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Art

Enigmatic Sketchbooks Record Visual Stories in Colored Pencil and Ink by Katherine Akmulun

November 21, 2022

Kate Mothes

A sketchbook spread of two drawings by Katherine Akmulun.

All images © Katherine Akmulun, shared with permission

One way to approach the cinematic sketchbook drawings by Katherine Akmulun is to think about literature. “When we read a book, not only do we look at the characters, but the characters are looking at us,” she says. “And they see much more than we think.” This awareness forms the basis of the artist’s ongoing series of drawings that capture intimate interactions, bold gestures, and momentary expressions. From a young age, a fascination with human anatomy and love of reading inspired a wish to become “a kind of writer,” she explains, and “since I feel insecure about words, the only way out for me was to keep a kind of personal diary with sketches instead of words.”

In ballpoint pen and colored pencil, Akmulun explores the duality of two facing pages by creating images that are distinctive from each other yet empathetic to one another. A close-up of hands grasping lightly at the fingertips complements a joyful scene of two women dancing, or a young child clasps her mother’s hand while gazing across the binding at a man who walks briskly across an open plane. Part story and part snapshot, the mysterious narratives reference historic images and are open to interpretation. “The funny thing is that different people can see different scenes in the same picture,” she says. “And this is incredibly cool, because we all have different life experiences, different environments, and different interests.”

Akmulun travels often and is influenced by the nuances of everyday experiences, which she captures using a minimal palette. She aims to collect and record feelings and memories in the books, but she’s not precious about keeping them intact. “I love to rip out pages,” she says. “I like to realize that the pages of my personal diary can travel the world, and can find their home not only in my sketchbook. I am pleased that people want to have a piece of my personal world in their home.”

Akmulun occasionally makes pages available for sale, and you can follow more of her work on Instagram.

 

A sketchbook spread of two drawings by Katherine Akmulun.

A sketchbook spread of two drawings by Katherine Akmulun.

A sketchbook spread of two drawings by Katherine Akmulun.

A sketchbook spread of two drawings by Katherine Akmulun.

A sketchbook spread of two drawings by Katherine Akmulun.   A sketchbook spread of two drawings by Katherine Akmulun.

 

 

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Art

Through Mystical Mixed-Media Narratives, Artist Rithika Merchant Explores Intrinsic Connection

November 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

A vivid mixed-media work with hybrid figures and symbols

“The Inner Sanctum” (2022), gouache, watercolor, and ink on paper, 100 x 70 centimeters All images © Rithika Merchant, courtesy of Galerie LJ, shared with permission

“I’m drawn to works that are rich in symbolism and also have a strong element of storytelling,” says Rithika Merchant. “I love seeing the artist’s hand in the work—I have a huge appreciation for small details and works that draw from a multitude of references—literary, mythical, and visual.”

The Mumbai-born artist manifests these same qualities in her practice, creating works that expertly translate concepts and themes through her own idiosyncratic allusions. Beginning with hours of study, research, and reading on an eclectic array of topics, Merchant tends to hone in on an image that she sketches onto sheets of paper, sometimes folded into generous rectangles or triangles. She then paints in gouache and subtle, muted washes of watercolor, layering translucent pigments atop inked renderings of landscapes, mythical hybrid creatures, and patterns of foliage.

While Merchant’s influences are broad—they range from the specific like 17th-century botanical drawings, Kalamkari prints, Mughal paintings, and Kalighat folk art to the general like religious iconography and narrative tapestries—they emerge as a distinct visual lexicon. The artist often gravitates toward symbols that transcend cultural or geographical boundaries, choosing to incorporate human anatomy, celestial objects, and botanical elements. Although universal, these images are married to language in Merchant’s mind and in service of an individual narrative. “I also have a notebook in which I make lots of written notes and diagrams, but I almost never make sketches or studies of things. I sketch more with words than images,” the artist shares.

 

A vivid mixed-media work with hybrid figures and symbols

“Bennu and Futuraheliopolis” (2021), gouache, watercolor, and ink on paper, 100 x 70 centimeters

Evoking the spiritual side of Hilma af Klint and the strange characters of Leonora Carrington, the resulting works are cartographic and chart-like, mapping surreal renderings of feathered wings, cycloptic figures, or a troupe of dancing creatures onto a plane intersected with creases and enclosed by a thin frame. Texture pervades each of the works through mixed mediums, collaged details, and patterns comprised of minuscule dots and lines.

Whether collaged or drawn on paper, each piece illuminates the intrinsic connections between the mind, body, and Earth. “I think there is something powerful in taking whatever scraps you can find and putting them together to create something meaningful,” she says.

Merchant is currently in a residence in Saint-Louis, Senegal, and will release her first monograph titled The Eye, The Sky, The Altar next month. For a glimpse into her studio and process, visit her Instagram.

 

A vivid mixed-media work with hybrid figures and symbols

“Seed Vault” (2022), gouache, watercolor, and ink on paper, 100 x 70 centimeters

A vivid mixed-media work with a green lion and symbols

“Midnight Sun” (2022), gouache, watercolor, and ink on paper, 100 x 70 centimeters

A photo of an open book with two artworks

A vivid mixed-media work with hybrid figures and symbols

“Festival of the Phoenix Sun” (2022), mixed-media collage with gouache, watercolor, ink, and magazine cutouts on paper, 140 x 100 centimeters

A vivid mixed-media work with hybrid figures and symbols

“Altered Destiny” (2022), gouache, watercolor, and ink on paper, 100 x 70 centimeters

A photo of a book cover titled the eye, the sky, the altar

 

 



Art Illustration

Dense Cross-Hatching Adds Deceptive Volume to Albert Chamillard’s Geometric Drawings

August 1, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Albert Chamillard, shared with permission

On vintage ledgers and notebooks, artist Albert Chamillard (previously) harnesses the power of crosshatching and simple outlines to render flat, geometric shapes that appear to emerge from the page. The meditative works utilize varying densities to add depth and volume to clusters of cylinders or undulating, ribbon-like forms. By rendering each piece in a monochromatic palette of black or red, the artist draws attention to the meticulously laid lines and deceptive dimension of the forms.

Currently, Chamillard is preparing for a solo show opening on December 3 at Etherton Gallery in Tucson, where he lives. He’s also been collaborating with Hermès on a series of works soon to be released, and you can follow updates on those pieces and find an archive of his painstaking drawings on Instagram.

 

 

 



Illustration

Enchanting Vignettes Illustrated by Melpomeni Chatzipanagiotou Nestle Inside Small Wood Cuts

July 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Melpomeni Chatzipanagiotou, shared with permission

Encircled in roughly textured bark, thin woodcuts become canvases for the whimsical landscapes and scenes illustrated by Melpomeni Chatzipanagiotou. The Greek artist uses a combination of pen, ink, gouache, and acrylic paint to draw outdoor vignettes cloaked in pattern and cosmic details. Nighttime skies are brimming with snowflakes, stars, and light trails that illuminate the natural subject matter and add a dose of fantasy to the heavily patterned works.

Chatzipanagiotou has a number of illustrations on wood and paper available on Etsy, and you can watch her at work on Instagram. Her third coloring book, Enchanting Earth, is slated for release in February, and the previous two, Circle of Life and Nature Mandalas, are currently available on Bookshop.

 

 

 

 



Photography

A Macro Short Film of Glitter and Ink Simulates Dramatic Astronomical Events

April 24, 2022

Christopher Jobson

The last time we checked in with filmmaker Vadim Sherbakov he was soaring high above Iceland, capturing stunning aerial views with the help of a drone. In his latest short, “Velocity,” he zooms into ethereal mixtures of soap, ink, glitter, and alcohol that appear to simulate a combination of biological and galactic phenomena. The driving idea behind the film’s creation was simply “a colorful journey through uncharted cosmos,” says Sherbakov. He collaborated with set designer Luidmila Tregub, who was responsible for creating the primordial mixture of liquids that result in several amazing sequences in the film. (via PetaPixel)

 

 

 



Art

Vivid Environments by Yellena James Pause Natural Processes to Capture Life in Flux

April 1, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Ascend.” All images © Yellena James, shared with permission

Following her series centered around the healing properties of Prussian blue, Portland-based artist Yellena James continues to imagine vibrant ecosystems brimming with fantastical life from land and sea. Her delicate organisms appear to float in washes of pastel colors and evoke coral, kelp, and daisies with an unearthly and whimsical twist.

Recently on view at Stephanie Chefas Projects, James’s Origin series works in this vein and explores the most fundamental aspects of existence. “I attempt to capture the instance of inception and freeze it as though pressing pause in the middle of a chemical reaction, and I wonder if these lifeforms are forced into existence by their own needs and desires or the needs and desires of the forces themselves,” she says. Vivid and full of patterned textures rendered in a mix of acrylic, gouache, and ink, the pieces are alluring interpretations of organisms in the midst of change.

James is currently at work on a variety of projects across painting, illustration, and ceramics, and you can follow her latest projects on her site and Instagram. She also sells prints, cards, and other goods on Etsy.

 

“Relief.” Photo by Mario Gallucci

“Sentience.” Photo by Mario Gallucci

“Flurry”

“Silken”

“Strata.” Photo by Mario Gallucci

“Starry Basin.” Photo by Mario Gallucci

“Repose.” Photo by Mario Gallucci