A Bloody Tutorial by Sythgara
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A close of up of a recent exhibition at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery. (Photo: Roy Blunt)
Jennifer Angus is one of the world's most prolific bug collectors.
That's because she's been an insect artist for the last 17 years, and regularly pins thousands of critters to walls in galleries across the country, most recently, in 2016 alone, at spaces in Seattle, Houston, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
She has so many shows going on at the same time, in fact, that sometimes she runs out of bugs from her collection to use. "I actually like this because it becomes an interesting design challenge," she says from northern India, where she is currently doing research. "I have three shows up and I only have certain insects left to work with."
Angus first realized the beauty of bugs in the 1980s in northern Thailand, when she was looking into local dress and came across a "singing shawl," a garment worn by women that was decorated with beetle wings.
Over a decade later, in 1999, she created her first exhibits, hoping in part to inspire people to think about insects a little differently.
She says she started with the "pretty" insects first, like butterflies, later branching out to include hundreds of other varieties, like those of the order phasmatodea, which she particularly admires. Phasmatodea are a group of insects that have adapted to look, varyingly, like sticks, leafs, and other plant-like objects. "It's ingenious!" she says.
(Photo: Roy Blunt)
None of the bugs Angus uses are endangered, but she says she's still mindful of the ethics of mass bug collecting. She uses farmed bugs when she can, for example, while pointing out that the real threat to bugs is loss of habitat.
"Intellectually, we recognize that forests are the lungs of the planet but not enough is being done to protect this precious resource," she says. "Virtually every insect on the endangered species list is there because of loss of habitat."
So, where do Angus's bugs come from? A bug dealer, of course, in her case a Belgian named Alain van Vyve, who runs a shop called The Bugmaniac. She's worked with him for many years, and "he knows the type of insects I like."
The bugs can vary widely in price, but many are listed for around five euros (roughly $5.50) for a small set of three or five. The bugs—dried for preservation—are then shipped to the buyer, having originated from all over the world.
For Angus, choosing which bugs, and how many (Angus buys at much higher volumes than your average collector), is just the start of the process. When she gets them, she then hydrates their bodies to make their wings, legs, and other parts more movable, so it's easier to craft them into shapes on the wall later–"a fairly labor intensive process."
(Photo: Roy Blunt)
And that's all before she actually creates the show, which, in the Smithsonian's newly reopened Renwick Gallery, took the form of faces and patterns. Each show is different, though, and Angus says it frequently comes down to the space.
"A lot of museums are former mansions or villas that have been converted to galleries. They come with wonderful histories and stories, so sometimes I want to try to use insects that will evoke a former time or art style," Angus says. "Sometimes I just have a white box."
When the show's over, Angus boxes up her bugs and takes them home—she's had some for up to 15 years. Keeping them makes financial sense, she says, but is also prudent from a moral perspective.
And damaged bugs get re-used, meaning most of her shows end up including a mixture of perfect and imperfect specimens, even if you would have to look pretty closely to figure out which bug had flaws. "Anything that is damaged I repair, and if it doesn't look perfect then it goes high up on the wall or low down," Angus says. "I keep the perfect specimens at eye level and no one really notices imperfections in the others."
Still, Angus says she sometimes has to resort to playing God, creating new specimens that have never existed. "If something is beyond repair I transform it into something new—a kind of hybrid species or Frankenstein," she says, "which is quite fun because it blurs the lines of what is real and what is not."
A friend, commenting on a new building, "I'm not sure if I hate it or love it! I want to hate it but I think I love it..."
Without that tension, all you've done is what's been done before.
In entertainment, an awful lot of stuff happens behind closed doors, from canceling TV shows to organizing music festival lineups. While the public sees the end product on TVs, movie screens, paper, or radio dials, they don't see what it took to get there. In Expert Witness, The A.V. Club talks to industry insiders about the actual business of entertainment in hopes of shedding some light on how the pop-culture sausage gets made.
In a little over five years, colorist Jordie Bellaire has emerged as one of the most prolific creators in the comic industry. She won a 2014 Eisner Award for her work on 11 different titles, and she's maintained this heavy workload as her profile steadily rises. Bellaire is nominated for another Eisner this year, once again for her work on 11 books, and readers of these series know exactly why she's earned so ...
Oddly named agency Dark Igloo sure knows a thing or two about gifs, heck it even created a whole film about them. It also knows a thing or two about making a superbly on-point visual identity, as seen in this identity for gif library and creation site Giphy.
Acrylic paint has many properties that make it unique and versatile. Acrylic sticks to acrylic, so you can add layer upon layer of paint in a variety of ways. You can paint with acrylic on most porous, non-oily surfaces. You can also paint with oils over acrylics (but not acrylics over oils). Read on for a demonstration of Pods 27 (shown at bottom; acrylic and mixed media, 24×12) by Jacqui Beck, who has been featured in The Artist's Magazine.
First I painted black gesso onto my canvas and let it dry; then I roughly sketched my design with orange chalk. Next I adhered a variety of papers and fabric with heavy gel medium—for texture and color. The papers show through on the finished painting, as does the black spandex with gold dots in the center pod and the black-and-white zigzag fabric (from an old skirt) going up the left side.
In this step I started blocking in color, using bright colors that appealed to me at the moment—cobalt teal, cadmium orange, cadmium red medium, and tints of quinacridone magenta and quinacridone violet.
I decided after looking at the painting that it needed something to tie it together horizontally, so I added the vine near the bottom. You can see it drawn in chalk.
Here I blocked in more color and the painting started to take form. I used mostly warm colors in the pods and background to create a feeling of energy and life, with some cool accents here and there, and I painted the vine a mossy green.
Notice that some areas still aren't painted and that I left some fabric and paper showing through. I also allowed some of the black gesso to show at the edges of the shapes to set off the colors.
I made a major change at this late stage—one of the great perks of working with acrylics! I decided that I didn't like the two pods on the right overlapping, so I repainted them. I also removed the small purple pods at the far right to simplify the design.
To create some sense of depth in this mostly flat painting, I made sure that the vine twists in and out of the pod stems. I also added black gesso on top of the paint around the pods to redefine the edges.
In this last step for Pods 27 (above; acrylic and mixed media, 24×12), I evened out the background by using another layer of paint. I added quinacridone magenta to the mix (cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow medium and white) to get a rosier color. As I painted around the pods, I repaired edges, leaving a little black showing in some areas.
At the very end, I added a few details, such as the bright dots on the small pod. I also continued the zigzag to the bottom left of the canvas, so the viewer's eye travels through the painting. As I finish, I check for anything that catches my eye in a way I don't like, and I continue touching up until there's nothing left that bothers me and the piece works well as a whole.
Jacqui Beck, of Seattle, Washington, is a full-time artist and art instructor and has worked in many capacities to further the arts, acting as a board member of arts organizations and director of Art for Kids in the Northwest. To see her work, visit www.jacquibeck.com. To read more about Jacqui Beck's process in the September 2007 issue of The Artist's Magazine, click here and order your digital copy.
The Festival of Arts Pageant of the Masters, a premier art show that takes place every summer in Laguna Beach, Calif., will open next week, on July 5, and continue through August 31. Among this year's featured artists at the Festival of Arts art two pastel artists: Marie Tippets and Mary Alsin.
Marie Tippets: Tippets is known for her still life paintings in which she explores the dramatic possibilities in the juxtaposition of light and dark. At the festival, however, she'll be exhibiting a new series she calls "Essence of Japan," paintings inspired by the artist's trip to the country. Her subjects include figures, landscapes and gardens that are meant to illustrate what the artist experienced as a beautiful land and fascinating culture.
Mary Alsin: Aslin is known for her romantic and luminous portrayals of figures and still life subjects, And, as a working artist in Laguna Beach, she has enjoyed a number of appearances at this annual art event.
The Festival of Arts is California's longest running outdoor fine art show and one of the nation's most highly acclaimed and attended juried exhibitions. "In addition to the exhibition paintings, photography and ceramics, the eight-week event offers a range of activities that includes jazz concerts, guided art tours and workshops. For more information, visit https://www.foapom.com.
The post Pastel Pick of the Week | The Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach appeared first on Artist's Network.