You Know I Love My Vegetables…

Still-life-webWeek of July 6

A Spaniard Who Liked His Vegetables” is the title of a New York Times article about Luis Meléndez, considered one of the greatest still-life painters of 18th century Spain. After he was rejected from a career as a court artist, Meléndez began painting household objects like fruit, vegetables and kitchenware. His work depicted a folksy lifestyle which still managed to appeal to upper-class clientele. Meléndez’s approach to  still-life pieces was unique. Instead of painting entire compositions he painted each object individually, and it is questionable how he captured such realistic, near-photographic outcomes.

I spent Independence Day morning in my hot and stuffy apartment assembling a cabbage, mason jar of quinoa, half-finished bottle of red wine, and bunch of tomatoes on the vine. Since I began collecting recipes for a family cookbook several variations of “cabbage rolls with sauce,” better known in Poland as “Golabki” (pronounced Gowombki), have flooded in from overseas relatives. Funnily enough I have recently grown fond of my own “cabbage roll” dish.

So despite being out of practice (the last still-life I painted was in college in 2001) and in need of illustrations for the book, I set about capturing the ingredients. The painting process went pretty smoothly although the outcome is far from photographic and lacks some depth. I battled to convey the mason jar’s transparency. Meanwhile plenty of stylish paintings of dishes, jars, bread loaves and seasoning shakers were to await me at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival which I visited later in the afternoon.

I do like my vegetables, but doubt I’ll spend more time trying to perfectly re-produce them!

“Fail at what you want to do, then do what you really can do.”

New York Times Art Review: May 26, 2009


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