Spring I like primroses because they appear after the daffodils. To me they represent that the shift in season has happened and I don't need to be so nervous over the change.
Hello, again! (that's my salutation cause 'happy spring' is an oxymoron in my mind) Spring always makes me nervous, to calm this I find diving into my work a good elixir. The activity of work calms me, so the theme of this newsletter is about process. I enjoy the process of painting, the process of baking, and the process of writing. I get a little chill when I hit the send button, as the creation of this newsletter is keeping me grounded while there are a few looming unknowns I have little control over on my mind. A few fun facts since my last newsletter: I celebrated my first Passover! It was an absolute joy, and I was taken with the traditions, symbolism and dishes served. I highly recommend you make some Charoset if you’ve never experienced its jammy complex goodness. Aside from that the most thrilling event in my life was pouring three m&ms from a package and they were all blue. What are the chances?
The world of paint. What I'm thinking about & what I've been up to
My work is in the depths of ‘making mode’ right now. So here is a small peek into the evolution of my practice. In 2015 I came across the painter, Donna Festa who is based in Maine. Her works were incredibly visceral and precise. I emailed her regarding some technical questions. That email began a friendship we have maintained since. On average we email at least once a day, and her insights have been instrumental in me figuring out what I am after in painting. She allows to nearly free associate my process to her; writing out my painting thoughts into emails somehow helps me navigate my work. Here is the body of a recent email I sent her and it permits you a little glimps into my mind of what I am after in painting. I need to articulate... I think one of the most powerful things I have learned from you is ‘it doesn’t matter how you get there, it's that you get there’ When a work has failures but is saved through some weird emotional pull — I have allowed myself to feel vulnerable in the making. Ive allowed myself to become close to the painting, no longer just an observer. I always loved drawing because it was a method of slipping into a state. I didnt know how I did it, but I became something else when I started to draw and just responded to what was in front of me. Painting, however was rarely enjoyable, and quite disappointing. I really didn't know why I kept doing it. I would argue that in the last year I have become more and more grateful to myself for putting up with the hell of continuing to paint cause the images I am making now feel open with possibilities rather than closed down due to fear. There is nothing worse to me than making a painting that feels dishonest, and that thought alone is what makes me slower than I would like, because it takes a great deal of time for me to generate the state of mind I need to be in to paint. I need to be open to possibilities. The possibilities include but are not limited to: 1. An image might look well cared for and detailed, but it is actually making marks in a highly considered state of mind (I get the short end of the stick in that the experience of making is fleeting) 2. One fragment of a bad painting becomes an underpainting. 3. Little tweaks can be made to images from memory, not to aim for a sense of strong proportion, good composition etc. but for the thrill of pushing an image to its limits. If paintings are my children then I shall raise them to be contributing individuals to humanity (the arts) rather than fluff that was easily popped out. I am grateful for the ability to no longer be proud that my images have a visual reference to painters I admire, rather I take those queues as a note to self: watch out there, you won’t find yourself in mimicry.
A couple recs
Listen This episode of the ten percent happier podcast — While I think self-improvement is a great thing, an overabundance of self-help chit chat becomes a bit excessive. That being said, the George Saunders episode last week was relatable to say the least. Watch Babyteeth — beautiful, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. The Letdown — HILARIOUS. I actually laughed out loud. I am only two episodes in, but have had some great belly laughs and a few tear jerking moments. Eat Mani-life Peanut butter — in my quest for the best peanut butter in all of Ireland this might be the top contender.
Notes on a painting
Kissing cookies This is a painting of a failed pan of lemon cookies. Opening an oven door on cookies that have migrated towards each other while they should have been baking is a heart sinking moment I wish on no one. The good news? I figured out this recipes flaws and have a new revamped delicious Lemon Oat Pillow cookie recipe below. Im showing this painting candidly, as I'm uncertain of its doneness again, process.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a flexible fabulous springtime cookie. This stemmed from my desire for a lemon cookie. A few trials later and I think I have a winner (note the painting above depicting the culinary fail of ‘kissing cookies’). What is even better is that these suckers are adaptable… I am already dreaming of subbing lime for the lemon and coconut for the almond with a possible chocolate coating. OR…orange with walnut…consider your own take! The crushed almonds on top give the cookies a really lovely look and a little more color. The bottom glaze is the first thing to hit your tongue giving a sweet lemony burst the moment you take a bite! Things to note: *Yogurt or starter work really well in these munchkins; yogurt will make a slightly flatter cookie, starter will create something more pillowy *You can also freeze the dough and bake straight from frozen. Lemon Oat Pillows Dough 190g (1.5C) All Purpose Flour ½ tsp Baking Soda ½ tsp Salt * 85g (6 TBLS) Butter — room temp 200g (1 C) White Sugar * 55g (1/3 C) Yogurt OR Sourdough starter discard 1 Egg yolk — room temp 1 Zest of one lemon 50g (2 oz) Lemon juice (all the juice from one juicy lemon) 1 tsp Vanilla extract * 40g (1/2 C) Flaked almonds 100g (1 C) Instant oats 40g (1/2 C) Crushed Flaked Almonds (optional) Glaze/Coating 100g (1/2 C) Powdered sugar 1-2 TBLS Lemon Juice Directions Dough 1. In a medium sized bowl mix the flour, baking soda, & salt together — set aside 2. In a large bowl beat the butter & sugar together — until fluffy & creamy 3. Beat in the egg yolk — until combined 4. Beat in the yogurt or starter — until smooth 5. Add the zest, lemon juice & vanilla — beat until smooth 6. Add in the flour mixture — briefly mix with a metal spoon so the flour doesn’t poof up when you use the mixer, then beat until just combined 7. Add the oats & almonds — mix until the batter appears consistent (Do this with either the mixer or by hand) 8. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour — preferably two days 9. Preheat oven to 350F, & line a baking sheet with parchment 10.Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough out into small balls and roll in the crushed flaked almonds, place on baking tray— these spread about double their prebaked size 11. Bake for 11-14 minutes — rotating ½ way through if your oven has ‘hot spots’ The almonds will have a golden brown hue when the cookies done. 12. Let cool completely Glaze 13. Mix the powdered sugar & lemon juice together — you are looking for a ribbon like quality when poured from a spoon. 14. Dip the bottoms in the glaze — Take each cookie one at a time and dip their bottoms in the glaze then set back on parchment to set — I prefer to turn them upside down after about 10 minutes to quicken the setting process.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! As always, drop me a line, I'd love to hear from you.