Theodor Kittelsen – a Norwegian bestiary

Theodor Kittelsen – a Norwegian bestiary

Theodor Kittelsen was a Norwegian painter and book illustrator (1857-1914). He illustrated the Scandinavian bestiary of legend and fairy tales, and his work has scared countless children (myself included). He drew and painted trolls, the black death, sea monsters, nøkken ("water spirit"), and anthropomorphised natural phenomena such as the echo. His work can be rather ...
Tragedy, Trauma and Paradise: The Incredible Genius of Hieronymus Bosch

Tragedy, Trauma and Paradise: The Incredible Genius of Hieronymus Bosch

A Bosch painting is a marvel to look at, regardless of how familiar someone is with their creator. But once you realize when and perhaps why they were made, they become truly uncanny. Luckily for those new with the language, the town of s'-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands is normally referred to as "Den Bosch" (pronounced "Den ...
Twelve golden wild ducks – fairytale in smoke and mirrors

Twelve golden wild ducks – fairytale in smoke and mirrors

There is a fairy tale here in Norway, called the twelve wild ducks. The story is not really important, it a fairly classic good versus evil, patience, purity and deceit. I think it is a pretty convoluted story, and I always found it dissatisfying that there is no attempt at explaining why the princes are ...
Acrylic and wood: into the laser

Acrylic and wood: into the laser

I have fallen in love with a machine. The laser cutter at the uni. Well; actually, it is what it can do, that captivates me. I am craftsperson –  I have two educations in crafts. I am a potter and bookbinder. So I have a sense for materials, how they act, what you can and ...
Audubon's birds, up for grabs

Audubon’s birds, up for grabs

Audubon's birds have been released to Public Domain! John James Audubon's book Birds of America is usually listed among the rarest books in existence. The reason for this is that the French ornithologist used the laborious technique of hand-coloured etched and aquatint plates, which means that there only about 200 complete sets done. A set fetched £7.3m at auction ...
Maria Sibylla Merian: illustrating the natural world

Maria Sibylla Merian: illustrating the natural world

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 – 1717) was a remarkable woman in many ways. She was a very talented scientific illustrator and had a passion for insects. According to David Attenborough, she contributed immensely to taxonomy in entomology and the understanding of metamorphosis, and she was the first person who travelled on purely scientific grounds. Though she was ...
Calamityware: disaster porcelain

Calamityware: disaster porcelain

Here at the visual squirrels, we are not in the habit of promoting stuff, but Calamityware is simply too funny. Taking the classic language of cobalt and porcelain decoration, the artist Don Moyer adds – well – calamity. Volcanoes, robots, tentacles, and all manner of funny creatures hide in the china. The only problem with ...
Hexagon Project - Serial Doodles

Hexagon Project – Serial Doodles

Doodling is a great habit to generate new ideas through keeping active. Sketches, drawings and experiments without any objective allow the mind to roam free and prompt new ideas. That's how inspiration is born. Sometimes it's hard to make time for doodling in between all the serious work for customers. That's why I created my ...
The network

The network

The network. The most common question I get when people see my drawings are "how long did that take you?!"  The next question is "what is it?"  Neither question being relevant or interesting. It seems a piece of work is weighted and valued by time and meaning must be figurative. I find this very odd, this need for everything to ...
Yisela's book – the anatomy of doodles

Yisela’s book – the anatomy of doodles

I write this blog together with Yisela (and Vincent). I have never met either, but Yisela was such a dear that I figured she deserved a gift. So in the tradition of Sofie's book and Adam's book, I made Yisela's book. But you have to be supersupernice to me to get one; well over and ...
A-maze

A-maze

Listening to the QI No such thing as a fish podcast, I was alerted to the story of a Japanese girl, while clearing her caretaker-fathers stuff, found this amazing work. Apparently, he spent seven years doing this. I doff my hat. You can buy a print - more on this story here ...
Medieval menagerie: the battle between knight and snail

Medieval menagerie: the battle between knight and snail

In a lot of medieval manuscripts, there are depictions of knights fighting snails. No one seems to know why this is. There are some theories, but so far nothing really conclusive. It might look like some sort of insider thing, maybe among scribes or illuminators. I love that sort of thing: mysteries in plain sight. Delightful ...
Illuminating letter D

Illuminating letter D

As mentioned in a previous post, I have dragged out some old tools and materials and started gilding again. In my previous life as a bookbinder, I bought a very old gilder's cushion that actually sits on top of a drawer. I have not seen this anywhere else; it seems a well spent USD30. Supposedly, ...
Laying of leaf gold

Words of gold

This stack-exchange question inspired me to dig out old skills and tools. Untouched for years, I got out my bookbinders gilding cushion and related paraphernalia. Getting back into the fiddlyness of handling gold leaf, I have squandered a few sheets. But it is fun. One thing: you cannot be impatient handling it, breathing is forbidden, ...
Doppelgänger—©Wizards of the Coast

In memoriam: Quinton Hoover

I can't talk about inspirational art for very long until I brush the subject of Magic: the Gathering. I've been playing this geekery-heavy card game for almost twenty years now. In that period, a humonguous amount of fantasy art has been produced by a myriad of artists. It was this art that drew me to ...
Machinarium: details make perfection...

Machinarium: details make perfection…

...and perfection is not a detail. I am a great fan of the work of Amanita design and their games, in particular, Machinarium. Because of this enthusiasm, I have been told that my drawings are heavily influenced by Machinarium and Samorost. But here is the thing; I loved that sort of humour, aesthetics, whimsy and craft ...
Shel Silverstein – anything can be

Shel Silverstein – anything can be

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” I only discovered Shel Silverstein a few years ago... I can only blame it on not having grown up in an ...
Ruffen, my childhood sea dragon

Ruffen, my childhood sea dragon

Thore Hansen was one of my childhood heroes. His drawings were magic then, and they are still magic now. The best known of his children's books illustrations are the ones accompanying Thor Åge Bringsværd's stories about Ruffen. Ruffen is a "small" sea dragon, and the books tells the story of his adventures. This post was ...
Adam's book – Henrik the speedbump catches a car

Adam’s book – Henrik the speedbump catches a car

Many moons ago, when a friend of mine acquired his first nephew, he wanted to give him a story. We co-wrote the story in google docs, and I was to do the illustrations. I forgot all about it, until the day before I was due to fly to the US (and the deadline for producing ...
J.H. Boot: master of stylisation

J.H. Boot: master of stylisation

I posted about stylisation before, and I'd like to show where I got my inspiration. So without further ado, some of the 'plates' from J.H. Boot's book on how to take some natural object and turn it into something of mathematically precise art. It still amazes me that Boot did not just take the time ...
Voynich manuscript – secret knowledge or brilliant hoax?

Voynich manuscript – secret knowledge or brilliant hoax?

Since we are on a roll with old books and manuscripts, I give you the  240-page Voynich manuscript. It is an unsolved enigma: a manuscript found in Italy; the paper has been dated to between 1404-1438. It contains text in an unknown script, unknown language, and illustrations of non-existing plants, constellations and humans apparently doing inexplicable ...
Ledger binding

Sofie’s book – bookbinding in the digital world

Back in the mist of time, I did my apprenticeship in hand bookbinding. There are basically two directions; two different apprenticeships: literature binder, or ledger binder. I am a literature binder (also called publishing or library binding). But back then it was considered essential to have a broad understanding. So part of the apprenticeship was ...
Twelve-fold symmetry

Twelve-fold symmetry

Little trick in Illustrator. One group of half-transparent objects, mirrored and rotated for a twelve-fold symmetry effect. Change one object, all eleven others follow suit. Goodness ensues ...
Skulls and bones

Skulls and bones

I have a thing about drawing skulls and bones. Not of any morbid fascination (I think), but because they can really be a challenge. The texture and colour of bones are interesting, and the ultimate challenge is to draw a skull first with graphite on white paper, then with white pencil on black paper. This ...
Dangerdust

Dangerdust

Came across Dangerdust; anonymous students at Columbus College of Art & Design. Each week they make a new piece of art on a blackboard. Head over to their Bēhance page, and take a look at their stunning work. Here is a quote from Paul Klee and classic from Calvin and Hobbes ...
tracing of Tropaeolum majus -- Indian cress

Stylisation a la 1910

Both my father and his father have been interested in art and decoration. Apparently, things like those are in the blood. Recently, my father passed me along scans of a book by one J.H. Boot he found in his archives, which must have belonged to my grandfather. It's a book about stylisation, the art of ...
Doodly deck of cards

Doodly deck of cards

Doodly deck of cards: Being a big fan of doodles, I got the idea some time back of making a deck of cards. The idea came when I found a few places that will print your custom deck of cards; and what is cool is that you could use it for business cards and such, ...
W. B. Gould: artist and convict

W. B. Gould: artist and convict

William Buelow Gould (1801 – 1853) was an English artist convicted for stealing a coat and was sentenced to seven years of labour in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). He constantly got into trouble, also in the penal colonies, and was regularly punished for offences such as drunkenness, petty theft and forgery. His talent, however, got him assigned as a house ...
WPA posters – art in the depression

WPA posters – art in the depression

During an extended period of the depression in USA (between 1935-1942), the US federal government supported artists by commissioning artwork for non-federal places and activities. Early on in the project, posters were painted by hand, each individually created. Later on, they were printed with silk screen. According to the US library of congress, "over two ...
Early utopian imagery, memories of no places

Early utopian imagery, memories of no places

Yisela Utopias. The no-places. I’ve always been attracted by them. The first utopia ever written could have been Plato’s Republic. Or the Genesis. However, the first one I discovered was Thomas More’s Utopia. I still can’t believe it was written 498 years ago, in 1516. Utopia is a strange book. Most scholars agree it’s a satire, a criticism ...
The Life Cycle of Ideas, Accurat for Popular Science

The Life Cycle of Ideas, Accurat for Popular Science

Giorgia Lupi once again comes up with stunning, informative and elegant data visualisation. This time, the life cycle of ideas. You can see another of hers in my post Design is where science and art breaks even ...
Creative mapping: paper towns, trap streets, cartographic treasure-hunts

Creative mapping: paper towns, trap streets, cartographic treasure-hunts

Q. Why was longitude boiling mad? A. Because it was 360 degrees. Cartographers are/were often seen as pretty dour characters. Not so long ago, maps were hand-drawn, and hanging over a drawing table, the meticulous of drawing contours seems rather nerdy. But, as programmers put easter-eggs in code, cartographers do the same. Map makers sometimes ...
Doodles, creativity, alphabets and cognitive noise

Doodles, creativity, alphabets and cognitive noise

‘…qualities like quiveriness and vulnerability come to mind when I think of creativity… creativity requires a sense of smell, a palate to taste the scents that make brilliance. All life feeds upon the random. Creativity is the haute cuisine.’ -Douglas Hofstadter ...
Human skull

Human skull

You can actually buy some stuff with my drawings on them. Here, some examples of the human skull drawing. Head over to my CafePress home and have a look around (considering posters. Maybe later.) ...
Ernst Haeckel: art and science through the microscope

Ernst Haeckel: art and science through the microscope

Ernst Haeckel (1834 – 1919) was what we call a renaissance man. He was a professor, biologist, philosopher, physician, naturalist and artist. His contribution to biology, evolutionary theory and art is still mind-boggling; we owe a great deal of biological understanding and terminology to him. He was a great promoter of Darwin's theory of evolution, ...
dodecahedron

Paper and math: the 3D world

Math can be beautiful. The artist and professor George Heart Makes amazing sculptures, and he generously shares some of the templates so that the less talented of us can reproduce them. Here, I have made a model of his Frabjous in corrugated cardboard: I am a little partial to the dodocahedron, the 12-faced Platonic solid. The ...
Control room – custom drawing

Control room – custom drawing

As mentioned in the post Mechanical owls – custom drawing, I am not the most efficient at xmas presents. So this is the custom drawing my brother got, a good few weeks after christmas. It is simply called the control room, for obvious reasons. There are some personal hints to my brother, but overall, it ...
tree of life

Tree of life – custom drawing

Tree of life – custom drawing: This is the third post in the series of my custom drawings. This time, it was a custom "tree of life" for my sister. She had a whole spare wall in the cabin up in the mountains... Again, as in all custom drawings I do, there are some elements ...
Drawing hands

Drawing hands

Three things are very difficult to draw: hands, feet and transparent plastic. Here are some sketches of hands from my Moleskines ...
Mechanical owls – custom drawing

Mechanical owls – custom drawing

Mechanical owls: I am not the quickest with xmas presents. On the other hand, people will get a custom piece of art. I have just finished this for a friend, and his general guideline was "mechanical owls". The rest is just me in free flight. It is a large-ish drawing (21x58cm), and working my way from ...
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