Ever since I was in art school, in my junior and senior year, when I had my own studio at Tyler, I have been fascinated with still life. That fascination carried on when I went to graduate school at UCSD and ended up being the topic of my thesis. Implicit in the depiction of still life is food.
Shown above is a reproduction of one of Edouard Manet's still life paintings. Manet is one of my favorite painters to this day. He imbues his food with such a luscious quality through his brush strokes and the oil-laden paint he uses, that you literally want to reach out and into the painting to eat the food within them. His facility with paint and the love that he seemingly has for his subject matter is a continual source of awe and inspiration.
(Henri Fantin-Latour, 1866, "Still Life")
Another of my favorites is Henri Fantin-Latour. The oil painting shown above was painted in 1866, like Manet's work above it, and is simply called "Still Life." I don't use the word simply lightly. This painting is a study in elegant simplicity, representing the good life--wholesome fresh food, beautiful and fragrant flowers, a cup of tea and a book to elevate the thoughts.
Recently, I have begun to watch the Cooking Channel and Food Network. Watching the chefs conceive and create wonderful dishes was another source of creative inspiration. The ironic part is that I also watch and listen to programs on the radio about slimming, being fit and healthy, which shakes me out of my realm of food fascination.
I still love to gaze at the paintings in this genre but am finding that I am weaning myself off the television programs. Often the foods are impossible for me to even imagine cooking and serving to my family. Like Manet's oil-laden brushes, the dishes I often see made by the chefs are rich with oil. Besides that there are the meaty plates that I won't eat, and gluten, which I also avoid. Don't even let me get started on the sugary desserts.
Painting continues to fill my senses and it is in a noncaloric sort of soulful way. Recently, I started a body of work built around the idea of food deserts. After doing a single pastel painting of Frito's, something you might find trying to pass for food in such a place, I had to abandon the project. I just didn't want to be exposed to that kind of toxic substance masquerading as food.
As I move forward, I will continue my exploration of contemporary still life but will focus on the many wholesome, fresh foods that currently fill and sustain my life. When I have developed this new body of work, I will post examples here.
As part of the A to Z blogger's challenge F is for Food.