From the delicate spotted skin of a ripe banana, to the crunchy browned crust of a freshly baked loaf of bread, London artist Paul Abeleira just can’t get enough when it comes to food.
But it’s about more than just culinary creations on canvas.
“I have a passion for cooking and I have a serious passion for painting,” he said. “So, I paint what I cook — and I cook what I paint.”
Working in both the kitchen and the studio, Abeleria has created a body of work where paint and pastry collide. Thanks, in part, to his education at both culinary school at Fanshawe, and Western’s fine arts program.
“It’s the textures and the colours, and just the appeal of it,” he said. “The interesting way a loaf of bread forms textures as it bakes. When there’s a little dusting of flour on it, that’s an interesting texture and as a painter you think — well, how do I paint that?”
Growing up in London, Abeleria’s mother, an artist in her own right, first introduced him to the medium at a young age.
“I have an older brother and sister as well, and she always wanted us all to paint,” he said, adding he remembered first being handed a canvas board and was asked to recreate a boat scene. “She was really impressed with it and that I should keep painting, and I did. I never really let it go since then.”
Eighteen years later, Abeleria is not only a professional artist, but a teacher as well, teaching art groups across the city, both publically and privately.
But, knowing even instructors have room to learn and grow, he continues to make annual trips to schools in Chicago and New York City, including the Grand Central Academy of Art, to hone his skills.
“I believe that with every painting, no matter how well it turns out, there will always be one little snippet in there that you’re not happy with, things that you think you can improve on,” Abeleria explained. “The positive feedback is really encouraging, and it really makes you want to carry on doing what you love.”
Recently, the artist has expanded this edible endeavour with not only his painting, but also a food blog and YouTube channel, both called I Cook and Paint.
“I’m getting a lot of positive feedback, the first thing they say is they’re already hungry,” he said with a smile.
“What I do is, I profile recipes and I create paintings. The cooking and painting thing is what I do now all the time because I could really never let go of the two, and when you have a serious passionate for something, you should just do it.”
Much like a landscape painter loves walking through the woods, observing the trees, Abeleria finds a wealth of inspiration in each and every dish.
“Creampuffs are so pretty to look at, you want to paint them. Well, I do anyway,” he said with a laugh. “You ask yourself, what colours would I mix to make that? And what brush techniques would I use to grab that effect? In the end, everyone finds that thing they love, and for me, it’s food.”