Artwork by Kelly Allen
kelly allen creates art inspired by nature. no matter what medium she uses — whether it be coloured pencils, gouache on paper or oil on canvas — allen creates a uniquely melded collage of differing species. i like to imagine a scene which is suddenly pulled inward by a vacuum until there is only white space behind and a pile of creatures crowded together before our eyes.
in one scene a majestic dear is surrounded by tweeting birds and luscious pink and yellow flowers. he drinks from the stream as slippery blue fish slip by. in another scene, insects take over the forest at dusk until night sets and a wild wolf howls up at the moon.
kelly’s artwork is imbued with an almost other-worldy nature. with moons, suns and black shapes filled with sparkling white stars, each piece lends itself to the fantasy that there may just be life on other planets.
Illustration by Michelle Morin
Now that summer has arrived I’m trying to ride my bike or walk to work as much as possible. I’m convinced that I’m getting a tan already but it’s likely just the tinted moisturizer I’m using! Aside from the glorious sunshine that summer brings, there is also a plethora of greenery and trees full of flitting fowls to admire. Sometimes, when I’m in a really good mood on my walks, the birds make me feel as if I am Cinderella. I am convinced that at any moment they will bring forth a ball gown in their tiny beaks and whistle to me that I am late for the ball (when in actuality, I’m just late for work).
Watercolorist Michelle Morin has developed a certain intimacy with fowl and flora as well. She is an artist who takes notice of nature in its entirety — from tiny insects, to lush leaves, unique flowers, birds of all sizes and even the various breeds of whales within the sea.
Currently residing in Salem, Massachusetts with her painter fiancé, Michelle is one of the most masterful watercolorists I have come across. Unlike so many watercolor paintings, which involve delineated blocks of color; Michelle does not fear the layering of paint. She even uses lighter colors on top of dark — a technique which takes a great deal of patience while waiting for the initial foundation to dry. All of this is necessary however, to create these beautifully detailed images.
When looking at these scenes, note the detail within every feather and leaf. Morin’s time spent working at a plant farm and greenhouse is entirely evident in the way she portrays nature. All of these are available in print format in Michelle’s Etsy shop United Thread.
Ying Yang by Jennifer Bain
As the North American seasons begin to change from spring to summer, it seems to me the perfect time to indulge in the inspirational work of artist Jennifer Bain. Featured recently on Artsy Forager, Bain is an artist who has really come into her own. In the past she experimented with various styles of art, including geometric works full of hard shapes, as well as a soft abstract approach to nature.
In 2008 the artist began to play with layers of organic images. By 2011 her portfolio was filled with exquisite collages of butterflies, birds, insects and numerous flowers. Bain thoughtfully names the following images with cosmically impressive titles such as “Seekers,” “Distant Star” and “New World.” And indeed viewers will discover a new world of wonder within her work.
If the aforementioned artworks are grandiose in title and theme, then the following are balanced in their attention to minute details. “Pollinators,” “Circut,” “Same Cloth” and “Blue Stock” focus on one specific aspect of each work. They remind us of the interconnectedness of nature and the subtle ways in which each species plays its role.
Bain uses a variety of techniques in order to create her final product. She paints, draws, fills some subject matter with beautiful textures and leaves others blank. The result are fresh and crisp images — the perfect inspiration for beginning summer projects!
Blue Bear by Ted Harrison
This month on Dearest Nature, I would like to share an artist whose work is not only inspirational – it is consistently uplifting. The artist is Ted Harrison and his colourful artwork is recognized around the world. Harrison was born in Wingate County in Durham, England in 1926. He created art from a very young age and his passion for it would prove to be a telling sign of his future career.
After serving in the military and traveling extensively, Ted Harrison settled in Yukon, Canada. The artist was inspired by the sheer beauty of the Canadian North, and painted it the way it looked in his mind, lively and vibrant. He developed his signature style using unexpected tonalities, bold sections of colour and clear delineations.
Harrison lived in the Yukon for over twenty years, teaching and painting before moving to Victoria, British Columbia. Here too, he used the beauty of the Pacific Northwest as subject matter for is work – often depicting whales frolicking in their natural habitat.
Harrison enjoys creating art (and in fact has completed thousands of paintings, drawings and illustrations), but unlike other artists, he does not treat the process or the product as sacrosanct. When an avid fan of Harrison brought forth a painting she had purchased decades before, the two reminisced about his imagery. While admiring the piece, Harrison noticed a coffee stain on the snow and proceeded to lick his lunch napkin and dab at the mark to remove it!
It is with this modesty and sense of humour that the artist unknowingly charms all those who meet him. The people who affect him most however, are young children. As a man who taught for many years, he will always hold a soft spot in his heart for young artists. As he once said, “Art breathes humanity. It must be a part of every child’s education.”
Paloma Negra by Samuel Jan
For the past eight months I have had the pleasure of working with emerging artist Samuel Jan. In my work I encounter an exciting array of artists who have a varying degree of skill in their chosen field. With the development and growth of abstract art in the past century, technical skills such as shadowing, perspective, depth of field and
realistic portrayal have taken a back seat. This is not to say that abstract art does not require its own set of skills. I’m known for my admiration of painters who create a series of seemingly inconsequential marks and yet the result is something both beautiful and moving. That type of art requires a certain level of looseness and fluidity, which I do not possess!
That being said, I think there is something remarkable about the sheer talent of artists like Samuel Jan. His ability to render humans and animals with such clarity and realism is nothing short of sheer genius. Jan has a secret penchant for shadow boxes and is equally talented with a paintbrush – but today I want to share with you his exquisite charcoal works.
My favourite aspect about Jan’s artwork is the slight sense of eeriness and surrealism. In The Doorman, a little girl beneath an umbrella encounters a foreboding but gentle rhinoceros. The situation seems odd, but somehow delightful in its absurdity. In this piece, as in Paloma Negra (at top), the artist creates an ease and a connection between humans and their animal counterparts.
In the following series of drawings entitled “Victoria Stories,” Jan again depicts a peculiar cross between humans and animals – this time the humans wear startlingly realistic masks made of fur, whiskers and antlers.
Samuel, who is originally from Taipei, claims to be a loner but believes that his art and his imagination are a great comfort to him. In that sense he is a stereotypical artist – his appearance and quiet demeanor never gives away his astounding creativity and talent.