Förby from the IKEA series (2002)

Forby, © 2002 by J. Thomson All rights reserved

Förby was a cheap little plastic stool that sold for probably around $5 at IKEA. I never had one, but I knew plenty of people that did! I liked the Sputnik-like quality of this drawing, but I never made a painting based on it. This print is available in the gift shop.

Kontra (Espresso Express), from the IKEA series (2002)

Espresso Express, © 2002 J. Thomson All rights reserved

Espresso Express is a small encaustic and collage painting I made to benefit a local charity auction. It was the only painting in the auction that sold for more than double its value. It is based on the sketch Kontra, which was IKEA’s knockoff of the famous Bialetti stovetop espresso maker. (Note the Classic OS scroll bar— that was before MacOS X!) Available in the gift shop.

Kontra (from the IKEA series), © 2002 by J. Thomson All rights reserved

Bjorkas, from the IKEA series (2001/2002)

Bjorkas 3 (original illustration from IKEA's assembly instructions) .

Björkås is no longer offered by IKEA, but it was a small table you could mount to the wall and it would fold away when it wasn’t in use. It never made it into a painting, but the sketches are still pretty cool. BTW, I never bought a Björkås table… people would save their instruction sheets and give them to me hoping it would be turned into a painting. Available in the gift shop

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Billy from the IKEA Series (2001)

Billy, © 2011 by J. Thomson All rights reserved

Continuing my interest in subverted (and subverting) domesticity, in 2001/2002 I turned my attention to the IKEA series. A new IKEA went up in Philadelphia, and it became a regular weekend destination. Their products appealed to my sense of design (and my wallet), and I was challenged in a good way with ‘getting’ to put everything together.

Soon, I fell in love with the drawings that came with instructions for everything from IKEA. I loved the characters in them, how they never spoke, but just quietly assembled their shelves and bookcases and dressers. I began by making digital sketches… scanning images into my computer and manipulating them with Photoshop. Sort of a grown-up coloring book. By manipulating shapes and colors this way, I could quickly make choices about the paintings, and have an idea of the outcome when I went into the studio.

Also, I began painting in encaustic (pigmented beeswax-based paints). I was intrigued because using encaustics was never allowed at school (in the old days people used to use torches to melt the wax, which created fire hazards and set off smoke alarms), and because I got interested in the material while I was in graduate school at Tyler making sculptures using the lost wax method.

So my first encaustic painting was Billy. (I titled the pieces with the name of the IKEA product the drawings originally came from.) Here are some of the digital sketches that led up to Billy, and then the final painting (48″ x 48″ x 3″, encaustic and collage on panel). Available in the gift shop.

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