Black Beer'd. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".
There's not much to this painting, as number of props goes. Yet it required the single longest setup of any painting I have done. For the first time, I devoted an entire day to the composition of essentially four objects. I've heard of people taking days to arrange a still life, but honestly, I thought that was crazy talk. Okay, now I get it.
I shouldn't complain. I'm sure it took at least that long for regular taster and perfectionist Richard Vander Wende to finalize the Blackbeer'd recipe itself. Every ingredient was crucial down to the proof (Navy strength, naturally). His efforts paid off—the drink is fantastic. Then, not content to just jot down the recipe or send it in a text, he presented it as a beautifully designed art piece. It featured an antique etching of Blackbeard after a sip of his fabled favorite beverage: rum topped with gunpowder.
Fortunately for us, Richard opted to top his drink with Oskar Blues Ten FIDY imperial stout instead.
Now, how to put all of this in a painting: an essentially dark drink, the etching, and hopefully something that would tie it all to Richard. The Vander Wende house is filled with art, some of it in elaborate filigree frames. I had a lesser version of one of those, which gave me the idea to incorporate the etching, which would contrast with the drink. Then it lacked color, so in came the cranberry glass with the skewers (which reminded Kate V.W. of swords, perfect!).
Almost there, but not quite. No imaginable cocktail shaker complemented this arrangement. Enter the beer bottle, despite Oskar Blues canning all of their beer. Just another several hours of raising and lowering all of the props and figuring out how to "frame" the frame, and… eventually… wait for it… voila!
Richard making Blackbeer'ds for the gang: