feasting on joël penkman’s food paintings


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When I first saw Joël Penkman’s work, all kinds of superlatives came to mind: Incredible. Gorgeous. Exquisite. Amazing. Beautiful!

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marmalade

eatbreakfast

Many of her egg tempura on gesso board still life food paintings look so realistic you might easily mistake them for photographs. Originally from New Zealand, Joël now lives and works in the UK — Liverpool, England, to be exact.

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She portrays her subjects on clean, neutral backgrounds to allow the viewer to bring his/her own context to the paintings. Food is by far her favorite subject, but she also enjoys graphically representing everyday objects inspired by British life.

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Inks

Naturally I especially love her sweets, but I’m equally enamored of her food packaging subjects,

SAUCES

single-serve-jam

lylesgoldensyrup

spam

smarties-box

sunmaid-raisons

twinings-tea

mustard

icecream-tub

and her 100 teacups collection!

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teacupwithpgtips

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Recently, she was commissioned to paint 125 food items for Colman Andrews’s THE TASTE OF AMERICA (Phaidon Press, 2013). It’s wonderful to see familiar foods like hot dogs, avocados, bagels, and cherry tomatoes along with regional favorites like Old Bay Seasoning, Café du Monde Beignet Mix, Goo Goo Clusters, and Vermont Common Crackers. I also learned about quite a few brands I’d never seen before (Rancho Gordo Prepared Hominy, Graeter’s Ice Cream, Kim’s Pork Cracklings).

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old_bay

hotdog

chocolate_truffles

beignets

dungress_crab

bacon

Peppermint-stick-ice-cream

aplets_and_cotlets

salt_water_taffy

pork_cracklings

moon_pie

Since she likes to paint from real life models, these foods were sent to her across the pond. She said it felt like Christmas whenever a new shipment arrived.🙂

For the literary minded, check out Joël’s collection of Fictional Food (yes, there’s Paddington’s favorite marmalade sandwiches!):

Holly Golightly's Breakfast
Holly Golightly’s Breakfast
Paddington's Marmalade Sandwiches
Paddington’s Marmalade Sandwiches
Snow White's Poison Apple
Snow White’s Poison Apple
Edmund's Turkish Delight
Edmund’s Turkish Delight

Indulge yourself even more by visiting Joël Penkman’s Official Website and Etsy Shop, where she sells both originals and giclée prints.

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eatsandwiches

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It’s easy to see why I’m such a big fan of Joël’s work. But there’s also this: when asked in an interview what she would take if her house was burning down, she said her cats, their 2 teddy bears and her laptop. You should have heard the cheers in the Alphabet Soup kitchen! We love an artist who’s got her priorities straight.🙂

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved. 

38 thoughts on “feasting on joël penkman’s food paintings

  1. Oh, delicious. I’d like to put all of them in my cupboard or fridge (well, maybe not the Spam or shoe polish). The teacups remind me of those that graced my mother’s breakfront. thanks for sharing this beauty.

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    1. It would be lovely to have an entire kitchen wall devoted to these! As for me, I’d be happy to include the Spam, since it’s one of Hawai’i’s favorite comfort foods.🙂

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  2. Oh my gosh, Jama. Just Gorgeous. Thanks for introducing me to this artist. I love the pieces where the jars are slightly open or dripping. It makes the food seem that much more delicious.

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    1. LOL. If you think you’re hungry, what about me? I have to look at all these images all the time I’m copying, sizing, and formatting them for this post. I’m starving . . .

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    1. Yes, Wayne Thiebaud. His cakes are forever burned in my memory. The food containers and labels are so realistic that I feel I can reach out and pick them up.

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  3. Yum and wow! There was once a painter, Stubbs, who painted horses so realistically that a stallion seeing a life-sized portrait of himself tried to challenge the strange horse. That’s how I feel about these paintings. Wish I could reach into computer and lift out one of those ice cream cones.🙂

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  4. Wow! As I was looking at these gorgeous, super-realistic paintings, I was reminded of Ken Danby’s work (Canadian artist, super-realistic). They both use egg tempera, which is very difficult to work with, but can achieve remarkable results in the hands of a master.

    I especially like the ink bottles and the strawberry jam.

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  5. It always amazes me how realistic some people can paint. (If only I could paint half as well!) And I’ve always especially loved food paintings, so these paintings definitely “speak” to me – haha!

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  6. My very first thought was what you wrote – that her pictures could be photographs. This is my personal favorite kind of painting, or photo. I love the commonplace, the things we see all the time. I just love all of them so much. Thanks a million for this post.

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