Saturday, January 14, 2012

I'm sorry, Bob Ross.

John Singer Sargent once said, "You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh."

The editors of the Awe-Manac add: "Sketching creates an intimate connection with your subject even if you're not a skilled artist. Practice with permission to be imperfect."

Whatevs, Awe-Manac, my lined notebook paper with unmeasured pen-drawn grid screams sketching perfection...
The fruits of my draw-a-tree-each-day-in-January project.

I give myself no more than ten minutes. I use whatever I can find to write with (I usually see about 16 pencils in every junk drawer...until I actually need one). I pick a tree near my home or at the farm. I work until I'm laughing, bored, or reach my time limit. And, I can't lie; I enjoy this. It adds a little structure to my day. It makes me feel artsy (artsy and talented do not have to go hand-in-hand). It's what Vivian Swift told me to do.

For what it's worth, here's one of Sargent's unfinished sketches (he became frustrated with it and quit):
The Bead Stringers of Venice
I would've become frustrated with this, too. So amateur. ...

One of the reasons I like the Bead Stringers so much is that it reminds me of a more spirited, yet strangely sadder, version of James McNeill Whistler's 1871 painting, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (commonly referred to as The Whistler's Mother). I was sitting outside a professor's office on the 17th floor of Patterson Office Tower (history department at UK) in a very mundane blue plastic chair a couple of years ago and my favorite professor walked by, did a double take, and told me I reminded him of the whistler's mother. I loved it.

"Things that keep you warm in January...
Hot chocolate, ice cold champagne. Not in the same glass, but on the same afternoon." ~ Vivian Swift
Know what goes well with champagne?...Truffles

One of my resolutions for 2012 is to try new recipes each week. I was pretty pleased with this unexpectedly easy one (although I still insist my sister's are much better). I ended up rolling mine in powdered sugar, cocoa, coconut, or chopped pecans.

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla until no streaks remain. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shape into 1 inch balls. Roll truffles in ground walnuts (or any ground nuts), cocoa, coconut, confectioners' sugar, candy sprinkles, etc. To flavor truffles with liqueurs or other flavorings, omit vanilla. Divide truffle mixture into thirds. Add 1 tablespoon liqueur (almond, coffee, orange) to each mixture; mix well.

Other recipes I've tried this week:
Coconut Cream Pie with Whipped Cream Topping (instead of meringue) - Definitely recommend!
"Pioneer Woman" Pie Crust - My favorite pie crust recipe I've tried yet
Potato Gnocchi - In my opinion, not worth the time!

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