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Watercolor sticks are a great tool for artists who want to add watercolor effects to sketches and drawings. They are somewhere between a watercolor and a pastel, with a good amount of variation among brands. Apply them in a range of ways: Draw dry on dry and then wet your surface with a brush, dip the stick in water as you work, apply dry to wet paper, or even treat these sticks like watercolor pans, using a wet brush to take pigment from the stick and transfer it to paper. Watercolor sticks are sometimes priced better than traditional pans, and they’re highly portable: no palette or brush necessary. If you’re interested in using watercolor sticks for drawing or painting, find our list of recommended options below.

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“New Kid in School” by Yung-Sen Wu. All images courtesy of BigPicture, shared with permission

Encompassing plumes of mushroom spores, preying venus flytraps, and an opportunistic leopard seal, the 2021 BigPicture Natural World Photography contest showcases the beautiful, peculiar, and resilient flora and fauna across the globe. Now in its eighth year, the annual competition, which is held by the California Academy of Sciences, is centered largely around conservation and humans’ impact on the environment. The 2021 contest garnered entries showing the profound changes to the planet in recent months alone by documenting the desolate landscape following Australian bushfires and a disposable face mask floating off the coast of California. See some of the winning shots below and all finalists on the competition’s site. (via Kottke)


“Hope Amidst the Ashes” by Jo-Anne McArthur

“Ice Bears” by Peter Mather

Top left: “Sign of the Tides” by Ralph Pace. Top right:

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Paint isn’t as permanent as you might think! If you’ve made an error with your acrylics or oils, there is a way to fix it: Pick up a painting scraper. Featuring a sharp blade, this tool makes quick work of dried pigment; you can use it to lift paint off your canvas without ruining the fabric and without having to use any solvents. Scrapers are also great tools for cleaning off your palette and cleaning up your work space. Below, we highlight some of our favorites. 

RGM Scraper Knife No. 109
Our favorite scraping tool is made to last, comfortable to hold, and pretty inexpensive to boot. Made in Italy, it features an asymmetrical multi-angled blade made of tempered steel that is firmly fitted into a solid wood handle and secured with a brass ferrule. It is beautifully weighted, and the blade is offset so you can maintain
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“DAFT PUNK,” Monday, February 22, 2021. All images © Sho Shibuya, shared with permission

Last summer, Sho Shibuya began a visual archive of the day’s sunrise by painting vibrant gradients in their likeness over the cover of The New York Times. The smooth, colorful transitions literally masked the daily headlines, offering a reprieve from the news and establishing a morning ritual that the Brooklyn-based artist, who’s also behind the design studio Placeholder, continues today.

Alongside those subtle sunrises, though, Shibuya also has started interpreting some of the day’s events through mixed-media works that similarly block out the articles. Two bandaids adhere to a peach cover, for example, marking widespread COVID-19 vaccinations. Bands of silver and gold splice another piece, which is also overlaid with a shattered mirror that reflects on Daft Punk breaking up after 28 years. No matter how heavy the topic, each of the pieces, Shibuya says, … Read the rest

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Essential to any oil or acrylic painter’s practice is a great palette knife or painting knife. With such tools, artists can combine colors and materials in the process of creating their works. Though originally intended for mixing media, palette knives can also be used to apply paint to canvas, with different sizes and shapes producing different effects. Even watercolorists can use them to scratch into a work. Note that a painting knife, often with a curved neck or handle to keep the artist’s hands away from the painted surface, is technically a different tool and may be best suited for applying pigment to canvas, but painting and palette knives—both the tools and their names—are often used interchangeably. The blades’ edges can be blunt or sharp, allowing a wide range Read the rest

Watson Mere

2021 marks ten years since the launch of Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair in London. From immersive art dining experiences to faux art vandalism performances, the fairs have showcased art in a number of different creative forms across the U.S., U.K., and Australia, as well as kickstarted the careers of thousands of talented artists.

Created by Ryan Stanier, the concept of The Other Art Fair is simple: to give artists the opportunity to grow their businesses and sell their works independently to buyers from all backgrounds and to further democratize the art-buying process by connecting buyers directly with artists.

In celebration of and to shine a light on the artist community that is the beating heart of the fair, the team asked 400 of their featured artists what drew them to their career path as part of a new “Why am I an artist” video series. Here … Read the rest

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An art subscription box is one of the best gifts you can give yourself or a creative friend. Typically delivered monthly, these kits come with specially curated supplies, whether paints, inks, or paper, to surprise and inspire you. Because everyone’s preferences are different, you likely won’t be in love with every single product you receive every month. Still, subscription boxes are a fun way to try products you might not have used before or even known about. If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by all the choices at a typical art store, these boxes are also a handy way to hone your tastes so you can be more informed the next time you shop in person. Below, find five of our favorite art subscription services that offer the best deals Read the rest

All images © Josh Forwood, shared with permission

Although busy hives filled with honeybees tend to dominate mainstream imagery and conversations about bee populations, 90 percent of the insects are actually solitary creatures that prefer to live outside of a colony. This majority, which is comprised of tens of thousands of species, are also superior pollinators in comparison to their social counterparts because they’re polylectic, meaning they collect the sticky substance from multiple sources, making them even more crucial to maintaining crops and biodiversity.

“Whilst bee numbers, on the whole, are increasing, this is almost exclusively due to the increase in beekeeping, specifically honey bees,” wildlife photographer Josh Forwood tells Colossal. “Due to the artificially boosted populations in concentrated areas, honey bees are becoming too much competition for many solitary bee species. This, in turn, is driving almost a monoculture of bees in some areas, which has huge knock-on effects … Read the rest

Known for his abstract compositions, the New York–based artist Ali Banisadr recently described his paintings as “quite encyclopedic” and “trying to gather different fragments of information and knowledge from different sources,” as he told Brooke Jaffe during an “ARTnews Live,” our ongoing IGTV series featuring interviews with a range of creatives.

Influenced by classic literature and the work of Old Masters like Bruegel, Bosch, and Goya, Banisadr admires their ability “to show humanity from a macro level.” To create his works, he said he “fall[s] down the rabbit hole” while researching the imagery that appears throughout his oeuvre. His maximalist approach to painting starts by sitting with “the infinite possibilities” of a blank canvas until an idea or feeling strikes him. To capture a mood, Banisadr bottles his own color combinations of paint, which has become the basis of his works. The rest, he says, is a “fluid process” … Read the rest

All image © Marija Tiurina, shared with permission

Longtime Colossal readers will recognize the surreal, fictionalized scenes illustrated by Marija Tiurina (previously). Whether a bizarre mishmash of thoughts from quarantine or a crowded parallel universe in North London, Tiurina’s works are a seemingly endless exploration of mystery, delight, and general chaos, themes the London-based illustrator continues in her new series Stereogramos—the title is a portmanteau blending the “Spanish world for a bouquet (of endless objects and limbs, in my case) and ‘-os’ ending that is typical to the worlds of plural female form in Lithuanian language,” she says.

Comprised of three jiggling gifs and a longer, scrolling animation, the works deviate from Tiurina’s static paintings and build a playful, peculiar setting around three central characters in her signature style. The female figures exude an air of cool disinterest and are surrounded by objects defining their unqiue personalities, including … Read the rest