Friday, July 17, 2009

Strange Fairytales on Urban Walls

"Without Their Arms They Were Sisters"

Herakut is the name of the entity created when two street artists chose to merge their talents and create together. Hera + Akut = Herakut. When I first discovered the collaborative work of Herakut in the February 2009 issue of Juxtapoz I was smitten by both their poignant subject matter and the intense contrast between the artists' two styles that somehow still managed to form a remarkable synthesis. Hera's rough, calligraphic strokes are tempered by Akut's smooth and nearly luminescent realism to form figures that seem to simultaneously pool out into the third dimension and etch themselves deep into the surface of a wall or canvas like a neolithic cave painting.

"Streetdart No.2"

The creatures they paint range from the adorable, but often worrysome pug boys to rabbitfolk and even (yay!) wounded deerwomen — and they usually have a tale or piece of social commentary to impart in addition to their visual appeal. They use the animal attributes, masks, and headdresses to symbolize the nature of the figures, and the symbolism is sometimes not what one's initial associations might be: the cute pug boys (and girls?) represent "a street artist in the way that a dog goes around town and shits anywhere he likes. That's real graffiti. That's what dogs do." The rabbits are not just sweet and harmless in their paintings but typically represent an exploited sexuality comparable to the "bunnies" of Playboy notoriety. Their interactions are dystopian fairytales.

Their new book Herakut: The Perfect Merge is a great collection of their work featuring not only finished pieces but preliminary drawings and in-progress photos, allowing one to really appreciate the many layers involved in their art. The following is a quotation from the book about the struggle to retain the initial freshness of a sketch in a finished painting:
Painting from sketch was like copying yourself. Making a bad sequel. Cold coffee. The sketch by itself would always be the fresh spark — but the painting that followed would be like holding your hands to the radiator: it feels like heats but it's no real fire.

But one thought finally opened up the gate to new grounds: (wow, this may sound a little weird but this is how our brains function...) Mary J Blidge — singing about 1st love — album after album after album. How could singers relive this heartfelt experience even decades after they had actually been there? Right there it clicked. A sketch was the tool for capturing a new-born thought, a genuine moment like when you're falling in love. (Intimate, strong, but at the same time fragile and never to be repeated.) [...] So, in the end: a sketch will always be like love at first sight while the pieces that follow make it a love story.

More of Herakut's work can be seen online at:
Herakut (their official website)
Herakut's Dirty Laundry Aired

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Bitty Bat to Steal Your Heart

Last weekend my sister called from my parent's house insisting that I come over in order to see something that I would enjoy. She would not take no for an answer. When I arrived, she and my mom brought me to the deck in the backyard and carefully separated a certain fold in the closed umbrella atop the table to reveal....

the cutest little bat!

He was resting for the day after a long night of insect hunting by the spotlights shining out from the house. According to my mom, he has been coming back to that spot for a few days in a row. I've seen bats fluttering by in the evenings plenty of times, but I've never seen one during the day so close before. It's amazing that their wings fold back into such a small bundle, and the overall size of the bat was even smaller than I expected: he was about two inches in length if that. I wish I could have taken him home, but something tells me that wouldn't have worked out so well.

I have a soft spot in my heart for bats, especially the so-called flying foxes or fruit bats that live in tropical locations around the globe.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Storyteller Tree

This image was another trade with Ed Dougherty of Tree of Life Designs in exchange for a Native American Style flute. He had to wait a bit longer for this picture than I did for the flute, but I hope it was worth it. It is actually something of a gift for someone close to him who senses and interacts with various Nature Spirits. He requested a picture of an old, wise tree spirit set in a forest which included flowing water lined with some tall grasses.

I finally got to use the Windsor & Newton drawing inks I was given for Yule on this image and I adore them. I laid out the basic composition in sepia and loved the loose, flowing quality. I found the ink difficult to completely layer over as I didn't want to obscure it, so much more of the groundwork is visible here than in some of my other pieces.