Week of July 27
I bounced out of bed on Sunday morning and applied gesso to a 9 x 12 inch canvas, covering up a two-year old portrait. I had just read Mildred Armstrong Kalish’s description of her mother’s steaming bread loaves that she served with homemade butter and plum jam, in the book Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression. This only intensified my weeklong craving to produce a scrumptious illustration of a baked good for the family cookbook.
This was my first attempt at producing mouth-watering eye candy and I hoped to capture the comforts of homemade baked goods. The goods in question were three warm chocolate chip muffins from a batch I baked in the early afternoon, that I artfully arranged on a plate on my living room table. They look scrumptious regardless of their surroundings.
Reproducing the textured fissures of the muffins’ caps and the crevices of their blue paper liners was relatively simple. Capturing the rounded items’ perspective from my side view was far more challenging and is inaccurate. I struggled with the contrasting dark values representing the muffins’ shadows on the curved plate beneath, which can easily be mistaken for a flat cake platter viewed from the top.
I often wonder how the food bloggers publish mouth-watering photographs that even do justice to their supposed “flop” experiments. Béatrice Peltre’s tips on food styling and photography are available on La Tartine Gourmande. Photography may be a different form of art, but her tips still apply to painting. If I had read them before I began and tried to incorporate the crumby interiors of the metal muffin pans, my painting time would have exceeded an hour and a half. There is no race, but I am definitely becoming a faster painter even though this canvas is smaller than my usual. I am on the right track… My muffins symbolize comfort and joy, and I used repetitive shapes in my arrangement.
A quick Google of “painters of baked goods” led me to Nancy Bea Miller – the foremost doughnut painter in Philadelphia. Painting food is fun and I may have to pursue it further. My muffins may appear only halfway delicious but they sure did disappear quickly at a Sunday evening barbecue for which they were intended.