

Highly Commended Winner, “Pegasus, the flying horse” © Jagdeep Rajput and Comedy Wildlife 2022

Since its inception in 2015, submissions to the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards (previously) have captured some of nature’s most hapless and humorous moments. In this year’s contest, the overall winner was Jennifer Hadley’s timely snap of a 3-month old lion cub tumbling down a tree, taken in the Serengeti, Tanzania. Hadley shared that she and her travel companions had been watching the cub in the tree for some time. “It didn’t even occur to me that he would make a go of getting down by himself in the most un-cat like fashion. I mean, how often do cats fall out of trees?” she says.

In this year’s juried contest, 5,000 entries from 85 countries amounted to fierce competition, showcasing “seriously funny” images in an effort to highlight the diversity of the world’s wildlife and raise awareness of the need for conservation. In partnership with the Whitley Fund for Nature, the contest contributes 10% of revenue toward conservation efforts in countries across the Global South.

See a gallery of all winning images on the competition website, and if you would like to enter your own images for consideration in the 2023 contest, applications are now open.


A photograph of a lion cub falling out of a tree.

Overall Winner and Serian & Alex Walker’s Creatures of the Land Award, “Not so cat-like reflexes” © Jennifer Hadley and Comedy Wildlife 2022

Two penguins on a shoreline. One appears to be telling the other one to "talk to the hand."

Affinity Photo 2 People’s Choice Award, “Talk to the Fin” Image © Jennifer Hadley and Comedy Wildlife 2022

Left: Two kangaroos at sunset on a beach appear as if one is swinging the other one around by its feet. Right: Two meerkats play together; one appears to strangle the other.

Highly Commended Winners. Left: “It’s all kicking off!” © Michael Eastway and Comedy Wildlife 2022. Right: “I’m gonna strangle you” © Emmanuel Do Linh San and Comedy Wildlife 2022

A photograph of two penguins standing side-by-side, one without a head.

Highly Commended Winner, “Keep calm and keep your head” © Martin Grace and Comedy Wildlife 2022

Two fish get up close and personal to the camera lens.

Creatures Under the Water Award, “Say Cheeeeeeese” © Arturo Telle and Comedy Wildlife 2022

A photograph of a heron and a hippo. The hippo has its mouth open wide and looks like it will eat the heron whole.

Spectrum Photo Creatures of the Air Award, “Hippo and Heron” © Jean Jacques Alcalay and Comedy Wildlife 2022

A photograph of a small owl winking from inside a pipe.

Junior Award, “ICU” © Arshdeep Singh and Comedy Wildlife 2022

A photograph of a raccoon in a snowy landscape that looks like it is waving to the viewer.

Highly Commended Winner, “Hello everyone” © Miroslav Srb and Comedy Wildlife 2022