23 February 2013

Experiments with a purpose

It seems that my recent habit of sketching my dinner is going to pay off. (Not in money, but in comparative fame. Well, familiarity, at any rate.) At my day job (librarian at a public library), we are celebrating a Century of Service--i.e., library services have been on offer in Burbank, California since 1913. One thing we have decided to do to mark the occasion is to make up a combination book list / cookbook. We will feature books from our catalog with short annotations/reviews by our staff, and then incorporate a variety of recipes, also gathered from the staff--presumably from some of the cookbooks in our catalog, but also personal recipes passed down in our families. And...I have volunteered to illustrate it. No, I didn't have enough to do, what with holding down a full-time job, doing movie titles on the side, and trying to find time to paint, read, write, and (always last on the list) clean my house. I needed something else.

So--here is my first experiment. I'm trying to decide whether to go with "straight" watercolor (drawn lightly in pencil and then painted) or to do my (comparatively) new thing by drawing in pen and then watercoloring. The former is softer and more realistic, the latter a little more illustrative verging on cartoonish.

A friend recently asked for a recipe to use up the bushels of lemons being produced by her backyard tree, so I asked my friend Triste for her lemon curd recipe and then decided to illustrate it. Rather than print the recipe here, I will give a link, because the live video instructions are quite helpful. Triste makes this every year, and I get to keep a jar because I supply her with the lemons! http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/lemon_curd.aspx (Triste says she doubles the amount of zest.)

In the first (pencil) version, I did a better/more realistic job on the jar (being at liberty to erase and fix until I got it right), plus the curd inside the jar looks real; but I like the pen drawing (this time using a Faber/Castell in a sepia tone instead of a more harsh black pen) better for the features of the cut lemon. On the former, I also inadvertently spattered some blue paint up into the white, so I did some spatter on purpose to camouflage that, but I haven't mastered the art of spattering (ANY TIPS FROM ANYONE?), so it looks rather like blue arterial spray! (I want the spatter to be larger but not hit in straight lines the way it did here.) In the latter, I used some Daniel Smith cobalt and black, and it granulated, which I quite like in some instances but didn't really care for here. I'm going to try this sketch one more time with black ink and see.