When I found an oyster illustration by Molly Reeder on social media, I was undeniably captivated by her eye for detail and spent an entire evening on her page. Oyster inspired art is a passion of mine, and when I find a new contribution I feel like my heart surges at a new perspective uncovered. Assuming I had seen it all, stumbling across Molly’s work was a very special surprise.
Molly’s style feels as nourishing as tasting the object itself. She effortlessly captures natural beauty through texture and shape, while preserving an elegance and simplicity in her compositions. Think of the buttery flakiness of a lone croissant, or the gooey thickness of cherries in a single slice of pie. You can taste it, feel it, and admire its charm. In the case of the three oysters below, you can almost touch the ridges and grooves of the shells, weathered naturally and so uniquely by the tides from which they came.
Molly’s oyster print will have a forever home in my house and I’m looking forward to adding a few more to my kitchen in the near future. To bring context to her artwork, I was lucky to have Molly share more with us on her background, process, and special projects she’s done. I hope you enjoy learning more about Molly, as I have.
Virginia: what is your background and how did you evolve into food illustration? I see that you have baking experience as well! I’d love to hear the story behind both of your passions.
Molly: Yes! I went to school for art and, growing up, have always wanted to be an artist. After I graduated college though I didn’t really think i could ‘make it’ in the art world, so I turned to pastry, because I love food and while growing up it was a big part of my life as well, and it seemed more practical work wise. Creating beautiful cakes and pastry is very similar to creating artwork, so it felt natural. Finally when I got into my 30s, I realized that I didn’t have to conform my creativity to any art world, and I could make a new kind of space for my own work and passions out there. I have found a real sweet spot for my interest in both baking and painting, by now focusing my work on food illustration and botanicals. I bake occasionally still for friends and pleasure, but have allowed illustration work to be my focus, which I am very grateful for.
Virginia: What is your process like and how do you choose a subject?
Molly: Generally speaking I work from well taken photographs. Ideally working from life is really nice, but because my pieces are detailed and take a longer time to create, a photo works great. I usually take the photo of my subject or have a talented photographer friend help take a reference shot for me. I then work from that either in pencil or watercolor, my two favored mediums.
I choose my subjects either based on a specific project I’m hired for, or something I personally am inspired by. I find oyster shells for example to be infinitely beautiful and amazing, and I never tire of painting them. I find certain leafy fruits and vegetables gorgeous, as well as a well made croissant or slice of pie. For me, I love capturing the simplicity but also the complexity of a subject, and especially in foods or plants that we might pass by without taking a second look. There is a whole world inside an artichoke! 🙂
Virginia: I see that you also offer commissioned work. What projects have been some of your favorites?
Molly: Yes! I love working on commissioned pieces because you get to create something usually very special and unique for that client. I loved working on some cider labels for Potters Craft Cider. I painted botanical style illustrations of all the heirloom apples they use for their single variety ciders. I got to draw some illustrations for some dear friends wedding menu which was also a fun one because they had a very seasonal and specific theme in mind. I got to paint some flowers for a flower farmer on Maui to use as part of her logo, representing both the tropical flowers of Hawaii and roses from her home in Bulgaria. I’ve been lucky to get to work on some very cool projects 🙂 I also take on individual customer commissions, so portraiture, plants and favorite meals. Painting or drawing something can offer a timeless lens on it.