Catching the art bug

No one could hardly call Steven Kutcher boring. The US-based artist seems able to turn his hand to any profession, working as an environmentalist, consultant, radio personality, writer, photographer, lecturer and teacher, while turning his hand to filmography and working with arthropods on over 80 movies, including Jurassic Park, Spiderman and Arachnophobia.

In 2003, however, the over-achieving Mr Kutcher well and truly caught the art bug and began creating masterpieces by painting insects legs’ in various colours and letting them scamper across his canvas. Yep, you read correctly. Here, he talks about what inspired him to take this somewhat bizarre step and where he plans to go next, so scroll on to find out just how hissing cockroaches’ artwork compares to that of the honey bee. Interested? You should be.

Black Cat Originals: What inspired you to begin working with insects?

Stephen Kutcher: They are really living brushes and I am the artist. I have been interested in insects since I was small. I was inspired by the diversity and the fact you could learn so much from something so small. As soon as I knew what insects were, [I was interested in them]. I had positive nature experiences as a child collecting fireflies and interacting with living things in the Catskills Mountains in New York.

BCO: Which bugs are the best artists?

SK: I like to work with insects that have their feet far apart, which gives me more flexibility in creating art.

BCO: Do different types produce different works of art?

SK: Yes, it is fascinating both in science and art. You can actually see where they walk and how they walk.

Aha! The perfect lead-in to show off some of Kutcher’s pieces. Prepare to be amazed at both the intricacies of the pictures and also how the various bugs produce such different works. Hover over the pictures to find out which bugs did what. Tadaa!

BCO:  Is it in any way harmful for them to have painted legs?

SK: No, their exoskeleton and water-soluble pigments do not adhere to it. You can watch how I paint and clean them up by heading to my bug art movie on YouTube.

BCO: Does anyone think it’s cruel?

SK: After seeing the art, those people who first ask “does it hurt the insects?” do not see the beauty and uniqueness of my art. It is like a person looking at stunning clouds and saying, “that’s water vapour, isn’t it?” I have created a form of fine art with lots of potential for imaginative and wonderful works that have never been seen before.

BCO: What other innovative insect art have you produced aside from these pictures?

SK: I work on creative projects but this bug art is very unique and I have never done anything like this before. I can imagine what Jackson Pollock thought when he decided to put motion on canvas in a different way. A difference might be is that my work instead of lines of motion are refined lines of direction.

BCO: Who would you say your biggest inspiration is artistically?

SK: I enjoy colour, lines and composition. Early influences were German expressionists, but I also appreciated the technical aspects and form of the modern artists of the 1950s to 1970s.

BCO: What else do you do besides creating bug art?

SK: My mother says, “he does everything”. I also write poetry, essays, children’s stories, work for environmental causes, work on my butterfly garden and a segment of time is spent teaching biology part-time at a community college.

BCO: What are you working on at the moment?

SK: I have lots of ideas. I have made contact with a calligrapher and a potter, both of whom want to collaborate on a piece with me. I’d also like to bring my work to the UK.

BCO: What do you have up your sleeve next art-wise?

SK: I would love to do a piece weaving together 16 to 25 large pieces of bug art to hang in a museum. I have a picture of a quadrich (four pieces merged together – Dancing Beetle) on my website.

Need to see more? Oh, ok, you’ve twisted my arm. Here’s Dancing Beetle and friends to sate your curiosity.

Can’t get enough of Steven Kutcher? Here’s another video, showcasing a few more of his talents. Enjoy!

All bugged out

Insects aren’t the only artists nature is responsible for. Here are a few more dab-hands with a paintbrush.

  • Elephants certainly know what they’re doing when it comes to creating masterpieces. There’s even an Elephant Art Gallery that showcases pachyderm paintings from Thailand. Rather fantastic!
  • They may be as clever as  us but do they have the same artistic skills? Take a look at this video of dolphins painting and decide for yourself. I’m not convinced they’re the next Van Goghs and I’m slightly concerned about how long they’d have to be out of water for, but they’re so cute I don’t care if they can paint or not.
  • According to the Daily Telegraph, however, some people have faith in dolphins’ artistic abilities, shelling out £200 for their works. Marine dwellers, I salute you.
Do you have a clever animal that has a penchant for paint? Don’t keep it to yourself if so – send me your pics and videos!
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