Saturday, January 30, 2010

Take That Martha Stewart!

Last weekend I saw the movie, It's Complicated, with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. I loved it so much that I vowed to conquer the chocolate croissant this weekend. Starting last Monday, I made the dough and then followed very specific patterns of rolling and folding to create lots of luscious croissant layers. This morning, we woke up to a blanket of snow outside our window and I knew the time had come to bake!

I rolled out the dough packet and sliced it into triangles using a pizza cutter. Next, I placed little pieces of chocolate on each triangle and rolled those up into the famous crescent shape. Letting the dough rise for an entire hour was hard-- but worth it. I baked those suckers 20 minutes at 400 degrees and it was heaven. The whole house smelled like butter. Chocolate croissants taste even better served on wedding china with a fresh cappuccino. We didn't even need lunch. These were even better than I expected. If you're bored during a snow day and want to whip up your own batch of these delights, visit:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pretty Fog

Today I am excited! I'm writing a proposal for an emerging artist grant and my project just keeps getting better and better. Since my style is usually uber-vivid, I'm painting a fog series that will challenge me to tone down my color-play. I may have just one or two color pops instead of having the entire canvas filled with exuberance. I'll create patterns of light and dark- -based on tree forms, and then impose color schemes that I find in other artist's work or even in interior-decorating magazines. I'm playing with color-- subtle color shifts, how colors look different depending on their proximity to other colors-- that sort of thing. It's very Albers, but not nearly as abstract.

The foggy landscape intrinsically carries more emotion. Think of all the fog connotations and words that come to mind when you see a foggy scene. Heavy, dense, blanket, lifting, softened, airy, hopeful, muddled. The words are full of contradiction, but they can all be associated with fog. Thanks to my good friend, Hollis, I have a new idea of how to incorporate text into upcoming exhibitions. There may even be a little fog-poetry happening.

This January I've felt a little foggy in the head-- and no, it's not from too much champagne at New Year's! As an artist, you're so open to new ideas and moving in any direction that it's often hard to pick a direction to move toward. Now I've found it-- and it's FOGGY...


The fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

--Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Buttercream dreams

Last night I attended my very first cake decorating class. All weekend I could hardly contain myself. I set out all my tools in my tote-bag and baked my first layers to take with me. At GTCC, I sat grinning at our instructor along with 10 other ladies and 1 very nice gentleman all too eager to learn.
During our first lesson, we learned how to pipe shell borders, rosettes, frills and stars with a number 21 Wilton icing tip. Wild and crazy! We also learned about leveling a cake, piping a dam for special fillings and now my homework is to create an iced buttercream cake that is "hot-knife" silky smooth in all of it's frosted glory.
The cake in the picture is a simple vanilla butter cake with a crumb coat and a few piped practice borders. I would share the recipe, but I actually thought the icing was too sweet. I know you're thinking, how could that ever Ever EVER happen... but it did, I assure you. I couldn't even eat more than a slice and a half. True story. I sent the rest of the cake to the office with Dave so that it could be devoured by lots of hungry engineers. There may be an afternoon sugar-slump, so I wouldn't expect much productivity out of Dilbert today...
For my homework cake, I'm going to use a Martha Stewart recipe. I'm sure she's done her homework and will offer up a delightful buttercream-- perfect in every way. To be continued...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Seeing Birds

Like everyone else in 2010, I am slightly obsessed with birds. This trend has grown so much in recent years that I see birds everywhere! Here are a few bird paintings from last year, along with a Christmas present I received from a dear friend. It's a birds-nest necklace designed by Yankee Girl Designs. If you want one too, visit I love mine!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Feeling Foggy

Last fall I suddenly become fascinated with all things subtle-- subtle color variations, subtle mark-making, even subtle flavors. It's odd, considering that my usual artistic style is vivid-- bright-- anything but subtle! It all started one morning while driving in the fog. I noticed how soft the trees looked behind their blanket of mist, and how the fog changed from a cool-blue tone over the trees to a warm peachy-yellow as it blanketed the sunshine. Bliss! I want to draw that in graphite to explore the subtle tonal changes instead of the subtle color shifts.

Valerie Demianchuk is an inspiration. Her work consists of highly-detailed pencil drawings of everyday objects on stark white paper. Her art's power lies in its simplicity. To see what I'm talking about, click here:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Cannelloni

I've been working on the healthy-o-meter lately (minus the banana ice cream), and so I attempted a Sweet Potato Cannelloni recipe that I tore out of Martha Stewart Living Magazine ages ago. Essentially, you use a mandoline to slice the potato really thin and then you roll the slices around a delicious mix of cottage cheese, potato and apple. A sprinkle of Parmesan and walnuts on top makes it perfect.
I had high hopes for this recipe and I was a little disappointed with the presentation. It was hard to make-- basically because the potato slices wanted to break when I tried to roll them up. It did taste good though, and I may make it again to take to a pot-luck kind of thing. It was pretty and yummy even if it wasn't perfect like the magazine picture.
This would make a great Lasagna dish if you just layered the filling and the potato slices several times and topped with Parmesan and walnuts.
Beware of the mandoline to anyone attempting this recipe. I got one as a gift nearly a year ago and the first time I used it, I sliced off the tip of my finger-- GROSS and painful. My psyche has just recovered enough so that I'm starting to attempt mandoline recipes again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


This recipe tastes so delicious that it should come with a warning label-- avoid at all costs if you are depressed, pregnant or otherwise have no self-control. I'm not even a big banana fan, but this stuff is killer. Outside the Trevi Fountain in Rome, there is a gelato shop where we tasted banana gelato this September. The memory has lingered long enough for me to attempt my own version. Recently, I saw a recipe for something similar in a book that I flipped through at Williams Sonoma. It used less cream, more milk and brown sugar instead of vanilla. This version is adapted from a basic ice-cream recipe that came with my Cuisinart ice-cream maker and I threw in my own ideas (and bananas). Instead of plain vanilla extract, I also used a special vanilla-paste-gel sort of product that I found at The Fresh Market in the extract section. I never knew how delicious the smell of roasting bananas was-- but WOW! Enjoy all of this nanner-goodness...
Roasted Banana Ice Cream with Honey and Vanilla
3 cups roasted bananas (3 large bananas)
1 teaspoon butter
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
1.5 cups whole milk
2 & 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Melt 1 tablespoon honey with 1 teaspoon butter in microwave. Stir and toss with peeled sliced bananas. Roast at 400 degrees F approximately 20-30 minutes, until soft and caramelized. Chill banana mixture and then process in food processor along with the lemon juice and pinch of salt.
In a small bowl, mix the rest of the honey and the whole milk and dissolve. You may need to nuke it 20 seconds to speed the process. Add heavy cream, vanilla extract, and whisk in chilled banana puree.
Place mixture in electric ice-cream maker for approximately 20-25 minutes. When ice-cream is churned and the texture of soft-serve, put it in containers and freeze until desired texture is attained. Yum yum!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Florentine Bathroom Stalls

They say that Florence is the city of art, but what they don't tell you is that even the bathroom stall graffiti is poetic. On our honeymoon this September, Dave and I had the joy of visiting the city. Once we strolled around the Duomo and fought our way through the throngs of tourists, we moseyed on over to the Pitti Palace, the long-ago country home of the Medici family.

After making our way through the gardens and museums, we stopped briefly to take advantage of the museum's upscale WC before continuing on our way.

This is what I read on the back of the door in traditional black sharpie graffiti:

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.

And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

I recognized the poem as "Late Fragment" by Raymond Carver, one of my favorite poets. I wonder if every American tourist feels this way when they set foot in the WC of the Pitti Palace. Florence...what a dream...what a feeling...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Bohemian, Savannah Ga.

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways--Chardonnay in one hand--strawberries in the other--body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming--WOO HOO! What a ride!"

Yesterday I ran across this quote on my good friend's face book page and just laughed. YES! To live every day like you're squeezing the last drop out of it-- that is a worthy goal indeed. It reminded me of the drama of New Year's Eve-- reconnecting with our Savannah friends and sneaking into the newest, swankiest Savannah hotel for the last few minutes before the ball dropped.

While we couldn't see the fireworks thanks to a looming air-conditioner on the Hyatt rooftop, we enjoyed a spectacular view of the Talmadge bridge in all of its sparkling glory. Smoke from the paper-factory added the perpetual nastiness-factor, a trademark of Savannah-- The Savannah that we know and love, no matter what. I had my first kiss with my future husband on River Street, followed by the most romantic marriage proposal two and a half years later.

My husband, Dave, took some magnificent photos of the bridge at night, and as soon as we returned home to Greensboro, I began a painting that culminated in this piece yesterday afternoon.

Enjoy and welcome to my blog--East Coast Artist. Here, you'll find my musings, paintings, memories, recipes and a host of other randomness sure to entertain.