1. How about a bit of nature, whimsy, nostalgia, and coziness? New Hampshire artist Madison Safer’s work has a charming storybook quality to it that feels safe and comforting.
Hers is a world of owl apothecaries, rabbit beekeepers, people wearing mushroom hats, and fairy birthday parties where ladybugs, squirrels and wee folk chat over cake. I love that humans and animals are on equal footing, and that woodland creatures of all kinds co-exist peacefully.
Madison studied illustration at Montserrat College of Art and she works mainly in watercolor, gouache and acrylics.
She’s inspired by Eastern European art, folk art traditions, vintage Victorian postcards, old 50’s field guides, and classic children’s books like Frog and Toad Are Friendsand The Wind in the Willows.
In addition to creating narrative illustrations, Madison is keen on plant and natural education, perfectly in keeping with the abundance of wildflowers and wildlife right outside her door. Favorite pastimes include daydreaming, drinking tea, napping, and stealing flowers. She is happiest in a field of mushrooms.
1. Since we’re definitely in a “spring is almost here!” mood, we’re starting off with some charming watercolors by Chicago-based artist, illustrator, educator, and writer Michelle Kogan.
I first saw Michelle’s work on the cover of the very first Today’s Little Ditty Anthology (2014-2015), edited by the indefatigable Michelle H. Barnes (there is definitely something magical about Michelles). Michelle K. then joined the Poetry Friday gang, and we’ve been treated to her delightful posts every week, where she shares both her poetry and art (doubly delish).
Michelle is a lifelong nature lover, and her paintings depict the interesting bits of flora and fauna she observes in her various ramblings. She likes to paint outdoors during the summer, either in her own garden or in other nature venues in the Chicago area.
Michelle also paints figures, some of whom appear in her children’s illustrations. A staunch advocate of preserving our natural environment, she hopes her work will continue to inspire more beauty.
Do check out Michelle’s Etsy shop, where you can purchase archival prints, mini-prints, cards, bookmarks, journals and postcards. And of course there’s more art at her Official Website, and poetry and art every week at her blog.Contact Michelle directly via her website for info about classes and workshops, or for poetry, children’s book, or painting commissions.
1. Well, of course — must share something blue to kick off the first Cool Things Roundup of 2020. Memphis-based artist Nathaniel Mather is a recent discovery for me; another case of love at first sight.
I enjoy the playful spirit and child-like quality of his narrative pieces. Colors, textures, and simple renderings of flowers and animals evoke 19th century primitive folk art, but still feel contemporary.
His compositions have a wonderful “unstudied” quality about them — a brand of sophistication that’s difficult to pull off well.
As a typography freak, I swooned when I noticed text and numbers in some of his work. Letters floating around in paintings always make me happy, but alphabets in two blue trees? Have mercy!
He wants to produce work that is “true, beautiful, and restorative” . . . reflecting “God’s wonder and grace while wrestling with daily struggles and pain.” One can’t help but feel uplifted by his art.
1.Think pink and chew on this: behold the crazy cool bubblegum sculptures of Rome-based artist Maurizio Savini!
Yes, I did say bubblegum. Don’t worry, he doesn’t have to pre-chew his chosen medium. Two assistants help him soften bricks of the stuff into malleable sheets before they’re applied to plaster molds like traditional clay, and then carved with a razor-sharp scalpel.
His subjects include animals, objects from pop culture, and people — sometimes for the purpose of political or social commentary (“pink represents artificiality — when you see it, you associate it with a fake world”). He’s been working with bubblegum for over 20 years, and his pieces are exhibited in galleries all over the globe.
Since bubblegum cannot typically be recycled or composted, Savini’s art is a creative way of “stretching the boundaries of environmental conscientiousness.” Oh, and don’t worry, his sculptures are preserved with a special mixture of antibiotics and formaldehyde, so they can be enjoyed for generations to come. 😀
2. It’s time to order your 2020 Julie Paschkis Vision Calendars!
This 2020 Vision Calendar is a one page poster, printed on heavy stock, 11″ x 17″. The watercolor and ink drawing celebrates the hope that our democracy will be strengthened and the rights of all protected – that 2020 will be a year of clarity and vision in the United States.
Each calendar costs $12. The entire $12 for each calendar sold goes to the ACLU. They make great gifts. Please get several of them! Shipping is free for 5 calendars or more.
A great cause, a beautiful calendar! Zip over to Julie Paprika to place your order.
1. Surely there’s no better way to begin a day, a week, a month, a year — or even a roundup — than with a Maira Kalman fix. The above painting is part of an exhibition featuring 100 pieces of her work, “The Pursuit of Everything: Maira Kalman’s Books for Children,” running through September 15, 2019 at The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and coming to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (October 13, 2019 – January 19, 2020).
LOVE me some Maira! Anytime, anyplace. And the thing is, whenever I think I can’t adore her even more, she’ll do something new to tickle me pink all over again. Take this short film she made recently in collaboration with her son Alex, for example. Can’t decide what I like most — the talking chicken piano teacher? the naps? or the pink cake? When it comes to Maira, every day is a wonderful day:
And there’s more: look what’s coming out in March 2020!