Tuesday, December 8, 2015

London Breezy

London Breezy. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".  $595. [buy now]

London was already calling Camrin Costello when Teya and I met her one summer night at Casper Fry. The bar wasn't terribly busy, and as usual, the subject of the work-in-progress book came up. Camrin, intrigued by the book idea, told the story of a cocktail she invented on a trip to England.

In London for an interview at the University of Westminster, she spent a day at Westminster Abbey. The breeze blowing through the city provided both the inspiration and name for the drink she made that night: a concoction of gin, chartreuse, lemon and lime. I think she must have known the interview had been a success when she finished her new drink off with a splash of celebratory champagne. (Camrin lives in London now. Bully for her!)

For the painting, I wanted to capture the contrast of the citrusy drink with a cool cloudy background that suggested the tradition of an old english pub. I changed the color of the purple flocked wallpaper to a stormy gray, and was quite happy with the result—especially the way the oversized pattern leads into the composition.

The recipe for the London Breezy is available in Mixology With a Twist: The Art of Modern Cocktails,

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Good Humor

Good Humor. Oil on panel, 12" x 12". $595. [buy now]

Seattle-savvy friends from both sides of the state unanimously recommended Canon Whiskey and Bitters Emporium as a can't-miss cocktail destination in the Emerald City.

So, during the west-side summer-show trip, Paul and I dutifully stopped in. Canon was already busy at around 4pm, but there wasn't time to come back, so the first bartender to hand us a menu got my spiel. That bartender was Sean Johnson. Without missing a beat he whipped up a frothy orange-colored concoction, then proceeded to decorate the foamy drink with a stencil and a spray bottle of bright-red Angostura bitters.

One sip explained the drink's moniker:somehow Johnson had caused a combo of gin, Cointreau, OJ, Licor 43, egg white and Angostura to taste exactly like an orange creamsicle. Minutes later Sean's original recipe appeared on the bar in front of me, jotted down on a scrap of  paper between drink orders. I think Good Humor described the bartender as well as the drink!

A note about Canon's bar: everywhere I looked was a still life setup. So much great stuff! I literally could have brought in an easel and painted right there. Since that was slightly out of the question, I had to recreate it best I could. Which ended up being pretty well, since I already owned some similar items and, oddly enough, the identical vintage art-deco lamp (see photo of Sean making my drink below). Only the base of the lamp shows in the painting, as the lamp itself conveniently provides the lighting for the still-life setup.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Weber

The Weber. Oil on panel, 8"' x 8". $295. [buy now]

In the frenzy of finishing Mixology With a Twist and getting ready for the show at Mizuna, apparently a few things got neglected. Like posting some of my favorite paintings from the new book!

The Weber, invented by Clover's Cameron Walls, honors the memory of former Clover bartender Steven Weber. A friend of Walls, Weber was also a fellow whiskey fan. This drink is a lovely, thoughtfully-layered take on the bourbon-based sour genre. Plum bitters may not be available at every corner store, but their contribution to the Weber is worth the effort of finding them.

I think Clover must have closed its doors the night of the book release party, since so many of its bartenders were in attendance! I was thrilled to have Cameron and Kristy White among the revelers at Mizuna.

As always, Cameron's recipe, along with thirty-two other tasty originals, are available in the new book. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Mid Mod Moon

Mid Mod Moon. Oil on panel, 7" x 5". $195. [buy now]

Mid Mod Moon is in the online store!

To be honest, I'm pretty surprised about this. I made the painting for Yuletide, and expected it to be gone almost immediately. Last year, Yuletide happened at the museum, and it was a busy, high-energy show. But as often happens with art shows, a change of location and hours resulted in poor attendance. Almost none, really.

Hopefully this will be resolved for next year, and if not, there will almost certainly be an alternative venue. Will keep everyone posted!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Just in time for the Holidays: A New Online Store

Mixology With a Twist. Paperback, 92 pages. $25. [buy now]

With the release of Mixology With a Twist, and the final show of the season over, it's time to retreat to the studio and immerse myself in fresh projects. 2016 is shaping up to be quite a bit different from recent years. With the exception of Spokane's Artfest, I will be taking a break from festivals. During this respite I will continue the exciting work I have started in two new mediums: ceramics and enamel.

Meanwhile, I have created a complete online store for my Mixology work. Both books, the popular new Cocktail Cards, giclée reproductions, and original paintings are now available in one clean and simple storefront. I will continue to add new, mostly small paintings to the store over the next few weeks, so be sure to check in from time to time to see what's available. All of the paintings from Mixology With a Twist that haven't yet sold are currently listed.

Also, I will be placing new links (like the one above) into this blog, which lead directly to the item in the store.

As I settle in for the winter, I am wishing you, and all of us, a peaceful season to come.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Yuletide is This Weekend!

Mid Mod Moon 2. Oil on panel, 5" x 7". $195. [buy now]

Yuletide kicks off this Thursday with a private party at the Downtown Spokane Public Library!

I'll be there with lots of original art (including Mid Mod Moon, above), both Mixology books, high-quality giclée reproductions, and of course, my new Cocktail Cards (the perfect stocking stuffer). 

Here are the deets:

Preview Party November 12, 5 – 8 p.m.
Yuletide, November 13 – 14, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Downtown Spokane Public Library, 906 W. Main (corner of Main and Lincoln, across from Nordstrom)

I know how much you all like your martinis, manhattans and rocket shakers! So, in addition to Mid Mod Moon, I've made several more new small original paintings just for Yuletide. Check them out after the jump. Hope to see you this weekend!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Juan Connery / Book Release Tonight!

Juan Connery. Oil on panel, 12" x 12". Sold.

Mixology With a Twist comes out tonight! It's been over a year in the making and it seems unreal. So excited!

This week has been crazy. Everything had to be varnished and framed in time to hang the show Wednesday—but not before showing up at 7 a.m. to help Mike install track lighting in Mizuna's banquet room. He liked the way the room looked during last year's Mixology show, and wanted permanent art lighting. And I am always happy to help light art! 

Add to that the fact that I piled some extra projects on myself, like the new Mixology Cocktail Cards, which were designed, ordered and packaged over the past week, and well, you get the picture. 

This will be a great party. Mizuna looks beautiful and the food is always amazing. Sherrece Scott (and friends) will be on hand to make five drink specials from the book, including her own invention, El Corazon. Mixology with a Twist will be for sale along with the first book, cocktail cards, giclée reproductions and of course, the original paintings from the new book.

There's still more to do today, so Ill leave you with an excerpt from the book about a fortuitous trip to Bend, Oregon:
Phoebe Pedersen, owner of Bend’s Dogwood Cocktail Cabin, awoke one night to a phone call. Bartender Grant McFarren had the perfect name for his new spicy scotch drink and couldn’t wait to share it. A year later, as I planned a trip to Bend, my husband Paul told me about a bar with a drink named the Juan Connery. I promptly went to the Dogwood. A giant painting of a strange woodland party by artist Philip Newsome dominated the room. The extensive menu overflowed with cleverly named original drinks like the Rye-an-Gosling, but when I asked my server to surprise me, she brought the Juan Connery. It was fate.
And, it was great.
For a photo of the show hanging in progress, join me after the jump.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Northwest

The Northwest. Oil on panel, 8" x 8". $295. [buy now]

Shopping for barware has its perks. For one, you get more barware, duh. But this time, I got a new favorite drink as well.

I can't spot Reneé Cebula's Raising the Bar trailer without stopping, and the woman knows what she's doing. She spends a lot of time in the Perry district near my house. Guaranteed sales. Anyway, the last time I spotted her she was engaged in conversation with Ash Hayden. We hadn't met, so she introduced us and explained that he had tended bar for a well-known cocktail establishment here in Spokane. Ash is now working on a new project, an online bartender training course called The Bar Wit. (Check out the link for the kickstarter details. I'm excited to see what happens with this!)

Although I already had the number of recipes I was shooting for, I explained my project to Ash and asked if he might be willing to contribute. Within days he had texted me the recipe for The Northwest. Inspired by native northwest plants, Ash's drink pairs gin with rhubarb-based Zucca amaro and mint. 

I doubly loved this cocktail, and here's why. 
1. It's delicious and gets better with every sip.
2. Zucca amaro is on my hard-to-find list, but I already had it for another favorite recipe in the book, the Bad News from Houston. More bang for your Zucca buck!

The Northwest will be on display at Mizuna this Friday for the book release party. Please join us, pick up a book and find your own new favorite drink!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Cocktails are in the Cards!

My husband Paul is an idea man. 

Whenever I feel down about my business, he'll toss out twelve different things I could be doing, I won't get around to any of them, and then I'll feel worse. This time was different.

Last week, he asked out of the blue, "how many recipes do you have?" "Between both books?" I added them up in my head. "Fifty two." "What if you had them printed on playing cards?"

He went on to explain that often bartenders use flash cards to memorize drink recipes, so using my paintings and recipes on cards was a natural. While I spent maybe a minute marveling at the fact that I had exactly fifty-two recipes, Paul found an online printer that made custom playing cards. Fifty-four unique cards per deck---one for each recipe plus a front and back cover.  Three days later they were designed and ready to order. Boom!

Trouble was, the two shipping options. Free shipping would get them to me in two weeks, in the middle of Yuletide. They are perfect stocking stuffers, so that's great, but it would be nice to have more opportunities to sell them. Well okay, shipping option number two might get them to me in time for the book release party. For $165. Nope. 

Free shipping it was, with fingers crossed.

Damn, I love a nice surprise. This morning a cheerful Fedex man arrived at the door with a big box of Mixology Cocktail Cards. Ordered October 30th, delivered November 2. And they are beautiful. (I think a shoutout to Printerstudio.com is in order here. )

Sooooo.... get your Mixology deck o' cocktail cards this Friday at the Mizuna release party, or the following weekend at Yuletide! $10 each, and the perfect gift for your cocktail-consuming friends and relatives. Already own the books? Keep them nice and tidy, and keep these handy wipe-clean cards at the bar. I know I will.


Monday, November 2, 2015

El Corazón, and Book Release Friday!

El Corazón. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

Mixology With a Twist debuts Friday with a party at Mizuna, so it's time to celebrate with El Corazón, by Mizuna bartender Sherrece Scott. 

This painting nearly kicked my ass. Let's just say it was NOT a "one and you're done." Having a history with the brick walls at Mizuna (the site of one of my earliest art shows), I really wanted that background, but getting contrast with the brilliant opaque red of the drink was tough. I had better luck with one aspect, at least. The week before starting this painting, Willi Sheller taught me how to make a heart-shaped garnish. Perfect timing!

The story behind this drink involves a bit of coincidence as well. Here's an excerpt from the book: 

Sherrece Scott, bartender at Spokane’s Mizuna, promised to share her new drink, Satan’s Sap, long before work began on Mixology With a Twist. At Mizuna many months later, I pored over a lengthy new bar menu, finally ordering El Corazón. As it happened, El Corazón was Sherrece’s newly-renamed Satan’s Sap. Rich, fruity-but-not-sweet, and spicy, El Corazón had me at the first sip. This drink’s balance is crucial. Sherrece, ever the perfectionist, tastes both lime juice and cayenne each time she makes it, adjusting to be sure it is sufficiently spicy and not overly tart.

What I didn't have room to mention is that Sherrece bent over backward to make this recipe accessible for home bartenders. One ingredient, a frozen blood orange purée, is easily available to restaurants, but not so much to retail shoppers. Sherrece spent weeks trying every grocery-store fruit concentrate she could get her hands on until she found one that perfectly mimicked the flavor AND color of the original purée in the drink.

Sherrece will be on hand to make El Corazon—plus many more scrumptious concoctions—Friday night. Come on down and have one!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Willi Sheller at Liberty

8-1/2. Oil on panel, 12" x 12". $595. [buy now.]

During our first trip to Liberty on Seattle's Capitol Hill, we had the experience of meeting Willi Sheller. "Meeting" is probably not the right word. "Being entertained by"? Not sure how to explain it, but the minute I mentioned the book project to him, he disappeared behind the bar for about twenty minutes, then reemerged with this:

Meet Tikitty. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the cherries in the lime adorning this tiki drink are on fire. When I could stop laughing long enough to try it, I found it was delicious. 

After that Willi brought out some more serious original libations, including the 8-1/2 (illustrated above), which he said he named for his favorite Fellini film that he'd never seen. Then, he killed my cucumber phobia with his Pimp's Cup, a twist on the Pimm's Cup using local BroVo Jammy vermouth. Here is the painting, which is an homage to what happened next:

Pimp's Cup. Oil on panel, 12" x 12". $595. [buy now]

So, what happened next was that I tried to figure out how the hell Willi had made the intricately woven garnish on my 8-1/2. I couldn't do it, so he went to the bar, grabbed a cutting board, some tools, and a few pieces of fruit, and proceeded to spend several minutes demonstrating garnishes.

Please keep in mind that, a) I am not a videographer, and b) I was at least two drinks in at this point, and not expecting to make a video. I did my best under the circumstances, and here are the results:

For another video and an actual photo of Willi, join me after the jump.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Yuletide 2015

Solstice Party. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

I'm coming back to Yuletide!

Last year was my first time at Yuletide and it was a big success, so I am thrilled to have been juried in again for 2015.

This year,  Spokane Art School's holiday art and craft sale will take place at the Downtown Public Library located at 906 West Main. The event kicks off with a private party on Thursday, November 12 (get tickets here), then opens to the public Friday and Saturday, November 13 and 14.

I will bring lots of new work including framed and unframed original Mixology paintings, giclée reproductions, and my original Mixology classic cocktail books as well as my new book, Mixology with a Twist.

Here are the details:
Where: Downtown Public Library, 906 West Main*
When: November 12 – 14, 2015
Hours: Thurs. Nov. 12, opening party, 5 – 8 p.m.
       Fri. – Sat. Nov. 13 – 14, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

*Please note that there is parking beneath the library building, as well as on the street and at several   
nearby paid parking lots and garages.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Bitter Honey and Spice, November Rain)

Bitter, Honey and Spice. Oil on panel, 12" x 12". NFS.

Mixology With a Twist is almost done! All of the paintings are done, too... and in several cases, more than once.

As these things happen, the book progressed, and so it evolved. The paintings' style became more consistent over weeks and months. Which is great. Except that the earliest efforts now looked out of place. Worse yet, they didn't do justice to the amazing drinks they represent.

So, back to the drawing board I went. Repeatedly. Bitter, Honey and Spice (above) is the third iteration of the illustration that is now, just maybe, fit to represent my favorite cocktail from Eugene, Oregon's Izakaya Meiji Company.

But for all that, B, H, & S is not the record holder for bad paintings. It comes in a distant second to Curtis Day's November Rain (below), which I painted no fewer than five times. Five!

November Rain. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

As much as I love the drink, it almost got cut from the book owing to the creative block it inspired. Thankfully the fifth time was the charm. I used a bit of reflection trickery to bring some color into the almost-black drink set against Casper Fry's signature brick wall, finally making it pop.

Both original paintings, along with thirty-one others, will be on display at Mizuna for the Mixology With a Twist First Friday book release party.

In the meantime and against my better judgement, I have posted most of the rejected paintings below the fold (two versions of November Rain were so bad they were never photographed).

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New Work Available on Daily Paintworks

Manhattans by the Pitcher Study. Oil on panel, 6" x 6". $125. Sold.

I'm back from the Bend/Sausalito trip, and it was a great experience. I met lots of fun new customers and many paintings found new homes. And of course, I tried new cocktails! I'm super excited about a new drink I discovered at the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin in Bend, Oregon.

More on that later, but in the meantime, a few of my favorites are still looking for love. This sweet little Manhattan painting is now available at my Daily Paintworks Mixology Gallery. I'll post more over the next week or so, along with new paintings for Mixology With a Twist.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Off to Bend and Sausalito!

Mac Daddy. Oil on panel, 30" x 15".

Time to pack them bags! Mixology makes its debut at two major west coast art festivals in the next few weeks.

This weekend, it's Art in the High Desert in Bend, Oregon. This is a lovely, well-juried little show along the river in Bend's Old Mill District. I've taken a few years off from the show and am excited to return with all new work.

Then on Labor Day weekend, it's off to the Sausalito Art Festival, a giant party of a show that never fails to be fun. I did this one last year with pastels, and couldn't wait to try it with Mixology.

I've made several new, bigger paintings for the shows including Mac Daddy, above, and Shake it Up and Stir it Up, below. Each is 15" x 30".

For show dates and hours please see my Shows and Events page.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Wabi Sabi and Liberty Bar (Laura)

Wabi Sabi. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

The best day at the Bellevue Arts Museum Artsfair was the day before the Bellevue Arts Museum Artsfair.

Paul and I set up in record time, then took off to try the Seattle cocktail recommendations of several friends. One place everyone agreed on was Liberty on Seattle's Capitol Hill. This low-key neighborhood bar and sushi stop turned out to be the single friendliest spot I have visited. In one evening, we came away with five recipes from two different bartenders, Willi and Laura.

Willi served us first, and that experience gets its own future blog post (once I do his drinks justice!). As we left for an art exhibit, he introduced us to Laura Bishop. Laura, herself an artist, liked the idea of the book project and wanted to contribute, so we promised to return.

Upon our arrival back at Liberty, Laura served three original drinks, all beautifully garnished (apparently the Liberty custom—more on that later). The first, the Wabi Sabi, combined green-tea-infused gin with lemon, simple and thyme for a fresh, summery taste that I instantly loved. Laura was so helpful and all of her drinks so delicious, I plan to include at least one more of them in the book. Stay tuned!

Laura demonstrates her mad garnish skills

About the painting:
Inspired by the Japanese moniker, I wanted to keep this painting simple. I googled Japanese textiles and found this vintage pattern, which I printed out for a backdrop. I already knew I wanted to use my best-ever-find cut-glass coupes (7 for $5 at a rummage sale!), so the perfect pairing of cut-glass pattern and bamboo-leaf print was a happy accident. The glass sits on a green-enameled metal wall tile, scavenged years ago from an old school. This brought the bright green color up into the stem and added green reflections to the bowl of the glass, all to tie in with the thyme-sprig garnish. But the real star of the show is the glow of the green tea gin and lemon against the dark background.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mixology With a Twist Art Exhibit and Book Release Party!

Looks like I have a date! 

Once again, Mike has graciously offered to host the Mixology release party and art exhibit at Mizuna. I'm so excited to have it on the calendar! Just like last year, the event will be the first Friday in November, from 5 to 10 p.m. 

I'll have all the paintings from the book available for purchase, along with, of course, the book, and giclée reproductions and copies of the original Mixology classic cocktails book.

There's a ton to do between now and November, though! New drinks to paint, less-than-successful paintings to re-paint, drinks to taste, WRITING, more painting, more writing, more drinking, etc., etc. Oh, and a few art festivals happen somewhere in there.

And on that note, I had better get back to work.

Here are all the details:

When: Friday, November 6, 2015, 5–10 p.m.
Where: Mizuna, Spokane, WA
Celebrate the release of my second cocktail art book, featuring original recipes from Pacific Northwest bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts. Original paintings from Mixology With a Twist will be on display (and available for purchase) along with books and reproductions of select paintings. Mizuna will offer drink specials from the book along with their delicious food (separate, full vegetarian/vegan menu). Last year's party was a blast, so if you missed it, here's your chance to see what you missed!

Artwork will remain at Mizuna through the end of 2015, so if you missed the opening party, please stop by. Many of the original works are now available through my new online store.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Scientist

Sheila's Medicine. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".

About the drink:
When I started this new book project, the first person I thought of was Alison Collins, owner of Boots Bakery and Lounge. I had been enjoying her drinks for years at Mizuna, and continued to enjoy them when she opened her own vegan bakery, deli and bar.

Last December, I met up with her to try some original creations. When I arrived at Boots, I here's what I found: Alison, looking like an adorable mad scientist, hunched over a row of ten glasses—each containing a variation of a drink she was designing just for me. When she finished the drink, she named it "Sheila's Medicine," but I want to rename it "The Scientist" in honor of this scene:

The complex drink, adorned with a fresh cocktail onion (how did she know I love painting onions?) has an overall sour cherry vibe. This comes from Amargo-Vallet, a bitter liqueur from Mexico, which stars in the drink alongside its sister liqueur, Fernet-Vallet. Other ingredients include gin and a delicious house-made agrodolce (sour and sweet) syrup containing orange peel, ginger and white balsamic vinegar.  I made this syrup at home and found that once strained, it leaves a pile of amazing candied orange peel. Bonus!

About the painting:
I wanted to capture the feel of the scene I found at Boots the day I tried this recipe. It took me eight months to figure out that I should do what Alison did: put the winning drink in a coupe-ish glass in front of a row of hopefuls. And of course I couldn't resist filling a glass with onions. I love how they reflect back and forth, becoming more colorful with each bounce of the light. Boots has a lot of string lights, so I set some up just above the drinks to reflect on the shiny black "bar" and in the glasses. As I work on this project it's getting more difficult each time to come up with a unique perspective, so I was happy with how different this painting looks from the rest.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Our group's commercial realtor, Patricia, captured
 the perfectly-staged party room at jimgermanbar.
This post has been a long time coming. 

Way back in May, a cocktail tasting night ended in the hatching of ambitious group travel plans, as per usual. This time, shockingly, we went through with it and somehow got ten busy people to spend a night in the tiny town of Waitsburg, Washington, at the wonderfully out-of-place jimgermanbar.

Jim German, a Seattle artist, uprooted himself to open the bar and eventual restaurant, where he serves creative and artistically-presented original cocktails, "Etruscan Snacks," and if you can put together a group of ten or more people, a reputedly-delicious paella. (It was not vegetarian, so I had to take everyone's word for it, but it smelled and looked amazing). 

The space is beautifully constructed with custom furniture made from salvaged materials from the previous café, and has a warm, inviting, rustic-modern atmosphere. Original artwork by Jim and friends hangs throughout the two rooms, enhancing the creative atmosphere. Jim's own art studio occupies the rooms above the bar.

It was a fantastic night with wonderful drinks, food and company. Jim promised me a recipe for the new book, and I was ecstatic to include it. Both Jim and I being busy people with crazy lives, it took until now to actually get the recipe. Thus the long-time-coming post; I didn't want to tease you with a recipe that didn't happen!

*UPDATE: on the subject of teasing, I'm sad to report that jimgermanbar is no longer open. Rumor has it that Jim is up to something good in Walla Walla, so I will try to keep you posted.

Kate can't wait!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Devil's Garden

Devil's Garden. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

About the drink:
This is another one from our own tasting crew, and a delicious one it is! Tom Musselwhite, famous for his one-and-you're-done, all-booze cocktails, surprised the hell out of me with this complex, herbaceous twist on a whiskey sour. Or some kind of Manhattan. Or both. In any case, it is absolutely right up my alley (intentionally, perhaps?).  Inspired by a recipe he found online, Tom experimented until he had something that may or may not even remotely resemble the original drink. Basil-infused simple syrup, vermouth, lime juice, bay leaf and a topping of Iron Goat Goatmeal Stout add a balanced complexity to two ounces of 100-proof Rittenhouse Rye. Mmmm.

About the painting:
This one had been rolling around in my head for a while as I worked on other projects. I was excited to include all the leafy bits, since leaves have kind of been my thing for a while. I knew I wanted some of the leaves to hang down for a spooky, live-oak-in-a-southern-garden effect. But that was about all I had. When I went to paint it, I found I had exactly the glass that Tom had used to serve the drink, as well as the perfect backdrop in another William Morris calendar page (thanks Mom!). The leaves worked out exactly as planned to balance the composition Everything seemed to fall together. Except it looked boring. Until, I did the unthinkable… I moved my light to the other side of the still life stage. I'm sure other artists do this daily, but through over a year of still life painting I have kept my light on the left side. Probably this was due to laziness, but for whatever reason, I will not make that mistake in the future. When I moved the light, this formerly boring setup sprang to life, and inspired me to very quickly paint one of my favorite pieces to date. I love it when a plan comes together!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

La Mûre Printemps

La Mûre Printemps. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".

While talking with Ruins bartender Crystal Bertholic one night about some recipes for the upcoming book, I received a recommendation for another talented bartender: Suzie Bertholic, Crystal's sister. Teya and I immediately headed down to find her at Boots. Suzie stood alone behind the bar, inventing drinks on demand for adventurous customers. Though busy, she did not hesitate when I made my request. She left for a few minutes, then returned with her personal notebook of cocktail inventions and a handful of old-school recipe cards. She proceeded to hand-write two recipes for me on the cards.

One of the drinks involved a hard-to-find liqueur that I have not yet found. La Mûre Printemps, however, made clever use of easily-accessible ingredients like vanilla soda, mint leaves, lemon juice and fresh blackberries (six per drink!). The following Wednesday, I made the cocktail for my notoriously not-into-sweet-stuff cocktail crew, who eyed the drinks suspiciously as I passed them around. Shockingly, La Mûre Printemps was in instant hit! The tartness of the lemon and blackberries balances the sweet ingredients perfectly to make a refreshing drink that really does taste like spring.

About the painting:

I think my obsessive Etsy vintage glass hoarding paid off here. The base of the purple collins glass took on the color of blackberries with the addition of the surprisingly red liquid. Special thanks to my mom for passing on her old William Morris fabric-pattern calendar. I think this page (oddly, the image for December) captured the essence of spring.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Tequila Negroni

Tequila Negroni. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

This twist on the classic Negroni boasts a delightfully complicated Northwest pedigree. Created by Beth McRae, it stars on the menu of Spokane’s Republic Pi, where bartender “Fro” Carpenter helped McRae perfect her recipe. The drink showcases liqueurs from Seattle’s Brovo Spirits. Brovo distiller Mac Kenney is the son of Renée Cebula, owner of Spokane-based vintage-barware-shop-in-a-vintage-trailer, Raising the Bar, which was the source of the vintage mixing pitcher in the painting. Whew.

Beth and her husband Lon live in what might be Spokane's most impressively, enthusiastically mid-century house, so the wallpaper and glassware are a tribute. I especially love the wallpaper reflected in the top of the pitcher… the light shining directly on the paper to the right lit up the metallic copper highlights, making them brighter in the reflection than in the background. It's the little things.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fleur Asado

Fleur Asado. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

The Fleur Asado, a.k.a. Burnt Flower) comes to us from Richard Vander Wende, creator of the Blackbeer'd. A trip to Mexico (which Richard says smells of flowers and burning vegetation) inspired this delicious, smoky, floral drink.

At the time Richard created the recipe, flowering quince bloomed in his back yard. The edible flowers proved perfect for the garnish, holding up well to the blowtorch treatment they endured. The coral-colored flowers with lightly singed edges, contrasted against a mixture of lime juice, mescal and elderflower liqueur, made such a lovely drink that only a close-up portrait would do.

After my struggle with the complicated Pablo's Muse painting, this one practically fell off of my brush. What a joy the Fleur Asado was to paint (and to drink)!

Richard playing with fire.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pablo's Muse

Pablo's Muse. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".

At long last, painting for Mixology With a Twist has resumed (insert sigh of relief here). With the book release just a few short months away, deadline-related confidence waned as other projects kept me from my "drinks." At least continuous prop hoarding enabled me to jump in the minute I had a minute!  

First up, Pablo's Muse from Kristy White of Clover, here in Spokane. This simple mezcal-based drink allows the flavors of its few ingredients to shine. Kristy is one of the first bartenders I approached for this book, after watching her juggle craft cocktail orders at a dizzying pace at the ever-busy Bon Bon last fall.

Kristy's concoction is actually colorless. My desire to add color led to a challenging choice of glassware (molded pink depression glass). The paisley wallpaper and galvanized "bar top," inspired by Clover's interior, added another layer to the task. Suffice it to say this one took about three times as long as it should have. But hey, the important thing is this: the drinks are flowing again!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Festival Season!

I've added two festivals to the summer Mixology schedule, making for one fun road trip! Starting the last weekend in August at Bend, Oregon's Art in the High Desert, I'll then move on to the Sausalito Art Festival in Marin County, California for Labor Day weekend. What a great lineup.

Both festivals are top rated for the West Coast (not to mention the entire country). I'm so excited to be bringing Mixology paintings to them both for the first time.

Please find more details and links to the show websites on my Shows and Events page.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Painting may be on hold for a bit, but hoarding continues full steam ahead.

Above are all of the glasses, shakers and mixing pitchers I've collected while working on other projects. OK, maybe not all of them, but whatever. I can quit anytime I want.

For now, I've got a book to make. For that I must collect recipes. New recipes spark new painting ideas, and each new painting naturally requires some very specific prop that I don't already own.

For example, the purple glass is for a delicious recipe called La Mûre Printemps by Boots/Ruins bartender Suzie Bertholic. The drink, served in a Collins glass, involves gin and fresh blackberries. Tell me I didn't need that exact glass. The green and smokey glasses came with it as a bonus. All are vintage, found on my favorite vintage store for lazy people, Etsy. Just type in exactly what you're looking for, click the "Vintage" button on the left, and boom. You will spend money.

Same goes for the three mid-century rocks glasses, parts of whole sets found on Etsy. So many sets...

The sweet Mad Men-era mixing pitcher comes from my favorite local barware emporium and travel trailer, Raising the Bar. It's for a drink created by liquor rep Beth McRae to showcase liqueurs by Seattle distillery broVo. One of the distillers at broVo is the son of Renée Cebula, who owns Raising the Bar. The Tequila Negroni simply could not be painted without a pitcher from RtB!

And no week would be complete without a purchase from my favorite source for new barware, Crate and Barrel. The copper shaker is slated for a lovely mescal drink by Clover bartender Kristy White. The thick-based flute may represent for a refreshing drink by Jim German, owner of Waitsburg, Washington's amazing and unexpected jimgermanbar.

More on those drinks and stories later with paintings to come…. wait, what? Etsy, is that you I hear calling?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Brandied Cherries

If you had told me a year ago I might own a cherry pitter, I would have laughed. A lot. But months of fruitless (pun int.) searches for good, reasonably-priced brandied cherries have since altered my outlook.

Behind my studio, a pair of ancient cherry trees loaded with fruit reminded me of this recipe for brandied cherries. Armed with a yogurt tub, I climbed through scratchy limbs to harvest about five pounds of cherries.
Pitting cherries with the Norpro pitter. Fast and efficient!

Two splattery, sticky hours later, I possessed four jars of delicious, spicy, brandied cherries that actually still tasted like cherries. And for the first time ever, I craved a Manhattan on a 100-degree day. The recipe is a bit of work, but worth the extra effort.

Juniper and allspice berries simmer in syrup

It will be a few weeks before I post any new paintings. Still juggling two separate bodies of work, I've had to take five (weeks, or so) from Mixology to prepare for upcoming shows. But I've been hoarding more vintage props, so I'll try to post some of my finds in the meantime.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mixology at Artfest 2015!

Moontinis at Midnight. Oil on panel, 14" x 10".

Artfest is coming! Spokane's own Northwest Museum of Art and Culture hosts its annual juried art festival May 29 through 31st this year. The festival takes place at Coeur d'Alene Park in Browne's Addition, just west of dowtown Spokane and a few blocks from the museum.

I'll be back at Artfest with Mixology paintings, reproductions and books this year. I'm so excited! Many of the original 12" x 12" paintings from my first book will be available for purchase, along with dozens of smaller pieces and some new larger works created just for the show.

Here are the vital details:

When: May 29–31, 2015
Where: Coeur d"Alene Park, Spokane, Washington
Hours: Friday, Noon–8, Saturday, 10–8, Sunday, 10–5.
Booth # TBD.

And here are some more new pieces I'll have available:

The Pink Lady. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".

The Mile High Club. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".

Clouds Over Manhattan. Oil on panel, 6" x 6".

Manhattans by the Pitcher. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

Two Olives. Oil on panel, 6" x 6".

Artini. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

Monday, May 4, 2015

Bourbon Renewal

Bourbon Renewal. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".

Clyde Common is one of my favorite restaurants in Portland. Its bar manager, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, is well known for his inventive cocktails, a blog, videos, a regular drinks column in Playboy, and a book on cocktail technique. 

When I visited Clyde Common a few weeks ago in search of recipes, Freddy (the bartender on duty) immediately suggested the Bourbon Renewal. I tried to explain that I was looking for original drinks, not old classics. I had seen the Bourbon Renewal on menus at bars all over the Pacific Northwest so it had to be an oldie but goodie, right? Embarrassingly, not so much.

I looked it up while I sat a the bar enjoying another delicious drink, then sheepishly admitted my mistake to Freddy. The drink is indeed the invention of Mr. Morgenthaler, who named it after his business partner's band. Freddy kindly shared the recipe and J.M.'s business card.

When I emailed Jeffrey later, he bent over backward to help, answering my many questions and offering any additional assistance I might require in the future. Which, given his extremely busy schedule, went above and beyond.

The painting is inspired by the bar at Clyde Common; the chalkboard behind lists the many top-shelf offerings available. The beautiful ruby-red color of the drink comes from small amount of Creme de Cassis added to the bourbon. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Brouwer's Manhattan

Brouwer's Manhattan. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

I felt like a bit of an ass ordering a cocktail at a statewide triple-IPA event, but I'm glad I did.

Brouwer's Cafe, a slightly gothic, belgian-style pub built in an old warehouse in Seattle, hosted the opening party for the high-octane hopfest. Along with the rest of the Iron Goat Crew, I drank my share of beer before succumbing to the temptations of the cocktail menu. Thanks to the generosity of Lucas Brouwers, I came away with a surprise new addition to Mixology with a Twist.

Heavy wooden booths and bars, rock walls and lots of ironwork make Brouwer's both cozy and impressive. The problem was, how to capture the old-world feel of the pub without building a complicated set? After mulling it over for several days, I found a refreshingly uncomplicated answer: an old wooden yoga block and an 88-cent vinyl floor tile.

This small, simple piece was a joy to paint. I was afraid it might be a bit too simple. But the second I switched the light onto the beautifully-colored drink, the setup came to life. Colors projected gorgeously onto the ice cubes in the mixing pitcher, creating a series of bright, graphic shapes. The result, I think, is an interesting combo of modern style and natural materials.

I'm especially happy with the looseness of the piece. I only had a few hours to do it, which pushed me to make quicker decisions and bolder strokes. Maybe I should give myself a time limit for every painting!

Monday, April 6, 2015

French Farmhouse

French Farmhouse. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".

An all-day, beer-lovers' brunch inspired this new twist on the French 75. Truthfully, the idea had been rolling around my head for a while, but the brunch kickstarted the process.

If I haven't beat this to death already, I am part owner of Iron Goat Brewing, a microbrewery in Spokane. The brewery is moving to a bigger space with a bigger liquor license, and a cocktail menu is now an option. A collection of beer-related drinks seemed apropos, so I've been pondering possibilities. Asked to bring a brunch cocktail on short notice, I gave this idea a try.

This drink replaces champagne in a French 75 with farmhouse ale (saison). Our seasonal farmhouse ale didn't come out until after the aforementioned brunch, so I used Boulevard's Tank 7 instead. (As a former graphic designer, I have a weakness for pretty packaging, so that was another excuse to use one of my favorite non-Goat beers.) The saison substituted seamlessly, the drink was declared a keeper, and I decided to paint it.

To get inspiration for the painting, I googled French country decor. I have never seen so many ticking stripes on one search page in my life. Or anywhere, really. Whitewashed wood and ticking stripes as far as the eye could see. Unbelievably, I already had a bar towel with stripes. Amazing! After several hours of futzing, an equal amount of easel time, and an unheard-of $0 in new props, a painting, and an unexpected addition to the new book, was born.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Last Canes

Last Canes Cocktail. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

Every so often, the list of unpainted cocktails needs restocking. When that happens, someone has to take one for the team and go find new drinks. It's tough work, but it must be done.

A few weeks ago, the job fell to me alone. I headed to Clover to find Kristy White, and find her I did. She mixed me a delicious drink she had recently invented (Pablo's Muse, coming soon). Then she set to work calling other bartenders for me. (I am always pleasantly surprised at the generosity of the bartenders I meet—not just with drinks, but with volunteering to find more people to share more great drinks.)

Kristy and bar manager Justin recommended Cameron Walls, another Clover bartender. Cameron happened to be heading our way. In the meantime, Kristy mixed a favorite Cameron concoction: a drink the Clover staff had nicknamed the "Little Cutie." A bit sweet, but with the layered complexity I love, the "Cutie" was a hit. Inspired by Cameron's mother's marmalade, the drink contained rum, amaretto, apricot liqueur and lemon juice in addition to the bitter-sweet orange preserves.

Cameron arrived and within minutes had me sold on an additional drink (the Weber, also coming soon).  But he had a problem with the Cutie… the name. Not manly. Few men would order a drink called the "Little Cutie." In order to give the drink universal appeal, Cameron decided it was time to commit to a different name. He chose Last Canes, a sugar harvest celebration from Barbados, as the permanent title.  

Last Canes, Little Cutie—whatever it's called, this drink is delicious and fun to paint! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Accordance Cocktail

Accordance Cocktail. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".

A delicious drink, a sunshine-filled distillery, and Seattle in springtime: it doesn't get much better than this! As I mentioned in my last post, we stopped in at Sun Liquor in Seattle several weeks ago. I ordered an Accordance and fell in love.

I tried to capture the afternoon in this painting, and with extra inspiration from their website, give it a Sun Liquor feel. 

Planning ahead, I grabbed a coaster from the bar and took a photo of the cool, pentagonal-based glass. I thought it would be no problem to find a similar glass, since it appeared to be new. Not so much. The glasses were available—from the UK, by the case. That was not gonna happen. Instead, I found a similar-ish Libbey glass and made a painting. Meh.

Then, a dangerous discovery. A search for "vintage cocktail glass" on Etsy brought up 146 pages of listings for every imaginable glass, including exactly one listing for a pair of silver-rimmed, hexagonal-based, mid-century beauties. I ordered them immediately, dooming myself to yet another painting do-over. (Obsessive much? Right?) And as if that wasn't bad enough, the glasses were tiny, so I recreated the coasters to scale with an ink jet printer and card stock. 

Obsessiveness and scale issues aside, I'm finally happy with the painting and excited to see it in the new book. That's all that matters, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pulse Wave

Pulse Wave. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

Last month we spent a gorgeous sunny afternoon in Seattle, in part, appropriately, at Sun Liquor. Their beautiful, retro-inspired cocktail bar adjoins the distillery. The menu boasted so many amazing-looking cocktails, I had to ask for help to decide. I decided on the Accordance, a boozy, bourbon-based drink that I loved. But Sun Liquor doesn't make a bourbon.

I picked up a card for bar manager Eli Hetrick, asking for the Accordance but also (or instead) for a drink that actually used Sun Liquor. He generously came through on all counts, sending me the Accordance and a personal favorite of his, the off-menu Pulse Wave. Taking inspiration from Sun's cool bar, amazing vintage barware collection and beautiful website, I sketched out an idea and painted away.

The problem was, I hadn't had the drink yet. The night I finished the painting, I made the Pulse Wave and realized my painting was not worthy. The drink was far prettier than my prop drink, and it was too good for my slightly muddy, overworked panel. So today I set everything up again and (I hope) did it justice.

Oh, by the way, the Pulse Wave is sort of like an Aviation crossed with a Negroni, with grapefruit. 

Here's my view from the bar of Sun's vintage barware collection:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Anton Boxrud

The Anton Boxrud. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".

Last week was a bit panicky, as the list of unpainted cocktails had shrunk to almost nothing. I enlisted a few members of the tasting gang and headed out for happy hour. First we hit Clover, looking for a bartender who had agreed to contribute a recipe. Unfortunately, she had left early to pick up a sick kid. Not willing to waste a perfectly good happy hour, we tried some tasty drinks and got a few leads (we'll be back!). 

Then it was on to Ruins, where Kelli Aspen Green greeted us from behind the bar. Just about every bartender in town had recommended I get a recipe from Kelli. She did not disappoint, immediately offering a delicious original creation and a story to go with it. 

Asked by mutual friend Sylvia (original owner of Mizuna) to create a drink, Kelli came up with this tasty concoction on the fly. Sylvia fell "instantly in love" with the drink. So Kelli decided to name it for the place where she first fell in love, the Anton Boxrud bed and breakfast in Salt Lake City. Kelli wrote down the story for me, offering that it was the place where she left her virginity. "Do you want that in the book?" I asked, and received an enthusiastic "yes!" So there you have it.

This drink is pure herbalicious refreshment, with a gin base, lime, fennel simple syrup, celery bitters and a rosemary garnish. Best of all, every ingredient is available in Spokane! At last!