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Artist's Notebook

To paint on the knife edge

I suffered a loss. Devastating. But It wasn’t the kind of loss that the world stops to acknowledge, especially if deadlines are looming, children need to be fed and cared for, and one needs to show up at one’s job. Oh, and a painting to finish, and not just any painting, but the banner painting for Jellypress. All I had so far was this oil sketch of daffodils and the pot of cooked strawberries. It was a nice sketch, but only a sketch. The plan was for Laura to come over and pose for me, so I could do an oil of her hands cutting fresh strawberries and rhubarb. Her company that night held me together - that’s what friends do for each other - but I couldn’t paint well to save my life. Mere days remained until we had to have the banner ready.

We had also done a photo shoot in Laura’s kitchen previously that yielded this image. I painted it from the photo. We both agreed that we liked the image, but it wasn’t exactly what we wanted for Jellypress. For me, the immediacy of working from life was missing. The camera decides so much for you. I wanted to experience the image I would paint without the camera lens distancing me from it.
In the same painting, over to the right, I painted a bowl of cooked strawberries. There was also a photo with the same feeling. Despite myself, the loss was coloring everything I did. Laura and I joked that we would name the image “The Strawberries of Doom.” Even though we were kidding, we knew there was some truth in it too. Life is not always pretty or fair and we are both nourished and starved as we live and learn. In the beauty of ripe strawberries, there always exists the mud they come from, the garbage of the compost that fed them, the rot that will overtake them in time as they in turn become nourishment for new growth. I wanted all that in the painting.
Finally, alone in my kitchen, I painted this image from life. I worked without over-thinking it. Just a simple image, I thought. Fruit, cutting board, the knife left for a moment by the unseen cook. It was only later, when people mentioned the knife’s edge, so prominent in the foreground, that I realized how much of us comes out in our art without our conscious control. It’s all there. 

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Jellypress is about Nancy and Laura having fun with what they love: old recipes, art, and ideas--as we find them in our modern lives.  We met...read more »

Yes, all the artwork on Jellypress was done by Nancy. Go to the Jellypress Art page

The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and FamilyTo find out about Laura's search for a long lost family recipe, click [ What's a Jellypress?

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Painting and food. Now you’re talking!!!

I love the whole process here. Taking me through the various steps, like a recipe.

The hand with the knife and red all over it, isn’t quite wetting my appetite, but I love the final outcome.

Blog away, ladies!!!

    – Karen Cole (June 01 2008 at 10:29)

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