It’s not like I already don’t spend a substantial portion of my day thinking of and talking about food. I wake up to my son, Jonathan, each morning commanding me to prepare one of his favorite breakfasts of fruit and Mickey Mouse pancakes, cheese and apricot blintzes, or strawberry yogurt and banana muffins. After I get that first meal on the table, I spend much of the morning coordinating with clients about food styling assignments, drafting lesson plans, writing menus, or working on the publicity for my two cooking books. By mid-day, it’s another wholesome meal on the table before I take my son for a walk in his stroller and head to the park where I often strike up a conversation with another mother in which food is inevitably discussed. Before I know it, meal Number 3 is both the topic of conversation and the work in progress. Once my son goes to bed, it’s back to the computer or telephone where food is yet again on the front burner.
So, when I decided to take a weekly painting class (with my childhood teacher and brilliant artist, Satish Joshi), I couldn’t wait for the mental mini-break from food. I thought I would paint a few flowers, a couple of landscapes, maybe even a successful abstract (still working on that one). Not so fast. Both my art teacher and my son had other plans. Satish said, “You should paint a cake!” Not having picked up a brush in 15 years, I figured it was as good a subject as anything to get the juices flowing (see, it always comes back to food!). I painted my first cake, and it was lovely. Even I was pleased. I brought it home proudly and showed my family. My son then requested cupcakes. So, I made cupcakes on canvas with acrylic paint and glitter sprinkles. Then Jonathan asked for a painting of chocolate chip cookies. Yes, I complied.
Even though the subjects have been food, I still have felt a wonderful release from my hectic culinary world when I paint. The action of painting and the colors I choose are as expressive as the subject chosen for me. Nevertheless, perhaps next week I will graduate to something savory, since food art is clearly in my future. First, though, I have to finish the canvas I prepped last week: a still life with a strawberry shortcake, apple pie, donuts, and a chocolate cake. Stay tuned for a picture!