Monday, February 6, 2012

To Maunder

My head has been all over the place today.  Did you know that you can find the word 'maunder' in the dictionary and that one of its meanings is to think or wander aimlessly. I carry the name well some days.

Let's see. Where has my mind been today? I started the day by reading Lucile's wonderful post on lemon meringue pie and it made me want to tell you this story.

When I was in my early twenties, I bit into a lemon tart and found myself crying.  I thought 'What is going on with me?'  And then it occurred to me. My grandfather had died recently.  One of the things he loved best was lemon pie, most particularly my mom's lemon meringue pie.  Every time he ate it, he would say how there wasn't anywhere else he knew of where you could get good lemon pie. No one used real lemons any more, he would say.  I realized that deep inside of that tart and every lemon pie since has been the strong memory of my grandfather.

Lucile's wonderful Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe print available in her Etsy shop

Lucile and I agreed this week that food is never just food.  There are so many levels to it:  its origin and cultural significance, its cultivation; the way it's prepared, who prepares it, where it's eaten and the way it's served; its smell, look and taste; and our emotional associations. Not so simple, is it?

Baking a lemon meringue pie is out of the question at the moment as our oven is ailing, so a painting of lemons seemed the next best choice.  Out of our fridge came the sorriest two halves of lemons I've ever seen. Have a look at my sad models in the top photo. I tried to freshen them up a little in my quick little painting.

Still on the food theme, I had a bit of excitement yesterday evening. I submitted an illustration to the site 'They Draw and Cook'. I decided to try to do an illlustration of a recipe that I remember from my childhood and still prepare to this day.  My mom would often make Butter Dips when we would have soup or stew.  I created some little butter dip guys to accompany the recipe. Salli and Nate of They Draw and Cook posted and had even made my recipe within two hours of me submitting it!  I think it was maybe because I sent it around the supper hour. :)  You can have a look at it here.

I am really, really trying not to be too critical of my Butter Dips illustration which is really, really hard for me. (I could have, I should have...)  It was a very good exercise for me, as I don't normally paint these kinds of subjects.  I think it is something that I would like to try again.

In the morning light
Later today, I decided to paint a feather. I'm sure that the time I have spent looking at Jody's beautiful feather paintings recently is what put that idea in my head. There has been a little sparrow feather sitting on our kitchen windowsill for weeks with the promise of a painting in it. I got out my smallest brushes and did a little feather study. (The light was very dim by the time I took the photo so the colours and details aren't showing exactly right. I might try to take another photo during the day tomorrow.  I did.)

I always listen to music when I paint.  Today I had a number of Norah Jones' albums on 'shuffle'. One lyric popped out at me and I thought I would share it with you. It's from the song 'Seven Years' on her 'Come Away With Me' album.

"Our fears are only what we tell them to be."

I like that very much.


  1. I like that sentence too - and the feather. :-)

  2. Many thanks Kathleen and congrats to your recipe ! ! ! I will cook it, is it a very canadian one ?

    1. Thanks Lucile. I think it is more of a North American, rather than specifically Canadian recipe. From the sixties (maybe earlier).

  3. I think the lemon tart story is so touching! I heartily believe that our senses reveal so many memories to us, especially when we aren't expecting it. I've smelled a certain perfume and was transported back to Toronto and visits with my "Daddy's-Nana" (we always called her that, and it wasn't until I was older that I realized how funny it must sound to other people.)

    Every time I see a butter tart I am reminded of my Grandma, but have never again tasted one like hers.

    Your "Butter Dips" illustration is so cute. I am so excited about that site! I think I'm going to try and get a little map done for their "They Draw, they Travel" contest. It needs to be done by Thursday, so I'll have to get down to it tonight. I will keep you updated - - LOL. This is so different from what I usually do!

    How did you like painting that feather? I love it! You put so much detail into it, it's almost like an impression of a fossilized feather from long ago - - maybe it's just the lighting. :)

    As always, I love your blog. Gave me some "food for thought" today.
    Gah! Couldn't resist! :P

    1. Thanks Jody. I think it's amazing what our brains store and let out when we least expect it. :) Oh butter tarts! Oh yum!

      Good for you to try to enter the contest. It's a good creative exercise as well as potential exposure. I thought about it but am not sure I'm up to another illustration so quickly. Please let me know if you do enter.

      Thank you for your compliment, o great feather painter. It's much harder than it looks, isn't it? Yes, I do tend to go crazy with detail and there are even more tiny, fine lines that aren't showing in either photo. (So hard to get the light right!)

      Glad I gave you something to savour. :)

  4. I love the feather ! From where I stand, it looks like a fossil, in the stone, quite amazing !
    Congrats again on the "they draw & cook" blog posting !! How cool !
    I LOVE tarte au citron meringuée. I baked one from scratch with my mom last year for Easter. It was delicious. And you're right about food too. I now remind myself that this tart is what we had on the last Easter we spent with my dad. Sigh. :(

    1. Thank you very much Sonia. Isn't that interesting that you and Jody both see it as a fossil. I don't mind that at all. It must be something to do with the colour and my lines.

      I like that we have associations although sometimes they are tinged with sadness. It's how we keep people who we have lost inside of us. xx

  5. Lovely cute illustration for the butter dips, just right I reckon! The lemon looks good too, you did well, especially after seeing your model, I just binned 2 like that :) Lucile's lemon is mouthwatering, her blog is brill. I love your feather as well, it does have that fossilised feel to it, I suppose we are used to seeing them a bit like that, must have taken some painting, as the surface looks quite textured. I'm up to my ears in Bears, I'm seeing them when I close my eyes...aaaagh,and in strange things like textured marks on the wall ?? This book is quite a task!

  6. Oh boy, I like those feathers, i didn't visit Jody's site the other day. BEAUTIFUL. Thanks for taking me to those! X

    1. Thanks so much Julie for all of the lovely supportive comments. My lemons belonged in the bin! I guess I gave them one last hurrah. :)

      Yes, it was a little difficult painting such fine detail on the Saint-Armand paper. I may try to do a painting of the same feather on another paper just as an experiment.

      Lucile's paintings are so wonderful and her blog is a joy. I'm glad you looked at Jody's beautiful work too.

      Good luck with your book project. Thoughts and hallucinations about bears aren't too bad, I guess. I dreamt about a former Canadian politician the other night...shudder.

  7. Your Butter illo cracked me up - too funny!

    And LOVE your feather illo. I think a smoother paper will make life a lot easier. I'm using up all my scraps of this and that at the moment. I think I could happily spend a week just painting feathers. We have a family of honey eaters outside my kitchen window. The chicks are growing fat on bread and honey, must paint them soon!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed my illustration and thanks for the lovely comment on my feather. I am in the middle of doing a major cleanup of my studio. I am embarrassed at how much watercolour paper I own, especially since I paint so small. Also just found a big pile of blank canvases I didn't remember having. I will definitely try another feather painting on another paper. I had to look up honeyeaters. What interesting birds! Love the beak. :)

  8. my mom made the very best lemon pie too

    1. I love how lemon meringue pie is a shared memory for a few of us. :)


Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog and to leave me a comment. I love reading them. -- Kathleen

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