Erin Urbanus

Raven Prince by Erin Urbanus


Beastie by Erin Urbanus

My paintings Raven Prince and Beastie are two examples of my work with acrylic and pyrography. I have worked with pyrography (woodburning) for many years, but it was only in recent years that I started to pull color into my pyrographic work. Though they are painted, they give a feel of illustration, like pen and ink, another medium close to my heart. Many people have asked, “Why pyrography?” and the simplest way I can answer is that I like the permanence of it, the process, the minimal material used, and the way it essentially engraves the wood. Once you burn wood, that mark is not going anywhere, making it an ideal under drawing for transparent paints and inks. A burned line will never smudge, bleed, or fade, but like ink a great degree of care must be put into making them exact. Along with pyrography, the subtle traces of wood grain through paint or ink have always appealed to me, giving the painting a more natural, earthy feel than canvas.

Raven Prince is essentially inspired by the two ravens of Odin in Norse mythology, Huginn and Muninn, who fly daily across Midgard to bring news to Odin. Much of my work has inspiration from mythology, as well as nature. Ravens are perhaps one of my favorite birds, intelligent, mischievous, and very connected to human history. They are featured in the mythology of many cultures and are both revered and feared for their association with death. With many of my more illustrative works I like to give an element of narrative, a hint at a story behind the image to feed the imagination.

Beastie is a composite animal, with parts from a pug, an antelope, and a hamster. An odd mix, but that is part of the fun of it. It goes more towards cartoonish pop surrealism, an imaginary monster captured and seemingly stuffed in a little box. It combines cuteness and a dash of humor, like a viral video of cat sitting in a box too small for it, or fat hamster wedged in a tube. It’s whimsy and big-eyed cuteness really hit a chord with me and is my inspiration for a future series of similar creatures I call Tiny Monsters in Tight Spaces.

Erin Urbanus
Summer 2018