Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Smecking Litsos

If you are unfamiliar with Nadsat lingo, then you are probably confused by this title.  You are also hereby banned from reading my blog!  Just kidding.  But you should read A Clockwork Orange.  So my painting class has finally come to an end, and our last painting was a figure study using a live model.  I'm truly sad that all classes can't be as great as this class was, and that this is probably the last time I can relax and take classes simultaneously, but all good things must come to an end.  Anyway, here is my last piece from Painting I:

Live Model Portrait (Day1-2)
Live Model Portrait (Day3-4)
Live Model Portrait (Day5)
crazy eye

Because of my recent preoccupation with moving and working, I haven't been very productive in the art department, so I'm going to cheat and post some old stuff.  I was looking through my old sketchbooks and found a bunch of portraits I've drawn, roughly between 2007 and 2010.  I would like to preface this by saying you are NOT allowed to judge me based on the people I drew...  Clearly I was into rock stars.

Jesse Lacey from Brand New - 2010
Thom Yorke from Radiohead - 2008
Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday - 2008?
Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl from Nirvana - 2007
Bjork - 2008
Refugee Girl from National Geo - 2008?
And, whilst looking through pictures on my computer, I found this gem that dates back to 2007. ((Start playing THIS SONG now))  These are my good friends Megan and Melissa, who I've known since my sophomore or junior year in high school.  As you can see, they've been fans of my art from the start, already demanding work from me early on.  All jokes aside though, I can't express how much I appreciate their support, and I feel pretty lucky to call them muh girls.  Hopefully one day I will replace this smudgy drawing with a new, glamorous portrait, but in the meantime, I post this in their honor:
World's Biggest Fans, Meg and Melissa - 2007

Finally, Walton Ford is my artist of discussion (to which I thank Tumblr for introducing me to him).  Ford is a current painter from Larchmont, New York, and his large scale watercolors mix the techniques of traditional naturalist illustration with symbolism to portray very disturbing allegories.  In some of his works, he exposes the dark side of the fathers of natural science, like Carl Akeley and John Audubon; field researchers/artists who ironically destroyed the wildlife they set out to teach the world about.  After reading this interview with Ford, it's hard to tell whether he is a true animal lover, or whether he is just inspired by the drama, but regardless, his images of birds swallowing piles of frogs and gorillas pointing shotguns in their mouths leave you with an unsettling feeling in your stomach.  Ford has managed to turn scientific illustration into something more than just rendering nature, and for that reason, he is awesome.

(All of his art is made with watercolors, gouache, ink and pencil):

An Encounter With Du Chaillu, 2009
Boca Grande, 2003
Borodino, 2009

Falling Bough, 2002
Jack, On His Deathbed, 2005
Nantes, 2009
The Island, 2003

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Organism Project and Unfinished Business

So as the title states, I have a lot of unfinished business this week.  I don't have any completed pieces because I am in the middle of four projects, and I am only one woman.  So I figured I would post what I have done so far: 
Ugly Still Life (Day5)

This is where my Ugly Still Life for my painting class is right now.  That creepy baby doll took 2 hours...

Live Model Portrait (Day1)

And this is the last project for my painting class (sadly).  We are painting a live model for the next three class periods, and this was the rough sketch I got down on Thursday.  I don't know if it's common for portrait models to do this, but she fell asleep a couple times.

Dragonfly Apocalypse
Dragonfly Apocalypse (detail)

Almost forgot I was working on this.  This is the last piece I was drawing for my dragonfly challenge.  In case anyone was wondering, I've been using a 4B soft charcoal pencil and a blending stump (the greatest invention ever) for this.  Blending stumps make blending look way better, and your hand isn't covered in charcoal afterward - win-win.

Whiskered Auklet Mug Shot

And finally, my last auklet challenge drawing.  I'm using the stippling technique, which is a method of forming shaded areas by using small dots.  This detail picture shows it a little better.  To answer your question - Yes, it takes forever.

Whiskered Auklet Mug Shot (detail)

And for this I am using Faber-Castell artist pens.  These bad boys are also great because they create really deep blacks, they don't bleed through the paper, and they don't leave annoying streaks.  AND they cost $15!

I'm finally back on track with my scientific illustrator research, and today's famous illustrator is Maria Sibylla Merian.  Merian was the daughter of an accomplished engraver, and later the step-daughter of a still life painter, Jacob Marrel, whom encouraged her artistic attributes.  She developed her curiosity for nature at an early age, capturing insects and caterpillars wherever she could find them and sketching them at various stages.  In 1665, she moved out to Nuremberg, Germany with her husband and daughter.  Here, Merian produced embroidery patterns for the wealthy, and in return, she gained access to the finest gardens.  These gardens became the birthplace of her most influential studies of metamorphosis.  Little was known about this developmental process during the 17th century - the most accepted theory being that these insects underwent spontaneous generation.  In other words, they believed butterflies came from mud.  But Merian's sketches and detailed descriptions shed new light on the complexity of insect metamorphosis, and these illustrations were published in her first book New Book of Flowers in 1675 at the age of 28.  She later published another book entitled The Caterpillar, Marvelous Transformation and Strange Floral Food, which provided information on more species and also the plants they ate.

Coral Tree and Eye Spinner

Cardinal's Guard (Caligo Butterfly, Wasp, and Acanthaceae), 1730, hand-colored etching
Snake and Jasmine, 1719, hand-colored etching
Wooly-haired Megalopygio Caterpillar, 1726
Parrot Tulip and Red Currants with a Magpie Moth, Its Caterpillar and Pupa
Branch of a Banana Tree with Caterpillar and Moth, 1701-1705
Parrot Tulip
After her studies of insects and plants in Europe, Merian traveled to the Dutch colony Suriname in South America and stayed there for two years (something almost unheard of for women during that time).  There she encountered and illustrated new species of plants, insects and animals, and even learned the native languages of the locals and African slaves living in the area.  After returning to Europe, Merian published her most renown book Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname, which contained 60 full-page engraved plates and detailed descriptions of her specimen.  Her illustrations of beautiful flowers juxtaposed by creepy-crawling insects are some of the most significant contributions to entymology, and much of her work was even cited later by Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern zoological classification.

As a side note: due to the inconsistency of the internet, I'm not sure which images here are from which book, so don't yell at me if some of this is inaccurate..

Plate 1 from her book on Suriname Species
Bird with Snake, 1705
Common or Spectacled Caimen and South American False Coral Snake, 1719
(my favorite^^^)
Goliath Bird-Eating Spider

These two pictures below are a great example of the unreliability of the internet.  Perfect mirror images of each other - not sure which is the original, or if she even really made one of them.  But they look awesome.

Suriname Lizard, pen and ink, watercolor and gouache on vellum
Lizard, 1719, hand-colored etching

Also, she was so famous in Germany that she made it onto their original Deutsche Mark currency!  My new goal is to be the face of an American dollar bill at some point in my life.  I might settle for a coin.