Origin Story: Why I paint (mostly) food
My Illustrated Feast Watercolor series of prints began as a response to my first illustrated cookbook project, Comida Latina, which was crowd-funded in November of 2012 via Kickstarter. It was a big success, and really validated my pursuit of being a self-employed artist.
Before this, I was pursuing a career in the museum world, first as an Intern at Smithsonian American Art Museum and then as a contractor: installing, deinstalling and managing the traveling art exhibitions.
My degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Studio Art, and having had a multidisciplinary education growing up, made it a natural fit for me to combine my interests and immerse myself in learning about the world through art, travel and tradition. With this focus, I kept coming back to food - one of the most accessible and relatable customs for so many people around the world. In my travels both as a student and post college in my 20’s, I recognized food as an entry into the lives of others. I made a point to enter the kitchen wherever I went, asking questions and cooking. As a way to record my experiences, I always jotted down and illustrated the recipes I was learning during my homestays throughout Latin America. It is these sketchbooks that became the inspiration for the first Illustrated Cookbook. The pages are full of thumbnail sketches, many different layouts, step by step sequences, and countless notes in both English and Spanish.
Fast forward to my 25th year when I got laid off from my job as an Exhibitions Technician.
I started selling the roughly 500 copies of my first book, Comida Latina which I had left after the Kickstarter campaign at farmers markets around Washington, DC. I would provide demos of the recipes, and immediately people would make comments like,’ I’d love to hang the pages on my wall...they're so fun!”
Encouraged by the response to the watercolors within the pages of the cookbook, I began creating compositions to complement the project. I also made work that celebrated the seasonal offerings people would find at the farmers market. My first 12 prints were the produce family series, a subcollection of watercolors that shows what's related to what and the Latin name of each produce family group. To this day, I love to create art that includes text to educate and inform while offering something up to enjoy visually.
A year, and many farmers markets later, and after many suggestions from my customers, I really buckled down and expanded my breadth of food-themed subjects: I set an art goal to create a watercolor of one edible thing per day for the entire year. I called it the Art Everyday Project and posted each image on my old blog (now defunct unfortunately). As a result, I expanded my repertoire extensively, and picked some of the more popular themes to create into prints. Many of the first 365 designs are still part of the current offerings, such as Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme, Radishes, Donuts, Sushi and Sardines.
In 2015 I did an art show at the Brookland Arts Walk (the artists’ community where my studio is currently located) in the studio of Wildhand Workshop, and framed up my favorite 40 originals from my Art Every Day project, which was my first solo art show ever. While many of these sold during the show, other more obscure themes have remained in my artist flat files (those wide, shallow drawers so many of us artists have). Many of these originals from this time frame have sold, but others we’re finally getting around to photographing and putting online. Favorites recently posted include Tortellini, Bundt Cake, Watermelon and Pimientos Padrón. Many of these pieces released last month for my 3rd annual February Flat Files Originals sale. Now there's over 80 available online. Check out all originals that are still for sale here.