Paul Abeleira, self-described as a “picture painting foodie,” is one of 33 artists participating in the 2016 London Artists’ Studio Tour to be held April 15, 16 and 17. This eagerly awaited annual event invites the public to visit local artists’ studios and experience the act of creation first hand.
Abeleira generally works in oils. Although he is equally adept at painting landscapes and the human form, Abeleira’s culinary background draws him to still life with a strong emphasis on food. He describes his signature style as “classical with a healthy dose of impressionism.”
Abeleira recalls painting his first oil-on-canvas piece at eight years of age when his artist-mother allowed him free access to her materials. Shortly thereafter, he baked his first cake. Abeleira says, “Since then my passion for both painting and cooking never really went away.”
It is this tight connection between art and food that makes Abeleira’s work unique.
“This is why instead of having a traditional artist’s website, I have a food blog called ‘I Cook And Paint,’ along with a YouTube channel of the same name,” he says. “It’s a place anyone can go to for info about food, recipes and a showcase for all my food inspired paintings — many of which echo the recipes.”
The subjects in Abeleira’s delicious food-related still life pieces are captured close to their actual size. As a result, his the paintings range in size from 9 by 12 inches to 20 by 24 inches.
He sees a natural connection between painting and cooking. “Most people who have a passion for cooking appreciate the appearance of their ingredients … and every painter loves the look of paint,” explains Abeleira. “When you’re in love with the two, they feed each other.”
He describes both painting and cooking as subjective acts that require skill and experimentation. Both involve a certain amount of trial and error. “Both,” he says, “will yield results and opinions from your audience that will either please you or devastate you.”
Abeleira finds inspiration for many of his pieces in everyday life: in grocery stores, specialty food shops and bakeries. He points out, “Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse and all those greats painted voraciously the things they encountered, even if it was a bunch of peasants picking potatoes in a field. Their translation of these things through the language of paint produced some of the most beautiful art in history.”
Asked what motivates him to paint and cook, Abeleira says, “If I can inspire people to improve their lives by experiencing the joys that come from one or both of these, then I am making a happy contribution.”
Visit Paul Abeleira in person during the tour weekend. For more information on the London Artists’ Studio Tour 2016, including a map to the studios, go to www.londonstudiotour.ca.