Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jumping the Gun

Ten days ago, I finished and posted a painting that I felt excited about. My joy was partly due to the fact that I had not had much studio time lately, but mostly because I loved the design, colors, and simplicity of the piece.

But as I lived with it and got comments from various people, I realized that I had missed the mark when the main figure did not read as feminine. Also people were seeing ethnicity in the figures, when none was intended.  One art friend said he thought the top chef was a Swedish man!

Since the idea behind the story is the fact that most top chefs are male. It is a difficult journey for a woman to get the same kind of recognition in the restaurant world. In fact, women represent around 19% of top chefs.

What did work were the colors, the design, the left white, and the idea. What failed was the main figure. I guess it is mostly androgynous. I wouldn't say that the painting failed, because I see it as fun and interesting, but it doesn't say what I meant.

So the last few days were spent with a redo. Let me know what you think. Below is the first rendition of Top Chef.

Top Chef
29 x 22 inches
Transparent Watercolor

And below take a look at version 2, "Nineteen Percent."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Inspiration, Influences, and Interpretation

I've always loved alliterations!

Inspiration:  For a long time I have wanted to create a painting about my older daughter's love of cooking. From the time Meg won the grand prize at the Curry County Fair for a red velvet cake at the age of 10 or 11, until now, she has developed a reputation as a great chef. I have one photo of her where her smirky look really tickles me--it's the smile she has when her dad calls her to get her recipe for BBQ ribs. However, I am not into painting realistic portraits, as you readers know. ( There are so many wonderful painter friends who do that!)

The other inspiration comes from my recent interest in painting about women's issues. I looked into women chef numbers to find that in US hotels only 19% of top chefs are women. Also a woman needs the credentials of a culinary school, as opposed to men who more often climb to the top from experience outside of formal education.

The irony of this amazes me. Think of who prepared the vast majority of food you ate growing up and the generation before you and the many generations before that!

I enjoy the simplicity of Toulouse Lautrec posters or Milton Avery paintings. I enjoy creating a flat painting without shadows and depth. Where the light comes from does not interest me.

Image result for milton avery

I have always liked leaving the white of the paper in a painting. It is so powerful, contemporary and brave in my mind. Last year in the Katherine Chang Liu studio workshop, I painted a piece with left whites and very little detail in a tee-shirt. I really liked the feel of this painting "Run," but I  did not enjoy the hard work and disappointment in creating a likeness of my younger daughter, Rachel.

30 x 22
Transparent Watercolor on Paper
Now the trick is to come up with a simple design that puts the woman in the forefront, shows men's numbers much higher in the profession, captures the cute smirk of my daughter, uses the "19%" and leaves a lot of the powerful white. Add on, using my familiar kimono shape format. How did I do?

Top Chef (working title)
30 x 22 inches
Transparent Watercolor on Paper