Having recently finished, framed and delivered the last of my fine art commissions that are intended as holiday gifts (so no spoiler pics exist of my recent artwork) my thoughts turn towards my own holiday.
I’ve made no secret, on this blog, of the fact that I like books. So even tho I am not living in Iceland, and have never visited, I adore their tradition of Jolabokaflod and my spouse and I observe our variation of it! Here’s how it goes: Within the weeks before Dec 24 we visit locally owned independent bookstores and buy books. Dec 24th we cook, share food, drinks and books! Dec 25th is spent reading and reheating leftovers. This is our current holiday book stack:
Books are also created by me – hand drawn, illustrated, indie published etc. – and given as gifts. Because you follow me here’s a link, with free previews, to the book my spouse and I jointly made for our Jolabokaflod gifting this year. I’ll post more about this kitchen sketchbook in the future but for now the link will be my early holiday present to you!! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more.
I’ve been experimenting with the flash essay format. Creating recipe illustrations, for example, and writing a short-short story/essay to go with it. Here’s a recent one as relates to this Holiday season:
– My wife and I went for a long hike in the woods on a below 40 degree day in the Pacific Northwest. We were cold when we got home. Before I shed my coat and scarf I began a pot of hot cocoa. Just after pouring the hot cocoa into mugs on the spur of the moment I added 1.5 oz Veil Double Espresso Vodka and whipped cream. I handed a mug to my wife confessing that I had been playing with ingredients again. She took a dubious sip. Oh nice! she exclaimed, adding; You can play with ingredients anytime especially when there’s alcohol involved. Since she liked the drink so much and I enjoyed the bold contrast of the hot liquid with my cold-from-the-hike self I kept the recipe – and drew it here using vigorous lines and contrasting colors in an attempt to capture my feelings.
I’ve finished the recipe illustration I’ve been working on for Chef Sebastian Carosi. I shared it with the chef and he said “I absofuckinglutely love this!”. So I take that as a good sign he’s happy with my illustration:
I’ve finished the handwritten ink work and the illustration painting for the recipe I’ve been doing for Chef Sebastian Carosi. (Past blog post re here) Now I’ll begin the photography and scanning processes to get it ready for print publication and etc. projects the Chef wants to do. The get-my-hands-messy art part is done. Now to do the keep-hands-clean graphic arts part…
The original artwork of the recipe, the physical painted with gouache and written in ink on hot-press watercolor paper recipe, will stay in my studio in an archival sleeve in a portfolio. At least for a time. It’s the digital files of this art we’ll work with. The artwork will stay with me just in case the Chef needs it re-scanned it for an un-foreseen-at-this-moment application.
This is a different approach from my fine art where once the artwork is finished I photograph it then frame it or otherwise make it ready for gallery exhibits – and off the physical fine artwork goes to it’s life in the galleries and then (hopefully) to a happy home with a collector.
In some ways this recipe artwork that will stay in my studio archives may likely be more widely seen by the public, because of publication, than many of my fine artworks.
It’s a curious thing this creative life. But I love it!!
As you know from a recent post (here) I’ve been working on a new recipe illustration project for Chef Sebastian Carosi. I’ve spent the most time designing a character who is doing the recipe “action”. It was a challenge to create a cannabis leaf character with “hands” holding things. But I did it! A photo of my progress is below…
When I’d illustrated Chef Kim Mahan’s recipes and we did a cookbook signing event together the question I was most often asked was “How do you keep your hand steady to handwrite all the recipe text?” The answer is shown in the photograph below that also shows my progress on the current recipe project for Chef Carosi.
Can you see what it is?
Yes. A mahl stick. That’s my big studio secret. It steadies my hand both for painting and writing.
However I do something with my mahl stick that I’ve not seen anywhere else. I added a piece of foam pipe insulation that floats freely on the stick – so my wrist slides easily back and forth along the stick as the stick is held steadily in a position. When I’m writing text I need to be able to move my wrist a little along but stay on the same line. When painting sometimes I need to make a long stroke. Either way the foam moves smoothly with me down the length of the stick held in one place.
My mahl stick is hand made. You can buy a mahl stick but I find it easy enough to DIY.
To make mine I cut a small 2 inch portion of foam pipe insulation, taped it to the end of a 36 inch dowel rod, then wrapped that end, completely covering the taped 2 inch foam bit, with a scrap of canvas tying it to the rod so that no canvas fabric ends trail/drag.
The remainder of the foam pipe insulation, about 12 inches in length, was slipped onto the dowel rod. In the photo below you can see the wrapped end of my mahl stick and see how loosely the foam pipe insulation wrist rest is on the rod. The other end (36 inches away!) has a hole drilled in it and a cord looped through it. It hangs on one of my art easel knobs when not in active use.
Okay. So the only time my mahl stick is not in active use is when I’m eating, reading or sleeping! Lol!
As you know I’d illustrated some of Chef Kim Mahan’s recipes. Well another chef – Chef Sebastian Carosi – saw the work I’d done for Chef Mahan and asked me to come to a photo shoot today. So I went and drew pictures of Chef Carosi’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – as it was being professionally photographed.
I took my favorite waterproof ink pen, my watercolors and some paper. I drew and painted – a lot – while dodging to keep out of the way of photographers, assistants and Chef Carosi, who was doing last minute soup garnishing just prior to placing a beautiful bowl of soup under the bright photographic lights.
Here’s a couple of pages of what I did – and a bit of the equipment I did it with:
I did many more drawings than what is shown in the photo. During a break the Chef and I talked about what I’d done… He liked my “soup as a sunset” visual story/metaphor. But he really likes my hand-written recipes and characters. So in my studio I’ll do a redesign and create a “character” out of one of the ingredients and hand-write the recipe data.
We finished up the photoshoot (and I did more drawings) and then we all ate soup.
Oh my!!!! Smooth, creamy, earthy… like a hug for tummy and soul. Now how to translate THAT into artwork???
Anyway here’s a link to Chef Sebastian Carosi – he likes to use locally sourced ingredients, some from his own garden, some foraged from the local PNW landscape and some purchased from local companies like Jacobsen Salt and Fairwinds. There was also a local cheese that we sampled. I meant to look at the wrapper or at least ask again for the name of the cheese maker. But in the fast-paced photoshoot food-illustration event I forgot.
Still it’s been a delightful day of drawing soup and soup ingredients and meeting new people! What fun!
Dr. Bob Hoke had a little musical ditty he’d sing during our visits*: “Oh the candy man is made out of tin / It’s just the kind of world we’re in / so begin, begin, begin…”.
I took this to mean that we don’t have to wait for “perfect” conditions to exist before we begin something. I also interpreted the phrase “the candy man is made out of tin” to mean that the dispenser of candy wasn’t a perfect person – they were just doing their best to sweeten up the ordinary day.
All of those thoughts were in my mind as I worked on a new painting, now finished and titled “Enjoymints”. I was reaching for an idea of the magic-ness of the very ordinary, an ethereal sense of mixing the mundane with love and making the world taste good.
“Enjoymints” by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – acrylic and gouache on board