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An Illustrator’s Kitchen

It starts like this…

A takeover of the kitchen table, everything neatly organized, ready for a flurry of cut paper, paint-splotch-coffee-stained sessions. The new story, written in December is there too, somewhere in the pile; though I secretly know I’ll never look at it. I seek uninterrupted artistic immersion—like a pig in a heavenly warm puddle of slop and mud. This personality quirk is the reason meals in my kitchen are so limited. I cook what I have memorized, though there are plenty of cookbooks. Ignorance can be bliss… until boredom sets in—then, it’s time to learn new combinations of ingredients or make them up. I didn’t know Saffron tasted so good in Cream of Wheat cereal. ; )

At the moment, I eat at the counter or the sink because the kitchen table is full of… well, let’s just say ‘hope.’ Illustrating books is new to me. Now with my first one going to market, I have two more written and I urgently want a fast way to illustrate them. I’ve always drawn and painted without goals and the narrative finds it’s way out (whether I wanted that or not). It’s starts out as a meditation on a Peony flower and ends up a painting of me dumping the contents of my head into a dump truck passing by. Poor dump truck driver just got slowed down with the weight of things for the day. Darn, he was cute too! I digress.

What I want to say is this…

I’m not a collage artist. I’m a painter.
I thought collage would help me make the twenty images for the next book… faster. Instead, after hours of making bad art, I wrote a short story about the first recipe my mother taught me: Manicotti. In my nervous pursuit to impress her, I put six tablespoons of salt in the sauce (instead of teaspoons-even that’s a lot of salt, but we were making a lot). I guess now it’s a real illustrators kitchen. Instead of making my main character a ketchup labeled mini-skirt, I’ll be painting her. It will take time, but I’ll have kitchen stories in my cupboard, and coffee dates with friends coming through in the late afternoon, staining the paper and making new memories.

I dunno…illustrating books in the kitchen vs. the studio just may be a new way to tether memory and the daily stories that kitchen’s naturally accumulate. The next book may take two years instead of seven months. But, ah well, lots of foolish mistakes are made in the kitchen. I’m glad I started early on my first ones from salty manicotti to bad collage.

The vision of organized, efficient speed…ended up like this:

Cheers to your explorations. And if you can’t make art, make some foolish food.

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