by Joanna D'Angelo

Over the past few months, I've been working on developing a TV series (possible web series) about a lovely young couple who are embarking on a cool food venture. Adam Hynam-Smith is the male half - a professional chef. And Tamara Jensen is the female half. She's a self-taught home cook but she's also a talented artist/painter who loves pop art. 

I recently interviewed a friend of Tamara's in his office (regarding the TV show) - and he had one of Tamara's paintings hanging on his wall. The painting is a bright and whimsical piece called  Leaving Legoland (pictured above). Tamara's friend told me he bought it at Tamara's first art show as soon as he laid eyes on it. He said that for the duration of the show at least 10 people offered to buy the painting from him. He insisted there is no way he'll ever sell it.

Given Tamara's penchant for painting pop themes what better place to introduce her work to the blogosphere than right here at popculturedivas?

Welcome Tamara!

Joanna: Tell us about your art background.

Tamara: I've been painting since my first art class at the age of 4. In university, I majored in psychology at Ottawa U, but did a concentration in visual arts so that I could expand my practical knowledge and have a good reason to keep painting. I didn't want it to fall to the wayside while I was studying psych. After I completed my masters in Forensic Psychology at Carleton University, a friend introduced me to Guy Berube at La Petite Mort Gallery in Ottawa. I joined the gallery and had a solo show in July of 2008. My paintings sold well at the gallery, but with moving to St. Catharines, I decided not to join again this year. It's just too difficult to get my pieces up to Ottawa, and with our food business I didn't think I'd have time to complete enough pieces to make it worthwhile.

Joanna: Why the pop/culture/cartoon/comic stuff? Any particular reason?

Tamara: Studying pop art history in university got me really into artists like Lichtenstein, Oldenburg and Warhol. On top of that, I read Archies like crazy growing up, and I have a huge collection of the comics. I also love classic toys and games from the '80s and my parents actually kept almost all of my old toys, which I now have in storage here. I appreciate the forms and colours of the toys, and the linework and simplicity of comic art and text.

Joanna: How would you define your style?

Tamara: I'm not sure how I would define my painting style...pop art would be the most applicable term for most of my stuff. Some of it is obviously pure abstract, but I've been painting less and less of that in recent years, unless someone commissions an abstract piece. Most of my art is medium to large scale (ranging from around 24"x24" up to 72")

Joanna: Why do you paint?

Tamara: I paint for a lot of reasons. It's challenging, and with every painting I learn something new or improve on a skill, whether it's technical like colour mixing, perpective, etc., or I learn something from a happy accident (those happen a lot). I also paint because I appreciate a finished piece of artwork and the result of the process. I only recently started taking "in progress" photos of my pieces, and I really enjoy seeing how the finish product emerges from a blank canvas. Aside form that, it's a very calming activity for me. I can paint for hours at a time and not realize it, and it's a good escape from daily stresses and the pressure we're under with starting our new business.

Joanna: What are you working on next?

Tamara: My next painting is a large scale piece of an antique wind-up tin Pinocchio toy. I've started it already, but it's been on the back burner for a while. I'm hoping to get to it at some point later this week. It's 30" wide by 72" tall, so it will take a while to finish!

Joanna: Are you thinking of eventually selling your work online - maybe on etsy?

Tamara: I'm addicted to etsy! I was thinking of selling prints of my paintings on
there, but haven't gotten around to finding a print shop to work with yet. I really should do some research into having the prints made somewhere locally.

Joanna: You should consider launching an art blog - just as a way to post your work and thoughts about your work but others' work as well. Tumblr is a great venue to do that.

Tamara: I've been thinking about starting an art blog as well, so I will definitely look into tumblr. Our laptop charger is kaput and we're waiting for the new one to be delivered, so hopefully we'll be back up and running soon.

Joanna: Thanks so much for chatting with us today. I will definitely look forward to seeing more of your work and hopefully buying something in the future. ;)

Tamara: Thanks for your interest in my art - it's encouraging when people other than my family and close friends think it's decent enough to talk about! (Adam's most in-depth comments are usually something like "that's cool" or "awesome") haha.

NB: Tamara does have an online portfolio at


  1. Lovely site, Tamara - my mom would enjoy your colours gallery (she paints in abstract colours, using watercolour inks.)

    Your playtime gallery is also very cheery. I especially like the record player.

    Enjoyed the interview, Tamara and Joanna!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the Q and A! I really like her work. Tamara is a lovely person. ;)

  3. Love them all, Tamara! The Pinocchio tin toy sounds very intriguing too. Have you ever traveled to city arts fests? You'd find lots of fans there too, I'm certain.

  4. Hi Cate - I'll answer for Tamara - she's kind of new to the blogging world - I don't think she has done much traveling to arts fests - but i think with her new food business she will as there will be traveling involved. ;) Cheers!

  5. Great interview, JoJo!! What gorgeous art. It's funny but often abstract art will leave me going, "Huh?"

    Why is that, you may or may not ask. *grin* Simply because for me art falls into two categories. Either it represents something familiar and that strikes a chord within or it's abstract, in which case I STILL want it to strike a chord within. Not even sure if that makes sense but I know what I like.

    When an abstract moves me, the feelings that arise are similar to tasting an incredible dessert or remembering the lost fragment of a wonderful dream. I'm not sure a big red dot on a white canvas would do that for me. *heh-heh*

    But when I saw Tamara's art, I felt that delightful resonance deep within my soul. I'd be one of those wishing to buy "Leaving Legoland".

    Love this art!! The B&V one just had me in stitches. Wishing Tamara best of luck with her food ventures too. If her cooking is as yummy as her art, she'll have a never-ending supply of eager and satiated customers.


  6. Thank you everyone for your kind comments! It's always exciting to hear what people think and feel when they view my work.

    My plan is to start an art blog in the next week or so, and it will be linked to my online portfolio. I'll be posting photos of my works in progress and updates on shows, etc.

    Thanks again Joanna for sharing my little art world with your readers!


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