A painting a day: #8, Artist’s Palette

Boy, things really got weird with this one.

With the previous paintings, I knew what I wanted to paint when I got up that morning, even if I didn’t get around to obtaining the items or making the painting until late in the day. But this time I had no idea. I thought of dried beans. I thought of fresh cranberries. I thought of going to the farmers’ market and buying fresh filled pasta. I did go to the market, vetoed the pasta, and instead picked out Bosc pears and nine different kinds of apples* and a bag of salad greens. I was thinking maybe I could do the different leaves of salad, or slices of apple, but after having already done Brussels sprouts and autumn leaves, and crabapples, more greens and apples just sounded boring.

I was done with dinner, sitting at the kitchen table chatting online with my sister Sarah about this, and she agreed that salad and apples were too much like what I’d done already. I stared into space, trying to brainstorm (it was already 8 PM), and the stoveside kitchen condiments were straight in my line of vision: the olive oil, the soy sauce, salt and pepper. “Hmmmmmm,” I wrote to S. “I have an idea.”

I got out the only plain white plate in the apartment and began dripping oils and sauces onto it. Ultimately, oils weren’t very interesting to look at (and had an unfortunate habit of not staying put), but I found other condiments in the fridge. I also managed to stay true to my original notion of not painting anything that came with this apartment: all the sauces I ended up painting were not only things we brought in, but ingredients that weren’t even in the apartment when we came in.**

Clockwise from the biggest glob at top center: Schoolyard Sugarbush robust maple cream (thanks Al!), Chatham Jam & Jelly Shop pink grapefruit marmalade, oyster sauce, Chatham native peach and yellow plum jam, soy sauce, Chatham cranberry-orange spread, chili oil, and in the center, whole-seed mustard.


This was a challenge — maybe more of a challenge to think about, than to actually paint. I thought of two very different food artists, Sita Bhaumik and Mo Tipton, as I tried to capture the texture and gloss of what I was painting. I wanted to give up at one point because it just didn’t seem possible that the finished painting would look like anything. But the plate brings it together. Another lesson in doing white-on-white: I actually thought the color I chose for the plate was too light, but the finished plate looks silver or grey rather than white. Good to know for next time.


This painting was such a fun strange thing to tackle, I don’t think I can go back to simple fruit or vegetable still lifes after this. I have no idea what I will do for number nine. How exciting.

This session’s playlist was all 80s and 90s. Some picks:


*Cameo, Pink Lady, Cortland, Golden Russet, Honeycrisp, Macoun, Empire, Jonagold, and Northern Spy. I love being in apple country! I’m eating the russet as I write this. It’s nicely tart-sweet, but not as crisp as I like.

**For instance, I decided not to use mayonnaise, because even though it’s the mayo we bought, there was mayo in the fridge when we came in. Is it splitting hairs to point out that I bought the soy sauce, even though the apartment already had tamari? They’re not exactly the same thing.

Also, I guess I painted the plate, so that’s something belonging to this apartment. Oh.