a breath of fresh air: illustrator and ceramicist polly fern

 

On any given day, you’re likely to find British illustrator and ceramicist Polly Fern in her studio happily painting with her canaries Olive and Morris nearby.

 

 

 

 

Her birdie friends appear in her work, along with other domestic animals, garden flora, and winsome figures from halcyon days, who seem to thrive on the simple, everyday pleasures of rural life.

 

 

Polly grew up in the Norfolk countryside, but now lives in Norwich City, which is the most complete medieval city in the United Kingdom. She earned her BA in First Class Illustration in 2015 from Norwich University of the Arts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her charming folkloric style is detailed and delicate, inspired by history, local places and childhood stories. Her ceramic vases and platters, which are modern takes on traditional shapes, are all handmade and bisque fired. Her vessels are dipped in a tin glaze before the designs are painted on with oxides and pigments.

I hand paint all of my decoration. I paper-cut a lot of my illustrations and then use the paper resist technique on raw ceramic, painting upon them with slip and peeling away the paper, then working back into the resist shapes with glazes and oxide details. It’s quite a labour-intensive process; with each piece I make taking a lot of time. But the process is important to my work and I wouldn’t enjoy it as much if it were straightforward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polly likes browsing antique shops and museums, wandering around market towns, and discovering gardens and buildings with a rich history of craft. Some of her ceramic pieces do look like things you’d find in a museum, and it’s fun to study the scenes she’s painted to ponder the stories taking place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her clients include Marks & Spencer, the MET Museum (NYC), Osaji, Pavilion Books, CARAMEL London, Home and Antiques Magazine, and Little Thing magazine. She’s also designed a line of products for Tonkachi Japan, which includes tumblers, handkerchiefs, notebooks, and iPhone cases. Her work has been displayed in various world-renowned international galleries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to her illustration work, Polly enjoys cooking and dressmaking, and hopes to someday design fabrics and create children’s books. She’d also love to have her own aviary. Her favorite foods include chocolate, figs, and pasta.

 

 

 

 

Find out more at Polly’s Official Website, Instagram, and Facebook Page. You can purchase prints, greeting cards, brooches, ceramic pieces, and other goodies at her online shop.

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy this short video of Polly painting dogs with canaries Olive and Morris singing in the background:

 

 


Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

cool and quirky: stephanie birdsong

 

Well of course. How could I not love an artist who paints a 24-hour SOUP restaurant? 🙂

At her blog, California based creative director and illustrator Stephanie Birdsong (cool name, no?) describes her picture this way:

Daisy packs up the kid and the dog and hops in the car to get some extra-delicious soup from Ida’s. It’s just down the lane. I started with a painting in my sketchbook, & added a storefront and, of course, a bear!

You gotta love that she thought to add a bear (Mr Cornelius was especially pleased about that).

Much as I love Ida’s, this wasn’t the first of Stephanie’s gouache and acrylic paintings to catch my eye. It was actually this piece:

 

 

It spoke to my inner Brownie (I still have my beanie from when I was six). I like the freckles, the pigtails with a mind of their own, and the general kookiness of the whole thing. It’s called “Kicked out of the Brownies.” 😀

 

 

 

 

Stephanie’s fun and irreverent style reminds me of Maira Kalman and Jessie Hartland — sophisticated and childlike at the same time. Since there’s usually a surprising detail or two; you can’t help but look closer. Both Maira and Jessie have illustrated children’s books — I hope someday Stephanie will too. Long live the quirky!

 

 

 

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amy rice’s mixed media art: wistful, whimsical and nostalgic

Recently stumbled upon the work of Minneapolis-based mixed media artist Amy Rice, and was drawn to her unique style right away. Since she grew up on a dairy farm in the Midwest, it’s no surprise that she favors natural and pastoral themes.

Though she took many art history courses in college, she didn’t receive any formal art training, having majored in sociology and women’s studies. Being a self taught artist has worked in her favor, as she has never felt constrained by any hard and fast rules or the need to adhere to convention.

She achieves her trademark style with non-traditional printmaking methods, including hand cut stencils and a Japanese screen printing toy called a Gocco. She uses spray paint, acrylics, gouache, and ink to print on a variety of surfaces, including wood, fabric, and antique papers (handwritten love letters, envelopes, music sheets, maps, journal pages), and “is most satisfied when I can make a tangible or visceral connection between the materials used and the image rendered.”

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a bit of loveliness: vanessa bowman’s still life and landscape oils

 

Thought we’d brighten your week with some of Vanessa Bowman’s lovely still life and landscape paintings.

Vanessa lives and works in Dorset, England, and graduated from the Winchester School of Art with a First Class Honours Degree in Printed Textile Design. She comes from an artistic family — both her father and sister are also painters.

 

photo of Vanessa by Greg Funnell

 

She works entirely in oils, thinning her paints to achieve the fluidity of watercolors. She loves celebrating the beauty of everyday objects. As a keen gardener and ceramics collector, it follows that her own flowers and found treasures often appear in her still life paintings.

I grow flowers which aren’t usually found in shops – dark, almost black flowers in Tulips and Centaureas, a beautifully marked hellebore in an unusual shade of green and dark Nasturtiums, jewel like Dahlias, fiery Crocosmia, Cosmos with their frond-like leaves and many more.

 

 

She begins her days by taking a walk with her dog, gathering her thoughts as she immerses herself in her beautiful surroundings, noting seasonal changes and checking her garden to see what’s in bloom on the way to her studio. Gentle hills, hedgerows, and regional flora and fauna appear in her landscape paintings — charming depictions of idyllic country life.

 

 

Typical of her landscapes is a detailed foreground of seasonal blossoms or berries that invite the reader into an intimate portrait of the Dorset landscape.

 

 

Her still life paintings center around the colors and shapes of her chosen flowers:

I am drawn to flowers as my main subject matter as I am captivated by the variety of colour and detail they offer. I am fascinated by the elements of colour and shape each flower offers, from the simplicity of a snowdrop to the complexity of, say, a dahlia, with its jewel-like colour and complex petal formation.

 

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jane massey’s pictures make me want to hug myself

Why, hello!

There’s nothing like seeing the world through a child’s eyes.

Position your Cheerios and take a look at these adorable illustrations by UK author/illustrator Jane Massey.

 

 

You may know her from the dozens of children’s books she’s illustrated — books she’s written herself and by many others (Alexandra Penfold, Joyce Dunbar, Dawn Richards, Claire Freedman, et. al.).

 

 

I confess I first noticed her work on Pinterest and Instagram, where she regularly posts THE CUTEST drawings and sketches. I marvel at her childlike instinct. We would expect her art to speak directly to children, but I was also struck by how deeply her pictures spoke to the child in me. I discovered recently that I certainly was not alone in my reaction.

 

 

Not too long ago, I posted the above drawing, called “New Shoes,” on Facebook. People LOVED and identified with it, recalling their own childhood experiences. Comments ranged from “simple and beautiful,” to “I adore this!” to “awwwwwww. . . ” Some of these people had never commented or “liked” any of my posts before. Jane’s art had grabbed them, and for a fleeting moment, they remembered what it was like to be two or three again.

 

 

Isn’t it amazing how something so simple could elicit such a strong emotional response? And that’s what characterizes Massey’s work: a posture, an expression, a nuance of emotion — all the feelings and heart of a child are ever present.

 

 

There are many artists who can draw children well, but not all are able to capture such believable emotion in just a few masterful strokes. This is especially evident in the drawings she posts on Instagram — not necessarily part of a specific book project, yet each subscribes to the “less is more” philosophy — where character is instantly established, and a larger narrative is implied. Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

Look at the Cheerios girl at the top of this post. Don’t you already know her? Can’t you already imagine the trouble she could get into?

 

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