watercolor

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Art Illustration

In Graham Franciose’s ‘Morning Coffee Paintings,’ Dreamlike Watercolor Works Capture the Day’s Unmediated Emotion

August 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

Day 75, “Always There, Always Changing.” All images © Graham Franciose, shared with permission

Many days, artist and illustrator Graham Franciose sits down with watercolor, gouache, and a small sheet of cotton paper to paint a whimsical scene or surreal moment. A skateboarder carries a tree in a backpack, an anxious figure peeks through a colorful monster mask, and an oversized lion snarls at an approaching man. “I like to do these first thing in the morning when I am still not fully awake and start with a blank slate and no preconceived idea,” he tells Colossal.

Dreamlike in style and subject matter, the works are part of an ongoing series simply titled Morning Coffee Paintings. Since Franciose began the ritualistic project in 2019, he’s created about 450 pieces, which reflect a range of moods through mysterious scenarios and quiet, contemplative figures. “I put my phone on the tripod and start the timelapse camera and just start drawing.  I’ve noticed that by filming them it keeps me from second-guessing myself or spending too much time deliberating about choices like color or composition and forces me to just trust myself and my practice,” he shares.

An exercise in experimentation and releasing perfectionism, the paintings are also a visual diary of the artist’s practice and unfiltered emotional states. “Sometimes recurring themes, symbols, or concepts will come up in different ways, and they do evolve and change over time,” he says.

Franciose is currently based in Seattle where he runs Get Nice. Gallery. There are still a few of July’s original paintings available on the series’ site, and you can shop prints at Sebastian Foster, Austin Art Garage, and Bloom. If you’re in New Hampshire, you can see some of his pieces in the Enormous Tiny Art #33 at Nahcotta Gallery early next year. Otherwise, follow him on Instagram for updates on new paintings.

 

Day 76, “How to Be Brave”

Day 78, “Shroom Shade”

Left: Day 66, “You Haven’t Even Mentioned My New Hat.” Right: Day 26, “You Can Take It With You”

Day 47, “Defense”

Left: Day 52, “Onward.” Right: Day 68, “What Your Rings Will Reveal”

Day 71, “Not Rowing Just Going with the Flowing”

Day 23, “What Was and What Will Be”

 

 



Art

Vibrant Botanicals Spring from Cheerful Pups in Hiroki Takeda’s Playful Watercolors

July 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Hiroki Takeda, shared with permission

Sprouting flowers and botanical sprigs, the subjects of Hiroki Takeda’s watercolor works exude the boundless joy and energy we tend to associate with canine companionship. The vividly rendered pieces are part of the Japanese artist’s whimsical body of work that defines the contours of cats, birds, and inanimate objects with delicate plants and other natural elements. Prints and originals of Takeda’s blooming creatures are available from TRiCERA Art, and you can stay up to date with his latest pieces on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

A New Collection of Works by Collin van der Sluijs Channels a Dreamlike Collision of Emotion

July 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Collin van der Sluijs, courtesy of Vertical Gallery, shared with permission

In one of his most ambitious bodies of work to date, artist Collin van der Sluijs (previously) references two forces being incidentally forced together. “These strange times have caused a collision between me as a person and my work,” he shares, “I want to be free and not a puppet on strings directed by anybody.”

This sentiment pervades the Dutch artist’s latest collection opening this week at both Vertical Gallery and Vertical Project Space in Chicago. Aptly titled Collision, the solo show is broad in medium and subject matter, containing 15 canvas paintings, 12 on panel, and more than 50 works on paper. Similar to his earlier pieces, this collection harnesses van der Sluijs’s signature dreamlike style, whether through depictions of nature’s most ethereal qualities or frenzied mishmashes of brushstrokes and smaller, more realistic elements. The works include emotionally chaotic portraits, serene renderings of singular birds, and dense landscapes in which life and death converge.

Collision runs from July 9 to 30. While in Chicago, van der Sluijs will also create a few murals, which you can follow on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Brimming with Lush Texture, Mixed-Media Tapestries by April Bey Envision an Afrofuturist World

May 5, 2022

Gabrielle Lawrence

“Your Failure is Not a Victory for Me” (2022), watercolor, graphite, acrylic paint, digitally printed/woven textiles, hand sewing, 110 x 72 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach. All images shared with permission

How do we get from where we are to where we want to be with all of these constructs in the way? How do we move forward if we are constantly having to fight back? The past rolls in like a fog and clogs conversations about tomorrow with despair.

April Bey, a Black, queer, mixed-media artist, reminds us that sometimes, in order to get free, we must transcend. Positioning herself within the Afro-futurist tradition, she works with a fictional universe called Atlantica. Atlantica is inspired by the alien stories her father used to tell her as a child to explain racial oppression in the Bahamas and the U.S. Now, based in Los Angeles, Bey uses Atlantica to construct the aesthetics of the future—a reality where Black people are free from the confines of white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism.

As a Nassau, Bahamas native, Bey also incorporates the region’s tropical flora in her work. She positions the futurity of Black people in direct relationship to the environment, which can manifest as a physical landscape buzzing with harmonious texture, and draws on the legacy of Black art and literature that demonstrates how the natural world has always been part of Black liberation.

Her intricate stitching of Black people in grandeur also adds a layer of decadence to these stories that is reminiscent of African diasporic cuisine. Food seasoned over long periods of time or slow-cooked absorbs the depths of those flavors, and when tasted, envelops the palette. The process and attention to detail, alongside the historical and cultural knowledge, are the foundation.

 

“Don’t Think We’re Soft Because We’re Gracious” (2022), watercolor printed sherpa and sequins on canvas hand-sewn into faux fur, 45.5 x 57 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

This work, like the environment and cuisine, is immersive. Sequins, eco-fur frames, wax fabric woven into large-scale blankets, and colorful patterns are enticing in their pleasure and vitality. The sense-heavy appeal helps transport the viewer beyond the visual and into the spirit of the body, connecting generations across space and time and planting the seeds of the future. Alexis Pauline Gumbs demonstrates this connection in an essay on combat breathing, which our ancestors used to claim their freedom in a world that would not acknowledge it, and Bey conjures this through-line in stirring pieces such as “Don’t Think We’re Soft Because We’re Gracious.”

Bey’s work adds to the long and transformative history of Black and queer people who have subverted power structures through futurity, love, and hybridity. And how fitting? For she knows that to be queer is to live in the future anyway.

You can catch the artist’s solo exhibition, Colonial Swag, at TERN Gallery until May 28 and follow her on Instagram for updates and to see close-ups of her works.

 

“Calathea Azul” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa textiles, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“I’m the One Selling the Records…They Comin to See ME” (2021), digitally woven tapestry, sherpa, canvas, metallic cord, glitter (currency), hand-sewing, epoxy resin on wood panel, 36 x 48 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“Fear No Man” (2022), digitally printed and woven blanket with hand-sewn “African” Chinese knockoff wax fabric, 80 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“Calathea Barrette” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa textiles, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“They Fine Pass Mami Wata” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa, metallic thread, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and TERN Gallery

“You Toilet Paper Soft” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa, metallic thread, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and TERN Gallery

 

 



Illustration

Watercolor and Ink Illustrations Imagine Cluttered Rooms and Well-Stocked Shops

March 30, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Rain Szeto, shared with permission

Packed within Rain Szeto’s introspective works are untidy kitchens, cluttered market shelves, and mechanical disarray. The San Francisco-based illustrator finds magic in the mess and chaos of everyday life and imagines solitary activities like hanging laundry on the line or browsing record bins. Dreamy in color, the pieces exude a sense of calm and nostalgia for quiet moments.

Each work is replete with colorful objects stacked and assembled into tight spaces, a style Szeto developed drawing comics in art school. “These details range from technical details, such as electrical mechanisms or a lamp design, to more personal quirks, such as how someone might arrange their garden or a particular plastic stool they might use,” she tells Colossal. “I try to give them a sense of specificity that makes it feel as though these places could really exist.”

Szeto is currently working on pieces for a few upcoming group shows at Giant Robot in Los Angeles, and you can find prints and more of her detailed illustrations on her site and Instagram. (via Booooooom)

 

 

 



Illustration

Architectural Drawings Detail the Spatial Dimensions and Unique Amenities of Japanese Hotel Rooms

March 25, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Kei Endo, shared with permission

In preparing for her own design projects, Tokyo-based architect Kei Endo sketches elaborate diagrams of hotel rooms. The watercolor works depict overhead views of floor layouts, color schemes, lighting, and the details of special amenities from hairdryers to soap bottles paired with precise dimensions. While focused on the uniform details of spaces like Hotel Siro in Toshima-ku or The Okura Tokyo, the drawings reveal how the designer’s attention to space, comfort, and lodgers’ needs inform every inch of the room.

In addition to her travel-based works, Endo also deconstructs desserts with similar measurements, and you can find more of her renderings on her site and Instagram. (via Spoon & Tamago)