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History Illustration Science

Dig Into an Enormous Archive of Drawings Unveiling the Complex Root Systems of 1,180 Plants

January 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Wageningen University & Research

It’s generally understood that terrestrial plant life evolved from algae, one key to its successful adaptation being roots that sprawled underground to absorb important nutrients and water. Billions of years later, the fibrous networks are essential to life across the planet as they ensure the growth and health of individual specimens, help prevent erosion, and capture carbon from the air.

A collaborative project of the late botanists Erwin Lichtenegger and Lore Kutschera celebrates the power and beauty of these otherwise hidden systems through detailed drawings of agricultural crops, shrubs, trees, and weeds. Digitized by the Wageningen University & Research, the extensive archive is the culmination of 40 years of research in Austria that involved cultivating and carefully retrieving developed plant life from the soil for study. It now boasts more than 1,000 renderings of the winding, spindly roots, some of which branch multiple feet wide.

We’ve gathered some of the biological studies here, but you can pore through the full collection on the Wageningen University site. (via MetaFilter)

 

 

 



Illustration

Wild Animals Occupy Suburban Nights in Nicholas Moegly's Mysterious Illustrations

November 4, 2021

Grace Ebert

“An Escape Plan.” All images © Nicholas Moegly, shared with permission

In Nicholas Moegly’s shadow-laden illustrations, wild animals descend on backyards and unoccupied streets illuminated by artificial lights. The Cincinnati-based artist largely focuses on the quiet, mundane landscapes of Midwestern suburbia, although each of his works features surreal details that shroud the scenes in mystery: a lamp with no apparent electricity source lies haphazardly on the sidewalk, an empty car veers off a driveway with headlights still shining, and deer nibble on grass strangely close to a small tent.

Nostalgic and born out of urban isolation, the ongoing series contrasts the natural and manufactured and familiar and unknown, themes inspired by the ongoing pandemic. “My career used to primarily consist of creating gig/tour posters for larger bands, but in early 2020 when concerts were all canceled, so was all of my work. With nothing else to do, I began taking nightly walks around my town and the inspiration for my current work was found,” the artist shares.

Prints of the illustrated series are currently sold out, so keep an eye on Moegly’s Instagram for news about the limited-edition work he’ll be releasing in his shop later this month.

 

“A Shiny Object”

“An Ocean Between”

“A Passing View”

“A Momentary Silence”

Detail of “A Shiny Object”

Detail of “An Ocean Between”

“710 Ashbury”

“A Hidden Stillness”

 

 



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 Illustration

Mystery and Fantasy Veil Black-and-White Illustrations by Artist David Álvarez

November 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Pinoccio.” All images © David Álvarez, shared with permission

Continually fascinated by the potential of the human figure, Mexico-based artist David Álvarez (previously) illustrates richly textured scenes with a dose of fantasy and surrealism: a bird’s perch transfixes a character who’s sprouted a branch nose, a man writhes on the ground as he grows from a gnarled stump, and a Cheshire cat lifts a blanket to unveil a moon hidden beneath. Underlying many of his works is “the expressive force and the gesture of the human body,” Álvarez tells Colossal, themes that are rendered through highlights and dense markings in graphite that add intrigue and mystery to the monochromatic depictions.

The illustrations shown here are a mix of personal projects and commissions, and “Cage” is slated for the cover of Álvarez’s forthcoming book about overcoming prejudices and stereotypes called Bird Woman. You can follow his black-and-white works on Instagram, and shop sketches, prints, and originals.

 

“Monkeys”

“Metamorpho”

“Agony”

Left: “Cage.” Right: “The Collector”

“Awareness”

“Cheshire”

“Mice”

 

 



Illustration Photography

Phantom Clouds Descend from the Sky in Vorja Sánchez's Illustrated Photos

October 28, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Vorja Sánchez, shared with permission

In Vorja Sánchez’s ghostly dreamworld, spectral creatures plunge from the sky with long, wispy appendages that grasp onto the landscape. The Barcelona-based artist and illustrator (previously) disrupts otherwise peaceful photos with the massive forms that haunt unsuspecting hikers and farm animals as they peek out from behind a hill or congregate in airborne groups. Prints of the playfully illustrated phantoms are available in Sánchez’s shop, and you can find more from the series on Instagram. (via Lustik)

 

 

 



Illustration

Dizzying Patterns Envelop Imagined Characters in Portraits by Sofia Bonati

October 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Sofia Bonati, shared with permission

In the hypnotic portraits of Argentinian artist Sofia Bonati (previously), women find themselves embraced by backgrounds of black-and-white linework, foliage, and abstract geometries. The feminine characters often have rosy cheeks and earnest expressions, and they seamlessly meld with their patterned environments, which sometimes conceal the outlines of their figures and accentuate their unique facial features.

Now based in Oxfordshire, Bonati will show some of her dizzying drawings in a group exhibition with Wow x Wow this December. You can explore more of her works and recent commissions on Instagram and Behance, and pick up prints and other goods from Society6.