Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas Tart

For about the last 8 years or so, my family and I have traded hosting Christmas morning breakfast with dear friends of ours. We met over 15 years before our friend's children were even born and when our daughter was very young. We are very close, the kind of friends who feel more like extended family, especially at Christmas. My husband's name is Al, and it's always made us smile, that he was and still is referred to as Uncle "Owl", a mispronunciation coined when the girls, Siobhan and Sophia, were little. Wether their mom and dad, Shawn and Kevin are hosting, or if the festivities are at my house, Shawn has been pretty consistent each year with making a version of her french toast casserole as part of pur yearly tradition. My daughter's very favorite version involves cream cheese between two slices of thick french toast, baked in the oven and served with fruit compote and whipped cream. YUM!
For my part, I usually provide the savory portion of our grand Christmas brunch. I like to switch it up so some years it  has been a sausage casserole, sometimes quiche or something else involving eggs. Last year, my daughter took over for both Shawn and I, making chicken and waffles that left us all licking our fingers and wanting more. More YUM!
This year, I wanted to make something in one of my pretty new poppy tart plates. Interestingly enough, I don't make a lot of pottery to use for myself as I am too busy making for the market. I only kept this one because it developed an s crack in the bottom of it.  I wasn't too sad about it though because they're so pretty, I really wanted to keep one anyway. 
Being a huge fan of roasted vegetables, I came up with a recipe for a savory vegetable tart. I am the kind of cook that either goes completely off the cuff or gets ideas from existing recipes and edits them according to what I think would be good or what I have on hand. 
My Roasted Vegetable Tart is a product of the latter approach and was very well recieved. It was not only really tasty but is very easy to make. Some roasted vegetables, a store bought pie crust, some goat cheese, and you're good to go! 
Roll out the pie crust over your tart pan. Fold the edges level with the top of the pan and crimp. Partially prebake the pie crust according to package directions. I took it out slightly early since it had to bake again with the filling in it and I didn't want it to possibly burn on the edges. Be sure to use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of the crust to prevent it from puffing up. If you have pie weight,s or dry kidney beans available, you can also fill the crust with those. If you are a potter like me and can't find either of those things, find tiny houses out in your studio and use those (LOL) 
For the filling, I had a couple of heads of cauliflower and broccoli that I need to use up, so I chopped them into small florets with some onion and mixed them together in a big bowl. I drizzle all the vegetables with some olive oil, (about 2 Tbs.) and sprinkled with one of my favorite spices, Traders Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute. Stir them all around to distribute the seasoning evenly and spread onto a sheet pan sprayed with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees until soft and slightly charred. 
Next, fill your prebaked pie shell with the veggies distributing them evenly. Top with about 1/4- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese and bake again at around 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until goat cheese is melted. That's it!  Slice it up and enjoy! Merry Christmas and warm wishes for a very blessed New Year!

1 head fresh cauliflower 
2 -3 broccoli crowns
1 large sweet onion
2 Tbs. Oil
1- 1 1/2 Tsp. Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute
1 oz. Honey Goat Cheese
1 pre-made pie crust
Follow directions above.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

My long summer hiatus

As a creative person I tend to have very fertile times and sometimes a long lasting dry spells. I seem to be in one of the latter this summer. I've been enjoying gardening, finally getting to those nagging projects around my house which been ignored for a very long time in an effort to be in the studio and I've done a lot of traveling starting with our annual week in Rehoboth Beach,  Delaware. I wish that I could say that it was a really great week but we had pretty nasty weather for four out of the seven days that we were there. The best part of it was being with my family particularly my daughter Jo and her boyfriend Ben. Here's Ben and I out enjoying first time oysters and shots of Jamisons while Jo and her dad had a special Fathers Day dinner together. 

Artistically, I did nothing except to visit the Rehoboth Art League. There was a very interesting exhibit there by photographer Annaliese Tassano featuring her photos of live models dressed as mermaids and submerged into a huge water tank. They were very beautiful and mysterious, though they also conveyed an overwhelming feeling of confinement which made me a bit uncomfortable.

In this one, a "manmaid"joins the mermaid in the tank

July took me back home to Lockport, New York to visit friends and attend my high school reunion. I didn't have time in my whirlwind trip to visit any museums or galleries. Most sadly, I didn't get to  the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo which is home to a world-class modern art collection. I did  have time though to ride past and appreciate with new eyes the beautiful architecture in Lockport and in Buffalo where I also used to live. I found a new appreciation for the stunning mansions lining streets in both cities and for the vast array of beautiful Victorian painted ladies that had made little impression on me in my youth.

I lived in the upstairs apartment and yes, I painted in the turret!
It is unbelievably the same color that it was when I left 26 years ago!

The following weekend, I jetted off to Houston for a wedding  and visited a few museums and an Outsider Art attraction. That will be part two of this post as there is a lot to tell. As I post this it is early August and though I tried to go back to black and white painting last week with some new materials that I have never used before (water soluble oils and clay board), I still haven't found my mojo. I wish there was a pill for that... but hopefully, my motivation will return soon on it's own. :0)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mother's Day- Artist as Mom

(In a nod to Mother's Day, this is a repost of a previous writing. To bring you up to date, my daughter is now going to be 23 in a couple of weeks and preparing to go off to Thailand with her boyfriend for a summer of teaching English and adventure. I'm so proud of her and her fearless spirit and miss her terribly at the same time....)

My life is never seperated from my work and I have created a plethora of paintings around mothering as I journey along in one of the greatest adventures of my life.  I thought I would continue with this subject in this month when mothers are celebrated. 

Most of my paintings come from a very personal place. Even some of my cow paintings tell stories about what's going on in my life, such as in "Eat Your Broccoli" which depicts a momma cow and her  calf in a surreal field of raining broccoli. (A nod to Magritte) This painting was inspired by my Kayla who wouldn't eat broccoli as a little girl.

Before I even knew I was pregnant, I painted "My neighborhood", which depicts myself, my husband (in between the two houses) and our neighbors on their respective porches. There I am talking on the porch, very preggers, while my husband looks on.

 When I was actually pregnant, I painted this one, "Pregnant Artist." I have to laugh when I recall my pre-teen girl begging me to take it off the wall so her friends wouldn't see it. So much for being sophistcated about a little artistic nudity even though I tried to not actually show much :0) Note the Van Gogh calendar in the background and the rooster in the window. Van Gogh is my favorite and the rooster is symbolic of my husband whose last name in German means "rooster".

Sometimes I run into women who tell me that they were artists until their kids were born and then they stopped. I would just as much have stopped breathing. I don't know how they could do that, maybe they were less driven than me, but I never stopped. It helped that she was such a good, easy baby. I used to get up around 4:30 in the morning before she woke so I could paint a little, or sometimes she would sit and watch me in her little bouncy chair. At 19 months, she had her own plastic easel, paint and tam. She too created very colorful works, though she was an abstract expressionist at that time :0)..

As wonderful a baby as she was, just the shock of becoming parents can be overwhelming. The shift that takes place in your life from self centered to other-centered, and the responsibility of it all is all encompassing. I have depicted these feelings in the painting "New Baby", where the beautiful little diapered one is a giant in the space, overtaking the picture and the lives of the Mommy whom she holds in the palm of her hand and her Daddy by a string.

Having a child also was bringing up a lot of stuff for me as she grew. It was like she was holding up a mirror that reflected my life, causing me to worry and wonder about if I could make her life bettter than my upbringing had been. In this painting "Toddler" she is a hybrid of herself and me. She stands, again overwhelming the picture, but she is standing off the curb in a street between two houses, representative of the New Jersey street where I grew up. (Boy, did I have fun painting that bunny)

I painted her many more times as she has grown up, less as she approached her pre- teen and teen years when I could barely get her to be near me or smile, until this one (Flying through Life) which I painted last year, when she was leaving to go to college. It was so hard to let her go and I couldn't believe that that she was leaving already.
She and I are depicted flying through the air in our matching Mommy-Daughter dresses that I had made, through a world of things that I had taught her about or that we had discovered together.

 As I write this I am tearing up again......I know there are plenty more paintings to paint and the journey with her is not over. I just miss my baby.