Saturday, September 29, 2007

Blueberry Grape Tart

Puddles. I was looking at this piece again( sorry for the slight glare on the pic), trying to figure out why they hold such appeal for me. These fruit tarts Pierre puts together. I am feeling restless you see. Thinking of my wetlands work, eager to walk them again. Yet every time I confront one of these tarts in the case, it is hard for me to pass it up.Then it hit me just a minute ago. It's puddles you see. The edge of the water. From tide pools in Monterey and Carmel (Check out Steinbeck's Cannery Row description in Chapter Six ) and the Pacific Northwest, to mud puddles in Mississippi, to North Carolina Outer Banks, and dear Chandeleur Island, I have been looking from coast to coast at puddles and splashes of wet. Examining form and marveling at all the bits and pieces that live in just this layer or that. And here we have a little island of them. Granted fruit, and berries on custard and cake. But chef has made me a puddle watcher again, tempting me with juicy tidbits that have to be seen up close.He has included nectars, and custards and bounty in it's own little glaze puddle. Notice, I pick the ones whose glaze runs over, and play with the light on the rim. Funny how the muse works, and how we are drawn to things. Now I can't wait to go back to the case this weekend, to see what puddle awaits. Even in this landlocked, over paved place, I have found a bit of my wetlands. So eager am I, the richness and the slight crunch of the fruit are a sublime heaven to eat and aren't a bad benefit. But maybe this isn't so far off the path as I had previously thought. I love painting tarts, and cakes and treats. and what fun we are having, but now I know a way to bring it up a notch or two, as our Emeril would say. I sent a message to chef to "bring it on" I hope he takes it to heart. We need our adventure. Who would have thought a beautiful tart would serve so well. Hats off to chef again and to all of you who like them. Ah-ha. Took me a few, you probably saw it before me. I hope this makes sense. It's all a part of process. Thank you for liking these so much, you have helped me with an aha moment and brought me one step further.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Un Frazier, a special treat, only on weekends. A cathedral of strawberry arches holding up the mousse. Underneath, is almond cake. And there's marzipan on top. I marvel at such things as these. Meant to tempt us, calling out. This one is a Grace Kelly. No need to do much at all. Just exist. For every part was just as it should be. No more no less. The combination, well there's the thing. It is classy, smooth and complex. The little sprinkle of nutmeg, the amount of whipped cream, the angles on the marzipan , and who knew, tender almond cake inside. From the first bite I was in Monaco, or someplace nice and sunny. Each flavor lingered just abit to converse with another. No need to window shop for more. If I had my vote. I'd wake up every Sunday. Stroll down to chef Pierre. He is thinking of us. Knows just what we need. No need to think about it, he has that covered you see. I'll take the Grace Kelly please. Un Frazier indeed! Now if he could do a Cary Grant.....I'd be there Saturday! early, very early.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cheesecake Trio

I said I was looking for happy and happy was home. Much better is the surprise Movie Night we are doing on Saturday, Esther Williams in Neptune's Daughter. We have even ordered flowered swim caps. Needed a giggle. I see this trio just warming up for a synchronized swim, or a bit of a workout at their water gym. Can you see the swim caps and eagerness? In any case, it brings out my smile. Now we are thinking of shrimp cocktails and tv dinners, so fifties don't you think, to have for our Movie Night food. So Saturday night, wherever you are, tarts or tartless, or just stepping out. Pause just a second for a giggle or two, we'll be in the dark with flowered caps on our heads watching dear Esther go through her strokes. Watching a colorful calvacade, an aqua ballet or two. Who knows we might even have to dance along....see giggles enough for all. Yep, just for today, a little bit of happy was home. A memory will be built or two. A little pause for silliness to shake away the cares. I think the tarts have a sense of that. They seem like an aqua trio. A bit of a smile and a splash. So whatever your plans, this Saturday night I'm with Esther in the pool. Ah the mind of an artist has many a muse, but that's the clue to it all. Keeping it tickled with delight. Letting brush free to swim along side.

Two Plus Two

In search of happy and balance...I just have word of a wedding coming up. Was looking for something fun and good today. And this news just came. Hoorah! How lovely for them and her little one too, to become a family. Blending all that came before to make now and after. A lovely choice point, a pivot in time. How exciting and how much stronger they can be. Two plus two sometimes makes four, but in this case, it makes so much more. A romantic at heart, I look at this piece and pretend the red is for love that binds two people and prompts them to say, it's so much better with you than without you. Let's do it together in our own unique ways, but at the end of the day we come home. To gather ourselves, replenish , renew and just be. Here in the space we make. So I wish them fullness, riches of heart, and a pastry or two. So happy and balanced when two hearts find a home. I wish the same for all of you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blackberry Kiwi Tart

What is so special about a little tart all alone? How can it sustain an ongoing search? Is it an analogy? A symbol for something else? An artist has only a few tools to use and a simple bag of tricks. There are many people who can paint. Make it look believable. Is that what this is about? A few brush strokes, some technical finesse and we're done? Just to make a sale? Or is there more? An "experiment in small oils". In an experiment there is a question. An hypothesis. Some steps to make a test. The follow through, the writing down and an answer at the end. But this is art, is it the same? Well, yes. You see my friends the question became how do I rebuild? How do I regenerate when everything was lost. When cut off from my source. No studio, few art supplies, no still life material, a hazardous wetlands I cannot yet walk. If you remove the artist from his terrain, and take away his tools. His daily life. What remains? What goes into making art alive is the answer to that question. And it has to be coaxed sometimes, like an appetite one loses, to try a bit of this or that. Reach through a wall of mourning to the juicy stuff, that can come out again to play. It takes it all to be present. To make the difference. To set up that vibration. There is in each and every tart and cake and treat a breath of life, an exploration. There you are, I see you now coming into being. There's juiciness and life again. On it's own little island.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Golden Chocolate Dome

If you go to the Winn Dixie on Tchoupitoulas Street at any given time, you are likely to find yourself facing a ship's hull and cranes, a tanker,from some exotic place. There in the parking lot with all the SUV's, just above the trees, a helm of ochres and blues. They come from all over, through the mouth of the river , up and back carrying all kinds of things. Or if you go to the Fly to watch the boats go by, right behind the zoo, you'll see them being nudged by tugs, up and down the current to various river side silos and storage tanks. To load or unload and load again. Lots of your coffee, and tons of your oil, rice and sugar too have passed before my eyes. In great hulking shapes with little bright tugs bringing them safely to port or away. If you look at the shapes and the angles of them on this little chocolate dome, you might be able to see a ship, a tanker or a tug, braving the currents, sailing away carrying its special cargo. In this case a rich chocolate mousse. It is only tempered chocolate, I know. But I saw it immediately, as Richard Serra might. And for a moment there I was, sitting on the levee at the Fly watching the ships go by under an early evening sky. Look and you will be there with me too. Loving the gently setting sun, watching the purple clouds grow. The gold glinting off the hull. A friend sitting by your side. A pause in the day to just be. Wondering where this one is from, watching the little tugs push and pull. Catching a southern breeze ruffling through the pines.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Raspberry Knockout

I should have known by the way she was slightly off center that this diva was going to be trouble. My friend George always said," Careful if you knock on trouble's door. Trouble will be home." But raspberries, lots of them, almonds, a virtual chorus, and raspberry mousse on a golden stage. I heard the orchestra warming up.The program I read again. Raspberry Knockout. A huge wow factor indeed. My resolve began to waver. I stood on the brink, what, of possible disaster? Oh no, what is the harm? How could it hurt? This diva is so glamourous. Was that a wink? I'm having it, I said. So I grabbed her up and took her home, mouth watering, brush eager to capture the sparkle. When halfway through, oh no, she started to sink, her backside migrating southward. Oh no you don't. OH yes I am she said. You think glamour comes easy? I needed a rest. Now you do your best. Don't let my reputation suffer. Now peel me grape, and get me a robe, and, yes, paint faster!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chocolate Fondant Heart

What is an artist painting? And what do you see? Somewhere in that overlap is what the painting is. I have names for it. Painting outside of the frame. Call and response. In this ether are untold possibilities. For collectors, admirers, critics, and makers, art is supposed to live. And this is where it does. How lovely to see an apple or a pear rendered so perfectly. But look at one of Julien's recent peaches pics and you will see how his choice of placement ,confined, his choice of light, dramatic yet soft, made them more. It resonates with me. Because of his choices and my response to those. Simple. This heart is a chocolate fondant heart. I almost left it in the case because it is a heart, could be really trite.Too cute. Then I thought, no, Jim Dine. I have always loved his hearts. He used them playfully. Home it came for me to try. I like setting up a challenge. Even a "simple " one. Then before I could paint it, or when I was roughing it in, an unexpected pleasure came my way. Someone honored and touched my own heart .Talented writer that he is. Funny sometimes how it works, the muse. So I tossed Jim Dine out the window. And painted this one for JEB, an artist at heart to me.So what is an artist painting? And what do you see? A bit of the artist trying to make something personal and true. Color and line, shape and some space. A chocolate fondant heart. Made richer. And that is treasure to me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cheesecake Vanilla Bean

Ermine. Do you see it? Just in those little specks. I couldn't figure out for awhile why this one was different. Then I saw what he's done. Added vanilla bean to the whipped cream. Bingo! Now we can go to Madagascar, or talk orchids and such. Just for that one, that one little touch. Off to the silk road, to trade for some silk or porcelain. We have a little spice to make it more, more than a creamy luscious dessert. A chance for a ride on a boat to a far off place. My childhood books, The Enchanted Wonderland, had maps inside the covers with blue waves and jumping fish, sailing ships going off to somewhere fun I just knew. I wanted to go there , go there too. Explore. There were poems inside, and stories too. Wee Willie Winkle in his nightgown...illustrated capital letters to kick off the start of a new tale, a new bit of verse. I loved those books. You can image my smile when I found out Eudora Welty had them too!! Isn't it fun, to fall into some little bit of a thing that taps into that self, that knows the glee, of a little adventure, or fantasy. I wonder if chef, if he had them too ? Does he fight off dragons, or sail away with the moon. Maybe he was royal just for today, with ermine and velvet,a robe made of jaune.There's a golden glint of his crown. When we see jumping fish on a pastry or two. We''ll know it for sure. He'll be saying come play. Come join me today.

Chocolate Nun Trois

This little nun is a bit bedraggled. There were only two left in the case. I looked at the other pretty things, but kept coming back to her. I heard myself say after picking the others, I'll take one of those nuns too. The one in the front. What was it about her?The chocolate was starting to run. Taking her top knot with it. But there she stood with grace. As I painted her, I liked her more. The chocolate was glossy. Her pastry was puffed. Her ruffle was bright. Don't be afraid to show a few wisps out of place, a splatter or two. We are like this.We who do. Look at the light and the energy. Give her some Paris blue. This nun has been busy, tending to things, making them go. Arranging a myriad of details all day. Juggling a ball or two. And yet,she could play ball, tell a story, or sing. She's been given God's grace I think. I think she spoke to me. We are blessed she says.In a great many ways. We may get bedraggled, some days may be tough. But at the end of the day...I still have my custard. My chocolate is still yummy. The puffs are golden and crisp.Was she glowing? I would like to say she is with me still. But I gobbled her up! Licked my fingers.Blessed? Oh yes. Blessed indeed. I think it was the custard....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Strawberries and Creme

Some days are scented. Enhancing. Fuller, more sublime. From perfumes to Valrhona chocolate tastings to pastries with creme. I've been at it again. Looking for it, reaching, searching a path. To find my way home. Not a city, or a street , or an island, although there are some I would choose. But closer, more important than those, a path back to me. I did not consciously do it. Lock me away, like my possessions and paintings, those that survived, being held in a warehouse in New Orleans by a friend. It has been just too much, too much to describe. Too much loss, too much gone, too much denied. This little experiment is bringing me back. Back to the joy, the play with a friend, the hope is there, a glimmer again. I have a large wetlands painting, again sent back to a friend.He'll frame it just right.It's going in a show in New Orleans, an honor, which I can't attend. "Unknown Territories" is the name of the exhibit. So aptly named. So look at this cake, this cake with it's abundance and shine. You'll see the glimmer, polished by friends, of an artist, well blessed in spite of it all.Coming back a bit at a time. Coming back we hope to a fullness more potent, a brush more sublime. Maybe you'll catch the scent of a women looking for joy once more.Freshness and light. Luscious creme in paint. Strawberries in glaze. A cake that is sweet. Some days are scented. And that makes me smile.Those boxes have been packed away so so long.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Juicy Fruit

When is enough, not enough? I looked at this tart, one I had painted before. And marveled. He always put just a little something a wee bit different onto the top. A surprise to discover, to tickle us more. But this time, it wasn't enough, he just didn't stop.Let's move through the levels. There's freshness, fullness and shapes. Strawberry slices, a fig,tiny little grapes. A full wedge of kiwi, a blackberry or two. And yet, he is not stopping there. He has a mounded rich custard on just the right cake. But is that enough? No. He takes it to a whole 'nother level, up a step or two. Drizzles a sweet glaze, encasing the lot. Pauses to judge. Probably stands back and gives it a nod. Oui, CA, c'est suffit. There now, that, THAT will do. It goes in the sleeve all ruffled and bright. And tempts me too much. What can I say? Well I brought it home and now you, you get to see. Sometimes enough just needs a little bit more. More sweetness, more care. How did chef know that? That just comes with, when he puts on his toque. A good chef knows what he's about. I 'm just the painter saying come, come look at this. Aren't we glad that he did it? Aren't we glad there is cake? Maybe it's a small thing, but maybe he's wise. Sharing his richness, sharing his gift...I think it comes back to him, multiplied.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


A place for privacy, Simple and elegant but away from the court. This is the Trianon. Marie Antoinette allowed only her inner circle in. They say not even the King could come in without her permission. We know this space. Who doesn't have such a place? Dreams may be fluid, our thoughts like clouds. Drifting encouraged. Time not allowed. Giggles or silliness. Or the next best idea. Each of us have a space all our own. If only for a moment before it is gone. We think our best thoughts, become our best person. Refresh. Renew.Then join in again. So maybe we need a petit chocolate to foster and beckon our muse. Why not? It is our place and we for a moment can be queen. See the richness? And there is some lace. Ahh. Take a deep breath. Sit back. Have a taste.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blackberry Tart

Blackberries always remind me of my grandmother. I love them and she always held them out to me as a treat. We could go pick them or she had them already baked in a cobbler, or ready to go with some cream. In the dead of winter, yep, there they were thawed by the sink. Grammies will do that. Or make you a quill pen to dip in her ink. So you can make squiggles and draw pictures on her notepad until it's time to go outside and explore.Let's go look. Let's go see. Maybe there's a new chick, or fresh cucumbers( you get to make toothpick animals with those), or some " pretties" in the flower beds. Or gather some eggs ( the warmest spot in the universe is under a hen) She didn't go to art school. She lived on a farm. But she was teaching a painter there from the start. So I ordered the blackberry pie , with Mary, Anndel and Bruce. We'd just been to A Very Large Array last fall. Painters on a lark. And there she was with us although long gone, my grandmother, a southern lady, in a New Mexico diner amongst the adobe, enjoying the day. When I look at this tart,she is there too. In her garden, or walking , holding my hand. The juice much sweeter, the berries full. The light a bit brighter. Come look. Come see. The twinkle in her eyes.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pear Tart

The glaze. I did not see the glaze when I picked this one out. I wanted a blush on the pear. As I looked at it closer, saw what it was about. I was more intrigued. Layers. Layers and depth in narrow confines. In the wetlands there are canopies. Layers of life. A fish friend explored it with me. He is actually a Dr., a biologist of note. He showed me a world in his dip net that I had not seen before, gold dotted fish, dragonfly ondata, crawfish too young to eat. Then he called out a latin name as a warbler flew by. I saw color, and flash. He saw systems and chains. Layers and links. Connectedness. If we just look a little differently, look into it a little more, within the layers, transparent or no.In clouds, in tree canopies, beneath the mirror of the pond....or in a simple tart, it might suggest possibilities...worlds unexplored.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Tarte Aux Citrons

One little tart in a white paper sleeve. Where can you take us today? Reflection perhaps? It's that time of year. Summer's still with us, but there's a slight shift in the light , a change in the breeze. I am looking for coreopsis to plant in a pot. Yellow again. That last bit of sunshine, a lingering of blossoms, a hint of richness still to be enjoyed.Julien did a yellow quince masterfully this week. In front of a gentle blue. And yesterday the Cote D'Azur.Those of us who love gardens, and art and a view, we notice the passing, note the little signs. We are tied to rhythm. Light. Little changes that pull us along.The vocabulary of color and light, speaks intensely to us. So along with the naples and within the white, I have brushed along a color path that is maybe a bridge to the fall. A little sparkle here and there for summer. Some warm ochres , some magenta and rose. Vermillion and cobalt violet.Some few blossoms for my eye. Discovery, probably small, but enough for me. Enought to linger, soak it up once more. Along a gentle path, a smile. Then I move on.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


So much custard so little time. I keep wanting gold epaulets to magically appear,eagles and his embroidered bee slippers. I have seen artifacts of Napoleon's. They still seem to shiver and vibrate, history trapped within. Milles feuilles it is called, mille foglia in Italy. A thousand sheets. Crisp and creme. Restrained in its richness, but elegantly turned out. I can hear the crinkle of watered silks. The rustle of skirts. A jeweler showing a parure to go with the gown. Those mother of pearl combs running through her hair. And he is off in his wing looking at maps, plans swirling in his head. There's a pause, he picks up his plate, a gold fork, takes a bite. Yumm. He looks again at a map as he enjoys the creme and says," Tell me, what is this place called Waterloo?" The sun had not yet hidden, he scraped the crumbs from his plate. A dribble of custard stuck to the fork. More he thought. He always wanted more. ME too, as I put my fork down. And cleaned my brushes. Ahh. What cake shall I go after next?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Strawberry Tart

I am stunned with this one. The juiciness that came through.It was the only kind of fruit covered tart in a Wednesday's pastry case. That's the thing about randomness.If you go with it, sometimes it is exactly the art you needed to make. I have some other things to paint today. Ones with little color. But look at this, it is essentially red. And surprise no bit of green. Where did my compliments go? Well they are there. I split them. The orangier red called for a blue. The more purple red called for it's yellow. Your eye is taking this in and saying , ahh, all is right with the world and this tart is real. But more, I needed more to connect. I needed movement and ooze again. The glaze was untamed. It dripped and seeped and made crispness flee. Except in the paper sleeve. Ahh, there we go, some geometry. Some structure to contain the flow. A mound of custard, a mountain of berries, an island of sweet cake and it glows.