Personal experience: how to draw a portrait of a star with sauces and spaghetti

HELLO.RU editor Daria Igityan met with food artist Pavel Bondar to find out how portraits of celebrities from food are created. It was decided to draw Penelope Cruz – from adjika, paprika and spaghetti.

It is never too late to learn new things, and sometimes it is also very curious. The other day I met and talked with a young and very talented food artist Pavel Bondar, and at the same time I learned what this unusual direction of modern painting is and how delicious portraits of celebrities are created from chocolate, ground pepper and fragrant ciabbata.

Since the birthplace of the brand HOLA! and HELLO! is Spain, I invited Pavel to draw the world famous actress of Spanish origin – Penelope Cruz. Of what? From paprika, black pepper, hot red sauce and adjika, – Pavel decided and explained his choice as follows: Penelope is a bright, hot and very temperamental woman.

I always select products, taking into account not only their properties – liquid or hardness, plasticity or friability – but also referring to the character of the character, – Pavel begins his story. – I study the biography of the hero and look for a zest to catch on. For example, Vincent Van Gogh, who lived most of his life in poverty, I portrayed with bread and tea. According to my idea, in these simple, accessible and at the same time very complex products from the point of view of drawing, all the contradictions of his genius were enclosed. I painted the French singer Millen Farmer with dry red wine. But Alla Pugacheva, if given the opportunity, I would draw with beets and boiled carrots: the favorite singer of Russians – their favorite products. Pavel Bondar, a young artist from Dnepropetrovsk, is only 24 years old, of which 6 years he has been professionally engaged in the creation of portraits – he writes to order, arranges exhibitions, and deals with students individually.

Pavel Bondar

What do you need to know and be able to before mastering food painting? How can such extraordinary materials succumb to the brush the first time, I thought, and addressed this question to Pavel.

The main thing is to try and not be afraid of anything. I painted my first picture of coffee, then I started using other materials. The process of drawing with food is so creative and exciting that absolutely everything can be used, you can even apply such “paints” with your hands. The only “but”: it is better to draw on an empty stomach – this way the process goes faster, and each material seems especially “tasty”,

– assures Pavel.

Indeed, when the waiters of the Babel restaurant, where our master class took place, served the first courses to the table – cherry, boiled spaghetti with cuttlefish ink, adjika and tomato paste, I was sucked in the spoon.

Sauces and spices replace paints for the food artistSince we had little time, Pavel decided to paint a picture that day according to a simplified scheme. First, looking at our picture, he created the basis – outlined with a pencil the main features of the actress’s face. Penelope’s dark, thick eyebrows and her piercing gaze cannot be confused with anything. Is painting with food, and not paints, you can “breathe” life into Penelope? It turned out, how!

We started painting the portrait from the hair, for this we used sauces. They mixed, “played” with the color, as if it were a simple gouache. Making stroke by stroke, Pavel repeated: “Well, have you already decided who you will draw when you come home?” Pavel had no doubts that this original technique would “captivate” me.

I did not dare to “get involved” in the process right away. And when I gave myself the command to start, my hands immediately reached for the spaghetti.

Children especially like drawing with food, – Paul shares his observations. – Be sure to try to cut apples into cubes, strips, circles and let your child assemble this kind of constructor on paper. Babies love chocolate even more. Get dirty on the elbows with chocolate and smear-smear-smear. You have no idea how this process develops creative thinking. It is very important for children to be carried away, they cannot concentrate on a long process and quickly lose interest in everything.

Talking about chocolate, Pavel talks about who inspired him to work with this material. It turned out that Beyoncé became the artist’s “chocolate” muse. Jay Z’s wife, captured in cocoa beans, along with other similar works, was included in Paul’s series of works called “Tasty Faces”. In 2015, Bondar plans to open his own exhibition and show his works not only in Moscow, but also in other cities of the world. Pavel did not reveal all the secrets, saying only that “Tasty Faces” is not only portraits from food, but also 3-D projections, as well as art installations.

Pavel Bondar painted the singer Beyoncé using a bar of dark chocolate

The artist Van Gogh Pavel Bondar depicted with the help of bread and tea

During the conversations, I did not notice how we moved on to the main part of our portrait – the eyes. This time the paints were replaced by balsamic sauce. First, Pavel made two thick dots on the paper, leaving a small light space – a flare.

Never paint the eyes the same. Know that absolutely all faces are asymmetric, and two mirrored halves of a face on the canvas always betray the artist’s unprofessionalism,

– Pavel explained along the way the creative nuances.

Pavel worked on the main elements of the picture, I was given the opportunity to “work” as a stylist for Penelope – to make a decoration for her, a flower in her hair. I wonder if the real Penelope Cruz would have dared to appear in public with a spaghetti accessory?

I think self-irony is very important, – says Paul. – Both to the artist and to the one who decided to order such a portrait for himself. Among my acquaintances, of course, there are many skeptics who consider my work funny and frivolous. I’m sure this is a fresh breath in painting. Pavel says that many people ask him to create their portraits with food. There are also public figures among them.

The global goal is to create portraits in a new format. Sheet A2 becomes small, you can’t turn around on it. Now I work on a painting for 4-5 hours or a whole day. The new format will extend the pleasure for several days, and wake up in the morning with new ideas on how to make the picture even better.

Meanwhile, our work on the portrait of Penelope Cruz was coming to an end, the whole process took just over an hour. How to prolong the life of a painting and is it possible to hang such an image at home?

If you want to keep your job for years to come, choose liquid materials: tea, coffee, sauces, vinegars, says Pavel. – Embossed images can be fixed with hairspray. Don’t forget, anything can be used as a material. Don’t be afraid to take risks!

Before the end of the master class, Pavel asked what emotions I felt at the moment of food drawing. Perhaps, fun and “reckless” lightness are those important and difficult to perceive emotions in a series of weekdays. I repeat after Paul, do not be afraid to create and take risks!


Text: Daria Igityan

Photo: Alexandra Pogiba