The internet has afforded me the pleasure of meeting a variety of wonderful people throughout the course of my life; some local, some in other states, some halfway across the world. It provides me access to bright minds regardless of geography which enriches my own life as a result. Social media like Instagram and Twitter continuously deliver in this regard and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t be a happier person without them. Last week I received a gift for my 30th birthday from an artist called Laura in Bristol, England, and I was reminded of how fortunate I am to live in a world where I can have friends across an ocean and that someone as generous as Laura would be willing to send me a piece of her art.
I’d been fascinated by one particular piece she did awhile ago. It’s a brooch made of felt in the style of a full English breakfast, replete with sausages, bacon, fried tomatoes, toast, and (of course) an egg. I saw it on her website and told her how much I liked it. She handmade another one and sent it to me as a result (below). Every piece is carefully stitched together with colored thread to give it further detail, culminating in a felt plate with felt food perfectly arranged. Guys, I cannot overstate how perfectly this little brooch is; it’s both ingenious and adorable simultaneously. It’s a soft replica of a delicious meal I’ve only ever had a handful of times years ago, and it strikes me in a powerfully nostalgic way despite it being just breakfast.
She also sent a tremendously thoughtful, handmade card as icing on the cake. It was very sweet of her and I appreciate the gesture immensely. I’ve put it in my case of valuable artifacts from my life that represent my journey thus far (if you don't already have a case of valuable artifacts from your life, I suggest making one because they’re fun to go through from time to time).
So here’s the thing: Laura is a very talented artist. When we first connected on Twitter, I didn’t realize she was so talented because I didn't see the link to her blog with her collected works. Once I’d discovered her gallery, I was smitten with it. I think the main reason I love her work so much is because it has a distinct quality that reminds me of something specific from my childhood, but I cannot for the life of me determine what that something is. It’s this subconscious connection and feeling that draws me back to it over and over. The best explanation is it reminds me a summer day with blue skies and cumulus clouds with bees and humidity all around while not having a plan for the day, and also of a carefree rainy morning when the grass looks extra green and the plants dance around under the falling rain and you can see the bees huddled and cozy in their hive and you’re just enjoying the moment you’ve been given. I think it must be the innocence of being a child and learning about the world around you when you haven’t had long to learn from it. Everything is new and crazy but it all makes sense and it’s familiar somehow. Her art elicits these memories through carefully crafted visual vignettes that target that specific nerve. It’s honestly the best way I can describe how her work connects with me and why I enjoy it so fervently.
Every piece she does is a brilliant picnic carefully laid out on a blanket in a pastel pasture of infinite grass just waiting to be populated with lovely, smiling creatures. From cats to ghosts to hybrid beasts of her own creation, Laura infuses every shape with a proprietary cheer that cannot be found anywhere else but at the tip of her pen. When you go to her Instagram page, the first things you’ll probably notice (as of this writing) are the adorable, anthropomorphized pastel cats in various outfits. My favorite is the smug little king cat holding a scepter and looking pleased with himself.
Adorable felt creations cuter than a baby duckling riding the back of a fluffy border collie puppy are in her wheelhouse as well. Like I said about the brooch she made me earlier, these are among my favorite works of hers because they add an entire new dimension to her artistry. Just look at that smiling apple!
She also creates these quirky composites deliberately sorted to maintain interest. When she posts a new one, I find myself spending several minutes just taking in every shape and connecting them to see how they relate, if they relate at all, and contemplating what their placement relative to the others says about the piece. When I look at them again, I find myself discovering new characters and details I’d missed before. Her composites are short stories I want to be told to me again and again.
Those details are one of the key reasons I keep revising her oeuvre. They’re often small and subtle, demanding extra attention in order to see and appreciate, and they reward the sharp-eyed observer with a deeper chuckle. They’re often cheery and add layers to the focal point which adds a richer flavor to the entire piece overall. The details are the chocolate syrup on a scoop of delicious ice cream. My favorite details are found in the snail drawing below. I love that the snail is looking at "bugs!" on his computer which is next to a cat book called "Meow Vol. III."
Her monochrome pieces delve into an emotional area the other drawings seemingly avoid. These can be haunting in a way (specifically the red and white drawing below), and I like how they showcase her ability to do both whimsy as well as more serious stuff (or so I think is serious stuff). This choice to keep certain drawings monochrome is wonderful for examining the range of emotion one can feel from her art.
Some of her work is straight up abstract and devoid of a blatant narrative like the others, sometimes ditching the whimsy altogether in lieu of something harder but worth trying to understand. I really appreciate these drawings, much like the monochrome pieces, because they explore a related-yet-altogether-different scene. The colors she has chosen for each one and the way the lines are arranged each beg to be understood but remain mysterious. One can guess what they represent, but the interpretations are bound to be plentiful and varied between viewers. Sometimes the art is simply a pattern, as well. The bird pattern is my favorite.
If you’re not already aware of Laura, hopefully you’ll head to her website, lauripopdraws.wordpress.com, and give her entire gallery a look. She’s a nice lady whom I’m glad to have met through the internet, and I’d like the rest of my readers to befriend her as well. Follow her on Twitter (she’s very funny), catch up with her on Instagram, check out her Tumblr, like her page on Facebook, and commission her to do art for you. She’s a good egg.