Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mango Coconut Dragon

Long ago I went to Chinatown. It was night, just before or after dinner, I don't remember which. But Brian insisted we go for a walk so the three of us set out. Talk about immersion. I could not see enough. Everywhere activity, new sounds , new smells, new stuff. My brushes rest in a simple matt when I go on location. The matt is what I brought from that walk that night. Perhaps I hope to capture the magic of the east. The mystery, the timelessness, or the memory of a simple walk into another world. It spoke to me on many levels and then I found out, I was born in the Chinese year of the dragon, a very lucky sign. So maybe you can see it...when I looked down at this mango cheesecake on its golden disk, I saw a flutter in the coconut. Instantly transported, in a flash I saw in my head a paper dragon winding through the street. Carried aloft by dancing, celebrating feet. So it became a good luck dragon as I painted on. Huge glossy golden mangos bearing golden wishes for us all. An eye( a blackberry) towards the future of goodness that we seek, but dancing, yes I think dancing down that San Francisco Street.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chocolate Toffee Cake

Another float? An autumn thought? A persuasive text on indulgence, or a painting lesson? What to say this time? These days my head is wrapped around a puzzle. Usually in the studio that means I am "in transition". A useful term to put a label on a temporary term of agitated discomfort. Tell that to someone giving birth, or a teenager wrestling through a"phase", or a CEO with a business balancing on an edge. I have found the words very useful because usually I don't think of them until I am halfway through. I toss and turn and grumble, maybe growl, feel out of sorts, displaced. The painting may be going very well, everything moving along. But somewhere deep inside there is a restlessness, pushing and shoving. And then it will come to me, oh man, I am in transition! Some how it puts me more at ease. I know there is a present coming. A wise man told me once upon a time that staying with the discomfort, letting it process through, leads to another level. Not an Ellysian Field but a space where I can be that fits the growth that just took place, that is actually more me.So as I look at this glowing cake, the chocolate is glossy, the toffee has its crunch, I am actually amazed. Through the headache, the sleeplessness, the itchy indecision, the shall I this or that...the paint is still true. It carries on. It is actually the reason for all the other stuff. Focus is a funny thing. The lessons that one learns. Sometimes there are no words that conveniently display all the parts that we go through to keep the paint alive. But don't you see it when we don't put ourselves into it? The difference is so glaring. Art is a living breathing thing. It requires some doing. But a huge part of it is really , really , being.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pierrot Tangy Tart

Sunny. Fluffy. With a tang. And a raspberry. Delight is yellow and by necessity escorted by cobalt violet. Another pair, the bleu it has its orange. La Vie Dansent requires a spin of interactive color. A rhythme visuelle to move the eye along. Don't forget to set the tone, to play the value scale. Add a little texture, to see the beat enhanced. After all, what good is painting if you don't learn to dance? Shape and form, a consideration. Small, medium and large all needed. Placed to carry impact. It is joie, so mainly light, all friendly edges, and placed to say aiiee. "Come on", it says, "Play along. Come on and dance with me." And the line, oh look at it. It's not standing still, but varied. Extending a hand, enticing you to join. Be part of it. Come on in and share the pleasure that she sees. She sees a bit of dance today upon this tangy tart. A smile, a little bit of Abby's laugh. Musical it was. Here's to a gracious, tangy one, who lived a life so full. So glad to have known you well. Glad for the time together. Adieu my friend. Rest in Peace. You are with your Turner now. Life is like that isn't it? In a snap it changes. So my dear ones, seize the tart and carpe, carpe diem.

Big Grapes Fruit Tart

It looks a mess. Not quite straight. And the sleeve got stuck. Right there on the side. There is juice running off. No, a bit of glaze. And nobody is facing of course I love it. Not that I adore a mess, I don't.
It is about an interaction. Like catching candid shots. Not those formal things that make me cringe. But a pic that looks more natural. These grapes were so vibrant. Ordinary until you look. Alongside the others they took on a glow. And the fig and kiwi are opposed. To what we'll have to ask them. While the strawberries appear to be practicing their back stroke. I think we have a look, at a picnic in progress. Friends out for a romp in the countryside sharing the one picnic blanket. I will wait until they nap, till they settle down. Shh, they don't know. It is my picnic basket. AND they are one of the courses.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fleur De Lis Cake

Night time parades. That is what I was thinking. Well here is this chocolate cake with a fleur de lis. How can I not be back in the hood? The chocolate was so dark and glossy then covered with filigree. Already it is a celebration. It wasn't huge genius or a quantum leap for me to hear St. Aug's playing and see the dancing in the street. The lighted floats, oh my,oh my. Have you ever seen a a two story gorilla? Rolling a block from your house? You honestly must go then, if you haven't done so already. It is quite spectacular to see them moving through the live oaks. A giant Bacchasaurus...a Bacchagator, or a huge whale...down St. Charles to Canal Street where then the crowds grow wilder. To hear the bands all playing, the marching of marines. And kids in spangles, taps upon their shoes showing off for you. The flames from the flambeaux as they boogie down for coins. Clip clopping of horses, shriners wheeling by, costumers up on stilts. Fellini would be so happy. Oh really you should go just once. Suspend your disbelief. It is all to say, carpe diem. Live it to the hilt. For when Ash Wednesday comes...well we need the rest...but deep inside the magic plays, just waiting for the come back out and play, yes even to dance.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Quince Carré

Can you tell how much fun this was to paint? A box, chock full, over the rim, with goodies. Disarray contained. I love the corner on the right, the shadow and the wall. Actually the whole of the walls.I imagine a promenade. (Back in the hood again). But we won't go there. It's about the paint today. These cakes and treats, sticking to them as an experiment, is netting bonuses I never dreamed.We won't talk about my current diet of apples and tea ( I think someone moved the zipper on last winter's pants). And we won't talk about all the lovely words from new friends and collectors out there. Which are such a wonderful thing. What I want to talk about is the benefit of focus. I often wondered how Cezanne could paint so many Mont St. Victoire's. Or the dutch all those bouquets. Wayne Thiebaud did a lot of cakes, Jim Dine a lot of robes. What Hopper did with diners, and isolated houses, well O'Keefe did with Taos. They were after form and light, perhaps the time of day. In some cases how one thing could be painted many ways, look it's geometry, or color. There is a basic group of elements, variables if you will, that artists have to make our case, to say what we set out to say. When the focus is narrowed, made particular, what I find is a dance through that repertoire that hones the skill set and forces me to expand it. So when I am presented with another tart or cake or dessert,I think of Morandi whose paintings are so sublime. He made them anodynes. It is possible by limiting to actually be more creative. I marvel at this little piece well after it's painted. It is a box full of luscious fruit , a contrast between restraint and overflow. And many overlays of symbolism. It is a little tart, some flour and some fruit. But the repertoire and what I saw, that's what I brought to the table. Now you, you get to play, your eyes can dance along or make up your own stories. Focus is a very good thing, And a tart an access point.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Strawberry Red

Strawberry red. Luscious. Although it is fall and gris is all in fashion, especially in Paris, this red will do me very well today. I had a moment I wanted to capture. The idea of rich and warm and all good things. More specific? ...well I am working on that. Because dreaming is all very good, but to make dreams real...that calls for a plan. Dreaming is a process, ideas ferment and form, until almost tangible. And dreaming time is necessary. Go take a look at the Skoda cake. Whoever dreamed that up, well, that's my point. At some point the idea is just a little kernel. Proper care and nourishment and sometimes just some rest, these are all necessities to bring it to its best. Then there's execution. You have to have a plan. Ingmar Bergman said he threw ideas, concepts, out as far in the field as he could thrust a spear. Then figured out how to get to it. So I am pondering this juicy red tart, with its own soft glow. It is the beginning of a dream I have. I want to shelter it. Let it grow. Permeate my thoughts. Just as the scent of fresh cream, berries and this sweet cake are wafting up, carrying me along. I'll make it especially juicy, plump and full. Bright and beckoning. And the best of paints and brushes, those I put to work. In my head ideas are flirting, dancing here and there. A little more time. Some bit of attention...I am getting a glimpse, of something warm and wonderful perhaps within my grasp.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Les Intimes

Close friends. Delicious ones at that. I painted this after a chat with a close friend of mine.It brightened up my day. And I just got off the phone with another who lives in LA. Fire is burning all around him, but not so close to his home. Phew! I hope I don't sound preachy, or too serious, but call a friend today and have a little chat. Houses, things, possessions, not worth near as much. Having some time, a little pause, to speak of all your news, or just to be silly, to help work a problem out...anything will do. A quiet conversation with someone you hold dear... Priceless don't you think? Listen to their voice. Sometimes that's just the thing we needed most. So I painted these with richness and an intimacy. To share with you what I think is a precious commodity.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Devout Nun

Gentle light. Gentle reflection. A penny for her thoughts. I like this one especially. It felt so good to paint. I love these chocolate nuns anyway, but this one seemed very special. A quiet strength I think. I have been thinking about this series, the paintings and the blog. I set out to come up to speed in oils, to use a smaller format, and to talk about the work while offering it for sale. It was a Santa Fe friend's suggestion. Before I set out, I did my research. Any one who knows me, knows about my notebooks. I was sent to look at Duane Keiser, and Julien Merrow-Smith. Both incredibly fine painters. They were using this new venue to offer up themselves. Touched by the caliber of their work, I read what they were doing. It is like having a very public studio, almost a dialog. It is all about the process and the ability to say, here is not only what I do, but some of who I am. The studio is richer, the skill set hones itself, and all the art collectors get a privileged front row seat. But one very important thing is not so obvious. The exchange is a two way street. You bring to us an appreciation, a friendly support. A caring that is culture enriching. It gets amplified. And that is really what art is about. It is a dialog. It is that call and response. I like this public studio. It keeps me on my toes. So gratitude goes out to Duane, Julien, Jackie, and to all of you. For helping me to find a path. A road home to myself. So this little one is smiling I think with humble gratitude. A peacefulness of quiet reflection. As happy to be painted as the artist was to paint.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Raspberry Snow

It is raining outside. We have a cool front moving in. Golden leaves are washing down the street. There is a coziness to it. Nice and dry inside. The birds are all quiet. I have to make my tea. While the water's heating, I can tell you what I was thinking and why I named this one what I did.It is a mountain village, a private luxe retreat. If you read Marne Davis Kellogg's jewel thief book, Perfect, you will know the spa I mean. To recover the queen's stolen jewels Kick must leave her cozy home in Provence, "suit up" in the design houses of Paris and finagle an invitation to a very unpublished private mountain spa to track down the goods. That is where the suspected former royal assistent is living with an opera star. Complete with private horse drawn sleds, spa treatments and a butler.( I could get used to that for a week or two, okay a month maybe six.) When I looked for what distinguished this tart, what made it so special. I looked at the placement of the berries and the dusting of the snow. It seemed to come alive. I tried to put some luxury, some softness and some light. The berries are so luscious. The cream so very fresh. The cake is light and perfect. The best of the best for us. Nothing less will do. The berries are all situated, you have to give them space, as if walking over the snow covered custard on boot covered feet. Our own petit retreat. Elevated. Given it's own spotlight. Yum for us. Isn't it fun imagining? So thank you Marne. Here's to you Kick. How you suffer for your art! Sign me up.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Company For Dinner

Tantalizing. Tasty treats to tempt the palette. Paint and the one in my mouth. We used to go to a really fine restaurant, Louis The Sixteenth in the Quarter. Not in its present location, but in the old Marie Antoinette Hotel. John, our Welsh waiter, all in crispy white, would greet us happily. Dinner there was a conversation. A well tuned interplay. We were his guests. After drinks were served and a fresh baguette brought to table, he would ask what we were "feeling like". We rarely used the menu. Lamb or veal always my first choice. And would we be wanting the Grand Marnier soufflé or chocolate? Or how about half and half? It cooks while we are dining. Well half and half of course. Usually we would ask him to have chef make us what he wanted.To have some fun with it. We would only say fish, or morelles or what is fresh tonight? Never disappointed. Always a good time. And John would always bring us a little treat. A tiny surprise. One time it was gold wasser, or it might be a fresh amuse bouche. No matter, an evening there was a favorite. Soft ambiance, good food, a table set so well. Time for just the two of us. A bit of a reward. We were company for dinner. Happily. Willing to play along. It has changed. Moved. And we are no longer there. But it still lives among the finer things in my memories. Don't we all cherish them? Those good dinners we have dined. At a friend's or Harry's Bar, or pick a place, fill in the blank. Aren't we very lucky? To have so many willing chefs create an experience. It isn't really eating. It is much more than that. Company for dinner, brings friends in for a chat.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cappuccino Dome Deux

My parents drank Maxwell House Coffee, Good To the Last Drop, every morning. Each day I woke up to that wonderful aroma and the sound of coffee perking. Percolators. Remember those? My dad liked to get up early, sit at the table, read the morning paper and watch the birds outside our picture window in the dining room. His mother was a bird watcher and a Maxwell House drinker too. And a great storyteller. She had taught English lit. So I would like to say I continue that morning ritual. I guess I do, except, blaspheme, I drink tea. And the New York Times comes to me online, except Sundays, when I have my REAL newspaper fix and it comes to my door. But I do watch the birds. And maybe I tell a story or two. My daughter? Starbucks. Path to each and every one loaded into an instinctive GPS in her mind. Paper? Radio when she is driving carpool. But she does watch the birds.....and she can tell an entertaining story. But that is the world we now live in. So here's a little cappuccino chocolate dome. Grab a paper, pull up a chair near a window, and breath for a moment before you hurry on. I have the window open, the birds are all a twitter. Maybe...there is a percolator on ebay.....

Friday, October 19, 2007

Two To Tango

Enter, two exceptional chocolate dipped juicy red strawberries. Lights, please. Cue the music. I can hear it even now. Strident. Red. Powerful. And the dance. Precise and a little tender as well. The Cité Tango Jennie Garth danced with Derek Hough last week on, yes, Dancing With The Stars, one of my guilty pleasures. Phew! Just think. If we all entered each project with that passionate, disciplined intent. Imagine the energy, the strength, the determination. And how much more exciting. Yes! Sign me up! Muses come in different forms from unexpected places. For me this week, all week long if I find myself dragging, energies a little waning....I just click to utube and watch puts the veritable rose between my teeth. Instantly rejuvenated. And I dance into the studio, thanks to two who tangoed.

Carrot Cake

I have a fondness for carrot cake and a time tested recipe from North Carolina. My inaugural painting for this experiment, the one I listed first, was a Carrot Cake. With fingers crossed I watched the days tick off until the night of the auction. And now it is in Whitefish Bay, in its brand new home. Thanks to lovely Jane. Another stays at Ceciles's.And now, last night, it's off to Christina's house. All beautiful lovely people. It warms my heart to send a little piece of myself off to stay with friends. Just like when I bake the cake and share a slice or two. Always worth the effort. Always worth the time. To do a little extra, to gather the best ingredients.To find the hue that that captures all the freshness. To brush it on or mix it up. To deliver all the wishes. Wishes for all that is good, no matter where you wander. You're going to a friend of mine, so let's make it say, here's a classic just for you. I made it all from scratch. Enjoy it and the thoughts it brings for continued happiness.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Peanut Chocolate Cake

Here we have a second post and there may be another one a little later on. You see I have been painting more, but wanted each to have its day.Well, we all can do the math. I am a little bit behind. So while the paint is setting for a moment and the brushes soak, I will tell you about this choco-nutty thing that took me by surprise. It caught my eye. I was thinking bird or kitchen witch for luck. Then the gorgeous man beside me said," Oh no, a turkey doncha know! " Ahh, yes, I see it. And I brought it home. Choco- choc-a-licious. Do you see the whipped ganache draped around the neck? And if the cake and nuts haven't been enough, they dipped a peanut butter cookie into chocolate and put it right on top. And now I'm thinking Pilgrim...maybe I'm a little could be the turpentine...must get back to studio. Something luscious, something with some calling me. I really have to go. Thanks for taking one more look before this one goes off to its new home.

Black Forest Mini

Is it me or are there antlers in these shadows?
It is funny what happens in the studio when I start to paint these treats. Once I cut out all the white noise and the distraction. Focus in the zone. Start thinking in terms of line. It becomes just like what happens in figure sessions. The model brings a little twist, some personal signature to the poses. The thing that makes the session work, that makes the lines run true, is if you can tune in and connect to what is presented. Art is not merely replication. It is impact and a give and take of being in the moment. The basic skills must be learned, practiced all the time. We all have our kit, our tool box full of tools. But when to use them, what goes next is a matter of collaboration. First you have to look real well, digest a moment, see what really is before you. Then and only then, once you catch an essence. That is when you can begin to start to put the line. Follow it with shape and form and texture, value, color. Make the space fill out. Become a visual linguist if you will to make the moment known. Even if it is a treat, a pastry with a top knot and a chocolate cake. The process is the same. It may take you to Bavaria. You may think antlered "mousse". So you might pick lavender as cast upon the snow. You might think whipped cream muffler, and think of mountain spas....It's just a little moment, but you give it what you've got. Make it come to life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

St. Honoré Rex

Golden. Purple and a bit of green. On this St. Honoré. I thought it a gentle way to draw closer to Carnival. A kaleidoscope of images are floating through my brain. Designs and projects, images, from parades and balls. Festivities, excitement, things to draw and make. Carnival for the world is mainly Mardi Gras. But behind the scenes all year long, such an effort is put forth.To theme the floats and tableaux, to get the costumes made. To decorate, elaborate, to learn a protocol. Have gowns made, keep a secret, buy a gift or two. To order food and plan the parties, to get your ladders ready. To make the broadsheets, paint the posters, design the favors, have them made, to work with all the printers. And to pick from all those gaudy things to throw from the floats requires some advance. They come come from overseas.Rex of course throws a tricolor with a crown. Gold and purple and green. So when you see the pictures, as the floats go by, you are seeing trickle down that feeds an economy. The tip of an economic energy and creative imaginations. I think it fitting, that St. Honoré be Rex. A patron saint of pastry, posing as a king. So cheer him on. A pastry treat indeed, a golden crunch with cream inside the golden puff pastry. I can almost hear the marching band tuning up, while I paint these colors. It is conditioning you see. Years and years of Rex parades, just outside my door.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Berry Kiwi Fruit Tart

Sunny-licious. Just a note of cheerfulness. A palette warm and bright. Compliments of red and green kick it up a notch. It is an irony I think the action between the two, can balance, neutralize and make a lovely grey, or make the red , redder and the green very green. If you are seeing one of them, your eye is looking for the other. Physics of light and seeing. Simple bends of light. But in the end it says sunny. Much to my delight. I love to play with color. Love to play with light. Form is given breath you see with a little bag of tricks and some "simple" tools. But the life it carries, well that's the artistry. That's the way it really speaks, elicits a response. You can listen. You can look. Dance along, hum the visual tune. Thanks to Itten and Kandinsky, this tart can hold its own. It sings to us of happy things, tickles our eyes with light and color. And isn't that what art is about? Physics serving spirit?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Opera Bastille

This is clearly a pastry rich and full of chocolate with a single cherry up on top. So what on earth could it have to say about the topic for Blog Action day, the environment? My reality. Before the storm I was immersed in environmental concerns. A wetlands artist. Still am really.You know what? People AGREE it should be saved, but don't know what to do with such an overwhelming task. Al Gore won the Nobel Prize as much for HOW he was saying what he was saying as the facts and research themselves. There are tons of individuals out there ( I worked with many of them) who have been saying these things and presenting data for their whole careers. My work was and still is an attempt to convey artistically what is behind all the charts and data that falls on deaf ears. But it is simple really. Like a piece of cake.
Waste less. Conserve resources. Become consciously tied to the land and its rhythms. Look more, appreciate more. I often scratch my head about ONE thing. WE are government, we are the country we live in. No legislation or task force is needed to JUST DO IT. You know when you are really rich? When you don't use it all, when you save and use what you need and steward the rest. As a long ago Pogo said, I have met the enemy and he is us. Technology has answers. Behavior can be adjusted. Why not just get up everyday and live as the best stewards possible?
Your actions on a daily basis, your choices become a rather loud economic vote. Madison Ave. responds to that and so does every elected official who wants to keep his or her job. Vote as a consumer-or non consumer. You are being robbed only by yourself. Vote with your actions. Park your car more and ask for city streets to be walkable, public transport available... bicycle paths an option just outside your door. Get off the daily treadmill and look at every consumer choice you make. And vote with how you live your day, at your house before you say one word about any solution "out there". Demand clean water, air, and safety standards by your actions buy or don't buy. And consider non development as a developing plan to make use of what is there already before gobbling up what might be left to just be replenishment areas, buffers. If we could have that Steve Job one button idea in our heads, this could be broken into simple binary actions. Buy or don't buy. Do or don't do. Respect our wishes to live in a clean and rich eco system, balanced with a strong and healthy economy...hold some in rich. So cake is available for everyone, everyday, just outside your door.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Red Passion

Red. Powerful. Strident if you will. Insistent. Called me to paint. Brush dripped with cadmium red purple hue, slathered rather thick. Sennelier makes beautiful pigments. They flow right off the brush. A kiss of cobalt violet added to make the coulis resonate. A simple coterie of berries sits and tempts me more. You can see them beckoning. Back I go for ultramarine violet, blue, and, oh yes, for this one a bit of noir. It was sueded on the sides. Smooth. With action at the top. Just for a minute. Let's do the grapes,a touch of vermillion to catch an edge, takes it up a notch. To another level. There is a golden glow about the base that holds this velvety white chocolate raspberry mousse. And a hot vermillion splash between two purple shadows at the cusp. There was a tasty cookie inside, just a little bit of crunch. The melding of all the flavors, the casting of the hues, was magical. I am glad to say. Chef really knew what he was doing. This is a jam packed powerhouse. It was waiting in the case. Once I started painting it I started to appreciate his virtuosity. His artistry. A little red. Harboring delight. Yes. This one is for me. So I painted it and ate it.....happily. And again ooh and ahh. In my book of lists I write, Red Passion.....must have some more...better talk to chef.

Strawberry Cream Deux

Juicy. Life nourishing. This is a triple threat, the creams, the cake and those berries, each one at the peak of their potential.All separately wonderful. In this combination.... well...ahhhhh and yummy. Simple. Put some cream and some berries on a cake. But here's the difference. Chef uses only organic, fresh, top of the line products. It's his code, his badge of honor. His personal standard of excellence and vive la difference! There is nothing in his case that tastes so purely wonderful as this strawberry tart. Cadmium red purple hue, vermillion, naples and cad yellow, red ochre, ultramarine, sepia and cobalt blue, white of course and don't forget vermillion...and cobalt violet...wonderful separately, but marry them well. Make them hum. A chorus of salute. Keep the fullness in the form. Keep the topping light.Give it a solid base. Put that juicy glaze in sight so everyone will know, how simply magnificent, how ultimately good. Celebrate it. Revel in it. Find the delight. We made this all for you. To give you joy. Some sense of what is possible with our bag of tricks. Enjoy...and see if it isn't just a little contagious to want the marvelous in our lives...the humm, the extra ooh la la...I know I do. So there you go. Something to start you off, now see if you can sustain it, carry a little joy. And look for some marvelous on your path as you go about your day. Chef got up so early and I painted for awhile. All to see if we could make you smile.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mont Blackberry

I remember the pilot pointing out Mont Blanc as we flew from Paris to Venice. It was the first time I had actually gotten that close to the peak.A majestic sight indeed. Now I use Mont Blanc ink in my Waterman fountain pens and when I am doing brush and inks. It never fails to remind me of the pristine beauty of that first glimpse. White so white. Air so crisp. I think the flow of ink reminds me to climb higher. Do better. Reach for a summit. Soar above the clouds. And I like that. As I started painting this luscious mound of blackberries piled so high upon the cake, I had thought to do it in black and white, but the color was so rich. Now I am thinking, it would be so much fun to trace the form again. This time in pen and ink. Mont Blanc ink has a purplish cast along with it's black. It flows so awfully well. As if endless dreams can be made real, thoughts becoming experienced as the ink flows across the page. Even a glimpse of a mountain top can sneak in. This is a small mountain perhaps, just a tart. It is heaped with succulence. And freshness mounded high.But the sprinkles of sugar could be snow and dreaming is allowed...we could be soaring just a little bit. Isn't that what art is about? A cake can be mountain. A thought can take flight. A treat can take us anywhere we want. And bring us home again. I especially enjoyed a taste of this one. Mentally I brush away the snow, pause with a sigh, a smile...pleasure is a good thing....and go back to work again.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Key Lime Flourishes

A few Ruffles and Flourishes today for Doris Lessing upon winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.The eleventh women to do so. Here from the New York Times:
Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy described her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny.” The award comes with a 10 million Swedish crown honorarium, about $1.6 million.
Her early book, Golden Moment was a forerunner to the feminist movement. It sold 6,000 copies. Apparently the right 6,000 copies sold. I am sorry to say that I haven't read her, but for the photograph sitting on her stoop caught out by a flock of reporters alone, I fully intend to round up a copy and some of her other books too. Sounds like she may write like Alice Neel painted. Can you imagine just coming in one morning and oh by the way, here's the world prize for what you do and a check? Fire and visionary power. Said she had been short listed for the Nobel for years. I wonder how that feels? I mean, when one gets up in the morning and makes tea, putters about, does it echo in her head? Does her tea taste different, is it made with more elan, knowing she's on such a list? She is an epicist of the female experience for gosh sakes. So I 'll dedicate this golden tart to Doris and her tenacity, a feather for her cap. Tart and tangy, full of fight. She's 88 you know. Congratulations. Well done. To all of us who aren't short listed, maybe we should choose a list to be on...and see who shows up at our stoop. Which list would you choose? I would love to know.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Autumn Chocolate Cake

Deep glossy, almost ebony, but here it called for blue... my palette rarely uses black. In fact, in watercolor I eschew it altogether. Much more depth to be had using deep sepia, alizarin, ultramarine violet and others to make it true and dark. In oils it works the same. However, sometimes the suede of black is called for. Altogether in keeping with the body of the pigments. Creating a believable plane on which to play with thoughts and form. I once heard that fiction is sometimes truer than fact, it was about writing. And is so so true. I love to get the sense of something through a well told fictional story. And writers who can write non fiction as if they are writing prose( John McPhee) well, hand me one of their books too. It is a matter of that plane again, the one upon which the idea is hung and fabricated, carefully constructed. Making it live and breathe, Sometimes it is the impact of the thing which calls the tools to order. The impact of its glossiness, it's richness and its depth. The story calls for deep cobalt blue to compliment the autumn whimsey placed on top. Sometimes it needs that suede underneath the form, to tell us in rich whispers about the depth within. And if there is a little glow to remind us of the crispness and the change upon us.Calling us to gather. Maybe come inside. Be near a fire of tenderness. So be it. Cozy yet inspired to write our own stories and paint our own little breath of life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pear Frangipane Tart

Almonds and Amaretto. Pears and Cranberries. A triangular tart. This was brought to me by my pastry sleuth. A little bit different. Triangular. As if to rack them up. Uh oh, sports again...No, no. Pears. And autumn. We had our first little bit of cool this morning. Well cooler. It is almost mid- October. Still sweaty here. Although I did look longingly at my corduroys in the closet yesterday. I once saw that the south was a place where one wore sweaters in the Autumn, not because one needed to, but because one ought to. It was time. My Bon Apetit has turkey on the front. Prepping us for that holiday. But like my sweaters up on the very top shelf of the closet, I am not pulling out the sage yet. In my head, I can see myself on a jaunty weekend at Big Sur, wrapped all cozy by the fire after a walk. A fine wine close at hand. I'd take a sweater there. Maybe a sketchbook and a pen.I would ask the chef to make me something nice and soothing, perhaps something made of pear. and delight in the coolness, being nice and warm inside. There's an autumn I could like. Some waves roaring out my door. Something for my muse and I to stoke our gentle fire.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Key Lime Ruffles

Purple and gold. Could say these are number one colors these days...but we won't talk collegiate football here...nah...or about it Not Raining in Tiger that is not what we are about...key lime has nothing to do with tailgating or pom poms. It has more to do with sailing and listening to Buddy D on the radio...nope, not going there. I mean what about the green waves, err blue waves breaking over the bow. The gentle breeze cooling the sun as it falls upon our shoulders. Another beverage, score! No not going there. Tiger Bait, tiger bait...Ohhh, I give up...Geaux LSU!!!! Now I have done it. Equal time will have to be Richmond , Bama, Tulane, Vandy, and this Texas / OU thing, not to mention Michigan and Ohio State. Not to mention Peyton and long is this season? I have a boat to catch. Okay. Pass the buffalo wings. When in Rome.....

Monday, October 8, 2007


Bacchus baby. Sunday night before Lundi Gras is when Bacchus rolls. Bacchusauraus, Bacchagator, King Kong, Mama Kong and of course baby Kong amid, marching bands and flambeaux. It is one of the biggest and the best parades, no doubt about it. My sister's first year down. She asked me what's the fuss? Not ten minutes later she's up on someone's shoulders begging beads off a masked stranger from one of the Bacchus floats. Really. It didn't take too long.NEVER reach down with your hand to pick up a doubloon. Just stand on it and wait. And yes it's true, you work for those beads. Each year there's something new. Some light up and flash. Thanks to microchips. I have the honor of designing one year's ball favor. Boy that was fun. Drawing all the parade favorites, research is a blast. It is hard to stand still when St. Aug's starts to play. And tossing some of your hard won beads back into the baby gorilla's mouth is de rigeur. What a show just out my door. I can almost hear the beat. If you ever get a chance , GO. Go hit the street. The night before Lundi Gras.You'll see it is contagious. My sister won her beads. Her triumph was a hoot. And the very next night there we were dancing to Dr. John on Oak street. We get you one at a time you know. Remember this phrase, Throw me something mister. You will find it on your lips. Very therapeutic. Letting go a bit. Now she's the one who throws King Cake parties many miles away. Bacchus is a clever one. He tempts us with a taste. Before you know it, grapes and all,you're second lining like you've done it all your life.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Napoleon Deux

Cream and lots of it. A napoleon straight on. A bit of play in the ruffle, but the cream keeps coming through. Cream rises to the top, cream of the crop...a little word all means the same. Something really good. Luscious cream amid some leaves and icing on the top. It doesn't get much better than this, my pastry picker says. She can hardly pass one up, thanks to La Marquise. Exquisite pastries there on Chartres Street. Here, Chef Pierre does these well. He seems to have a knack for putting rich and fresh together in an artful stack. I hope one day to go and watch. It must be like a dance. To watch him gracefully compose. Cream here a puff and now a glaze, et voila un peu du chocolate for the decoration. I marvel still each time I look at what he does to each and every one of these.It makes me glad to have picked this has my concentration. This little experiment. A world of wonder it has come to be, full of rich and fresh. Lovely collectors, friends from afar and old friends stopping by. I am so glad that in the wee hours while we're all asleep, chef is up dancing, making up our treats.

Paris Brest

Paris Brest. Praline cream and puff pastry, sprinkled with lots of almonds and powdered sugar. I keep thinking Leviathan, but in a nice way. As I was painting, I was thinking sea and beach,shells because of the gentle color. Not the usual round shape or rectangle, it is oblong, but organic in feel. No larger than an eclair, no longer than a Napoleon. Hmm. I had never tasted one either. It sounds like me dissecting some creature I happened upon I guess. Crusty and crisp on the outside. Soft and tender on the inside. Sounds like some people I have known. Worth the trouble if you stick around.I have to tell you this Paris Brest was fun to poke and prod. Delicious to play with the paint. And afterwards, ohh la la. One of the best to eat. Another fine exploration. Ahh. Perhaps the pastry case is a little like the Sea of Cortez. And lucky me, afloat a Steinbeckian vessel. Picking up and looking at all the creatures to be found. Not a bad mission to be on. Willingly I go. Brush and I are at the ready. See what chef is up to next? Oh yes, we're onboard with that.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Trianon Deux

Deep dark chocolates, moist and creamy, a flourish of skirt. Remember Trianon was given to Marie Antoinette for her private place? A friend in Santa Fe last year was telling us about a book he found in England. It was titled something like Men and Sheds. Apparently the British male has found many uses for the ever present garden shed.(Read man cave). It was a point of purchase book, on some counter or another, but Paul said he flipped through it, and saw writers nooks, sitting rooms, and various hidey holes. We were in drawing group, the model was going through her poses. He wondered aloud if this retreat made for longer and happier marriages. In taking stock of the men there in our group, he saw he was one of two with happy love lives. The others, seemed to wince, a twitch or two I saw. I pointed out the Brits might be on to something. Of the two, our other friend has a long lasting love...and in his backyard a real tree house...they all looked at him in awe. I got a laugh or two. But you could almost see the wheels turning, a trip to the local lumber yard on their project list....myself, I think in any future real estate I buy,I will look to see the shed. Who knows? It might do the trick. What do you stock a man cave with? Chocolate, beer a fridge? Tomes of poetry? Accepting suggestions now, a hint or two will do. And if there are Brits out there. a clue please on your sheds...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cheesecake Kiss

Be sure to click on the photo of this piece. I just took another look to see how I could express the exuberance I felt in making this subtle form come to life. There is a dance of paint and color to be found. And a reminder to me of the floating of my brush. Whether you are making art, or collecting it , or just enjoying a look. This vibration, this rhythm, these colors set up to play, there's the thing. That thing that spreads itself, that ripples out. Destined to repeat. It is a cylinder, on a disk, with a berry on top. Architecturally a snap. But what I saw upon these shapes was tenderness. it called for some lighter notes, some Kandinsky if you please. Look at the disk . Follow it around to clouds of blues and lavender, a whisper here and there, accentuated by bolder bits and varying shapes of strokes. Granted the song is not loud, more a sonnet line or two. But I heard it whisper to me and now I pass it on to you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Chocolate Nun Quatre

From the Convent of Valrhona, another sister of the chocolate order. Perhaps we should draw up a charter. A mission statement for these blessed ones. I am a devotee of profiterole. Whoever invented puff pastry has my gratitude. This one was lavish in her form and had tons of chocolate. She seemed determined. Perhaps because she was requested. I really have to say once more how clever these chefs are. The case is always filled with a variety of choices. And clever names, some mysterious and in need of explanation. I think we will look into these religieuses some more. But for now it is good enough to know how delicious they are and jaunty too. And that they fill a need. In the case they beckon. What is this fascination? There's a story there. I will explore and ask chef about them too. She was a bit of a fauvist in her youth. I saw a dash of vermillion here and there, a beret upon her head. She spent some time walking the left bank beside the flowing Seine. But now her chocolate is heavenly, her attitude has grace. And chef, there he goes again putting them out for show. Is it irony at work, or a desire for the divine? Nibble by nibble closer to bliss? A communion sanctified? I don't know. It's chocolate, cream, custard,and choux paste..and how can that be bad? So maybe she's a prayer. For all blessings to be counted. And joy to be found in little things as we go along our way.