nine cool things on a tuesday

Joan with her self portrait

l. In celebration of Women’s History Month, here are a few portraits by the one and only Joan Baez, who turned 80 in January. I didn’t realize she was such an accomplished painter till I began following her on FB last year — initially for the music videos she posted as the pandemic raged on. It was wonderful seeing her singing in her kitchen!

Malala Yousafzai

Then she began sharing pieces from her first solo exhibition, “Mischief Makers,” featuring “risk-taking visionaries who have brought about social change through nonviolent action.”

Her debut album in 1960 was basically my introduction to folk music and activism. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I always marvel at multi-talented creatives who thrive on a cross fertilization of genres.

Stacey Abrams
Alice Walker
Coretta Scott King

In addition to Joan, musicians I admire who also paint include Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Patti Smith, Grace Slick, Ronnie Wood, Ringo Starr, Cat Stevens, Miles Davis, and John Mellencamp.

Kamala Harris

See more Mischief Makers as well as portraits of Friends and Icons at Joan Baez Art. I like all the little backstories for each painting. You can also purchase prints or catalogs there.

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steele yourself!

Ah, breakfast with Van Gogh. What could be better?

A crunchy bowl of Ben Steele’s Earrios will get you off to a great start. What’s that? You want more? Can’t say I blame you.

Once you’ve seen one Ben Steele painting, you crave another and another . . .

Ben in his studio with some of his product inspirations.

Originally from Washington state, Ben relocated to Utah when he was in his teens. He earned a BFA in painting and drawing from the University of Utah, then moved to Helper, Utah, where he studied under the instruction of David Dorman and Paul Davis at the Helper Art Workshops. He recently converted a vacant bottling and beverage distribution warehouse into an enormous studio that will accommodate large scale work.

Ben’s paintings are a unique mash-up of art history and pop culture, a wide-ranging oeuvre that includes landscape, still life, portraiture, and other things in-between. He calls himself a “pop realist,” an artist with an ever evolving style who’s successfully imbued classic techniques with a contemporary sensibility.

With equal measures of playfulness and nostalgia, Steele taps into America’s collective imagination by incorporating iconic brands such as Crayola, Coca-Cola, and Campbell’s Soup. Referencing the American West, Hollywood legends, and major figures in American history (to include several Presidents), his art resonates across generations with its social, political, and cultural overtones.

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loving gary bunt’s rural whimsy

I’ve been a diehard Gary Bunt fan ever since stumbling upon his wonderful paintings of English rural and village life over a year ago. His work is easy to recognize and even easier to love. Just look for the old man and his faithful dog. These constant companions really know how to tug at your heartstrings.

Once you’ve seen “Bert” and his dog in a few different scenes — sitting side by side atop a hill, strolling through the woods, or cozied up in their country kitchen — you can’t help but feel an instant connection.

There’s a certain sense of comfort and reassurance seeing them digging in the garden, feeding ducks just outside the barn, watching sheep in the meadow, bicycling down the lane, or watching the snow fall.

Bunt is wildly popular and beloved in the UK and all over the world; perhaps his wide appeal has to do with his ability to make ordinary life feel magical, even sacred. His unpretentious style makes his work infinitely accessible as it brims with quintessential British charm.

Born in East Peckham, Kent, Bunt (a self taught artist) has been painting for as long as he can remember, and since his school days, has also been keen on poetry, literature, and music. In his teens he taught himself to play the guitar, joined several bands, and wrote songs.

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claire west: a shot of happiness

If this isn’t joy personified I don’t know what is.

One glance at Claire West’s exuberant splash of colors and you’re smiling, your heart’s beating a little faster, you. are. UP!

Say goodbye to even a tiny case of the winter doldrums as your eyes drink, drink, drink it all in. Wow. Gorgeous. Whoa. More, please.

Claire hails from Hull in East Yorkshire, England. She initially trained as an interior designer at Newcastle Art College before studying part time for seven years to earn her Fine Arts degree from Humberside University.

Claire with her border collie Flossie

She then began doing freelance work for television production companies, who featured her work in TV programs. She’s exhibited her paintings and linocuts all over the UK and also teaches painting and printmaking workshops.

Claire paints because it makes her happy, and she hopes her pieces make others feel the same way. She strongly believes in the power of color therapy to uplift the spirit.

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Tijana Lukovic: Inside and Out

Belgium-based painter and illustrator Tijana Lukovic is inspired by motherhood, nature, folklore and fairytales. Her biggest inspiration is her daughter and their world of play. 

I love the sense of serenity and calm depicted in her domestic scenes, where ordinary activities and family life become a form of meditation. Home is nourishing, pleasurable, and safe — its own world within the world, and her pictures are a good reminder to be fully present in our daily lives. Also cool is that touch of whimsy when the outside comes in. 🙂

Once outdoors — whether exploring the woods or riding on the backs of moths or birds — we’re invited to dwell in magic and wonder. Humans and animals happily co-exist in idyllic locales — riverbanks, hillsides, streams and meadows. 

Her love of nature, as well as drawing and painting it, is rooted in childhood. She grew up in a small town in west Serbia surrounded by mountains called Užice. There, she and her friends had many adventures exploring the hills and forests, making their own toys, pretending they were the characters in the stories they read, and building forts with branches. She enjoyed drawing the fairies she heard about in her grandmother’s stories.

Tijana works primarily in gouache. She earned an MA in Drawing at KASK/Ghent and an MFA in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts at Novi Sad. 

She loves the work of Elsa Beskow, Sylvil von Olfers, Beth Krommes, Molly Brett, Phoebe Wahl, Makoto Kagoshima, and Gemma Koomen, among many others.

Check out Tijana’s Official Website and Instagram for more. You can purchase prints, originals, and cards at her online shop.


*Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.