Chicago-based Illustrator Diana Sudyka uses vintage stamps from Europe as the starting point for fanciful paintings created using gouache, ink, and watercolor. These miniature engravings of portraits, architecture, and ships become fully formed figures and landscapes that merge with trees and flowers and convene with animals. Many of the artist’s paintings include phrases of hand-painted text that add an additional narrative element to the works.
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Sudyka tells Colossal that she begins each new piece by selecting a stamp, but without a specific idea of the painting that will emerge from it. “I let the stamp inform the subject matter and color palette. It’s a very intuitive process. The stamp is really just a stepping off point to get my imagination going.”
Working mainly as a children’s book illustrator, Sudyka creates her stamp paintings primarily as relaxing interludes between client projects. She explains to Colossal that her background is as a fine artist, specializing in intaglio printmaking, and her history with stamps goes back to her days as an undergraduate when she was inspired by collage artist Joseph Cornell, and picked up some vintage stamps at a coin collecting shop in her college town. Sudyka offers prints of many of her paintings on her website, and she also shares her work on Instagram.