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?