Frances Marin

New Painting: Dinner Party

Lately, I have been working on a new gouache dinner party painting. It's for an art show with the theme of food and love at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles. Since I love food, I had plenty of ideas for the show. The one idea I knew I was going to carry out was a dinner party viewed from above. I equate food and love with cooking and eating with those dear to me. I wanted the painting to feel personal, yet relatable to others. The final painting combines two memorable meals: a dinner party I hosted with 7 others and a spontaneous dinner in Cadiz, Spain. I'll explain in further detail, but let's start at the beginning. 

I knew I wanted the table to take up the whole composition. I knew I wanted a table runner so I added that early. After I had some of the bowls and plates drawn in, I photographed some models (myself and Bryan) to get the hand gestures right. 

Bryan modeling. He was so ready and willing!

Bryan modeling. He was so ready and willing!

Bryan made a great model. I shot him from above my home work area. You can see I was antsy to lay down some paint, so I started painting in the wood salad bowl and servers.  

Using myself as a hand model.

Using myself as a hand model.

I had a lot of figuring out to do. After I realized I wanted to reflect a specific dinner party with myself and 7 friends (4 couples) I had to include 8 people eating at the table (4 women, 4 men). Painting a dinner party created some challenges. Had dinner started already? Were they on the first, second helping? What is each person doing? Eating, drinking, pouring, serving, slicing. I had to create a little scenario for each person at the table. The initial sketch took a little time to plan out. It wasn't highly detailed, but I did have to lay in the hand positions, plates and bowls. 

I was again antsy to get some details in so I started working on the food. I decided to darken the wood grain so the table runner and other details would stand out. You can see here how I taped the watercolor paper to a scrappy piece of foam core. I often write notes in the tape. I noted whether they were male or female and what might be on their plates. I also had to think of where their knives and forks were: resting on their plate, in their hand, etc. 

Here you can see I removed the napkins next to the plates that I had in the initial sketch. As I worked, I realized if they were eating dinner, the napkins would be on their laps. I really wanted to show the napkins because I thought the rectangular shape next to the plate would make it more interesting, but I did want to keep it realistic so they were left out. 

Plaza Mentidero locals

Plaza Mentidero locals

I mentioned the two memorable meals that inspired this painting. The dinner party I had at my house with seven good friends (more than a friend Bryan, Anabella, Cortez, Nate, Lucia, Dave and Misa) and a meal in Cádiz, Spain. In Spain, between my apartment and art studio was La Plaza del Mentidero. Although Cádiz has many plazas, this one was really special to me since not only was it convenient, but the restaurant owners quickly began to know me as I popped in for tapas or walked by and said hello. Two particular restaurants were my favorite: Mmmm! and La Mentirosa. They were across the plaza from one another and the cooks and owners were good friends. One night when I was at Mmmm! (often called Silvio's, since he was the owner), the cooks and servers came over with a pan of fish and potatoes. I was sitting by myself in the corner and they made me come over and join them. They were such a generous group, so welcoming and kind even though I had only been there for a month. 

Here is my version of the pan of fish and potatoes, to reflect the meal in Cádiz. I love the way the fish came out with the tail hanging off the plate, simple lines to shape it and the shadow. It is my favorite way to paint: intuitively and without thinking, diving in and doing what feels right. I used some cross hatching, a technique I have not used for awhile.

When I'm not working in my studio, I paint at home. When I paint at home, my cat Oscar inevitably walks across my paintings. 

The final dinner party painting. 

The final dinner party painting. 

You can see the different personalities and appetites here. For example, the woman at the lower left corner is a vegetarian. I wanted it to feel somewhere between the first serving and second and the fish just came off the grill. Everyone either has their mouth full or they are talking and laughing. 

I still have other food painting ideas. Like the time a group of friends and I hiked up to Mission Peak on a full moon and picnicked at the top. Or when my dad makes arroz con pollo or gallo pinto. Or when my mom would make tea and snacks for us in the garage on rainy days when we were kids. 

What's a memorable food experience you've had? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

SubZERO Festival - Textiles

I've been a busy little factory getting ready for the SubZERO Festival coming up June 6 & 7. My space will act like an open studio, with sketches, paintings, clutch zip bags and art prints in my booth. I'm making stuff as we speak, as well as starting to test out my display. You may have already seen that I made a temporary outdoor studio over the weekend so I could at least pretend I was celebrating Memorial Day weekend.

I could get used to this.

I could get used to this.

Since I had been preparing for my students' art show, I have had to pick up the pace these last few weeks for SubZERO. I started off by dyeing, printing and sewing clutch bags for the event. I had fabric left from last year so I decided to make a limited run for the event.

If you didn't know, I started making these bags because I inherited a bunch of vintage sewing supplies from my aunt Yolanda, an incredible creative and amazing artist. I had to put all the vintage metal zippers to use, so I decided to make some bags. I hand dyed cotton canvas, carved some block prints, and voila! I had made my first set of bags about a year ago. Interesting enough, this current batch used EXACTLY the last of the metal zippers!

Tangerine, lilac and avocado fabric drying.

Tangerine, lilac and avocado fabric drying.

Block printed fabric pre-construction

Block printed fabric pre-construction

Sewing in the labels

Sewing in the labels

Little helper Oscar

Little helper Oscar

Almost done! Ready for the last step.

Almost done! Ready for the last step.

Multitasking. Getting booth ideas on  Pinterest  while arranging my bags.

Multitasking. Getting booth ideas on Pinterest while arranging my bags.

I think the jacaranda petals have been influencing my color choices.

I think the jacaranda petals have been influencing my color choices.

Stop by my booth at SubZERO and check them out!

Hope to see you there!

Delta Workshop weekend adventure

Well, it's been some weeks since my art show was hung at Delta Workshop in Sacramento, CA. I've been excited to share with you a recap of how the two weekends went midst the heat, the show and the ranch. Here we go! 

I headed up to Sacramento on June 1st to drop off and install the work. My boyfriend sent me off with some necessary liquids. Here are some mason jars of green juice, water and coffee for the ride up.

I headed up to Sacramento on June 1st to drop off and install the work. My boyfriend sent me off with some necessary liquids. Here are some mason jars of green juice, water and coffee for the ride up.

When I arrived, Bridget, the owner of Delta Workshop, greeted me with 
her usual friendly smile. Here she is showing me some of her stationery 
selection. 

When I arrived, Bridget, the owner of Delta Workshop, greeted me with her usual friendly smile. Here she is showing me some of her stationery selection. 

The install went smoothly and you can see my artwork behind her display rack.

The install went smoothly and you can see my artwork behind her display rack.

The following weekend, June 8th, I ventured up with my boyfriend and friends to attend the opening. This was going to be my first time at my friend Bella's family ranch in Shingle Springs, CA. Bella always told me the ranch looks like my paintings. I think she's right.

A vintage trailer on the ranch. 

A vintage trailer on the ranch. 

I see where Bella gets her amazing vintage style. This scene of her mom's living room is perfectly welcoming.

I see where Bella gets her amazing vintage style. This scene of her mom's living room is perfectly welcoming.

Bella's mom  is a great cook and we ate nopales (cactus) that grows right off the porch steps, steak and green chile, a New Mexico staple. 

Bella's mom  is a great cook and we ate nopales (cactus) that grows right off the porch steps, steak and green chile, a New Mexico staple. 

Morning coffee and archery.  

Morning coffee and archery.  

Breakfast on the ranch.

Breakfast on the ranch.

A sketch I made of Bryan playing Mancala.  

A sketch I made of Bryan playing Mancala.  

Los  Piñones, a truly great family that I feel honored to know.

Los Piñones, a truly great family that I feel honored to know.