Cooking? Isn’t this an art blog? Yes, but I’m passionate about both, and as art is now taking over my kitchen — or at least the kitchen table — the two somehow seem to go hand in hand, at least around my house.
Looking at my kitchen table this morning has me shaking my head. I like keeping my kitchen clean, and I used to have a rule about not leaving anything on the table. Oh, how times change!
I am blessed to have an understanding husband who is comfortable with clutter. All the same, every time I walk past the kitchen table, I wonder why he hasn’t reminded me of my rules or pointed out how much I fuss at him for leaving messes around.
Now, we’re eating on trays in the living room — which is fine with my husband — while the table remains permanently covered with a cheap plastic cloth and an assortment of paints, palettes, brushes, and other art supplies. If you look closely, you’ll see the beginnings of a watercolor portrait, and somewhere in the mess is a pad of “scratchboard” and a set of tools. That’s a new project coming up.
Skipping subjects here and going back to cooking…I got my first cookbook when I was very young. I’m guessing I was no more than five or six years old. Even then, I loved cooking. I wasn’t a little girl who played “tea party”. My game was “let’s sit down and pretend we’re having a seven-course meal”, complete with table settings and centerpiece. I was always getting into my mother’s cookbooks to pick out recipes for my “pretend parties”, so she finally bought me a cookbook of my own.
One of the first rules the book set forth was that of being a “clean kitchen cook”. Little girls should always clean up after they’ve made a mess of the kitchen. That was the idea, although it wasn’t stated quite so bluntly.
As a child, I wasn’t good at following that rule, but the book included a “certificate” a parent could sign avowing that their child was indeed a “clean kitchen cook”, and naturally, like any child, I begged and pleaded and whined about it until my mother dutifully signed it. It was a blatant lie, but that didn’t matter. I wanted that signed certificate.
Thankfully, I did grow up to become a “clean kitchen cook”. I wash utensils after using them. I put cooking ingredients away promptly. I clean up any drips or spills. I like keeping my kitchen clean. Once we finish eating, I quickly wash the dishes and put them away. Too quickly, if you ask my husband. He’s been known to hide silverware from me to keep me from grabbing it between dinner and dessert.
And, of course, there’s that long-standing rule about leaving nothing on the table. It’s covered with a beautiful lace cloth, and there’s always a centerpiece. At least, that’s how it used to be.
Oh, what a mess I’ve made now. That rule has flown right out the window — which happens to be a north window with good light, which is one of the reasons I’m painting at the table.
Art is messy. It can’t be any other way. Creativity means making a mess, and while it also means cleaning it up, that’s a later stage of the process. Especially for a beginning artist who is only now discovering all the many ways there are to make creative messes in art.
I’ve come to understand and accept that as much as I enjoy being a “clean kitchen cook”, I’ll never be a “clean kitchen artist”, and I’m lucky, indeed, to have a husband who’d rather have dinner in front of the TV than sit down at the table to eat.
Of course, I keep him happy with lots of delicious cooking. It’s the least I can do.