Rachel Suggs is a Baltimore-based illustrator whose soft mixture of water-based media and (sometimes) pencil conjure both beauty and intrigue. Her colorful-yet-desaturated compositions, often fantastical, feature people whose lives are intimately tied to nature. Tall trees, weeping branches, and florals are both background decor as well as the main characters in her illustrations.
Symbols and metaphors are prominently featured in Sugg’s works. We aren’t always given a clear sense of where a person or thing is, but based on the environment surrounding them, we can infer the emotions and motivation behind the subjects in her illustrations. Snakes and serpents show up in her work, which could communicate danger. Sometimes, we see birds and bugs, which, depending on what they are, could mean a metamorphosis or rebirth.
Swiss artist and illustrator Christo Dagorov’s series Lips features surreal drawings of – you guessed it – human lips. Although they mimic the shape, Dagorov transforms them with textures that you wouldn’t see on someone’s face. The artist uses pencil to create a forest, prison, and even a group of naked bodies.
If the series wasn’t titled Lips, there’s a chance you might not realize that they are the subject of Dagorov’s drawings. He covers their supple surface with his own imagination and effectively turns them into tiny landscapes with short, narrative tales. But, because know they are intended as lips, it adds another layer of intrigue. These images represent a story that’s being told and a visual way to signify words coming off lips. (Via Colossal)
Kathy Klein is a devout lover of plants, and she translates this admiration into a series of natural mandalas. They are called danmalas, which means “the giver of flowers” in vedic sanskrit. The colorful arrangements are comprised of different blooms, leaves, and even some vegetables such as peppers. She layers a variety of textures and shapes into circular patterns that converge in the center.
Klein describes how she crafts these pieces, and it’s about around being in the right state of mind. First, she situates herself in a meditative devotional space. Next, she gathers flowers and other natural objects while her mind continues to be still. She finds inspiration from the golden sound that resides in silence. “These offerings are reflections of the inexpressible, a gesture which points towards life’s abundance, an unspoken verse of Love,” Klein writes. “The danmalas remind us all to listen to the unheard voice of nature, creation, and the eternal mystery.”
If you too are a plant lover (or mandala lover), Klein has many, many more danmalas on her website. (Via Faith is Torment)
These majestic, bird’s eye view images are of the remote Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces located in China’s Yunnan province. Small bodies of water are punctuated by the bold lines that create the terraces, and they signify the harmony of man and nature. Their brilliant colors and complex designs give them the appearance of abstract paintings rather than natural splendor.
The 1,300-year-old terraces cover 461 square kilometers, and are said to display the best-developed in three valleys. And although it’s hard to tell from these photos, they cascade from a summit of 2,000 meters above sea level to the base of the Ailao mountain range.
From late April to late September, the Hani people grow red rice. The water from brooks, springs, and rain is collected by forests and distributed through the gravitational system. This accounts for the vibrant grounds we see here. (Via China Discovery Blog and Dana Boulos)
French muralist Seth Globepainter paints large, expansive scenes of people on the cusp of going some place else. The fantastical compositions feature young men and women whose heads are often in the proverbial clouds. Their bodies are obscured and half-hidden in another mysterious dimension that’s as easy to access as lifting a curtain.
These murals read as dreamscapes where the surreal and impossible happens. Everything is beautiful, nothing appears to hurt, and the color of the rainbow surrounds us wherever we go.
With their backs and side turned away from the viewer, it’s clear that Globepainter’s characters aren’t concerned about us. They’d rather make it to their next big adventure, or at least find out what’s behind that curtain. This creates a lot of intrigue, and we are founding asking questions about where they are going or what they’re leaving behind.
Australian artist Paul Yore uses colorful applique, sequins, weaving, and more to depict a world that seems cheerful, but is the opposite of sunshine and rainbows. Instead, Yore’s materials tell us that things are much worse. In one work, he welcomes us to hell. Vibrant hearts and yellow smiley faces still opposite to skulls and erect penises in these tapestry wall hangings.
Upon initial glance, your eyes are drawn to all the colors under the rainbows. It feels jubilant and even innocent. But, as soon as you start to study Yore’s work, you see that these choices are his form of biting commentary on political and social issues. Often, leaders will try and sugarcoat serious issues, to be dismissive of victims or even blame them. The artist exposes this type of hypocrisy (and more) by putting it all out in the open so that you can’t look away.
The dazzling satire is at times overwhelming, as if the artist has so much to say that he wants to fit it within one dizzying piece. Here, it’s akin to the epic paintings Hieronymous Bosch in terms of of a compositional frenzy. Where you look for a long time, finding new small moments every time that you look. (Via Collection Department)
Romanian illustrator Aitch creates colorful images that are ripe with magentas, turquoises, electric yellows, and more. But, don’t let those bright pigments confuse you. While cheerful, there are some macabre moments that add an intriguing element to her detailed paintings.
Aitch is inspired by her travels, naturalistic illustrations, naive art, and folklore from around the world. You definitely get the sense of this through her series like The Garden of Good and Evil and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Both, as you might guess, are the retelling of stories – original sin and the C.S. Lewis tale, respectively – but through her own imagery and voice. Here, full-sized women with an array of unusual tattoos interact with the psychedelic landscape and a cast of fantastical creatures.
The same women appear throughout Aitch’s work in other series like Coffins. Here, it’s much like it sounds – we see decorative coffins, people buried underground, and a meditation on what happens after we’re gone. Her style lends itself to a more lighthearted, beautiful depiction of death and a return to nature where we’re wrapped up in gorgeous vines and flowers.
Canadian artist Erin Loree crafts luscious abstract paintings that have an incredible sense of light. The vibrant pictures feature incredible blues, magentas, yellows, and many more spread over a canvas. Loree varies her approach to texture, with some areas of smoothly-applied paint and others with short, thick brush strokes. They work together and form alluring artworks that resemble portraits and at times, landscapes.
Considering the scale of Loree’s strokes, the subjects that she’s painted seem to be captured at a close range. Large, sweeping lines form vague outlines of heads and shoulders, and with names like Energy body, it’s hard not to associate them with that. But, instead of giving us the an idea of what this physical body looks like, Loree uses gesture and intense hues to communicate an inner spirit or feeling. Some of her works appear as if they’re glowing from within - the essence of an intrinsic light that exists inside living beings.