Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beauty is in the Bowl of the Beholder

Welcome to the first installment of "The HeART of Food", a daily exploration of our relationship with food and, particularly, how healthy food brings real beauty into our lives. When I first conceived this train of art and writing, I had just completed last year's series of painting or drawing my dinner each night as an artistic and dietary discipline. I thought it would help me stay accountable to good food as well as the discipline of creating art, even if it were a tiny piece, every day.

That series got me seriously interested in the beauty that is inherent in food carefully grown, mindfully prepared, artfully presented, and joyfully consumed.

It prompted me to pay closer attention to avoiding food that contained unpronounceable ingredients, refined sugar, emasculated grain, or trans-anything.

I also have done some delving into the images or objects connected with food which artists throughout time have shared with the world, and concluded that some of the most beautiful images speak to us of abundance and blessing. Think, for example, of ancient libation cups and bowls created to offer sustenance to gods of earth, sea, and sky.

The marble (marble!) bowl shown above was made by the Cycladic people, ca. 2800 B.C.E., is of a size easily held in the hand, and is carved as thin as a porcelain cup. We know nearly nothing of their civilization, except that they chose to exercise their remarkable skill with marble on very few objects: images of goddesses and these amazing bowls.

How can human beings who would create something so delicate to hold their nourishment degrade to the level of synthesizing food that deserves nothing better than Styrofoam packaging? How did real food lose its beauty?

It is to reclaim the power of food's beauty-its power to sustain the heart literally and figuratively as more than just a package full of calories-that is the object of this series. You are invited to share insights as they occur, or just read along for the ride. From time to time I'll mention resources, post images, and share links you may want to check out. If I assert a fact, I'll quote the source so you can explore further if you like. All art will be either mine or in the public domain or used with permission of its creator. For instance, the marble bowl can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art . (If you happen to know the artist please share with the rest of us)

This first week, I want to also think about clean eating and making even seemingly insignificant foods beautiful to the eye. I am of the opinion that one of the reasons we Americans have fallen so far down the slough of bad eating is that there is little to encourage us to linger over and enjoy the interaction with our food. We drive through, get a bag through the car window, and eat from it without even looking at how it's presented. I know. I'm an expert! But I'm also thinking that if we were to consider giving good food the presentation it deserves, we might appreciate it for its aesthetic appeal as much as for its physical nourishment. It would take fewer calories to satisfy us, since our eye and soul would be full.

One thing I don't care to do is to become a recipe site. There are countless excellent recipe sites available, from the Washington Post to Dr. Oz to Martha Stewart. They all do a better job than I could, and they'll give you nutrition values and calorie counts too. If I'm making a point and have a recipe on hand to illustrate it, I'll probably foist it on you. Don't feel that means you have to try it!

So, now that Memorial Day and Taco Night are behind me, it's time to get down to the HeART of the matter.

Expect each day's fresh post by 5:00 am Pacific Daylight time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Next Blog Project


Summer is hopefully just around the corner despite the weather reverting to wintry temperatures and precipitation. And this is California?

Thinking about the focus for this space for summer, I've decided to explore eating "clean", and what that means in terms of what food does for us and how its beauty supports us with more than just physical nutrition.

With that thought in mind, check this space beginning June 1st for discussion of the "HeART of Food". I'll be including pictures, drawings, paintings, and recipes as I attempt to make clean eating beautiful and accessible.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Going to the Fair!

One shoe, two shoes, red shoes, blue shoes

Going to the fair.
High heels, spike heels, green heels, my heels
Can't walk on the damn things

It's better to paint high heels and let the painting go to the state fair than to wear the silly pretties myself and expect to walk around the fair in them. That's exactly what these lovelies, painted in oil on 16"x20" stretched canvas will be doing come July 14-31 in Sacramento at the California State Fair.

This picture and the next one, a watercolor on 140-lb. cold press paper, are two of the three I entered and I am delighted to have even one, let alone two pieces accepted. I am particularly pleased that my watercolor is one of only ten watercolor paintings to be exhibited.

If you plan to be in the northern California area during the last half of July, I hope you'll take a day to scope out the fair. Every year the food gets a little more outrageous (Deep-fried Snickers bars) and the art gets more luscious.

Wear comfortable shoes.

This painting is entitled "On the Playground I" and was inspired by a picture taken for me by my son, Sean Olivares, actor, college student, and fellow movie buff, with whom I have spent many happy playground hours.