“it began with biscuits”


It really did begin with biscuits… in 2009 with those biscuits right up there to be exact. I’m talking to New Zealand born, UK based painter Joël Penkman. Her food paintings are absolutely stunning, but imagine my delight when I found out that they’re actually painted with food too… well, kinda. How’s that for a tease?! You can listen right up there under the tower of cookies, or subscribe on iTunes. First up, her gorgeous {and very popular} ice creams:


See? Yeah, that’s why they’re so popular! Up next, the rainbow of lollipops she painted for my Land of Nod collection last year:


So sweet… literally! Sorry. I had to. Ok, moving on. Here are just a few of my favorite pieces from her Taste of America book. There are over 100 to choose from so you can see my dilemma:


Ah, smoked catfish paté… yum. Ok, from cheese, jelly and caramels to her very tidy studio {she wasn’t kidding}:


… and her pigments! Her process and use of homemade egg tempera kinda blew my mind. I had no idea what it was or how to do it. I have always loved her work, but now seeing how she actually makes that work… well, I am totally, completely, head over heels in love. I also love that she photographs her own subjects as well {hence the photo of her mid-scoop}.

So, she paints a lot of food because she’s very good at it, therefore lots of people ask her to keep painting food. I asked what a few of her favorite pieces were, and it turns out, they’re not food:


Books and the most beautiful stack of shoe polish I’ve ever seen. Well, if she gets to show her favorites, I want a turn too:


Beautiful, and oh so delicious. I also thought it was fitting to end with biscuits since that’s where we started. Ok, now, before you go, you HAVE to watch this video of Joël in action. First of all it’s hilarious, and secondly it’s very educational. Wait till you see her actually squirt the egg yolk into her finely ground pigment. Oh yes, and there’s a talking chicken and a 3-piece band in there too:

I want a band in my backyard while I pick rhubarb! And on that note, I’ll say thanks so much to Joël for doing this with me, thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting yet another episode, and HUGE thanks to you for listening … there will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Design*Sponge
  2. Handsome Frank Illustration Agency
  3. Joël’s prints available here


comments (17)

  1. Tami Von Zalez /// 04.09.2016 /// 7:17am

    Shades of Wayne Thiebaud – reminds me of the same style of painting.

  2. Mossy /// 04.09.2016 /// 7:38am

    The childhood foods (and the memories!), the amazing pigments, such wonderful paintings… How great to see art created like this.

  3. Sherry Knutson /// 04.09.2016 /// 8:11am

    The work, the artist and wow the video!! Simply perfect Joey… Thank you Jealous Curator

  4. marianne clancy /// 04.09.2016 /// 8:34am

    gorgeous~realistic~can say how much I love and resonate with these paintings! Painting food has been on my agenda for years now and I am thrilled to see this and marvel at each and every morsel! thank you!

  5. Samantha Dennison /// 04.09.2016 /// 5:36pm

    Delightful – and the kids cracked up (!) watching the video xx

  6. Jenny Henderson /// 04.10.2016 /// 6:13am

    Love her work. Very similar to Wayne Thiebaud, one of my favorite artists!

  7. Nicole Reddington /// 04.10.2016 /// 11:46am

    Thank you for that interview – what a joy to listen too! The little video was the icing on the cake! or syrup on the ice cream :/

  8. Sister Hilda /// 04.10.2016 /// 9:23pm

    It was great to have an episode featuring egg tempera! This is the traditional medium for the byzantine icons that I work with. I gesso my own boards and mix my dry pigments with the egg yolk too.

  9. Crystal Foth /// 04.10.2016 /// 10:31pm

    oh goodness that video was AMAZING!!! Lovely podcast too! 🙂

  10. Julie /// 04.10.2016 /// 11:22pm

    So so good!!

  11. Jen /// 04.11.2016 /// 1:08am

    Many years ago I worked with kids with behavioral and emotional issues. Once a week I did art with them, and for one project we made egg tempura paint using unsweetened Kool Aid powder as the color pigment. I had to separate so many eggs for that one! Anyways, it’s so cool to see someone using this medium!

  12. Rachael /// 04.11.2016 /// 4:48pm

    We have some wonderful new pieces in similar styles. For original fine art bought online and shipped to your door come visit us at: https://artfuly.com/products

  13. stacy kron /// 04.13.2016 /// 7:50am

    So fun to see the process and behind the scenes! A labor of love with mixing those paints. Wow! So talented. 🙂

  14. Jessica /// 04.13.2016 /// 12:12pm


  15. Five Podcasts by Artists, for Artists – The Art League Blog /// 07.22.2016 /// 9:30am

    […] these episodes: No. 13 with Lisa Golightly: If It Scares You, Do It or No. 45 with Joël Penkman: It Began With Biscuits (watch the […]

  16. Karyn Hitchman /// 08.29.2016 /// 10:11pm

    I’ve been listening to your podcasts whilst painting recently and was pleased to hear a New Zealand accent on there. I became interested in the egg tempura subject too and like you didn’t know what it really is. What a fabulous little film about how Joel makes her paints!…and now I know.

  17. the jealous curator /// 08.30.2016 /// 7:03am

    yes! i love that little film… funny AND informative ; )

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