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Snack Attack: Food for art

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There is nothing better than a good feed of your favourite snack. St.John’s native, Ashley Smallwood knows exactly how to get to the heart of the stomach and nostalgia with a paint brush.

Smallwood is the founder and creator of Snack Paintings- pictures of childhood snacks and traditional Newfoundland staples.

IMG_0463The artist grew up in St. John’s and surrounding area and moved to Toronto over eight years ago. No matter where she roamed, she was always involved with art.

“I’ve painted my entire life. Growing up I always said I wanted to be an artist. I’ve used many different mediums but watercolor stole my heart. It’s actually quite difficult getting the perfect colours and if you mess the wash up, the whole painting needs to be redone,” said the painter. “ I think I like that pressure. It’s my form of therapy. I can get in the zone and paint for hours, perfecting the colour washes and line work. Once you finish a painting, the feeling of creating something out of nothing is incomparable.”

Smallwood started painting snacks last winter because she was low on funds and needed some Christmas gifts. Low and behold, she ended up producing a lot of recognizable and relatable art pieces.  From Pineapple Crush, to a bag of Hard bread, Popeye Smokes and Cheese and Crackers- every eatable piece brings a memory to any islander.

“My first snack was Hawkins Cheezies, and the next was Vienna Sausages. I thought they were really funny, so I painted all my favourite humans their favourite snack. The response was very positive so I just went mad, went into full-blown shut-in mode, watching Netflix flat out, painting any snack I could think of all winter,” said Smallwood.

Snack Paintings brings a comforting twist to art- we all love a feed of Mary Brown’s, and you knows we love anything to do with this province.  Smallwood hits close to home when she recognized a human connection in food.Snack Studio

“I was just so homesick last year it was crazy. In the middle of a quarter-life crisis, I was looking for a creative outlet. I thought it’d be funny to paint ghetto snacks; Vienna Sausages, Frasers Farm Meatballs that I grew up on. At first, I painted mostly Newfoundland based snacks, I guess it was a way for me to cure my homesickness and paint at the same time,” recalled the artist. “ I also found that whenever I went home for a visit and would look for Souvenirs for my “mainland” friends, I would always resort to bringing them back Newfoundland snacks like jam jams and pineapple crush. Maybe because these were the things that truly reminded me of home.”

Smallwood said doesn’t like to make plans too far into the future but she is currently doing an art show in Toronto and hopes to do one in St. John’s as well. She is working on a collaboration with Chris Evans of FogTown (where you can purchase her pieces!) that will come out this spring. The collection will consist of snack pins, patches, and clothing. She is on the hunt for any cool places in town to host a show.

Until then, check out Smallwood’s classic and original pieces and take a trip down memory lane because we all like to get our snack on.

“It brings people back to being a kid and getting to pick a snack from the store, I think. I remember walking up to the corner store for my nan to get her a can of diet pepsi and some scratch tickets, and I would spend the leftover change on Popeye Smokes or one-cent candies,” said Smallwood.

To check out this great collection go to: http://www.snackpaintings.com/

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