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 . . .
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.
Fancy a leisurely drive along the French Riviera, perhaps stopping at a friend’s apartment for coffee and pastries? If her piano’s in tune, she’ll regale you with an exquisite rendition of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune,” her flamingos, peacock and toucan in attendance.
Later, if you’re in the mood for a swim, the two of you can head for the beach, where you can stretch out under a fringed umbrella with a bottle of champagne. Ah, this is the life!
Canadian artist Lisa Finch loves to create scenes like these, painting stories with a unique vintage voice. Her pictures are perfect for those who appreciate old world nostalgia with a touch of whimsy.
She welcomes visitors to her French Canvas Studio like this:
Imagine you’re stepping into a little studio filled with paints, jars of brushes and lots of canvases, Some with works started, others drying, some just blank, waiting patiently. In the corner you’ll find an old easel, my father’s, given to me years ago when I was just a young woman.
Along the only solid wall in this studio, is a great French armoire with a large mirror on the centre door that I try to avoid looking at when I enter in the morning. It has its purpose, but my reflection is not the one I need. If you open the doors on this antique cabinet, they protest with a moan as they reveal rolls of wrapping paper and packaging for items waiting to be shipped.
Behind my desk, there is a large window that fills this little room with natural light and on rainy days, I turn on an old lamp that I rescued from the side of the road and a makeshift spotlight that holds onto my easel for dear life. It’s through this window that I often catch myself dreaming as I watch the towering maple trees in the yard sway and the squirrels maneuver through their branches like acrobats and where the birds, hidden somewhere in the foliage, let out a song that makes me wish I could sing.
Today, for your feasting pleasure, the amazing oil paintings — yes, paintings (!) of Italian artist Luigi Benedicenti (1948-2015).
They can’t be paintings, they must be photographs, you say. I’m still in disbelief myself. Even if they were photographs, they would be awesome — but paintings? Truly incredible!
A native of Turin, Benedicenti developed his own style of “realismo extremo,” or hyper photo-realism, featuring Italian pastries as his primary subject.
Apparently the pastries were made by professional bakers, but he did not consume them after taking reference photos because he had diabetes. I imagine his family and friends were only too willing to help him “take care of” the pastries when he was through with them. 🙂
The other day, in my ongoing quest for art that makes my heart sing, I stumbled upon the work of UK-based artist Vanessa Cooper.
Can you see why I instantly fell in love? Why shouldn’t doggies be treated to a variety of scrummy cakes and a homey checked tablecloth?
Dogs aren’t the only ones who receive special treatment at the dining table. Vanessa also includes lots of cats, the odd budgie, goat, or whatever stray she might happen upon. I love her sense of whimsy.
She’s a Hampshire native who studied at Portsmouth University. She started painting in her teens and her style is defined by her bold use of color, striking compositions, and charming details.