Beautiful like a blowfly: Kate Cranney’s wildlife art

Mistletoe-and-Groper-1024x943

Last month I was privileged to interview three amazing, up-and-coming wildlife artists about their work. Last week’s post showcased Milly Formby. In this post, Kate Cranney talks about her love of nature and drawing. Stay tuned for next week’s instalment.

Kate Twitter

I love trying to share how surprisingly beautiful ugly things can be – [like] centipedes crawling through the stomach of a dead sheep.

Kate: I grew up on a farm in western Queensland. I loved art as a kid, and I always loved being creative. I think the title pages on my projects in primary school were far more elaborate than the contents they held. Mum and dad always encouraged us to look closely at nature: at bower bird nests and cocoons and snake skins.

1-Catfish-kangaroo-pawfinal

Growing up on a farm during the drought, there were lots of carcasses and flyblown sheep and dead fish in the dams. Maybe I was a little insensitive to, you know, how gross that might seem to other people, but I was always curious about that stuff. It was intriguing: seeing centipedes crawling through the stomach of a dead sheep.

I moved to Melbourne to study art but then I missed science so much that I changed my degree to a Masters of Botany. My artwork is focused on insects and fish; I do fine ink drawings with collage and watercolour. I started drawing with ink when I was taking public transport to uni. I couldn’t study on the ferry and bus or I’d get car-sick, so I drew.

Antechinus-Otways-23-940x794

I enjoy doing works that are aesthetically pleasing and educational as well. I’m working on a series called “Drawn to Science”. I’ll interview a research scientist and then do a drawing of their study subject. Recently I’ve been working on a project on insect ecology. Flies are beaut-i-ful underneath a microscope: they have metallic greens and blues and patterned wings. They’re stunning.

My favourite type of drawing is when I don’t know what I’m going to do before I start. Suddenly I’ll draw something and it’ll be something that I saw yesterday without realizing it. I think I store up memories of things that I’ve seen.

Sardine-Jigging-off-Kubin-652x1024

Paul Klee said, “drawing is taking a line for a walk” and I love the spontaneity of that. In a similar vein, I think the joy in creating makes it far easier for me to part with the work because I know that I had such a lovely time with that piece of paper.

You can draw wherever you are – when you’re on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere when you’re traveling. I always make sure I have access to pen and paper so that it’s always there. I’m so happy to have art as part of my life now. It’s a core part of me. I squeeze it in – in the corners of the week. If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be nearly as happy.


Acknowledgements

All illustrations are by Kate Cranney, used with permission. You can view more of Kate’s work at her web site. Many thanks to all three artists for their enthusiastic conversation. The original transcript has been edited and condensed to improve readability. This interview was originally posted at the wonderful Wild Melbourne web site. You can read the original post here. If you are using a phone or tablet, check out this dynamic version.

More nature blogger interviews

7 thoughts

  1. Having trouble accessing the full article from the link. Says it has been removed. Sad about this.

    1. Hi Wendy Rose, sorry for the mistake, I’ve fixed the link above. I hope you return to read the full story as Kate’s work is great. Best wishes Ian

  2. Thanks Ian a couple of great connections for me and some inspiration for this aged scientist / artist!

    1. Thanks Cindy, sorry for the delay fixing the link, but I’ve been up in the hills and out of phone reception all day. All fixed now! I hope you enjoy Kate’s story. Best wishes Ian

What Do You Think? Please Leave a Reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s