Colorful Still Life Artists to Follow on Instagram
Of all genres of art, I think still life is the most joyful. Still life paintings depict the ordinary objects that we unthinkingly use and reuse throughout our daily lives. But in turning the focus toward these mundane scenes, still life painters celebrate the joy we find in the small moments.
Though a still life may seem simple, the artist’s eye shines in the composition: how the scene is cropped and constructed, how elements are juxtaposed to tell a story, even without a single human character. Technique feels more significant in still life art, and I’m always curious about how similar scenes can feel so different based on choices of perspective and texture. Still life prompts us to slow down and really look at what’s in front of us: not just how it appears, but how it makes us feel.
This post continues our series of artists to follow on Instagram. You can find the other posts in this series here.
10 Colorful Still Life Artists to Follow on Instagram
Whenever my Instagram feed starts feeling too full of ads and self-help quotes, I know it’s time to follow more artists. Art is a guaranteed way to make my feed feel more vibrant and alive. Following artists on Instagram is a great way to keep up with their work and follow their growth. Sharing and liking their work also helps support the artists you love.
The ten artists featured here are some of my favorites.
These illustrations of meals by Maggie Cowles evoke the warmth and familiarity of gatherings, a subject she turned to after spending most of the pandemic alone. Scrolling through her Instagram is like experiencing a snapshot of various narratives of meals, a practice Cowles calls “food memory.” Cowles is also the illustrator for Bon Appetit magazine’s “The Receipt” series that documents what readers eat and how much it costs.
Phoebe Stone, a self-taught artist based in Sydney, packs pattern and texture into her simple domestic table scenes made with oil pastels. Her work aims to savor memories of travel and meals shared, and to capture emotional responses to the objects in her surroundings.
A practicing psychologist and self-taught painter, Saab brings vibrancy into her scenes through solid color backgrounds and pigmented fruits and vegetables. In this piece, I love how the vibrant apricots are reflected in the pitcher.
Michael McGregor, a Los Angeles-based artist, updates the traditional still life with common, everyday objects like sunglasses, open bottles, shoes, and radios. His sense of color gives his works a whimsical feel.
Originally from Pretroria, South Africa but now based in Berlin, Tara Deacon’s simplified forms allow for large blocks of color and playful shapes. Her still life pieces, as well as her scenes of garden parties or poolside gatherings, are inspired by her daily life and travels, and are drawn from a combination of real life and remembered experiences.
Sarah Ingraham turned to painting as a career after getting fired from her job as an assistant. Infused with bold color and featuring an abundance of florals, her work subverts the traditional still life form by focusing super-saturated colors and over-the-top compositions. She doesn’t plan her pieces, but allows them to unfold in a meditative, improvisational process.
Gabrielle Penfold’s work, primarily featuring beach scenes and seafood, takes you right into the moment in time she is painting. The soft color palette and heavily textured paint create an intimacy with the subjects with the Sydney-based artist’s paintings. Having lived in Sydney for a few years, Penfold’s work manages to capture a true sense of the place even in the most minimal paintings.
The interior scenes Kate Lewis paints are bursting with brightly colored books, artwork, florals, and so many different patterns. These abundant scenes invite you in, so much so that you might start imagining what it would be like to curl up on that blue striped couch. Lewis’s Instagram also documents her artistic process, giving a peek into the work behind the artwork.
Rosie McGuiness is a London-based artist with a background in fashion design who combines life drawing with textured and patterned fabrics. I love her simple linework filled in with pops of bold color.
Amsterdam-based artist B.D. Graft works with limited palette of imagery, including plants, vases, and bees, exploring different variations in vibrant colors. Through this repetition, Graft explores new relationships between the objects and their symbolic meanings. His work has a sketchy quality, which Graft uses purposefully to remain playful and approachable.
HOW TO FIND ARTISTS TO FOLLOW
If you don’t spend a lot of time on Instagram, or don’t follow a lot of creatives yet, it can seem hard to find artists to follow. But before you just click over to the “Explore” page and let the algorithm decide for you, here are my favorite ways to find artists to follow:
- Pin to Pinterest: Let’s say there’s an artwork you love, and you want to find other artists who have a similar style. Pin the artwork to Pinterest. Then look at your pin and scroll down. Pinterest will give you similar images and often will help you find artists working with similar subjects and media. To get started, check out my Joyful Art and Illustration board.
- Follow interior designers: Interior designs spec a lot of art in their projects, and will often tag them in their posts. I find a lot of my favorite artists this way. The benefit of discovering artists through designers is that you get to see new and interesting ways of displaying art too. This can help you envision how the art might look in your space. It also might help you discover types of art you didn’t realize you’d like.
- Visit an art fair: Visiting an art fair is a great way to see a lot of art at once. Find a few artists you like, follow them, and then see where that leads you!
Who are your favorite still life artists to follow? Share their handles in the comments so we can grow our list!
Ava BooydeGraaff contributed to this post.