Sometimes people ask me if I own all the items in my illustrations. While some of them are based on items from my vintage collections or items that belonged to my grandma, I mostly paint from reference photographs that I’ve taken with my iPhone at flea markets, antique shops, and homes of friends and family. Right now I can scroll through my photos and find several things that recently caught my eye: table linens, coffee cups, typewriters, kitchen utensils, a tiled wall. Last weekend I was at a small town festival and there were a few vintage sellers mingled among the mini-donut stands and cheese curd trucks. Even though I wasn’t shopping for anything, I still looked through the tables and quickly snapped pictures of an old record player, sewing machines, casserole dishes, kids toys, tools, old dishes, and more. While not all of them will make their way into an illustration, I’m guessing at least a few of them will directly or indirectly inspire something.
While flea markets are obvious sources of inspiration, sometimes I also stumble upon something in an unlikely place. For example, I spotted the egg beater above in a restaurant in Utah, just outside of Zion National Park. We randomly stopped at the charming restaurant after a long day of hiking and photographing the giant rock formations in the park. The long road trip had been full of sweeping vistas, mountain views, and glorious national parks, yet many of my favorite photographs from that trip were taken of the details in this tiny restaurant.
I'll admit that there is nothing special or extraordinary about an egg beater -- and I didn't take any artistic liberties when I painted it because I loved the colors and the worn paint on the handle just as they were -- but this is still one of my favorite illustrations. I like the lines and the color and how it reminds me of a similar one that sits in my mom’s kitchen. But mostly I like it because it triggers memories of that road trip and that cozy restaurant, and it reminds me to always be looking. You never know what you might find.