Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Funny Little Drawings

This is probably one of my favorite sketchbooks of all time.  I bought one that is filled with watercolor paper, so I can be really aggressive with the pages.  I've never been able to paint in a sketchbook before, and I am loving it.  Also, it's square, which is great cuz most of my paintings are square.  Another plus, I think it was about eight bucks.  Maybe it wasn't that cheap but it was still pretty cheap.  Here are some funny little drawings that I did the other day.    

Monday, July 30, 2012

Love Pretzels

Tomorrow is mine and my husband's two year anniversary.  So, I thought I would be sweet and bake him something delicious.  He loves soft pretzels (who doesn't?) and I had never made them before, so I went for it.  Two words: easy and delicious!  This is the sort of recipe that makes you seem like a rock star in the kitchen, but in reality, anyone could do this.  

I used the Joy of Cooking recipe.  A word of advice:  buy this book.  No matter what your skill level, it is a necessity.  It has absolutely every recipe ever in it (ok, maybe not, but you get what I'm saying) and it breaks everything down for you so you really understand what you are doing and why.

However there are some things about baking that I have found are never in a recipe.  I'm pretty new at baking, and I have made some mistakes.  Like not sifting.  I had no idea when I first started baking that I was supposed to sift my flour!  This is NEVER in a recipe!  So sift your flour.  You will end up using much less of it, which leads to everything being a whole lot lighter and fluffier.

So first you combine 1/2 cup warm water with 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast and let that sit for about 5 minutes.  This is what it should look like once those 5 minutes are up.  If your yeast doesn't look like this, try again.  It should smell yeasty and be foamy and bubbly.  Once again, when I first started baking, I did not know this.  I would have bad yeast and not even know it.  Then I would waste a bunch of time and ingredients.  

Then you add:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted!)
1 1/2 cups bread flour (sifted!)
2 tablespoons melted butter (yes) or margarine (no way)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix this all up.  Then slowly add another 1/2 cup warm water as you continue mixing.  Then you need to knead this for about ten minutes.

Oh and while you are purchasing your copy of the Joy of Cooking, go ahead and splurge on a Kitchen Aid Mixer.  Ok, if you're not a big baker maybe you don't need this, but I am obsessed with mine.  It kneads the dough for you.  Hold on....let me say that again.... IT KNEADS THE DOUGH FOR YOU!  Which is the coolest thing ever.  This was a wedding gift from my brother and his fiance, so no, I did not drop 300 bucks on this myself.  But still.  I would.  It's totally worth it.

After kneading the dough, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat it.  Cover with a cloth or towel and stick in an oven (turned off, of course) and let rise for an hour and a half.  This right here is a super sexy rise.  This is what you want.  I'm always afraid my dough isn't going to rise.  And yes, sometimes it doesn't.  But this is perfect.  Another tip: don't buy off brand yeast.  It's cheaper, but I have found it less reliable.  

 Break the dough into twelve pieces and roll them into balls.  Let them rest for ten minutes.  Then roll them into long cylindrical pieces and twist into a pretzel shape.  Place them on a cookie sheet coated lightly in oil.  Gently press the ends so that they will stay in this shape.

Once you've done this, they need to rise for another 35 minutes.  Mine didn't double in size, though Joy of Cooking said that they should.  After they rise, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and boil eight cups of water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda in it.  When the water starts to boil, knock it back to a simmer.  Boil the pretzels a few at a time for 30 seconds on each side, then put them back on your greased pan and shake a little (ok, maybe a lot) of course salt on them.  I used kosher salt, cuz that's what I had.  Then bake them for about 15 minutes until they are dark golden brown.  The air is going to smell like hot butter and salt and you will be salivating by the time the pretzels come out.  I promise you, they do not disappoint.

 Look at that!  Not too bad if I do say so myself.  There may not be any when Olie gets home.  Must....Stop....Eating........

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Messy Palettes

These are some photos I took of my palettes.  I obviously never clean them.  I'm a pretty messy painter, in general.  I thrive on chaos.  No that's just what I tell myself, I'm really just lazy.  These photos were taken to use as backgrounds for my website.  I altered them a lot in Photoshop for the site, but here they are in there original version.   I was surprised by how beautiful they were.   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Some Old Drawings

I came across some old drawings today.  They're from a little project I started, but never finished.  But I had forgotten how much I liked them.  I had just started working with text, and drawing was becoming important to me again.  At the time, I was using the text mostly as a way to joke about stereotypes about women.  The text in my work these days deals with advertisement and consumerism, but these still seem really relevant to me.

This says, "Let's not have any kids, let's buy a boat instead."  This is something I used to say to my husband as a joke (sort of).  

"Do you think you could pick up the groceries, I'm beat?"  

Kind of Philip Guston-y.

 I don't know if any of you have seen any Josh Smith paintings, but I was looking at them a lot when I made these.  Actually, I'm always looking at his work.  He went to University of Tennessee for grad school, which is awesome, because I was there for four years before I came to University of Memphis.  He was kind of a hero for us there.  All that to say, he paints a lot of fish.  

Just wanted to share these with everybody.  It's interesting to look back at old stuff and see how much the work has changed but how much it's still the same.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ricotta Fresh from the Microwave

Last Wednesday, I made homemade ricotta.  There is a reason I call myself the Starving Artist and that reason is I am an artist and I am starving all the time.  Wordplay!!!  So, I found a recipe online for homemade ricotta that you make in the microwave!  No burned milk stuck to the bottom of a pan!  Huzzah!  So, I gave it a try.  I think it would have been richer if I had used whole milk instead of 2%, but it was still delicious.  All you do is add about two tablespoons of vinegar to three cups of milk (I kind of made up those proportions, because the recipe I used was unclear).  Then you heat it up in the microwave until it starts to bubble.  

Then you drain it using paper towels and a colander.  I drained mine for about five minutes, cuz I really wanted to eat it, but you can drain it for as long as overnight.  It just depends on how stiff you want it to be.  I was pretty pleased with the results.  I ate it with some fettucini, a fresh tomato from my friend Russ’ garden, and some peas I had in the freezer.  Ta Da!  Not bad for a Wednesday lunch!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hello, Everyone!

This is the beginning of my blog, Starving Artist.  I am an artist living and working in Memphis, TN.  Through this blog, I want to share all of my influences, and how I manage to make art and also do all of the other things that humans have to do.  This is me, doing what we do in the South-sit in backyards and drink cold beer.  It's too hot to do much else.    

Below are some images from my studio at the University of Memphis, which I am currently vacating since I just graduated.  The next person will move in and paint over these, which is sad.  But new little wall paintings will be born in my new studio!  

And since I just graduated, I figured now is the perfect time to start documenting the things that go on in the studio and the things that go on in my life that facilitate my art.  So, this blog is about everything.