mari takabayashi: animal adorableness

Why, hello.

Fancy a little cup of tea and a yummy snack? 

Welcome to Mari Takabayashi’s cozy world, where adorable animals eat, play, and relax together or with their human friends.

I discovered Mari’s work by lucky happenstance one day while browsing the internet. Something about her naive, childlike style caught my eye, and upon further investigation, I learned she was a children’s book author and illustrator (where have I been?). 

Continue reading

kęstutis kasparavičius: rabbits and elephants and eggs, oh my!

I first saw the walking eggs, then the flying books and the TV set with arms and legs. By the time anthropomorphized tableware, teeth playing musical instruments, and a bear vacuuming the moon appeared, I was hooked.

Initially, I didn’t realize these fanciful pictures were from children’s books. They certainly felt child-centric, but they also had an elegance and sophistication that belied classification. I loved the subtle watercolors, innovative composition, precise drawing and masterful rendering of details, all bathed in refreshing optimism and off-center humor.

“Easter Eggs,” “Silly Stories,” “The White Elephant.”

Just who was this artist whose work was so unique, making it easily identifiable once you were aware of it? 

Continue reading

Emma Dunbar: joy abloom

Hot pinks and oranges, gorgeous flowers and cupcakes. What’s not to love?

Emma Dunbar’s paintings are truly a feast for the eyes. They’re an open invitation to drink it all in and feel the joy.

Emma Dunbar at Surrey Artist Open Studios (December 2022).

Born in England in 1961, Emma earned a BA (hons) in Fine Art Printmaking from West Surrey College of Art and Design (1984). She has worked full time as an artist ever since, and has exhibited throughout the UK.

Her art has been reproduced internationally as greeting cards, posters, limited edition etchings and fabric design.

Continue reading

johannes wessmark: a passion for photorealism

When Swedish artist Johannes Wessmark was a boy, he preferred to clean his own room to make sure it was done the way he liked it. He sorted all his toys in a straight line, ordering them by color.

He also drew and painted a lot – in much more detail than other kids his age. Though he grew up in a big, active family, he mostly preferred peace and quiet, observing on the sidelines rather than interacting.

Johannes Wessmark in his studio.

His mother supported and encouraged his creative talent, once buying him a book entitled, “The Boy Who Wanted to Paint the World’s Most Beautiful Painting.” Call it mother’s intuition or uncanny prescience; today Wessmark is one of the world’s leading hyperrealistic artists.

Wessmark admits he’s not as overtly pedantic in ordering his life now, but technical precision and attention to detail remain important characteristics of his work.

I “discovered” Wessmark’s amazing photorealistic paintings while searching for – of all things – donuts (you’re not surprised?). Of course I assumed this beautiful stack was a mouthwatering photo. 

When I discovered it was actually a painting, naturally I hungered for more. I’ve since learned that although Wessmark excels in still lifes, he especially loves painting figuratives and landscapes. In particular, beautiful women in water. With his figurative motifs, he wishes to convey a feeling of calm and relaxation.

Continue reading

lucy almey bird’s gentle, whimsical world

Come and cozy up by the fire – you’re just in time for Sunday tea! Looks like our hosts have set out sandwiches, scones, and a Victoria sponge. Such an inviting scene; it must feel nice to have someone brush your hair.

We previously featured several of Lucy Almey Bird’s paintings in a Cool Things Roundup, but decided she needs to have her own post since she’s created so many wonderful new pieces since then.

Somerset artist Lucy Almey Bird.

A native of rural Somerset in Southwest England, Lucy is a self taught artist who was encouraged to draw and paint from an early age. Frequent trips to museums and art galleries in London ignited her passion for art.

Continue reading