bob dylan birthday blues

“The land created me. I’m wild and lonesome. Even as I travel the cities, I’m more at home in the vacant lots.” ~ Bob Dylan

Since the man is turning 77 today, we’re gonna sing a little birthday blues by featuring some of Dylan’s “blue paintings” paired with bits of his song lyrics.

Did you know that besides being a 12-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter, poet, author, small-batch whiskey entrepreneur, metal works artist, and Nobel, Pulitzer, Medal of Freedom, Oscar, and Golden Globe winner, Dylan is also an accomplished painter?

We first saw his work gracing the covers of two 70’s albums (Self Portrait and Planet Waves), but he didn’t start seriously exhibiting and selling his paintings until 2007. Like many extraordinarily gifted creatives, his output benefits from the cross-fertilization of art forms.

Dylan is that rare person who can move effortlessly between music, word, ink, paint, as if he’s just futzing around with a few different instruments in the studio. Yet again and again he reflects life back to us with a truth and simplicity that defy words . . . seemingly unworried about how something looks, he’s not after artistic perfection, but something larger, a moment, a feeling. The effect is enthralling.

~ Marisha Pessl, New York Times

I love his frequent use of blues, and of course how often he depicts eateries. It’s fascinating to see the world through Dylan’s (blue) eyes 🙂 — he’s drawn to back streets, alley ways, country roads, bridges, train tracks — landscapes and urban scenes “unpolluted by the ephemera of pop culture.” There’s a noted absence of people in most of these paintings, conveying a sense of loneliness and a nostalgia for simpler times.

“Nowhere and Anywhere” (2017)

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of dogs and cats and flowers and birds: the whimsical beauty of vanessa cooper’s paintings

“Next Supper” (2015)

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.

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elsa mora’s stunning cut-paper art

for Self Magazine

Are you familiar with the gorgeous cut-paper creations of New York-based multi-media artist Elsa Mora?

Although she is a multi-disciplinary artist — photography, ceramics, jewelry design, painting, illustration, bookmaking — it was her stunning papercuts that first caught my eye about five or six years ago.

for Oprah Magazine

Originally from Holguín, Cuba, Elsa grew up poor, the fifth of eight children. Though she was exposed to many of life’s harsh realities at an early age, her MO for survival has always been the ability to envision her own reality, using the resources at hand.

Elsa with her Winter Wonderland display at the MoMA Design Store in Soho (2014)

When she was 16, she learned her birthday was actually May 9 instead of May 8. Apparently her mother preferred the 8th because that year it was Mother’s Day. This discovery changed Elsa’s thinking — she decided she could be whoever she wanted to be.

Growing up poor taught me a series of important lessons that I will always treasure. I learned that the most precious possession that you have is your mind. I also learned that creativity and imagination could solve any problem, whether it’s a material problem or an emotional one.

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ruby silvious’s exquisite tea bag art

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When is a tea bag more than just a tea bag?

In January 2015, New York-based artist and graphic designer Ruby Silvious began a tea-licious new project: she would record impressions of the moment every day on used tea bags. Sharing her visual journal, “363 Days of Tea,” on Instagram allowed her to push her creative practice and “spark a different kind of inspiration.”

rubyreplacementWhile most of us discard our tea tags without a second thought, Ruby saw them as unique mini canvases. Once family and friends heard of her project, they started sending her a variety of tea bags, some with different shapes and interesting tags. Sometimes the tea bags were kept intact after being emptied of their leaves, while others were split open and laid flat. Stains and torn edges became part of the beauty.

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I love the great range of subjects — whimsical everyday objects like mugs and umbrellas, shirts and pets, along with evocative glimpses of the natural world, interesting portraits and street scenes. Of course my heart quickened at the sight of soup cans, slices of pie, sushi, noodles, and teapots. 🙂

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ruby23This past Fall, Ruby published 363 Days of Tea: A Visual Journal on Used Tea Bags as a beautiful coffee table book. It’s wonderful following her creative journey day by day, marveling at her pieces of drawn, painted, and collaged microart.

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Indie Artist Spotlight: Julie Schronk of Just Folks

“Our Big Family” © 2016 Julie Schronk

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Each of Julie Schronk’s whimsical folk art paintings feels like a big-hearted welcome, a friendly invitation to step right into the scene to join all the fun.

Fancy an old fashioned church picnic, quilt show or yard sale? Maybe you’d prefer a lazy afternoon at your favorite fishing hole, a stroll down main street, or a quick bite at the local diner. Julie’s cheery, engaging slices of old-timey Americana, rendered in vibrant colors and bustling with activity, brim with just the kind of quirky details that beg a closer look.

“By the Sea”

Originally from Dallas, Julie now lives in Hillsboro, Texas, where she paints traditional, Black, Bayou and bohemian folk art. She calls herself a memory and storyteller painter who kindles memories of bygone days and inspires people to imagine their own stories in her pictures.

Julie’s now in her 16th year of creating and selling her acrylic originals, which have been shipped to almost every state in the union and to countries such as France, Singapore, Canada and New Zealand.

I love the warmth and convivial vitality in Julie’s pieces, which are like mini cultural history lessons with their depictions of cotton gins, juke joints, country stores, Amish barns, farmyards, and city skylines.

“Night Fishin’ on the Bayou”
“Trolleys” is Julie’s favorite painting.

I’m so happy to welcome Julie to Alphabet Soup today to tell us more about her joyous paintings and a bit about her children’s books. I know you’ll enjoy stepping back in time and hearing how this talented artist works.

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