Tag Archives: art

Of a Feather

Wow, just look at what artist Chris Maynard can do with a feather…

Check out his gorgeous shadow boxes and Featherfolio here.

Feathers, Form and Function: New Cut Feather Artwork by Chris Maynard feathers birds

Feathers, Form and Function: New Cut Feather Artwork by Chris Maynard feathers birds


Release the Krampus!

Happy Eve of St. Nicholas Day!

If you’re in the states, you may not know or care much about this delightful holiday, but if you’re in France I hope you’re gearing up to hear some grandmas extol the man with tales of how he once resurrected a trio of lost and hungry children who were “lured inside by a wicked butcher who killed and salted them in a large tub”.

Meanwhile I know the good people of The Netherlands are preparing for Sinterklaas by putting shoes and carrots outside their houses, and awaiting the arrival of the saint and his “six-to-eight black men”  who will leave candy and presents for the good, and pretend to beat and kidnap the bad.

Incidentally, this threatening to beat naughty children with sticks and rods, “shake a bag of ashes” in their general direction, or chase them with large, ear-piercing bells is a common theme around Europe when it comes to St. Nick. I guess everyone has a dark side. But no one seems to do it better than the German-speaking countries. Why? Because they’re not afraid to bring out the big guns — the Krampus.

Santa’s demonic antithesis, the beastly Krampus creeps out of old alpine tales, hooves and horns ablaze, ready to murder bad kids, or minimum drag them back to his lair for who-knows-what action. His sinister moniker comes from the German word krampen, or claw, of which he has many.

Seriously, it’s like Stanley Kubrick stole Christmas. I wonder if Krampus-speak sounds something not unlike this sweet caroling, which I have to imagine roughly translates into “Merry Christmas, motherfuckers.” Seriously, this guy makes the Grinch look like a sad kitten. People are weird.


And while we’re talking beasties in the night, check out intrepid photographer Charles Freger’s epic collection of Europe’s eccentric “wild men” who dress up in fabulous and terrifying beast-gear to celebrate various holidays and put fear into the hearts of children. They’re pretty inspirational if you ask me.

A Snail’s Spring

We don’t get many signs of early spring here in the land of lodgepole, so, inspired by Vyacheslav Mishchenko’s magical photographs, I’ve been drawing my own spring — through the eyes of curious gastropods, for whom I am developing a great affection.

snail fern snail mushroom snail acorn snail flower

If you’re feeling the snail love, but can’t find any of your own to observe, I also recommend checking out Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s book The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, which I reviewed in Orion some time ago.

William Wasn’t the Only Badass Wallace

You of course know all about the estimable Charlie Darwin, but what, if anything do you know of his exceptionally bold and largely unsung contemporary, British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace? Yeah. Well, he was a fine and modest chap with a sharp mind and adventurous spirit, and, you know, also discovered natural selection. No big deal.

File:Alfred Russel Wallace engraving.jpg

Wallace was one of the first to legitimately write about ecology and early concepts of conservation, and in his free time he supported women’s suffrage. In short, he was a kind of freethinking dreamboat.

Last November, in honor of the centennial of his death, The New York Times posted Flora Lichtmanis and Sharon Shattuck’s excellent animated tribute to the man, The Animated Life of A.R. Wallace. If I can’t actually be Wallace (or the modern-day lady equivalent) I’d love to at least tell stories like his in such a poignant, whimsical, and visual way. Well done, ladies.

Peep this superior display of creative, informative artistry and fine science storytelling  of fantastic gaudy things here: