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Culinary Wilderness

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Clint called my paintings "culinary wilderness" when he was writing the description for the show invitation. Here's a little bit more about my art process.

Wheat Paste: formerly a fine art material that I used when printmaking or bookbinding. Now it is the familiar coating on every surface of my kitchen after cooking with my boys.

When I was writing and illustrating Cook Until Desired Tenderness, I worked the pastry and salad stations in two very nice restaurants in The City. The plating of food was a delicate art. The due date for my manuscript was the same as for my first baby. Then cooking and painting changed.

Cooking up a batch of wheat paste starts with the intention to make muffins. Stir together dry ingredients using two citrus juicers, a melon baler, two pairs of tongs, an ice cream scoop, two whisks, all the measuring spoons and cups, a bunch of stickers, a Lego, toothpicks…toothpicks? But toothpicks make better blow-darts then they do muffins. Show little brother how to insert a toothpick into a cocktail straw and shoot it out like a spitwad into the sugar canister, pick it out and suck on it then repeat, repeat, repeat, grab a slobbery handful of sugar and use the toothpicks for a swordfight. The muffin tin becomes an arcade game that is a mix of basketball and whack-a-mole. Clean up the floury mess with a bench scraper, used like a bulldozer, and a wet sponge. When the little brother wants to use the only sponge, the big brother convinces him to rub his bare stomach in the wheat paste instead. He tries, but it’s not good enough. Above the ensuing fight, I hear a distinctive shout, “LAUNCH.” The rolling pin. A red knot begins to form on the little brother’s forehead. Game Over

I used rabbit skin glue to make these new paintings. Cooking it smells just like cooking Knox or Jell-o. The subject of the paintings is a combination of my childhood art: mud pies, and my grown-up art: Still life oil paintings, and the culinary arts. First I make the actual mud pies, running around getting Jell-o in my garden and mud in my refrigerator. Then I photograph them. I print the pictures in many tiles on “rice paper” that I have crammed through my desktop printer. The tiles are reassembled and bonded to crinoline fabric using rabbit skin glue. This becomes the canvas on which I paint the still life, changing and adding to the photograph. Creating the sense of beauty and chaos that is food.


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