watercolor

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Art Illustration

More Than 90 Artists Create Original Works on Vintage Envelopes for 'Couriers of Hope'

January 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

By Andrew Hem

What brings you hope? That’s the central question behind a new group exhibition presented by Port City Creative Guild. Couriers of Hope boasts more than 120 original pieces from more than 90 artists—the list includes Rosanne Kang Jovanovski, Andrew Hem (previously), Sean Chao (previously), and Yoskay Yamamoto—all rendered on vintage envelopes. Prompted by the mail art movement of the 1960s, the exhibition features an eclectic array of watercolor, pencil, and mixed-media illustrations that transform the miniature canvases into the artists’ vision for the future, whether through relaxed otters, peaches, or vivid portraits. Many of the works prominently display original postmarks and stamps and serve as a reminder that communication doesn’t have to be digital.

Students from Long Beach Unified School District have the opportunity to acquire one of the envelopes by trading their own response to the artists’ same prompt, with the guild providing art supplies for participants to ensure that everyone has access to the initiative. The show was curated collectively by a Long Beach Museum of Art, Creative Arts Coalition to Transform Urban Space, Flatline, Inspired LBC, The Icehouse x Ink and Drink Long Beach, Arts Council Long Beach, Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum, Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum, Compound LBC, and the Creative Class Collective.

Couriers of Hope will be on display in the windows of the Psychic Temple of the Holy Kiss in downtown Long Beach and on the guild’s site for virtual viewing from January 19 to February 28, 2021.

 

By Sean Chao

By Megan Boterenbrood

By Adam Harrison

By Bodeck Luna

By Christine Yoon

By Hilary Norcliffe

By Judy Kepes

Left: By Jonathan Martinez. Right: By Kelly Yamagishi

By Narsiso Martinez

By Rosanne Kang Jovanovski

By Sean Chao

 

 



Art Illustration

Minuscule Scenes Appear Against the Backdrop of Used Tea Bags in Watercolor Paintings by Ruby Silvious

December 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Ruby Silvious, shared with permission

From her studio in Coxsackie, New York, Ruby Silvious (previously) repurposes the thin paper pouches holding her beverage of choice into miniature canvases. Sometimes strung together or ripped to remove the leaves, Silvious’s tea bags depict the quiet, unassuming moments of everyday life: Passersby trudge through the snow, masks hang to dry, and two women meet for a swim on the naturally dyed backdrops. The artist generally keeps the string and tag attached, matching the mundane subject matter with the material’s ritualistic origins.

Following her 2019 release Reclaimed Canvas, Silvious is working on another book and preparing for upcoming solo shows in France, Germany, and Japan. Shop prints on her site, and follow her soothing works on Instagram and Tumblr.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

Gemstones, Delicate Filigree, and Mechanical Gears Encase Steeven Salvat's Insect Specimens

November 18, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Steeven Salvat, shared with permission

Steeven Salvat (previously) evokes the glass-covered entomological studies of rare butterflies, beetles, and moths with an additional layer of protection. The French artist armors the singular insects with precious gemstones, silver and gold filigree, and rotational gears. Even elements of luxury watches, like Breguet’s Reine de Naple and an intricate dial from Vacheron Constantin, cloak the critters’ outer shells.

In a note to Colossal, Salvat writes that the growing collection of drawings is an “allegory for the preciosity of biological systems. A way to drive attention to our smallest neighbors on this planet—we need to preserve them because they are worth much more than all the gold and jewels I dressed them with.” Each intricate drawing is rendered with China black ink and watercolor and takes at least 50 hours to complete.

Pick up a limited-edition giclée print of an encrusted creature in Salvat’s shop, and follow his latest projects merging nature, history, and science on Behance and Instagram.

 

 

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A post shared by Steeven Salvat (@steevensalvat)

 

 



Illustration

Painted on Vintage Postcards, Flora and Fauna Celebrate Farming Traditions and Wildlife of the Midwest

November 4, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Diana Sudyka, shared with permission

Twenty-seven years ago while studying at the University of Illinois, illustrator Diana Sudyka (previously) retrieved a bundle of postcards from a dumpster. The ephemeral correspondence revealed a relationship between farmers and workers from the Harvard area and a man named John Dwyer, either their accountant or investor who lived throughout Chicago, Cicero, and Berwyn. Dated from 1939 to 1942, the short letters generally contained information about livestock sales and farm expenses.

Now based in the Chicago area, Sudyka repurposes the envelopes as canvases for her watercolor and gouache paintings of flora and fauna native to the Midwest. “I have a strong attachment to the envelopes for various reasons, not least of which is that I was born and raised in Illinois, and spent a good deal of time in rural areas of the state,” she shares with Colossal. The penmanship, patina, and markings on the paper all inform her decisions to reflect a particular shrub or beetle duo amongst the remaining postmark and stamp. “I am drawn to the beauty of the handwriting on the envelopes, and the variation in the inks used,” she says, also noting her affinity for the assembled artworks of late artist Joseph Cornell.

Through delicate depictions of squirrels and long-legged herons, the illustrator connects her own experience enjoying the region’s bucolic settings with the decades-old content of the letters. “I often think about the wildlife that I saw as a child in those rural areas, unaware at the time of how much agriculture had already altered the land. And now as an adult, so much of both wildlife and those family farms are gone. The envelope paintings are my homage to both,” she says.

Prints of Sudyka’s postcard illustrations, which you can follow on Instagram, are available on her site.

 

Flying squirrel

Heron

Grey tree frog

Barn owl

Left: Milkweed. Right: Pawpaw tree

Blue salamander

Underwing moth

 

 



Art

Revealing Struggles and Joy, Expressive Portraits Are Superimposed onto Watercolor Foliage

September 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Being true to your nature III.” All images © Àngela Maria Sierra, shared with permission

Spanish artist Àngela Maria Sierra, who works as Riso Chan, explores the human psyche through subtly layered foliage. “I always imagine that they are someone’s soul, what we don’t see, our nature,” Sierra says of the delicate botanical assemblages that she overlays onto her subjects’ faces and torsos. Each portrait begins with a focus on texture and pattern as the artist paints clusters of twigs and leaves with watercolor. She then scans those botanical elements and uses Procreate to superimpose the figure onto the original piece.

Alongside their simple beauty, the pastel paintings, some of which are self-portraits, reflect the narratives and worries that consume the artist’s daily life. She describes her work as “a journal where I express moments or feelings that are important for me during those days. It’s a way to give those feelings space and then let them go.” Tied to both struggles and joys, topics include finding freedom through creativity during lockdown, growing up in an drug-filled home, and the bravery required to move forward.

Based in Amsterdam, Sierra is the founder of Bloom Art House, which hosts creative workshops throughout the capital city. Keep up with her expressive artworks on Instagram.

 

“Freedom”

“Being true to your nature II”

“Spring”

Left: “Turning on the lights inside.” Right: “Being true to your nature I”

“New Path”

“Toxic home”

 

 



Art Illustration

Vintage-Style Illustrations Merge Animals, Insects, and Botanics to Form Bizarre Hybrid Creatures

September 15, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Mark Brooks, shared with permission

Full of extraordinary creatures, the illustrated series The Creative Specimens seamlessly combines species into unusual hybrids. Similar in color, each organism is bizarre in form. The feathered head of a bird is placed on a tortoise’s body, octopus tentacles sprout from the bottom of a cactus, and speckled coral comprises a deer’s antlers.

Adobe’s 99U Conference spurred the collaborative project as a way to offer a visual language encompassing various creative careers and passions. Inspired by the biological classifications of Charles Darwin and his contemporaries, New York-based art director and graphic designer Mark Brooks digitally rendered the organisms by referencing vintage illustrations. He then passed the project to Joanmiquel Bennasar, an illustrator living and working in the Balearic Islands, who recreated the creatures in watercolor.

Explore more of Brooks’s and Bennasar’s illustrated projects on Behance.