We first covered Caitlin Hackett’s painstakingly detailed ball-point pen and watercolor paintings in Hi-Fructose Vol. 17, where she told us that her empathy for the natural world is the driving force behind her beautiful, yet morbid subject matter. Surrounded by her nature books and collections of bones in jars, from an early age, she has carried what she describes as “a profound sense of tragedy” for the destruction of nature.
San Francisco based artist Lindsay Stripling usually works in watercolor to create her playful illustrations of dreamscapes dotted with simplistic human characters, animals, and objects. But for her new series, exhibiting this week at Flatcolor Gallery in Seattle, Stripling found herself painting in oils after an 8 year break from the medium. “It’s my first real adventure with oils in 8 years and it was fun for sure,” Stripling says, “trying to carry my looseness from my watercolors into these oil paintings.”
Italian artist Cristiano Menchini relies on a combination of his memory and imagination and observation to recreate nature in his work. Working in acrylic and watercolor or pen on paper, the artist creates highly stylistic interpretations of overgrown vegetation where small animals like birds and beetles make their home. Elements like blades of grass criss-cross into natural, messy patterns appearing almost abstract, set against dark shadows that lift them from the page. They are not quite reality. “I see my work as immersed in a timeless dimension, unreal state, crystallized. There is a detachment from reality in what I represent,” he says.
New York based painter Walton Ford, featured here on our blog, is well known for his monumental watercolors of animals. From his tongue-in-cheek depictions of King Kong, to mythical 60 foot serpents, and epic battles between beasts, his works take the visual aesthetic of traditional natural history painting and apply it to an often bizarre and fantastical narrative. Ford recently debuted six new paintings at Paul Kasmin’s booth at Frieze New York, an homage to the incredible journey of a black panther.
In 2016, the watercolors of Moira Hahn recall the woodblock prints of Japan’s Edo period, which ended nearly 150 years ago. Even with endearing, anthropomorphic animals in the place of human warriors or villagers, there’s a refined quality to the work that feels centuries-formed. And hidden within these pieces, you’ll often find charming, humorous narratives and modern-day commentary.
Swedish artist Benjamin Björklund lives a simple life in a farm house on Sweden’s west coast and his oil and watercolor paintings reflect this life. His work usually portrays the people and animals that surround him, such as his dog, Solomon, and other pets like rabbits, pigs, and mice. He’s also inspired by physical or emotional situations that he has experienced throughout his life; before becoming an artist, Björklund had a varied career working as a prison night guard, a psychiatric nurse, and a veterinary technician student. To look at Björklund’s paintings feels like looking into a dream.