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Cooking, Entertaining, and Making Art

I am having a spur of the moment dinner party tonight. As you might know from earlier posts I LOVE to entertain on the spur of the moment! Dinner Party  Breakfast  Expanding Vegetables  Entertaining is one of my passions. It gives me the same feeling that I receive when I paint; entertaining on the spur of the moment heightens the excitement and exhilaration. I know most of you out there are thinking IS SHE NUTS? Yes, maybe a little. It’s what makes me an artist, that creative piece. Not to say a person is not creative if they like to plan out what they do ahead of time. Planning is actually an important part of creating art. I just speed up the process as I do in my style of painting. I like the adrenalin rush!  Having gardened most of the day I picked a large squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, chives, mint, limes, lemons, apples, and kale which is really a winter vegetable around here in So Cal. A friend gave me a small plant this spring and it is doing great! Oh, and egg plant!

Now what to cook! I roasted the vegetables. Squash is peeled and then cut in small chunks drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper; same process for egg plant put on baking sheets covered with tin foil and baked in 375 oven for 40 min or until a fork goes through vegetables easily. Meanwhile I made kale potato chips for hors d’oeuvres. After washing kale, chop into 2” pieces, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt (not too much, I have made that mistake!). You can drizzle with Ponzu Sauce instead of salting the kale. Bake in 375 oven for 20 to 30 minutes, maybe less depending on how much is on your cookie sheet. This makes a delicious hors d’oeuvre to accompany the dinner. And people love it because it is not fattening.

The fresh apples make a wonderful soup when combined with butternut squash. Here’s one of my favorite recipes.

Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Ingredients
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 tablespoons good olive oil
• 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large)
• 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
• 5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
• 1 1/2 pounds sweet apples, such as McIntosh (4 apples)
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 cups water
• 2 cups good apple cider or juice

Directions
Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.
Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks.
Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Process the soup through a food mill fitted with a large blade, or puree it coarsely in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
Pour the soup back into the pot. Add the apple cider or juice and enough water to make the soup the consistency you like; it should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot.

Many people have expressed an interest in my process of painting. I have a high tech studio in my garage with Ott lighting so I can paint into the wee hours of the morning if I am so inclined. Ott lighting gives the impression of sunlight.

Photobiologist and pioneer in light research, Dr. John Ott, discovered through 40 years of scientific research the remarkable effects specific wavelengths of natural light have on all living things. Dr. Ott developed the first OTT-LITE® product while filming “The Secrets of Life Series” for Walt Disney. A specially formulated blend of rare earth phosphors is used to create this unique illumination that looks and feels like natural daylight. TrueColor lighting allows details to be seen more clearly and colors accurately. Now it is possible to see with superior clarity without the intense heat, excessive glare and harsh distortion of standard lighting.

 

Last night I painted for 4 hours working on one very large abstract. A few days ago I painted from 3 pm to 11 pm. I took about a half hour break for dinner. My studio is all ready with everything at hand so it is easy for me to start painting without a lot of fuss to get my materials together. It used to be that I would use that as an excuse not to paint. Painting is my passion. So there is a lot of energy and emotion wrapped into the process. As an abstract artist I paint my emotions. If I am happy, sad, angry, melancholy, feeling sexy, whatever the emotion, you name it, the emotions wind up in my art.

I have said that painting great art is like shining a powerful searchlight up into the heavens at night. The light never dies! Great art is alive. My passion is like a drug! Once I start I do not want to stop. I love squeezing delicious colors of thick paint onto my palette. My favorite is Golden.  I admire the colors before I start mixing them on and off the canvas.

 

There is an expression that I learned many years ago from Sebastian Capella.

Paint as if you are the wealthiest person in the world.
That means, use the best paints and accompanying materials. Don’t be stingy with the paint. Paint with thick luscious colors.

Another thing I usually do is paint on several paintings at one sitting. I have them all over the studio and spilling out into the rest of my garage. I get into a frenzy of movement from one to another. Sometimes I concentrate meticulously on a painting and make it very detailed with many layers of paint and then with one fell swoop put my whole body into the process of mad strokes of paint and color over the top. In this photo I used a brush. I also use palette knives.

In my paintings I am moving energy at lightening speeds. Well, maybe snail speeds, but the paint is flying. People feel the energy in my completed work. It is a fascinating process. This is another interesting component to art, being that it is alive. It is forever changing, growing, evolving. They talk of Picasso and his “blue period.” Every great artist has different periods of his work. Françoise Gilot, a great artist in her own right, spent hours every day talking Picasso into getting out of bed and producing more art. In his later years he would paint all day and the very next day say that his art was crap and he would not get out of bed to paint another painting. Thank goodness for Françoise or the world would have a lot fewer of his masterpieces!

Happy painting and creating,

 

Bye for now,
Francesca

All this paint you see and much more is on this canvas

 

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