As the year comes to an end, I like to take a look back on what I have created, how I have grown and where I want to take things next. 2018 was a year of floral painting for me, and I loved every minute of it. They are all gone now, sold to new homes. Every time a painting leaves the studio, I feel sort of like I have put my child up for adoption. Two of them went to people who are experiencing grief over the loss of loved ones, and I find comfort in the hopes that whenever they walk by the paintings, they will be uplifted and their spirit restored even if just a little bit.
I enjoy painting portraits and narratives just as much as I love painting still life’s, but for different reasons. I paint all kinds of subject matter, whatever suits the emotion or story I have to tell. I tend to have one still life going on the side at all times because I love arranging them, and I like to take my time learning from the light. I find that people respond really well to still life paintings, especially when the still life is about food.
Food brings people together. My appreciation for food and art have both grown and mingled together over time. I made a close friend out of a co-worker in Seattle who introduced me to new foods, recipes and blogs, which built in me a real appreciation for cooking. We would prepare little picnics that we would share together on breaks at work, and we’d often walk to get our favorite sausage and lentil dish after our shift, or Thai food from Little Uncle (the best). We would meet up for glass of cold brew and sit together on the side walk in the sun on hot summer days. Oh, and the ham and butter baguettes at Melrose Market... it is safe to say that when I wasn’t at school or working, I was eating. Good thing for my bicycle and all those hills! Some of the best memories I have as a kid were the late nights sitting on the kitchen floor while my best friend sautéed mushrooms in butter, or something as simple as a bowl of Ramen. It was the act of preparing a meal and sharing it with a friend that hit a primordial nerve.
I don’t claim to be a good cook, I simply find it rewarding to follow a recipe and make simple food taste better than anything I could get at a restaurant. There are also amazing cooks like David Tanis among many others who make beautiful cookbooks that are more like love letters to food, and I gain inspiration from them. If I am feeling stressed, sad, scared or creatively dry, I reach for one of my cook books, flip to something that makes my mouth water, scribble down a quick list, and head to the store. Time at the store is even slightly therapeutic, especially if I make it to the Saturday farmer’s market. It is a social outing that makes me think of Emile Zola’s Belly of Paris. The experience as a whole calms my nerves even in the darkest times.
I began a painting recently that I have wanted to attempt for a long time. I have wanted to set up a still life where I am looking down at a bird’s eye view of the objects. One day while at the grocery store, I noticed a mountain of beautiful ambrosia apples proudly showing off their fall colors. I filled a bag immediately and later realized it would be fun to paint them. I had painted a quick little apple pie themed study in the past that got a lot of love, so I thought that I would give it another go. I arranged the objects on the floor so that I am looking down on it. I made a quick trip around town to some antique shops for other props and found a marble rolling pin that I couldn’t live without. Looking down at the objects meant I could play with the shapes in an abstract way, swirling and undulating them around the pie.
It is still a work in progress, but I have enjoyed it so much that I might consider doing a series of them. As far as other paintings go, I am over the moon about the award The Calling won this year. This painting was a turning point for me and I feel a strong pull towards more narrative figurative painting to which there are a couple brewing. I am currently working hard on a portrait commission that I am really excited about as well.
2018 was a productive year. I am really excited for the projects to come, so stay tuned for the next chapter in 2019.