Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Art Thought: Why I Paint Food

My latest series of paintings is of food. Some of the food is in good shape and ready to eat, while some is rotten or moldy or the image is of the part of the vegetable that we throw away.

I am creating this series for several reasons.  One reason is that I am exploring food as an object. How do you create the pattern of carrot greens laying over each other?  What is the true color of an eggplant that is rotting? What does it look like when a tomato ages and leaks juice onto the plate? So often we purchase a vegetable and then immediately place it in our refrigerators without really looking at them – appreciating them for their physical qualities.  All too often, I have the pleasure to observe the changing shape of a rotting vegetable I find in the back of my refrigerator.

Another reason I am painting food is it is fun.  Food is fun.  On days when I do not have to be anywhere, I like pancakes, sausages and eggs for breakfast.  Making pancakes makes me feel free, like the day is special.  I'm not sure if I have ever seen a painting of pancakes before.  They are a fascinating thing to paint with the varying tones of brown in the middle and the batter-colored edge of the disk. And eggs, how do you show the color of egg yolk underneath a thin layer of egg white? I find certain foods to be fun, and the challenge of painting them fun as well.

I also paint food because it is such an intricate part of being human.  We eat, on average, three meals a day. That is a lot of food, a lot of decisions, and at times, a lot of cooking.  Our bodies depend on that food.  Most of the cells in our bodies replenish themselves every few months.  Where does the nutrients, vitamins and proteins come from to create those cells?  Food.  There is no way around it. If you want to live healthy, if you want strength and vitality, if you want balance in your life, you need to eat food. The healthier the food the better your body will work.

But our relationship to food has become so complicated, because it is such an intricate part of being human.  We have a tendency to think of food as something separate from ourselves.  There is a sense that as long as we put something in our bellies, especially things that taste good or make us feel good, our body will use that to maintain itself.  But many things that we consume can not be digested or used by our bodies.  Some things are actually detrimental to our health – even though someone else is telling us that it is healthy.  In these paintings I am also exploring this complicated relationship with food.

What is the difference between eating fresh caught rainbow trout and fish-sticks?  Physically, aesthetically, and socially?  Why do we need an apple, the Arctic Apple, that does not brown when cut?   Why do we need to pump chemicals into our environment in order to produce food?  These are all questions and concerns that also inform this series of paintings.

I would love your feedback as I display images of my paintings here and invite you to come to any shows I will have.

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