I love food, and have loved to cook from a very young age. The highlight of my week is sitting down on Friday evening to plan our meals for the coming week, checking out new recipes to put on the menu, and putting my grocery list together.
At various times in this blog I’ve talked about cooking, even comparing art to cooking now and then, and why not? Both are creative processes. Both involve colors and textures. Both can bring joy and pleasure. Well, all right, maybe my art doesn’t always accomplish that, but people do enjoy my cooking, as often as not.
Despite my love of cooking, and despite the fact that I painted in the kitchen for a long time, I’ve never really created any “food art”. I’ve drawn and painted a few fruits, yes, but that’s as far as I’ve gone. Until recently I’d made no attempt whatsoever to draw or paint actual dishes — foods being served on plates or in bowls.
But the most recent issue of Artist magazine included an article about sketching food. The artist not only sketched a table scene but added a bit of watercolor as well. So, since I love following along with articles in the magazine, I figured it was time for me to create a bit of food art.
I chose a delicious-looking desert I plan to make soon. Originally I’d planned to make it for Father’s Day, but we spent the day visiting with my husband’s parents, so I was away from my kitchen.
I was happy with the original sketch I made, but unfortunately I wasn’t thinking too far ahead, and I made the sketch on drawing paper, not watercolor paper.
Later, I used a sheet of graphite paper and a pen to transfer my drawing to a watercolor pad.
The next step in the process — following along with the guidelines from Artist magazine — was to create color swatches. The artist writing the article works with a limited palette and seeks to create food art that resembles Mary Cassatt’s prints with lots of pale, muted colors.
I knew I wanted some of my colors — those of the orange napkin — to be brighter and bolder. Here is a picture of the color swatches I made.
Keep in mind, I really had little idea of what I was doing or exactly where and how I might use these colors, so I played around a bit. In the end, what I came up with was irrelevant, because in-between painting these swatches and doing my actual food art watercolor, I changed my palette completely.
My plan was to make a lot of little “scribbles” for the colorful napkin, and that didn’t work out too well. I really had no idea how to paint the white plate and pale shadows. Mine came out much too dark. Oh, well.
In the end, my dessert didn’t look quite so delicious as the photo, but it was still a fun project to do.
Why did I choose cheesecake? Why chocolate?
Creating the right colors was interesting, and actually I didn’t come up with a very good color for either the chocolate or the cheesecake!
I enjoyed this little project, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy preparing this dessert for my husband. I plan to serve it in individual graham cracker “tart” shells, and maybe I’ll take a few photos of it before we finish our meal.
And from time to time, I might try creating a little more “food art”. What a fun way that would be to collect and save favorite recipes.
UPDATE: Yes, we had “coffee cheesecake” for dessert on Friday evening. Of course, I changed the recipe up a bit. Same recipe, same dessert, different interpretation.
First, I used chocolate coconut coffee instead of regular coffee. And then instead of coffee-flavored extract, I used vanilla. For the sweetener I went with erythritol instead of liquid stevia, and as you can see, I didn’t drizzle chocolate over our little tarts. Instead we added whipped cream, and topped it all off with a fresh strawberry.
If anyone wants my “revised recipe” with the exact measurements for the ingredients, please let me know in the comments.