drawing

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Art

Powerful and Emotive, Artist Patrick Onyekwere's Hyperrealistic Portraits Are Rendered Meticulously in Ballpoint Pen

July 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Patrick Onyekwere, shared with permission

Patrick Onyekwere imbues his photorealistic portraits with layers of emotion. Before sketching with blue, ballpoint pen, the Nigerian artist invites his subjects into a conversation about their lives, contemporary culture, and nature to establish the mood or story he’s hoping to convey. Their responses produce a collaborative endeavor that organically merges their perspectives and histories, which the artist translates to his artworks.

Onyekwere collects a few snapshots of his subject for reference as he meticulously shades and crosshatches every inch of his hyperrealistic pieces. The artist sees his powerful renderings as “speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves” and finds the subjects’ eyes most interesting. “They mirror some of our deepest desires, fears, inhibitions, perceptions, thoughts, most of which we ourselves are consciously unaware of,” he says. “(The eyes have) the power to convey emotions and feelings and also communicate and connect to the viewer, inviting them to live in an untold story, in such a way they don’t see an already existing piece but take part in the creation of it.”

To see Onyekwere’s portraits-in-progress and follow more of his expressive works, follow him on Instagram and YouTube.

 

 

 



Illustration

Imagined, Homebound Characters by Felicia Chiao Illustrate the Struggles of Mental Health

July 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Dissociation.” All images © Felicia Chiao, shared with permission

Felicia Chiao (previously) often channels anxiety and other complex emotions into layered illustrations depicting anonymous characters in a variety of states. The fictional works are connected to narratives of the mundane: a supine character floats in a bathtub, another grasps a coffee mug while peering out the window, and others sit idly. Despite their whimsy, many of the scenes evoke a sense of loneliness and feature a frowning face or dark, foreboding character looming nearby.

Chiao’s recent pieces often confine subjects to their plant-filled homes, a timely adjustment to reflect the current moment. “The drawings help me explore emotions that I don’t know how to describe with words,” the illustrator tells Colossal. She frequently shares her gel pen and Copic marker works on Instagram, where she says she’s grown a supportive, empathetic audience that resonates with her emotive projects.

Chiao currently is part of a group exhibition at Giant Robot and offers prints, stickers, and face masks of her fantastic illustrations on Society6.

 

“Peonies”

“Anxiety Attack”

Left: “Quarantine.” Right: “Bath”

“Better Days”

“Blue”

Left: “Nothing Lasts.” Right: “Strange Feeling”

“Flood”

 

 



Illustration

Playful Illustrations by Giulia Pintus Render Quirky, Body-Positive Characters in Relaxed States

June 29, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Giulia Pintus, shared with permission

Many of Giulia Pintus’s pastel drawings center on the beauty of imperfection. The Piacenza-based illustrator renders whimsical characters in repose or calmly completing mundane tasks like applying mascara and threading a needle. “I love drawing human figures,” she notes. “I also like to show the psychology of the character and to do so I am inspired by real people.”

The quirky illustrations consider the role of body positivity, which Pintus says is inspired by an organic source. “For some years, I prefer to buy vegetables from the greengrocer in the country. At the supermarket, they are all the same big, smooth, shiny, (and) look fake,” she shares with Colossal. “Instead from the greengrocer, the vegetables are a bit crooked. Sometimes they still have roots and a bit of soil attached. I think there’s a lot of beauty in that, and I look for that truth not only in food but also in the characters that I draw.”

Pintus’s drawings, which she also shares on Behance and Instagram, have culminated in a lengthy series of books, available from Libri.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

Sinuous Snakes, Insects, and Florals Intertwine in Graphite Illustrations by Zoe Keller

June 27, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Where We Once Lived II,” copper belly water snake, graphite on paper, 14 x 14 inches. All images © Zoe Keller, shared with permission

Through a winding series of delicate illustrations, Zoe Keller (previously) explores the fragility of the natural world. In Scale & Bone, the Portland-based illustrator renders copper belly water snakes, San Francisco garters, and eastern diamondback rattlers through sinuous compositions that are ripe with skeletal remains, rows of butterflies, and dense patches of fungi. Each graphite drawing examines the tension between life and death and how nature’s processes are cyclical, including the shedding and regeneration of tube-like layers of skin.

Keller’s work considers the beauty of the limbless reptiles in an effort to subvert cultural notions. “Snakes, in particular, fascinate me as a subject matter because they elicit such a strong response in so many people,” she shares with Colossal. Scale & Bone is part of a larger effort to visualize the destruction of ecosystems and widespread loss of biodiversity. “Through the use of visual narratives that are interjected with surreal and magical elements, I hope to allow the species in my drawings to speak with urgency to the forces causing their decline in this time of human-driven mass extinction,” she writes.

Many of Keller’s projects fall at the intersection of art and environmental activism, offering
“opportunities to collaborate directly with scientists working on the ground to protect imperiled species.” The illustrator recently worked with Save the Snakes, an organization that steers conservation efforts and attempts to reduce harm by humans. Her serpent-focused poster will be unveiled this summer in time for World Snake Day.

Scale & Bone currently is on view at Antler Gallery, which is offering a virtual tour on its site. Follow Keller on Instagram for updates on her intertwined illustrations, and check her shop for prints, postcards, and stickers.

 

“Black Pine Snake,” graphite on paper, 34 x 43 inches

“Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake,” graphite on paper, 34 x 43 inches

“Eastern Indigo,” graphite on paper, 27.5 x 36 inches

“Memento Mori I” (2020), giant garter snake and pipevine swallowtail, graphite on paper, 14 x 14 inches

“Always I” (2020), New Mexican tidge-nosed rattlesnake, graphite on paper, 14 x 14 inches

“Memento Mori II,” San Francisco garter and cabbage white, graphite on paper, 14 x 14 inches

“Are We Ghosts,” graphite on paper, 27.5 x 36 inches

 

 



Art

Solemn Faces Emerge from Hazy Portraits by Artist GyoBeom An

June 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © GyoBeom An, shared with permission

Rendered in thick pencil, a new series of portraits by Seoul-based artist GyoBeom An feature models’ faces obscured in a monochromatic haze. While the distinct characteristics remain, a smudged overlay casts each subject in a blur. An tells Colossal that he begins with a figurative drawing that’s composed and deconstructed over and over. No matter the medium—the artist works in pencil, pen, and acrylic paint—he strives to reflect the “conflicts and emotions aroused from distinct social roles…that ranges from models and cartoon characters to gods.” For more of An’s considerations of the self and societal dynamics, head to Behance.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

A Surreal Watercolor by Illustrator Marija Tiurina Captures a Miscellany of Thoughts in Quarantine

June 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Marija Tiurina, shared with permission

If Marija Tiurina’s latest watercolor appears to be a random mishmash of dreamy scenes, that’s because it is. The London-based illustrator (previously) recently completed “The Lockdown Project,” a dense composition inspired by dozens of submissions she collected during the first few weeks of quarantine. Complete with childhood memories, dreams, and colloquialisms, the illustration depicts a rich network of bizarre characters and fictional tales that flow organically between scenes.

In a short video (shown below) detailing her process, Tiurina said she began with a central figure resembling herself before sketching submission ideas in the surrounding areas, aptly referring to the project as “a weird salad where everyone’s thoughts, memories, dreams, and ideas are mixed in a bowl and dressed with my imagination.” Out of nearly 1,0000 contributions, her favorites included a coat snatcher, a pasta-eating man named Anchor, and a floating potato.

You can snag one of the signed prints on Tiurina’s site and follow the illustrator’s future compositions on Behance and Instagram.