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?). 

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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? 

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. April showers bring May flowers! We’re celebrating the merriest of months with stunning images by Japanese artist Shinya Okayama.

I wasn’t able to find much biographical information about him online in English. Wish I could read Japanese so I could have done additional detective work. 🙂

But we do know Okayama was born in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1982 and that he studied at Sokei Academy of Fine Art and Design (2003-2007).

I stumbled upon his work on Pinterest and was immediately taken with his beautiful colors, extraordinary level of detail, and gentle depictions of children and animals, who are portrayed on equal footing and living in total harmony.

He paints an idyllic world, where children are free to explore their surroundings and enjoy wonderful adventures with many wild creatures on land and from the sea. He injects elements of the surreal in some of his pictures, as boundaries between earth and ocean disappear.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Hello April (come she will)! I see you there on your chaise lounge, totally relaxing with a glass of wine and a bowl of cherries. Who said April is the cruelest month? Doesn’t look that way to Nevada based artist Elaine Cory, whose vibrant, textured paintings transport us to a dream world.

She’s known for her color saturated florals, gorgeous landscapes, and pretty street scenes that make you wish you could be relaxing on a balmy tropical isle or sitting at an outdoor Parisian café right this very minute. Mais, oui!

An Army brat, Elaine lived in Germany and France and traveled to many foreign countries, which opened her eyes to the beauty of the world. Upon returning to the U.S., her family settled in San Francisco, where she frequented museums and art galleries.

She attended San Francisco State College on an art scholarship and worked as an interior designer for about 20 years. All the while, she continued to paint, working in acrylics and mixed media, developing her distinct impressionistic style.

Elaine sells originals at her Etsy Shop, Elaine’s Heartsong. She calls her paintings “jewelry for your walls.”


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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Happy March! We’re looking forward to spring and all things green and floral with Olivia Gibbs’ lovely art. So colorful and joyful!

Born and raised in Spain, Olivia is self taught and currently resides in Augusta, Georgia. She’s been smitten with drawing since childhood, when she’d spend hours creating stories in her sketchbook.

Since art didn’t seem like a viable career option, she studied Business Administration in college and then worked in banking for many years. But when her second daughter was born, she was able to stay at home and renew her interest in art, her true passion.

In addition to drawing and painting, Olivia loves traveling and exploring new places and cultures. She’s also keen on hiking, baking, dancing, finding the beauty in everyday life, and spending time with loved ones. 

Her client list includes American Greetings, Galison/Mudpuppy, Oopsy Daisy, Hallmark, Hobby Lobby, and Jo-Ann Fabric. 

She recently published this book:

For more, visit Olivia’s Official Website, Instagram and Etsy Shop, where you can purchase prints.


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