love me some Joe Brainard

“If I’m as normal as I think I am, we’re all a bunch of weirdos.” ~ Joe Brainard

I love it when one good thing leads to another.

Kenneth Koch’s poem “Permanently” (which I shared last June), sparked my interest in New York School artist, writer and set designer Joe Brainard (1942-1994).

Joe in Calais, Vermont, about two years before he died of AIDS-induced pneumonia (photo by Pat Padgett).

Both his visual art and writings were new to me; unlike his more famous contemporaries Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Ron Padgett, James Schuyler, Andy Warhol, Fairfield Porter, and Koch himself, Brainard had somehow slipped under my radar.

Brainard’s “Chewing Gum Wrappers” (1971)

If you’ve been a Brainard fan all along, then you know he was a prolific creator who left behind an impressive oeuvre of innovative, pop culture inspired collages, assemblages, paintings, drawings, and comic book collaborations, as well as multiple collections of mostly autobiographical poetry and prose. 

C Comics No. 2 (Boke Press, 1965)
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art crush: yorkshire artist, printmaker and designer mark hearld

Not too long ago, when I featured Emily Sutton’s gorgeous watercolours and bird sculptures here at Alphabet Soup, I promised to also spotlight her partner Mark Hearld.

Prepare yourself for even more fangirl sighing and swooning. Though I admire many, many artists, there are only a handful about whom I can safely say, “I love everything he (or she) does.” (This holds true for both Emily and Mark.)

Mark is a Yorkshire native who studied illustration at the Glasgow School of Art and Natural History illustration at the Royal College of Art. He works across a variety of mediums, producing unique paintings, linocuts, lithographs, cut-paper collages, hand-painted ceramics, wallpaper and fabric designs.

He is inspired primarily by the flora and fauna of the English countryside, a deep love and fascination for nature he’s had since childhood.

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clover robin’s charming paper collages

Brush, dab, paint. Snip, snip, trim. Arrange, layer, rearrange.

It’s fun imagining collage artist, designer and illustrator Clover Robin creating another stunning piece in her Greenwich, London home. With her cat Winnie as companion and muse, she indulges her love of nature and all things botanical “inspired by a childhood of woodland walks and countryside rambles.”

Clover grew up in Devon and studied at Leeds College of Art and Design and Central Saint Martins. Home studio aside, she particularly enjoys being on location:

I’m pretty much at my happiest when I’m working in my sketchbook and looking directly at the scene or subject I’m creating.

She recently traveled up and down the west coast of America, documenting the beautiful vistas she viewed from the passenger side of the front seat. Where most artists would do pencil or ink sketches in their notebooks, Clover collaged as she went. Pretty amazing!

She hopes to tour the Nordic countries on her next road trip. 🙂

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Indie Artist Spotlight: Emma Block Illustration

Emma modeling an Orla Kiely for Uniqlo floral t-shirt.

I can’t remember whether it was “La Petit Patisserie” or “The Flower Shop” that initially caught my eye, only that it was love at first sight and I wanted more.

I soon discovered that the artist behind these winsome and enchantingly feminine illustrations was none other than 20-something-year-old Emma Block of London, England.

Click to see the process behind “The Flower Shop”

Inspired by vintage clothing, 30’s jazz, 50’s illustrations, old photos, travel and people watching, Emma’s work is delightfully retro and thoroughly modern at the same time. Using paint, colored pencil, ink, cut-paper collage and Photoshop, she creates charming, spritely, a little bit quirky, always refreshing pictures in an inimitable style that has a distinctive handmade quality about it.

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a little midweek loveliness

Jane and Cassandra Austen tending their garden at Steventon Rectory

Saw these wonderful naive cut paper collages by Amanda A. White on Etsy the other day. A former Londoner now living in the Canary Islands, Amanda specializes in depicting the homes of famous British writers — notably, the Romantics and the Bloomsbury Group.

For me it was love at first sight, especially since I’ve actually visited some of these places — Brontë Parsonage in Haworth, Keats House in Hampstead, Dickens House in Gads Hill, and Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage in the Lake District.

Bronte Parsonage in Haworth

Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage in Grasmere

Dickens House at Gads Hill, near Rochester

Amanda’s charming collages make me want to see all the other homes I didn’t know about before, especially Vanessa Bell’s Charleston Farmhouse (Vanessa was Virginia Woolf’s sister):

Pretty amazing what the right artist can do with old magazine clippings (mostly from Vogue and National Geographic). What’s also cool is how the Keats House Museum contacted Amanda after seeing her Keats House collage on her website. Now, her prints and cards are for sale in the museum gift shop!

Keats House collage that caught the eye of the Keats House Museum.

Keats House in Autumn (Wentworth Place, Hampstead)

Dickens Birthplace, Portsmouth

Sigh. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to step right into these pictures?

Find out more about Amanda’s Writers’ Houses Project at her website, blog and Etsy Shop. Check out the Christmas cards too. 🙂

Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra walking to Steventon Church on Christmas morning.


Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.