Boston based artist Cai Vail renders her ornate, and sometimes grotesque images with a combination of watercolors and digital touches. The beauty of death is a common theme in her flowing figures and animals in a state of decay. Here, humans and animals morph together into surreal beings. Historically, anthropomorphism in storytelling allowed hunters to sympathize with their hunted animal kin. Seeing them paired together like this, one can’t help but imagine Vail’s victorious huntress and her kills perishing poetically.
“Spark” (2014), ink, watercolor and digital
Vail shares similarities to watercolor artists Kikyz1313 (featured here) and Caitlin Hackett (here), with references to Art Nouveau, not only in flora and fauna, but in her line work. What seperates Vail artisically is a visual tension between organic shapes and graphic compositions that shouldn’t work, but do. In her ink and watercolor “Spark”, flowers awkwardly obstruct her subject’s face but balance is maintained between the fragile blossoms and heaviness of the silhouette. The result can be described as dramatic, yet delicate and emotional at the same time.
Her recent illustrations depart from her previously softer palette to explore bold colors while implementing the same graphic elements. She blogs her process which takes us from lush, rendered graphite drawings, artworks in their own right, to the inked finish. Take a look at some of Vail’s artwork below.