Ravishing Roosters and Perky Pigeons Populate Sarah Suplina’s Vibrant Flock of Paper Birds
Drawing on nature’s vibrant patterns, Sarah Suplina replicates the radiant feathers and beady eyes of a variety of birds. The Connecticut-based artist crafts detailed, lifelike animal portraits of species that she selects for their distinctive plumage and expressions, painting on lightly textured watercolor paper to achieve the vivid hues of chickens, ducks, and songbirds. “I love the subtle value and color surprises that I get with watercolors,” she says, using the medium to building up gradients and contrasts that reveal richness and depth.
Taking around six to ten hours to complete, each bird presents its own intricacies and hurdles. “I found the subtle tonal colors of doves to be challenging to capture correctly,” Suplina says. She often selects birds at random, but her surroundings provide a constant source for ideas. One series titled Backyard Beauties captures individuals spotted out her kitchen window, and her current project Dove Love focuses on pigeons and doves she sees around her neighborhood and during walks throughout New York City. “Birds are so full of personality and variations, and they are an artist’s dream to create, especially with paper,” she says.
Suplina’s work will be featured in the forthcoming book Stitched Journeys with Birds: Inspiration to Let Your Creativity Take Flight, scheduled for publication in September from Schiffer Craft. You can find intricate originals and prints in her Etsy shop and on Society6. Explore her website to learn more about her work, and find updates on Instagram.
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Rain Szeto Renders Imaginative Scenarios in Intricately Detailed Ink and Watercolor Illustrations
In Rain Szeto’s intricately rendered fictional universe, people partake in work and pastimes surrounded by stacks of books, snacks, merchandise, and mementos. Her detailed illustrations (previously) portray the organized chaos of everyday activities in domestic spaces and in shops, cafes, and outdoor areas. Typically centered around a single character like a baker behind a counter or a figure carrying a pot of flowers, the scenes are filled with quotidian objects, providing a lived-in feeling that brims with colorful energy.
Based in San Francisco, Szeto began working in comics during art school, which cemented her interest in narrative drawings. Specific details like the design of food packaging, an elaborate audio mixer setup, or pastries in a glass case suggest individual hobbies, jobs, and personalities distinctive enough that they could be mistaken for real places. Many of her recent pieces also feature feline friends that stride by confidently or curl up on cushions, including an orange tabby that could just as well be making the rounds to all of the inviting spaces.
Most of these works are on view through April 26 in Szeto’s solo exhibition Idle Moments Too at Giant Robot’s GR2 location in Los Angeles. Find more of her work on Instagram.
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Animation Art Illustration
Everyday Objects Swirl in the Dizzying Choreography of Alain Biet’s Elaborate Animation
Items you might find on a shelf in the garage or packed away in the basement—like wrenches, your old MP3 player, key fobs, or spare light bulbs—become stars in their own right in Alain Biet’s mesmerizing animation. “Grands Canons,” which translates from French to “Big Guns,” opens with a close-up of the artist drafting a realistic, green pencil in watercolor. Once the rendering is complete, we meet another pencil, and another, as a “visual symphony” of thousands of precise drawings unfolds.
Biet’s intricately detailed illustrations highlight everyday objects we might find in a junk drawer, a closet, or even destined for the trash, emphasizing a variety of styles and how items have evolved over time. His survey of technology and tools stokes a tinge of nostalgia, too. Remember that old Discman, SLR camera, or Nokia brick? The gang’s all here in a dizzyingly choreographed sequence, accompanied by an original score that responds to the rhythms and movements of the drawings as they skitter and whirl across the surface.
Find more of the artist’s work his website and Instagram.
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Vibrant Hybrid Figures Emerge in Lou Benesch’s Spiritual Watercolor Illustrations
Fantastic creatures with keen attitudes and fragments of human anatomy occupy the vivid watercolor illustrations of Lou Benesch. From her studio in Paris, the French-American artist visualizes the characters that populate folklore, Greek myths, and classic fairytales through distinctive renderings of animal hybrids. Muscular spotted horses, shaggy wolf costumes, and a seemingly omnipresent third eye populate the surreal compositions, which are often framed by small archways and minimal backdrops.
Because Benesch gravitates toward narrative, much of her practice is an act of translation. When starting an illustration, she forgoes sketches and instead writes ideas down before picking up a pencil or brush. She might reflect on memories from her childhood, dreams, or larger, more philosophical questions about what it means to be a woman or the role spirituality plays in her life and that of others, and these narratives shape her scenes. “Whether they are mine, yours, or an entire population’s, mythologies and stories of all kinds are so important as a means of communication, connection, and appeasement,” she said in an interview.
If you’re in Los Angeles, you can see Benesch’s work as part of a group exhibition at Hashimoto Contemporary this February, and she has a few pieces on view at Antler Gallery in Portland, as well. Find originals and prints in her shop, and follow her practice on Instagram.
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Leaves, Insects, and Human Anatomy Converge in Delicate Pencil Drawings by Amahi Mori
Through veins and hybridized beings, Japanese artist Amahi Mori connects life across the plant and animal kingdoms. Various circulatory systems blend together in seamless compositions with leafy greens emerging from a blue morpho or cloaking an elongated human hand. Rendered in graphite, colored pencil, and watercolor, Amahi’s delicate works center on the vibrancy of life conveyed through brilliantly patterned wings and supple leaves. Many of the drawings are also tinged with the otherworldly and surreal, particularly as human skin stretches to account for a growing stem.
Amahi has a solo exhibition slated for this May at Ginza Getsukoso Gallery. Until then, find an archive of her fused creatures on her site and Instagram.
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Watercolor Accentuates the Surreal and Metaphorical Nature of Annalise Neil’s Cyanotypes
A “pursuit of the unknown” grounds Annalise Neil’s practice. An enduring curiosity and a desire to find answers shape both her approach to and the form of her works, which layer watercolor accents atop cyanotypes. The pieces depict the unassuming and magnificent, “the tender yet muscular emergence of mushrooms from soil, the brittle and also supple curve of a snail’s shell, the translucent husk of a crinoid on the beach.”
Constructed with hundreds of hand-cut negatives, the composites veil flora and fauna in shades of blue, evoking the color’s ubiquity within the natural world and the mysteries humans have yet to uncover. Lined with yellow or rusty-colored pigments, the works feature familiar subject matter with positions and scale that veer toward the surreal: large hands descend upon an arid desert landscape, birds escape from a trio of shapes that evoke a mushroom cloud, and flowers, butterflies, and dewy spores encircle a central bloom.
These unearthly pairings allow “for a re-thinking of the human’s relationship to reality and our surroundings,” Neil shares, an impulse that also informs her desire to reconsider and better understand change and possibility. “I believe metaphor is the most effective illuminator of new concepts and is an excellent midwife for empathy. One of the most fecund qualities of the human mind is our ability to ask questions, be curious, and make adjustments.”
Neil’s solo show Holobiont is on view through March 30 at Herrick Community Health Care Library in La Mesa, California, where she lives. The artist is currently preparing for a February residency at Playa Summer Lake and will open an exhibition at Sparks Gallery in San Diego this summer. Until then, explore an archive of her cyanotype series on her site and Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Animation
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