Ice cream and childhood memories go hand in hand. For San Francisco based artist Kelly Tunstall, some of her earliest memories often revolved around eating an ice cream cone or a popsicle. Her colorful illustrations of elongated sparkly-eyed girls and quirky characters, featured here on our blog, have always had a sugary-sweet palette of bright yellows, pinks, blues, and reds and other delicious shades. She once told us, “I have really innate reactions to color- I really fall in love deeply with colors for awhile but then there’s the basics. I always feel like I’m learning, but I really FEEL color.” Her upcoming exhibit “Soft Serve” at Stranger Factory in New Mexico explores a world of colors inspired by her ice cream dreams and sugar’s place in her happiest moments.
Tunstall’s sweet-tooth palette draws upon a surprising variety of occasions throughout her life both as a busy traveling artist and mother. “My parents had an ice cream cake at their wedding. My son loves rainbow shave ice, personally, I can’t turn down bubble gum or cotton candy ice cream, but I’m partial to secret breakfast from Humphrey Slocombe here in San Francisco (cornflakes + whiskey in a sweet cream base. I like to add more whiskey on top!) Lemon ice recalls trips to Europe.” Her exhibition will debut new spray paint and stencil works, paintings on lace, featuring creamy pastel characters like the “Dairy Queens”, whimsical pageant ladies inspired by one of Tunstall’s favorite ice cream spots.
“I’ve been wanting to to do a show based on ice cream for awhile,” she says. “”Soft Serve” is based on a 3d-printed sculpture we did with our friends at Form & Fiction in 2000. I wanted soft serve hair for that piece, and it turned out great, and so I started integrating it into my work. I’ve been doing a lot of really big work lately, and it’s refreshing to get back to exploring colors and new forms. What better way than ice cream?”