The context of the narratives depicted in Tom Herzberg’s paintings isn’t always clear for the viewer. Yet, the humorous and occasionally unsettling watercolor and acrylic works are absorbing and offer the chance to form our own theories about each’s wild characters. Herzberg is a Chicago-based artist and educator whose illustrations for magazines, books, newspapers, and other products number in the thousands.
Esther Sarto, a 24-year-old painter based in Copenhagen, creates gouache and watercolor works that are often as unsettling as they are elegant. Sarto, once known as “Miss Take” as a street artist, often uses bare, entangled humans and plant-life to express her sentiments. ”I am not a very verbal person,” she told WEAART. “There are a lot of issues you can express better without words. Often the meaning lays between the lines.”
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.