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Delicate Food Portraits by Joel Penkman

A realistic painting of a gelatin dessert with whipped cream on topSummer Fruit Jelly, egg tempera on gesso board

Illustrator Joel Penkman specializes in delicate food portraits, often featuring classically British and American snack foods and sweets. Penkman was born in 1979 in New Zealand, and later moved to the UK to work as a graphic designer and artist.


An egg tempera painting of two ice cream cones with fudge and caramelIce Creams 3, egg tempera on gesso board

I love the attention to detail that Penkman gives to his works. Whether it’s taking care to depict every bubble in the froth at the top of a milkshake, or each stray drip of marmalade spilling out of a sandwich, the artist has a clear love for the subject matter and portrays it in all its deliciously imperfect glory. Penkman is partial to egg tempera, a medium through which he achieves a certain classic, antique style of illustration. The foods are displayed like careful drawings of plants or birds in an old textbook – or perhaps illustrations in an old and well-loved children’s story.


The works remind me a little bit of the anthropomorphized food drawings of Cindy Scaife – though Penkman takes a slightly quieter tone.  Regardless, each painting looks good enough to eat.


a painting of an apple sliced in halfCox Apple, egg tempera on gesso board

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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