Insects may seem small and insignificant, but they play a crucial role in many ecosystems on the planet: aerating the soil, breaking down decaying organic matter, pollinating plants, and providing food for many other organisms. Unfortunately, due to a number of factors (including human farming practices), it is estimated that up to 40 percent of the world’s insect populations are in decline, butterflies, moths, bees and beetles being the most affected.
But it’s not just scientists who are trying to sound the alarm; many artists attempt to convey the fragile beauty of insects to the general public, in order to raise awareness of the need to protect these tiny but essential creatures.
Wales UK based artist and illustrator Rose Sanderson uses acrylic paints to carefully render colorful portraits of insects – not on conventional canvases, but on book covers that have been salvaged in the trash. This clever combination of upcycling and conservation dates back a few years, but the fact is, Sanderson’s intriguing approach manages to get us to take a closer look at these often overlooked organisms.
As Sanderson tells Treehugger:
“At the time, a lot of my work was based on the fragility of life. The book covers represented a story, a passage in time which was emphasized by the subject painted on them. Beetles, for example, feed on decaying material to survive; they are part of the cycle of nature. Everything revolves around recycling, regeneration, metamorphosis, life and death. The materials I use are related to this.
The subjects of Sanderson’s vibrant portraits are wide-ranging: from beetles like Beyer’s beetle and the jewel frog beetle to moths and butterflies like the skull sphinx and others.
Many book covers seem to be selected for their existing texture, as well as how their colors will best complement the subject. We love how skillfully these precious insects are rendered, how beautifully their colors blend together, and how their meticulous depiction enlivens them and makes them less “scary” to even the most intractable insects.
As Sanderson tells us, there is a lot of thought and research going into these “book cover bugs”:
“My creative process varies depending on what I’m working on and has changed over the years. A piece can take hours, days, weeks, even months or years if it’s something I have. left hanging and which I put off to complete at a later date There is the development of thoughts and ideas, research, experimentation, production, happy and not so happy mistakes (not always in the same order ). and combined); expressive painterly backgrounds, detailed natural history illustrations, small 3D sculptures and jewelry. ”
This diverse and extensive back-and-forth between different media and approaches is what makes things interesting for Sanderson, but overall, she says she always focuses primarily on nature, regardless of the outcome. :
“I have so many ideas and I don’t like being constrained by a single process, medium or material. However, my subject matter has generally been very consistent over the years, and that’s what inspires me the most; the natural world Insects, birds, plants, rock formations … Painting or drawing something gives me a real opportunity to study it up close, to really see and appreciate it. My plot drives my passion, and it ‘is what I wish I am going. ”
Ultimately, Sanderson said that its goal is to get us to pay attention to the things that have been neglected the most:
“There are a lot of things in front of our eyes that we don’t see. It may sound out of date, but beauty is all around us, and I’m especially interested in painting things that may go unnoticed or tend to be. By studying things like insects, anatomy, and death, I hope to show an appreciation for what once was and what is. ”