Posts Tagged ‘painting’

Not too long ago, I was innocently browsing online when a jar of Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves spoke to me:

Don’t you love my beautiful lines and shading? Look at my luscious rosy watercolors, my checkered lid. Do I not stand out from the hundreds of food illustrations you see every day?

The jam was spreading it on thick, but it had a good point. There was something pure and serene about its singular beauty. Detailed and realistic, it had that charming handmade quality I always fall for.

“Bonne Maman” is by Boston-based artist, illustrator and graphic designer Kendyll Hillegas, whose work “focuses on capturing the emotional and narrative significance of food and everyday objects.” Using a combination of colored pencil, gouache, and ink, she creates a delectable world of ooey gooey cakes, cheery popsicles, tempting doughnuts, cupcakes, and reach-out-and-bite-me muffins, breads, and bagels.

She invites us to appreciate anew the pleasing design of a bottle of San Pellegrino or Heinz Ketchup, the rumpled comfort of a bag of King Arthur Unbleached Flour. A bowl of soup, a stack of pancakes, a double scoop ice cream cone — we all have emotional connections to these familiar foods and like to hear and share good stories about them.



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“Surely a pretty woman never looks prettier than when making tea.” ~ Mary Elizabeth Braden (Lady Audley’s Secret)

“Tea” (George Dunlop Leslie, 1894)

I’ve been having fun looking at late 19th and early 20th century paintings depicting people drinking or serving tea. Most of the subjects are beautifully decked-out, in-the-garden or fancy-sitting-room women who seem to have all the time in the world.

I love imagining their intimate conversations — secrets shared, pride in their children, juicy gossip. I also like the women taking tea alone in quiet contemplation, and covet the lovely tea sets and table settings.

“The Tea Set” (Claude Monet, 1872)

I had to look harder for male subjects, since when it comes to tea drinking in fine art, women reign supreme. What would the great artists of the world do without us to sit for them? It’s not easy lounging about and looking gorgeous all the time. :)

Hope you enjoy these different settings, social and cultural contexts, and thinking about how the ritual of sharing tea fosters a special brand of intimacy. It’s always fascinating to try to read different personalities via facial expressions and posturing. Since there are so many good tea paintings out there, it was hard to pick just 40. Each of these tells a wonderful story.

“At the Tea Table” (Konstantin Korovin, 1888)


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Pilgrim Dolls (John and Priscilla Alden) by Uneek Doll Designs

Of course I’m referring to the nine perky, uncommonly good-looking, crazy-talented women who’ve visited Alphabet Soup this past year to share their wares in our Indie Artist Spotlight series.

heart tree editIf, like me, you’ve already shifted into holiday gift-buying mode, you’re probably hungry for some good ideas. Supporting independent artists is always a win-win — your lucky friends and relatives receive unique heartmade-handmade gifts, and you’re helping to ensure that these ingenious, inventive people can continue to make the world a more beautiful place with their delightful creations.

Just to refresh your memory, I’m linking to all the Spotlight interviews and sharing two new items from each of their Etsy shops. Click on any image to be taken directly to the listing. Be quick about it, especially if you want to place a custom order. Enjoy!

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Just in case you’re feeling a tad winter weary and color starved, thought I’d share some gorgeous paintings by award-winning artist, illustrator, author and teacher Carla Golembe, who currently lives in Delray Beach, Florida.


One of Carla’s children’s book illustrations.

Carla is a particular favorite because she illustrated my third picture book, The Woman in the Moon (Little, Brown), and her rich, color drenched, dreamy acrylic paintings always lift me up and transport me to a place far away from the troubles and uncertainty of this world.

Recently, Carla has been painting mermaids for the Mermaid Expo to be held at the Gallery Galleon in Puerto Rico on March 8, 2013. A devoted cat lover, Carla also painted some beautiful tributes to her beloved Zippy (who passed away last summer), as well as several whimsical pieces featuring her new cat Vinny.

This is how Carla describes her work:

My paintings are the product of my dreams and experiences. They speak of hope and love, of mystery and delight. My work expresses the harmony between individuals, between people and animals, people and nature, within a person’s soul.

They are colorful and sensual, reflecting the tropical beauty of my home and travels. The full spectrum of positive emotion echoes through my work.

Although the pieces express an optimistic attitude they are not naive, rather they come from an understanding that pain and anxiety are part of life but joy is a more desirable place to dwell. Although my compositions are designed and defined there is no gravity in my visual world. The figures often inhabit ambiguous spaces, places where sky and water flow into one  another and where light and darkness merge. They are frequently caught in a moment of being or becoming, for it is in that moment that all dreams are possible.


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“Good Morning” (Julie Paschkis, 8.5″ x 10″)

Happy Monday!

Let’s start the week off in the best possible way by looking at several of the gorgeous paintings from FEAST, an art exhibit at the Grover Thurston Gallery in Seattle featuring the work of award-winning children’s author/illustrator Julie Paschkis and her husband Joe Max Emminger.

The September show includes separate paintings by Julie and Joe Max, as well as a number of collaborative pieces, most of which are related to the theme of food and feasting.

“Ever Together” (cut paper by Julie Paschkis, 12″ x 20″)

I’ve been a big fan of Julie’s work for years — she’s illustrated several of Janet Wong’s and Julie Larios’s poetry collections, as well as a number of folktales and picture book biographies. She’s known for her love of folk art and pattern (she also designs fabrics), and she likes to make bread and SOUP! :)

It’s such a treat to see Joe Max’s work; though I knew Julie was married to another artist, I hadn’t seen any of his paintings before. You lucky Seattle area peeps can sashay on over to see this wonderful exhibit in person. The rest of us can focus our appreciative gazes at the FEAST blog and the Grover Thurston Gallery website (whom you should contact directly if you’re interested in purchasing).

Julie’s gouache paintings are of various sizes. Joe Max’s paintings were rendered in acrylic and are 30″ by 44″. Collaborative pieces are all ink and gouache.

Enjoy this mini feast from FEAST!

“Summer Feast” (Joe Max Emminger)

“Hopeful Spring” (Joe Max Emminger)

“The Things We Leave Behind” (Joe Max Emminger)

“The Unseen Guest” (Julie Paschkis, 23″ x 16″)

“Canning” (Julie Paschkis, 15″ x 22″)

“Flow Blue” (Julie Paschkis, 8.5″ x 10″)

“Crunch” (Julie Paschkis, 16″ x 22″)

“Cat and Cake” (Joe Max Emminger and Julie Paschkis)

“Jug and Cherry” (Joe Max Emminger and Julie Paschkis)

from the Breadwall!

Amazing, right? I’d like to steal that piece of cake in “Crunch” right off the table. Love love love their work! I should also mention that if you attend the Closing Potluck Celebration on Saturday, September 29 (1-3 p.m.), you get to take home one of the bread pieces! (Click here if you’d like to make your own bread sculptures.)

Isn’t this Breadwall the coolest thing!?

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Julie will be visiting Alphabet Soup soon to talk about her tasty new picture book, APPLE CAKE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)!! Stay tuned ☺.

Have a fabulous week!

♥ Visit the FEAST blog.

♥ More about the exhibit at the Grover Thurston Gallery. Show runs through September 29, 2012.

♥ Julie’s official website is here. She blogs at Books Around the Table.


*FEAST images reproduced with permission, copyright © 2012 Joe Max Emminger and Julie Paschkis. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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