If you have been following Lost in Cheeseland for a number of years, you are no stranger to Jessie Kanelos Weiner’s work — she is among the many talented expats I have featured on Franco File Fridays and have had the great fortune of collaborating with her on a story for the New York Times T Magazine last year (about pastry, of course!). Now, I’m excited to share the American watercolor illustrator’s biggest project to date: Edible Paradise: a Coloring Book of Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables.
Beyond its therapeutic merits, readers can use Edible Paradise as a guide to seasonal eating, coloring it in as they go along. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this book represents food activism, but it gently reintroduces a topical subject like seasonal eating in a fun, approachable, interactive way. Jessie hopes it will engage readers young and old to take a second look at nature and what they put into their bodies. Perhaps it is even the bridge between screen time and nature. Although Jessie’s work as a watercolorist is often literal and interpretational, this book was an exercise in dreaming up nature’s psychedelic details. And the richest part of the book is that it gets a second life in the hands which color it in.
To give you a taste of her work and artistic style, I asked Jessie to share her favorite illustrations with me and the inspiration by them. Take a look!
1. Semi-colored in page from Edible Paradise. I love this partially colored-in illustration from my new book Edible Paradise: A Coloring Book of Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables (Rizzoli’s Universe Imprint). It achieves the right amount of enchantment and whimsy while re imagining the edible plant kingdom. My work is usually very literal so this book was a much needed exercise in imagination.
2. Paris brass knuckles. Paris was brokenhearted after the November attacks. I had this visual in my head the dark days that followed, but I was worried the idea of brass knuckles was treating violence with violence. But finally, I shared it and was swept away by the response. I forget how powerful the creation of timely images can be, especially during times of crisis.
3. Taste of Paris event illustration. In France, women are very underrepresented in food media. This was a response to the sole woman at this year’s Taste of Paris food festival. I think a good illustration is relevant, timely and is instantly understood, this one included.
4. French/American flag. I’ve been living in France for nearly 8 years. This watercolor evokes that in between feeling of living abroad long-term. And the original was a symbolic gift to my Franco-american god daughter.
5. Ob-la-di. I love finding inspiration in what is around me. This was from a piece for Vogue.com about Paris’s blossoming craft coffee scene. I was dabbling in a collage watercolor style at the moment and it totally evokes the design and ambiance of the Ob-La-Di coffee shop that inspired it.
6. Fashion sketch. My background is in costume design, which is also how I started drawing regularly. As much as I love food, my secret dream is to be a proper fashion illustrator. I often recap some of my favorite looks from Paris Fashion Week and this is one of my favorites from a Chanel show. I love it because it is very intricate in detail, but says just enough.
7. French hens. When I started my blog thefrancofly.com 5 years ago, I added illustrations because I’m a horrible photographer. And it really captured my transition into being a full-time expat and artist. This sketch evokes that playful spirit of being out of my comfort zone and trying to make sense of my franco-american existence.
Many thanks to illustrator / stylist / author of http://www.rizzoliusa.com/book.php?isbn=9780789331229 (Rizzoli’s Universe) Jessie Kanelos Weiner for sharing her favorite illustrations! See more of Jessie’s work on her website and on Instagram and order a copy of her new book here!