Though today’s prompt was crunchy, I decided to paint a dish of pasta and clams that we had the other day. Since you aren’t supposed to eat the shells, it doesn’t quite qualify as crunchy, unless you get that random bit of sand. But it was perfectly delicious mixed with a host of ingredients including parsley and olive oil, giving the shells a bit of a green sheen. Since we live in the middle of the United States, the fresh clams were courtesy of Costco, but the result was perfectly fabulous! Getting fresh seafood where I live is a constant challenge, but when it’s found, it’s a glorious thing indeed. Actually sketching something this complex was a bit of a challenge, made more so since I’m extremely tired this evening. But in my mind, I could taste it once more and it made for a really amazing experience. For those of you wondering, I don’t usually sketch food from life as it’s meant to be eaten and though I’m quick on the draw I can’t sketch quite fast enough to render it before it congeals into something less appealing. So I typically snap a photo and chow down. I only sketch cold foods from life, but the idea of my warm cuisine chilling before I can enjoy it properly is just too much to bear. Sometimes in life, we have to make choices.
Seafood is the most prominent protein in our diet as we don’t eat meat very often. For example, tonight’s fare consisted of chili made with jackfruit. That perfectly weird and awesome green and bulbous fruit that when cooked, has the same texture as pulled pork. Our dog, who only prefers actual pork, always looks on with a worried expression, but it’s actually quite good! And, more importantly, just a bit less filling, so Philippe is right now working on a little dessert to top things off. When I asked what it was, he just said, “You’ll see.” This in many contexts might seem rather ominous, but I’m pretty confident that I’m about to enjoy something incredible. I’m a kid from the Midwest, while Philippe was born and raised in Paris. The first difference one notices in this scenario is portion control. A fantastic dessert is always half the size or even less of its American counterpart. Many times, I’ve been served something wondering if it’s just a sample from Costco. But, in the end, no, it’s all that I’m getting in that moment. And it’s always amazing!
I think that’s what makes us a great pair. I’m not very knowledgable about things like moderation. I tend to have a reckless spirit that makes me simply what more of a good thing and I often find it hard to know when to stop. Perhaps I’m no so different from our dog after all. But when you truly enjoy things in bits and pieces rather than consuming all you can, it’s really a much better experience. You get the awesome chance to enjoy each and every little taste. Subtleties that you might otherwise miss. I think this behavior has moved with me into my daily life as well. I often find myself pausing more to really consider something that I see. In a strange way, I think it’s helped me in my watercolor illustrations. Rather than visually consume everything in one bite, I let my eyes wander slowly over whatever I’m looking at. Taking just a tiny bit of extra time to really see what’s there. Happily letting whatever assumptions I had about the way I think things should look fade into the background. In this extra moment, I can see what’s really happening in front of me and the surprise and awe that happens next is always worth the extra bit of time spent considering. And though it can seem like an odd choice to sketch, it’s precisely why tonight, I only wanted to paint pasta and clams.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Red Rose Deep, Da Vinci Yellow, Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, Ultramarine Blue, and Payne’s Gray. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!