Laine Bachman’s “Mushroom Moon” (left) and “Nebula” (right)

See ‘Beyond Worlds: Paintings by Laine Bachman’ in Canton

Columbus artist Laine Bachman’s depictions of imagined planets brimming with life are featured in an exhibition at the Canton Art Museum this summer.

An orb made of tropical foliage and brightly colored flowers floats in space with the blue and purple clouds of a nebula behind it. Look closer, and an assortment of insects and animals, including a toucan, frogs and birds, becomes visible. The painting, aptly titled “Nebula,” by Columbus artist Laine Bachman was the first created for her series of surreal planets, which depicts real plants and animals with fantastical flora and fauna of her own creation mixed in.

The series is on display in the exhibition “Beyond Worlds: Paintings by Laine Bachman” at the Canton Museum of Art (running through July 28). The 19 acrylic paintings in the collection feature Bachman’s imagined planets as well as a handful of landscapes in what the artist refers to as her signature “magical realism” style.

“I always like to combine something that’s real with something that’s unreal, so you get this surrealism,” Bachman explains.

The result is beautifully strange planets, each with a different theme, set against starry backdrops. Motifs include wildflowers, butterflies, mushrooms, ferns and a Paleo planet with trilobites and prehistoric creatures. A standout is “Neopelagic Moon,” depicting a trash planet consisting of discarded bottles and plastic with striped fish swimming throughout. The piece was inspired by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating mass of trash in the Pacific Ocean that sea creatures have started living in.

Laine Bachman’s “Sky Pavilion” (photo courtesy of Laine Bachman)

The inspiration for painting themes of nature as planets rather than more straightforward depictions evolved from Bachman’s earlier paintings of floral bouquets.

“I was really loving the foliage and putting creatures inside of it,” she says. “I decided ‘let’s toss the base away and create these planets.’ So, it’s kind of like a floating bouquet in space.”

Bachman’s process for creating her paintings starts with a theme. She intensely researches it and uses photo references from field guides, encyclopedias and sometimes even her own backyard garden to draw sketches. Then, she may add in fantastical versions of plants and animals based on real ones found in nature. It creates a complex piece of art that invites close examination to find each hidden creature or plant among the masses. It also makes viewers wonder which are real and which aren’t.

“I want these to be like undiscovered worlds,” she says. “I’m creating these worlds that are based on things that I find fascinating and important in our own world.”

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