Liz Shippam

Liz Shippam, watercolor botanical art
To my eye, there appears to be a tendency in contemporary botanical art to be so respectful of scientific accuracy that contrasts of color and value are often sacrificed, leading to reserved, delicate watercolor renderings that are less impactful as artworks on their own.

The bold watercolors of English botanical artist Liz Shippam provide a refreshing counterpoint to that trend. Her refined and naturalistic paintings of flowering plants — and fruit, in particular — bring to mind 19th century watercolorists like Emilie Preyer and William Henry Hunt.

Like those artists, Shippam uses a dry brush technique, building up her textures in layers.

The gallery of work on Shippam’s website is not extensive, but you can find more of examples of her work on her Etsy shop and the Kevis House Gallery. I’ve also provided other links, below.

Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower, urban sketcher, architectural watercolor illustration
Stephanie Bower is an architectural illustrator and avid urban sketcher based in Seattle.

Like a number of other architectural illustrators who are also sketchers or watercolor painters in their off hours, Bower’s location sketches have a wonderful combination of loose, gestural rendering over a solid framework of perspective and geometric forms.

I particularly admire her fearless handling of complex cityscape panoramas and large interiors, like cathedrals and churches. She has a deft touch with her application of watercolor, adding enough to give her compositions color and presence, but allowing the pencil drawing to remain a strong part of the finished piece.

Her website is devoted to her professional architectural rendering, of which you can see a couple of examples above, third and fourth from the bottom. Even though more formal than her sketches, her line and watercolor illustrations have a warmth and visual appeal that the CGI modeling renders that seem to be dominating the field these days lack.

Bower’s blog and Instagram account showcase her sketches, many of which are from travels in Europe and around the world.

Her sketches can also be found on the Urban Sketchers site (note links to multiple pages at bottom), where she is a correspondent. She also teaches workshops at Urban Sketchers events. There is a brief video introduction of Bower in that role on YouTube.

She is also the author of one of the books in the Urban Sketching Handbook Series: The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective.

In addition, Bower has two online courses available through Craftsy: “Perspective For Sketchers” and “The Essentials of Sketching Architecture“.

beinArt Collective returns

beinArt Collective: Naoto Hattori, Mike Worrall, Peter Gric, Dan May, Dino Valls, Ernst Fuchs, Sandra Yagi, Scott Musgrove, Travis Louie, Greg Simkins, Lucy Hardie, Maura Holden, David M. Bowers, Alex Grey, Jon Beinart

Founded in 2003 by Jon Beinart as the “beinArt Australian Surreal Art Collective” and expanded internationally in 2006 as the “beinArt International Surreal Art Collective”, the beinArt Collective has long been a web destination, publisher and sponsor of group exhibitions for artists working in the areas of strange, surreal, fantastic, psychedelic, visionary and outsider art.

Aficionados of these genres have found the website, and its reserve of artist galleries, missing for a time now, while founder Jon Beinart endeavored to bring the site up to date, reduce the strain of upkeep on the multiple galleries and generally bring the site into line with the modern web, streamlined and functioning more as a lighthouse than a repository.

The good news is that the beinArt Collective site is now back from the shadows; and, given its nature, has of course, brought the shadows back with it.

The new website functions as a blog and a listing of the most prominent artists from the collective’s formerly over-extended list, now linking directly to their own blogs and websites instead of trying to maintain local files.

There is a cornucopia of the weird, wild, wooly and often wonderful to be found among the links and articles — but, as when turning over leaves in a strange forest, I must warn the uninitiated that you never know what you will find lurking on the forest floor. Much of the work here delves deliberately into the disconcerting edges of the strange, and some may find it not to their liking.

Others, however, will delight in the assortment of the imaginative, bizarre and often beautifully realized work that abounds.

[Note: the sites linked, and the beinArt site itself, contain an assortment of work that can be considered NSFW, for a variety of reasons. I will also issue a Timesink Warning.]

(Images above: Naoto Hattori, Mike Worrall, Peter Gric, Dan May, Dino Valls, Ernst Fuchs, Sandra Yagi, Scott Musgrove, Travis Louie, Greg Simkins, Lucy Hardie, Maura Holden, David M. Bowers, Alex Grey, Jon Beinart)

John O’Reilly

John O'Reilly
In urban scenes of walls, corridors, alleys and car parks — that most of use might pass by unnoticed — Irish artist John O’Reilly finds fascination with geometric shapes, muted color, weathered textures and patterns of light and shade.

O’Reilly’s website has example of his urban landscapes, as well as wall art and murals.

I particularly enjoy the textural patterns in his paintings of slate or shingle roofs.

The fleeting art of Andres Amador

Andres Amador
“Ars longa, vita brevis”, goes the phrase (Art is long, life is short), but then, some art is much more temporary than most.

The art of Andres Amador, though ostensibly made of “archival materials”, lasts only until the next high tide.

Amador takes his rake to the beaches of northern California and creates carefully controlled markings in the sand, then photographs the result.

You can read more about his process on his website. There is also a gallery of his work here.

[Via MetaFilter]

Japanese Manhole Covers

Here in the U.S, manhole covers are treated as simple utilitarian access to underground systems, and their design generally reflects that — just a utility hatch.

In Japan, however, a large number of municipalities use the same kind of utility opening covers to express their local identity, with decorative covers that portray local landmarks, plants, animals, festivals and other elements of cultural or civic import.

There is an extensive Flickr group devoted to them and a book on the appreciation of them called Drainspotting.

[Via Salon]