This whimsical artist creates “paintings for ants” inspired by books

Artist Lorraine Loots has been creating a magical world of miniature paintings, no bigger than the tiniest flower or pencil shaving, since 2013. Since that time, she has amassed quite a following on social media — more than a quarter of a million followers wait each day to see what she’ll create next.

As Lorraine often paints miniature books, it only makes sense that she has teamed up with Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, to pair her fantastic images with titles from their much-anticipated Summer 2016 list, including Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers, Claire Louise-Bennett’s Pond, and Ryan North’s Romeo and/or Juliet. The images come in a miniature magnifying box, dubbed a “summer box,” that fits in the palm of your hand. Lorraine’s work is magnified by the lid, and and you can rotate the images every few days to remind yourself which book you want to add to your nightstand stack!

A Lorraine Loots miniature painting inspired by Emma Straub's
A Lorraine Loots miniature painting inspired by Emma Straub’s “Modern Lovers”

Her imaginative paintings are created on pages measuring 10cm x 10cm, though the works themselves fall between the range of 8mm to 30mm in diameter. Though they are small, they are intricately detailed, and they take hours to complete — up to 9 hours in fact, to perfect the nuanced details of guitars, bananas, ceramic bowls, and more. It’s hard to imagine that paintings so small can also be so eye-catching, but they’re absolutely astonishing. You can’t stop staring, wondering how she manages to accomplish such detail in such a small space.

Loots' painting for
Loots’ painting for “Pond” by Claire-Louise Bennett

The staring and the wondering is what makes this work so special for Lorraine. She loves the intimacy of miniatures; the fact that you have to get close to the work to see it for what it really is, and to fully appreciate it. It also involves a lot of patience to create, which we can imagine must almost feel meditative.

Loots' painting for
Loots’ painting for “Romeo and/or Juliet” by Ryan North

Lorraine creates these images without the aide of a magnifying glass. Obviously, she has the steadiest hand ever, so if she ever gives up on these miniatures, perhaps she should be a surgeon. She also has a traveling paint kit, and she has worked everywhere from a hotel in Paris, to the foothills of the Himalayas, to her desk at her very own studio. As long as there is enough light, she can work anywhere.

Loots' painting for
Loots’ painting for “Losing It” by Emma Rathbone
Loots' painting inspired by
Loots’ painting inspired by “I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This” by Nadja Spiegelman

Lorraine’s work is interesting, beautiful, and whimsical, all at once — just like the artist herself. When asked why she was interested in creating miniatures, she started saying, “They’re paintings for ants.” We think that’s fantastic, and the ants surely appreciate having such fantastic work created just for them.

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