Mixing Colours & Ingredients for Life and Work

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Marie Jolly is a woman who successfully combines the life of a housewife with that of being an artist with a passion for painting colourful food. From her sardines to her multi-coloured macaroons, this talented forty-something has found a niche in creating paintings that excite the palate as much as they excite the pupils.

“I started about 15 years ago,” says Marie Jolly. “I began when we were moving into a new house and I wanted to decorate the kitchen… I decided to paint radishes, pimentos, aubergines – anything that was edible and colourful.”
After favourable comments from friends, she decided to exhibit some of her food-oriented paintings in a local brasserie that she passed on the way to and from dropping off the children to school.

“That was the first time some stranger came and bought my painting; someone had actually paid for it. That was magic! I was passing by with my buggy and I saw that it had been sold – it was brilliant.”

When she attended her first food salon in St Malo, she knew that she was onto something:

Painting for all the Senses: Marie Jolly with one of her macaroon paintings

Painting for all the Senses: Marie Jolly with one of her macaroon paintings (Photo: Olivier Marie)

“I was the only painter. There were all kinds of people selling food there – wine merchants, salt merchants, spice merchants and food artisans… and there I was with my sardines and my paintings and people were coming up to me. They were so surprised to find a painter in amongst all the food. In an ambiance like that where you’re surrounded by lovely smells of delicious food and wine tasting, it’s a perfect market in which to sell paintings of food.”

Marie was brought up in the South – in the Drôme department near the town of Valence. Destiny and her husband’s work led her northwards, however, and Brittany is now her adopted home.

Having studied architecture in college in Grenoble, Marie says that drawing and designing were part of what she did. It was also in the blood, as some members of her family were painters.

“My father used to draw as well, so there was always this artistic side to my training as an architect. Then there was the property crisis and I lost my job, so I found myself at home with all this time on my hands and with this desire to paint and this apartment to decorate, so that’s how it all started!”

While the children were at school, Marie took advantage of the quiet time and worked on her painting. Marie paints mostly in acrylics: “It’s a medium that suits me very well because it’s very much immediate and colourful. Unlike oil, the colours don’t mix much so they remain quite vivid and distinct.

Marie Jolly at work on some of her trademark sardines

Marie Jolly at work on some of her trademark sardines (Photo: Olivier Marie)

“Life is very easy in Brittany,” she says, full of praise for her Celtic surroundings. Both are outsiders (her husband is originally from Paris) but have been made feel very welcome in Rennes. “People here are extremely welcoming – they made us feel right at home.”

Today, she has become a household name for many in France. Her paintings have found their way into the homes of hundreds of people and her artwork is also to be found embedded in the walls of a number of patisseries throughout the country in Rennes, Paris, Sarlat-la-Canéda and Cap Ferret.

Even though she paints on a much more regular basis than before, she still doesn’t have a studio per se and continues to mix her painting with her home life, creating all her work in “a room in the house.

“I can go and do some work for an hour or two, come down again and make dinner or whatever, so it’s perfect.”

Sounds like an idyllic combination. For more information on Marie, visit her website (www.mariejolly.com). In French but translatable with Google Translate. (Main Photo: Olivier Marie)

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