Happy Overlord D-Day and Swedish National Day!
Last summer I found myself out of a job and with little to occupy myself with. It wasn’t long before I was climbing the walls, bored out of my mind. About six months previously I had come across the shortlived Inner City Snail project, which I made a post about here. Already the day I saw it, I was inspired and wanted to do something similar, but it was winter at the time and, alas no snails to be found.
Little over a year ago, I conducted the first trials to see how I would go about getting paint to stick without killing or hurting the snails. It turned out to be easier than I thought – regular Humbrol model paint did the trick and stuck to the shell. If I got paint on the snail itself, the snail would shed it within minutes. I also found that in spite of being known as a slow creature, they are impossible to paint anything detailed on while moving.
The paints used were old and the brushes of poor quality, and in conjuction with the first batch being experimental, the first ones are thus rather messy. Once finished, the snails are photographed and released at a location in Kalmar that will remain undisclosed for now. I will be posting at least one snail a week from last year’s painting season all summer, starting today.
Notes on species (12th September 2010): Unlike the Inner City Snail project and some other ones I was sent a link to yesterday, the snails I’ve painted are the cepaea hortensis (trädgårdssnäcka or “garden snail” in Swedish). The others are of the helix pomatia (vinbergssnäcka in Swedish) type, the same that some cultures consider to be a delicacy if served with garlic butter.
The difference, from my perspective, is mainly the size – the ones I collect in my garden are about one fifth to one fourth of the size when fully grown. I found a couple of the helix pomatia and brought them home for painting, thinking they’d allow me to fit far more detail and being able to carry a lot more weight. As it turned out they were very slimy, the shells had a rougher texture, they were far more active and had no problem breaking (or even eating!) their way out of cardboard boxes.
Keeping them would require a different level of commitment to maintaining the box of the snails, and the amount of paint and the time it would take to actually finish one proved daunting. The more time I put into a snail, the harder it is to let it go, and I can’t keep snails over winter. They were disgusting and bothersome, so I got rid of them and returned to my own garden snails.
The first batch of six released were very poorly finished, and the photos were taken late in the evening under poor lighting conditions in the kitchen. If I remember correctly, the detail painting was done with a toothpick on the first four. They are:
“Greken” – (The Greek)
Inspired by the typical greek pattern.
Syndabocken/Kalmar Konstmuseum – The scapegoat/Kalmar Art Museum
In case the snails would be found and the local green terror militia (you know who you are) would get pissy, I felt it appropriate they attacked the newly built art museum that has all the fugly characteristics of a Vogon spaceship. Call it killing two birds with one stone as a worst case scenario.
This was shortly after the Konstfack scandal where first class idiot Anna Odell was given permission from her teachers at one of the major art universities in Sweden to waste the time and money of the Swedish healthcare system for the sake of art. Seeing as the finished installation with her lying on a table screaming was to be shown at the local museum, I felt it especially appropriate.
This was intended to be a smiley, but the black paint was old and runny, and using a toothpick was obviously not ideal.
Irakveteranen – The Iraq War veteran
This one has Falluja ’07 and a peace sign written on it. Consider it a buddhist soldier in the Iraq War that didn’t do so well. I’ll leave the train of thought unexplained. If you’re clever you’ll get all the aspects of it, if not, be satisfied to see it as a salute to those who got killed in Falluja during 2007.
Again, toothpicks are not good for painting.
Blixten – Flash
A stroke of irony. Calling someone “Blixten” – “The flash” – in Swedish suggests he’s fast as lightning.
The typical hotrod pattern – red with flames on the side. Also a reference to the joke that painting flames on something makes it run faster.
I think this was the first one where I used a fine paintbrush for the finer painting, rather than a toothpick.
EDIT: Sadly, I can’t get the pictures to line up the way I want them, but you should be able to tell them apart anyway. In future updates, there will only be one snail per post.