Archive for the 'Creativity' Category

Published by PaintingChef on 16 May 2011

The things we aren’t talking about today.

Books? Again? More? Oh sure, why the hell not?

It’s not like we’re going to talk about painting… oh no. That would just remind me that I’m NOT painting and that I actually have a couple of paintings that I really need to do but all the NOT painting I’m doing to avoid attempting those paintings I’m supposed to be doing is going to be oh so very loud. As always, they are in my head. I know exactly what I want to paint. That’s never been the problem. I’m just too… scared to try and translate it. My artistic abilities are raw, at best. I can’t draw, I can’t manipulate the paint once its on the canvas. I don’t know how. So I end up covering and covering and getting frustrated and throwing a temper tantrum and then I just start drinking.

But I want to paint something for my new niece’s (NEW! NIECE! GORGEOUS AND PERFECT IN EVERY WAY!!!) nursery. I have a friend opening a restaurant and he’s reserved a spot on a wall for me and I. HAVE. NOTHING. My grandfather is turning 90 this summer and we are all going up to the Vineyard for a whole weekend of festivities and I know EXACTLY what I want to paint for him but I’m thinking my dad would love it even more but his birthday is in two days and we all know that THAT isn’t going to happen… but maybe it could? Maybe it’s in my head enough? Maybe… just maybe… he would certainly like it better than a golf shirt, right?

Hmmmm… I think I shall sketch this afternoon and just SEE how it goes…

And chef-ing. Let’s not talk about that either. I actually would love to talk about that. I would love to talk about the delicious beer onion and barbecue chicken grilled pizza I made for dinner this weekend. And how good it still smelled when Patrick heated it up for lunch a few minutes ago. Or my current obsession with fish tacos but how I always kind of say that quietly because it sounds oddly dirty to me. I can’t talk about the big three-layer cake I’m making for my mother’s retirement party (RETIREMENT!!) next week because I have no idea what it is going to look like.

I would actually kind of love to talk about ALL of that. But can I? Is this a food blog? Can you have a food blog if you had weight loss surgery? There are so many gorgeous food blogs and so many people who stun me speechless with their baking and cooking and talents. I? Made mint julep cake truffles and didn’t even remember to take a picture of them until I was holding one half eaten in my fist last week and only had my Blackberry camera on me. It was, to say the least, a tragic picture of chocolate gore. Tasty, tasty chocolate murder.

How when I stand in the kitchen, my thoughts slow down and become more mellow. Whether I am baking or grilling or braising or roasting, it all makes me calm. How just the right amount of thyme can make squash and zucchini melt in your mouth like butter. And if I close my eyes, I swear that I sense my grandmother sitting right there, sipping coffee and smiling at me, telling me to just trust my instincts.

Or about the Easter meal I cooked for a group of friends and family. Beautiful barbecue chicken, perfectly grilled and sweet and smoky and oh so moist and tender that I ate it cold out of the fridge two days later. Summer vegetable succotash served cold and loaded with fresh basil. And my favorite summer salad with strawberries, goat cheese, praline pecans and crisp spinach leaves. We all sat down and someone said it looked like a magazine spread. I? Was two (four) glasses of wine deep and probably would have dropped my camera had I even tried to pick it up. Not that it ever occurred to me any damn way.

(Oh look… we’re back to drinking. What a shock.)

What was the point? Oh yeah. I read books this weekend. “The Hunger Games” trilogy. All of them. Couldn’t put them down. Can’t stop thinking about them. But I’m still not reading those damn vampire books. I tried and I hated every single second.

Published by PaintingChef on 11 Jun 2010

On checking in and getting my ass kicked.

Call it a check-up. An open up and say “ahhh” sort of moment we’re going to have here. When you work full time and don’t have children, other than the weekends, summer kind of loses its luster. But in spite of that, I feel like the summer kind of kicked off my whole “New Attitude” (and if you don’t hear Patti LaBelle right now in your head, you are dead to me) and much unlike, um, pretty much everything else in my life, I’m trying really hard to make this one stick.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the being healthier or getting motivated to not be quite so ass on the couch-y all damn day even when it’s perfect and gorgeous in the out-of-doors that had me shaking in my boots. And that’s because despite my lack of self-motivation, I KNOW how to do those things. I KNOW how to swim and walk and run and work in the garden (oh lord… what a fucking fiasco THAT has been. The veggies are good, so are the herbs, there are just so MANY of them. And its not even that there are tons of vegetables, its just that these plants grow so many damn leaves for a few pieces of squash or peppers. Good grief!) I KNOW how to cook healthier and live actively. Those are things that I’ve done before and are ingrained somewhere in my subconscious buried deep under layers of cake, chocolate frosting and sourdough bread.

No, the one thing that terrified me more than anything else was telling myself that enough was enough. It was time for me to stop making excuses and empty promises and just get up and rediscover the artist side of me. I remember the feeling I used to get working in my sunny kitchen studio nook painting and grooving to the music on my ipod. It was the most blissful, free feeling I can think of. I would be just enchanted by the swirls of colors on my paper plate palettes (I tried so many things, wet palettes designed to make paint last, those cute wooden ones you see in photographs, but nothing works like a good old oversized paper plate! I blame the lazy housekeeper in me…). It was like this electric current of creativity and passion was flowing through my entire body.

I think that in procrastinating my return to art, I’ve been afraid of not being able to recapture that feeling. I tried to tell myself that it was because I’m scared that I’ll stand there in front of a blank canvas and nothing will happen, nothing will come out. In my previous artistic life, I called my work “happy art”. It was all bright colors and whirling dervishes and abstract shapes that were meant to do nothing more than evoke a smile and brighten a wall or maybe even the day of someone who saw it. But, in general, I live my life in a slightly darker place now and while maybe that very fact is part of what I’m trying to change, I don’t think its going to ever go away. There is a side of my psyche that, over the past 2 years or so, has been designated to house the loss and disappointment that has managed to sneak into my life. It doesn’t go away, I still miss her every day and that emptiness has just become part of who I am. I dream about her so often. She tells me that she is fine and when I try to explain how I miss her, she tells me that there isn’t a second of the day that she isn’t right by my side. But still… she’s gone. She’s gone and I can’t have a baby. These are my realities and they’ve changed me.

So I’m scared to try and create something because I don’t think I’ll recognize what comes out. But… scared or not… I think I’ve finally received the kick in the ass that I’ve needed. One of my FAVORITE internet girl crushes, Lindsey Smolensky (whose name I can’t even say without having to take a breath and be in awe of her balls-out creativity and dedication to making her art infuse itself into every area of her life, she is… her work leaves me speechless, I can’t even explain it, I ADORE her) has started a project that runs alongside Bravo’s “Work of Art” reality show and I’m taking a deep breath and diving in.

There are a group of artists, of which I am one, who are challenging themselves to follow along with the challenges on “Work of Art” (think Top Chef, Project Runway, the standard and HIGHLY addictive Bravo reality show format) and create one piece a week. Then we will post them online and share them with each other and have a discussion. No winners, no losers, nobody gets voted off. This is just a great way to be involved with other artists. She modeled the challenge off of Becky Cochran’s AMAZING Project Runway/Barbie project. (You must check that one out… it is GREAT! I think most everything is under the “fashion” tag).

So… long story longer… (I know, are you exhausted, if you are even still reading, I so applaud you.) The project is going to be pretty fantastic. The first challenge is a portrait and I have to have it done by Monday. I am, of course, doing my grandmother but the coolest part? SO IS LINDSEY!! Hers will kick mine’s ass but they will both be beautiful because they will both be full of love and honesty. I’m scared shitless about this project. But I’m also totally grateful to Lindsey for coming up with it and asking me to be involved. If you want to follow along, I’m going to add a link in the sidebar somewhere at some point but for right now… you can find it here.

Wish me luck!!