Illustrator Anna Hoyle is a collector of “words, phrases, and objects,” and she translates her passion into an ongoing series of book paintings. But these aren’t ordinary texts, though. They are gouache portraits of fictitious books with silly names that are inspired by a mid-century aesthetic. Some resemble children’s books of yesteryear, while others are remind me of prolific illustrators and designers like Dick Bruna.
Using a combination of thread and paint, artist Jo Jimenez creates colorful mixed media bouquets. After painting the vibrant blooms and green leaves, she uses embroidery—both fuzzy yarns and metallics—as a tactile accent. The result is visually lush and something you’d find in the best gardens or exquisite arrangements.
Embroiderer and artist Libby Williams uses a combination of stitching and painting to create unique travel portraits of the places she’s been. “I’m from the U.S. but have been living in Luxembourg for the past year and a half,” she tells me in an email. “I like to work back and forth between abstraction and representation, always taking inspiration from the landscape.”
There are some parts of one’s visual language that acts as the thread that ties years of work together. A style might shift, but a consistent element still remains. For artist and illustrator Laura Berger, it’s nudes. For as long as I’ve been looking at her art, Laura has always incorporated some form of the nude body—figures round and jovial, like they don’t have a care in the world. This visual mainstay has grown along side her as her color schemes change or explore an abstract world.
Artist Celan Bouillet creates “little worlds full of animals, greenery, and adventure.” The colorful, highly-detailed pieces feature places that are everywhere and nowhere. Sloths, giraffes, tropical leaves, and peacocks—all painted at the same scale—occupy the same composition. They are, however, so carefully arranged while together, they never fully interact. This is Celan’s design. “These mixed media pieces are highly detailed and manipulate scale along with pattern to create complex narratives,” she writes.
To produce these pieces is an exercise in meticulousness. Every branch, rock, and animal is painted gouache on paper which is then cut out and placed on a background. Celan’s compositions are so seamless that at times, it’s hard to tell—but her in-progress works on Instagram showcase her beautiful process.
Celan sells her work as large limited edition in her Etsy shop, The Bayou Botanist.
Illustrator Andrea Sparacio painted over 54 portraits that depict “trailblazing women who make America great” for NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Gender Card deck of playing cards. Each card features a woman (or women) who has/have achieved cultural and/or historical significance. For each individual, Sparacio has immortalized their face in her charming style.
The deck showcases women throughout American history. Icons like Harriet Tubman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Gloria Steinem, Beyoncé, and Hilary Clinton are part of this set, but there are many more—including some you might not recognize. It’s a great opportunity to support NARAL Pro-Choice America and learn more about the amazing sheroes who have helped shape the country. You can purchase your set of cards here.
Big, bold, and beautiful—that’s how I describe the work of Jenny Kiker, aka Living Pattern. Her watercolor paintings feature the striking leaves of plants like Monstera deliciosa, Valley Oak, and good ole ferns. To create these pieces, Jenny says that her process “starts with a combination of drawing from observation and imagination,” letting the leaf (or leaves) inform “where the line wants to go and how it wants to feel.” The results showcase the exquisite subtleties of these plants as well as the color achieved from watercolor paint.
Beautiful surface design can transform ordinary objects into functional works of art. Melbourne-based designer and illustrator Cassie Byrnes highlights this in her label Variety Hour, a print-focused endeavor that’s an outlet for her to “get as weird as she wants” and to experiment with new, crazy ideas. Each season, she hand-crafts a collection of prints that are then applied to clothing, scarves, clutches and more.
A long weekend is quickly approaching us here in the US, so if you find you’ve got some extra time, why not try this fun exercise: Use watercolors to dab or brush a spot of paint on the paper and then create a character from it (in pen or pencil). Illustrator Marion Barraud regularly does this to great effect—her doodles are imaginative and delightful. With just a few different flicks of the brush, she’s able to produce diverse monsters with a ton of personality.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sometimes, you just wanna look at beautiful flowers. Artist Carrie Schmitt creates vibrant compositions of blooms in a couple of visually-striking styles. Some of her paintings feature thick sculptural strokes, while others utilize expressive lines and haphazard drips. Both are lovely.
Carrie’s career in the arts came later in life. In 2009, she developed a life-threatening allergy to heat and couldn’t leave her home for months. She turned lemons into lemonade, however, and used the time indoors to pursue her dream of becoming a painter. Carrie explains, “Creating became my therapy and escape as I struggled with being homebound.”
Carrie’s work—originals and prints—are available in her Etsy shop.