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Recipe Paintings

BY: | September 27, 2010

A little while ago I was feeling bummed about a painting G and I were working on. Illustrators have to find exciting angles into subjects that might not normally interest them. That much I get, but this was our personal work, and I still couldn’t find a way in. Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to find time to cook more. Since we had our daughter, it’s been tough to find time to read or follow cook books as much as I’d like. Even still, I think alot about cooking and eating, so why not bring that into our paintings? Some sort of bouquet / exploded recipe felt like the right thing to do. It didn’t even occur to me until later that recipe paintings might be sort of a shallow idea for some. For me, I’ve always seen our paintings from more of an emotional viewpoint. Sometimes I get tripped up thinking of them in a strictly cerebral language. The idea still felt right, even if it was more of a feeling than an idea. We prepare, sit together and eat these meals as a family everyday, what could be more close to our lives than that?

Anyway, before starting, I pored over my cookbooks to find something to paint. Pretty quickly, I figured out some of my most classic cookbooks had too many ingredients to think about painting. Then I dropped my pretensions and went to the most used books on my shelf, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Fruit and Chez Panisse Vegetables. I love these books because the chapters are organized by the main fruit or vegetable component. They let me go to the market, pick what’s good, and then come home to cook it. The painting above is Roasted Fig and Quail Salad. We have great fig trees in our neighborhood, so I knew this one would be fun. Below are the figs I picked, the salad we enjoyed, and some details of the painting.