This is one in a series of paintings of free stuff and things found on the street during my walks in the Berkeley, California area. The little apples had fallen from a neighbor’s tree and the candlestick was in a free box on the curb. Below are photos of some steps in the work in progress of this painting (which is available to purchase from my Daily Paintworks gallery here) and a couple of cool studio tips too. Read More
These funny strawberry-like fruits came from a tree in Berkeley that I passed while walking with a friend. The patterns on them reminded me of cloisonné beads. I picked up a few that had fallen from the tree and was surprised to find them very light and seemingly hollow, rather like marshmallows. I stuck them in my pocket to take home and sketch.
I didn’t have time that day to sketch so left them on a plate in my studio. When I returned to the studio the next day I noticed a foul odor, rather like vomit , and realized it was coming from these “fruits.”
I braved the smell and set about sketching them (quickly). I would have cut them open to discover what was inside but was afraid I’d need a gas mask. As soon as I finished the sketch I bagged them and got them out of the studio, opened the doors and turned the air cleaner on high.
In this case, beauty really is only skin deep. Whatever is under the skin is really yucky. A clever ruse by mother nature to prevent them from being eaten?
Mystery solved. One of my readers on Facebook put the query out to her horticultural friends and here’s what they reported:
The tree is Cornus kousa, one of the very best small tree/large shrubs. Spectacular in bloom, late spring, then very decorative in the fall. Good for birds. I found this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkkcWtQSgIY
At the book publication party for my friend Barbara’s wonderful new book, From Tree to Table: Growing Backyard Fruit Trees in the Pacific Maritime Climate I decided to make one of the recipes in the book: Grilled Fig Bruschetta. But first I sketched a few of the figs (above) before cooking them. I used a blank note card because I wanted to stand it on the table with the food. But since it wasn’t watercolor paper, the paint just sunk in. I switched to gouache which worked great and was huge fun.
I’m not a confident cook, but the recipe sounded simple and very delicious: figs tossed in olive oil and fresh thyme and broiled, then set atop a toasted baguette spread with gorgonzola dolce cheese (soft, sweet blue cheese), and then drizzled with a bit of honey and a sprinkle of thyme.
They were fabulous! A perfect combination of flavors and everyone loved them. I’m glad I took a picture (above) before they were all gone. I served them on plates I made many years ago when I was a potter.
This is the baby fig tree that Barbara gave me last spring. I’ve sketched its progress from stick, to growing three leaves to now (above) with three skinny trunks. I’m going to use the pruning section in From Tree to Table (and a little help from Barbara) to learn how to prune it so it just has one trunk, once it drops its leaves for the winter….if winter ever comes…we’re still having warm summer-like weather half the time and fruit trees are so confused.
After a summer of fighting with a contractor to properly complete my backyard deck and some other construction (beginning stages of garage to studio conversion), the work is done and I can finally enjoy painting on my backyard deck. This was my first happy little backyard sketch of three varieties of organic figs. I painted sitting on my cute new wicker love seat, bought for just $20 from neighbors who were moving away.
I may at some point share my lengthy rant about the way many contractors condescend, ignore, cheat and/or bully women clients, but it’s too nice a day to dwell on such things. I’ll just say that after talking to other women who’ve managed their own construction projects with male contractors, the problem is all to common.
But now the sun is shining, the wind and fog have disappeared and I have a little bouquet of roses waiting to be painted so I’m heading out to the deck!
Happy 4th of July, whether it’s Independence Day where you are not. Why not make every day Independence Day and claim your right to freedom from whatever holds you back?
Today I chose the freedom of sketching blueberries in my sketchbook instead of struggling with other “work” I’ve been doing in the studio. I’m also trying to claim independence from the “shoulds” that are telling me I should be at a barbeque, roasting wieners, drinking beer, and waving flags.
It looks like the Bay Area will at last have a non-foggy 4th and if so I’ll be heading up to Albany Hill to watch the fireworks around the Bay Area. And now I declare independence from my computer!