Insects are such an amazing starting point for a school art project. This blog post explores 6 artists who are inspired by insects and who each have their own distinctive and recognisable style. I’d like to thank them all for agreeing to be in this blog post and free presentation for Art Teachers which you can access at the bottom of this post.
I’ve used Rosalind Monks with students and they have really engaged with creating their own artworks inspired by her intricate patterns. She has created artworks of all sorts of animals but I find the insects particularly appealing. Inspired by the environment Monks is a true traveller who grew up in the Swiss countryside and then has spent time in Australia, Newzealand and majored in Illustration at the University of Brighton in the UK. Her bold designs can be seen on skis, sunglasses as well as stand-alone art pieces across the globe.
Californian artist Lucy Arnold has many categories on her website but one is bugs and butterflies. I know students will be attracted to her colourful designs which she creates using watercolours or pastels. A feature on her website which is particularly appealing is the identification charts that she places below her artworks which tell you what the various bugs and butterflies are. She states on her website “Nature is my primary source of inspiration, and color my main mode of expression. Painting allows me to reveal the beauty I discover in small, intimate details of nature.” I wasn’t surprised to read that Lucy Arnold’s father was a scientist. The ‘About’ page on her website goes into detail about the techniques she uses which I know as art teachers we will find really useful – and your more independent students will too.
Looking at the insect artworks of Kelly Stanford makes me want to get my students working on black paper immediately. She tells me she uses Fabre Castell Polychromos pencils for her bee illustrations, Derwent Chinese White Drawing pencils and a white Posca pens for highlights. Great tip! When I researched Stanford I learnt about the ‘Science Art’ MA at Liverpool John Moores University which she has completed. I was so interested that I looked up the course online which can be found here. It’s interesting to find art courses that you have never heard of before, and that might be useful to recommend to students. All of Stanford’s work has a science connection, so she is a great artist to know about for all your STEAM projects.
American artist Christopher Marley works with insects, minerals, birds, serpents and more. Sometimes symmetrical, sometimes marching, his vibrant and intricate artworks will have great appeal to students who like colour, detail and pattern. He talks widely about how he collects his insects from sustainable sources on his website – which I think is a great starting point for discussion with your students. He has some beautiful books which would be a great addition to your art room library.
The mind-boggling work of Insect Lab by Mike Libby will certainly make your students look twice. It begs the question… ‘How??’. Libby states:
“Insect Lab is born from my love of science fiction, fact, natural history and storytelling- an intimate sculptural series customizing preserved insect specimens with mechanical components and hardware from antique watches, vintage sewing machines, old gadgets, lighters, typewriters.”
If I had students who found this inspiring, I would encourage them to combine insect drawings with drawn or collaged watch-parts. What a great starting point for a project!
The art installations of Jennifer Angus are composed of real insects pinned directly to a wall in repeating patterns which reference both textiles and wallpaper. At a glance, they look like wallpaper but a tension is created when you realise they are actually real insects. I certainly think of a few friends who would not be able to enter these rooms. I, however, would love to. The beauty of the actual insects combined with the colour and pattern create an environment which I’d appreciate as a whole but also up close!
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