A little while ago I was feeling bummed about a painting G and I were working on. Illustrators have to find exciting angles into subjects that might not normally interest them. That much I get, but this was our personal work, and I still couldn't find a way in. Meanwhile, I've been trying to find time to cook more. Since we had our daughter, it's been tough to find time to read or follow cook books as much as I'd like. Even still, I think alot about cooking and eating, so why not bring that into our paintings? Some sort of bouquet / exploded recipe felt like the right thing to do. It didn't even occur to me until later that recipe paintings might be sort of a shallow idea for some. For me, I've always seen our paintings from more of an emotional viewpoint. Sometimes I get tripped up thinking of them in a strictly cerebral language. The idea still felt right, even if it was more of a feeling than an idea. We prepare, sit together and eat these meals as a family everyday, what could be more close to our lives than that?
Anyway, before starting, I pored over my cookbooks to find something to paint. Pretty quickly, I figured out some of my most classic cookbooks had too many ingredients to think about painting. Then I dropped my pretensions and went to the most used books on my shelf, Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Fruit and Chez Panisse Vegetables. I love these books because the chapters are organized by the main fruit or vegetable component. They let me go to the market, pick what's good, and then come home to cook it. The painting above is Roasted Fig and Quail Salad. We have great fig trees in our neighborhood, so I knew this one would be fun. Below are the figs I picked, the salad we enjoyed, and some details of the painting.
This post has been a long time coming. This is a detail of a painting we did for our friends Jim and Tina of James Restaurant. When Gina and I first moved into our house in South Philly, Jim and Tina were just moving into their restauant space. Their kitchen door is right across from our house, so we got to know each other as we fixed up our places.
They picked up a painting from us for their dining room, and came back with an interesting request. Tina is a master decorator. Their bar is a place that's perfectly laid out, and always puts me at ease. When she asked for a painting to go on a long wall connecting the bar and lounge, we were pretty honored. Their place is such an expression of themselves, Gina and I were touched they would ask us to be a part of it. Then we had to figure out how to make it happen.
We decided it should be a 1 foot by 10 foot canvas, and I was presented with my first hurdle. Back in school I would make some crazy canvasses, but this one was still pretty tough. A lot of supports and heavy weight canvas later, I had a very long canvas with absolutely no bend. It was a happy start. I then went in with some sanded textures and a few Motherwell and Kline quotes.
Gina did a drawing of their front door design and I burned a screen of the drawing. I printed this in a few spots as we began to get a feel for how we'd compose something with such unusual proportions.
Then we decided on our focal points. Tina always has great flowers in the place, and one night by the bar some tiger lillies gave us inspiration.
Gina added some wind and foliage and things were on their way.
We needed something to further guide the left to right movement. We decided on Bluejays partly because of their color. We also love that they seem so striking, but if you keep your eyes out, they're not too hard to spot around here.
Then Jim and I hung it up. It's been there ever since today when I decided to test the limits of Photomerge.
the left half
the right half
the whole thing
I've always been interested in food, but getting to know Jim and Tina has taught me so many things. They've wrapped their lives around their art in much the same way as we have. Their schedule is the only one more crazy than ours. Their hours, outlook and passion give them the same disconnect from the straight world as we often feel. They do it all as a couple, which is the only way I know how to do things.
Gina's in an interesting show for the next few weeks. It's called paint for print and is themed around contemporary illustrators using traditional media.
She's joined by a great group of illustrators: Ofra Amit, Shino Arihara, Gérard DuBois, Penelope Dullaghan, John Hendrix, Sterling Hundley, Aaron Jasinski, Robert MacKenzie, and Joe Morse.
The show's up until December 19, and is at The Glass Curtain Gallery in downtown Chicago. If anyone's in the area, let us know how it looks. Glass Curtain Gallery at Columbia College
1104 S. Wabash Ave, Chicago IL 60605, 312-344-6650 a nice blog the curator set up
Gina and I are pretty happy to finally have some help around here.
Juniper came along last week. It's been a free ride for her so far, but I'm hoping she'll earn her keep soon-ish. Anyone have any experience training an infant to upload finals to an ftp?
Another ICON, another good time. I stuck to my usual defensive social strategy of sticking with folks I'm comfortable around. I did occasionally venture out to meet a few new folks, and caught up with some old friends I haven't seen in a while.
Those that weren't there were missed.
I'm pretty sure I'm posting a little too much for my own good, but I just got back some photos of a show we did back in October. Fall seems to be gallery time for us, and this time around we had a few shows that really challenged us in a fun way. We decided to keep things fairly open, explore some imagery that had been on our minds, and to take advantage of a scale at which we don't often get to work.
The show was at 222 Gallery, which is run by the wonderful folks at Otto Design Group.
G sat out the install. I think drawing all those patterns left her tired! Here are some pics of me and my two great assistants, Mike and Eamon.
I live in center city Philadelphia, right on the edge of South Philly. I'm right off the Italian market and I love it. You may know it as the area where Rocky runs in the first movie. To me it's where I go to get my vegetables and espresso each day. Today was the Procession of Saints. We have a lot of Catholic churches around here. In the morning, everyone gathers at St. Mary Magdalen De Pazzi and marches to Saint Paul a few blocks away and along the market. Gina and I went over there with my neighbor Rose and her mother, also named Rose. Here are some pictures...
You pin dollars to the ribbons that trail off of the saints.
Gina and I split a show with our good friend and fellow illustrator, Rachel Salomon. It's called, "My Town Is Your Town, I Like What You Like", and is up until the end of November at the Riviera: www.seeyouattheriviera.com.
My initial intention was to wait until all of our pics of the opening were sorted through before posting. John from johnfreeborn.com and space1026.com just sent some of his. I think I'm going to take advantage of his helpfulness.