Before my foray into food blogging, prior to working at an inpatient facility, years before the creation of Muffin Day, I was... an art history major. Early on in college I came to the conclusion that a bachelor's degree was just going to be a steppingstone to my getting a master's because I figured a M.A. was what I needed to better compete in the job market. Undergrad was kind of an extension of high school as well, in that it gave me more time to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. At the time I wanted to be everything from a biochemist to a philosopher to a writer to an actress — so many career paths seemed so appealing! Readers should note that I was also 16 at the time all of this introspection was going on.
In looking back at my days in high school, the bulk of my electives fell into the categories of art or science — the subjects I was strongest in. This knowledge led me to take an intro-level art history course my first semester of college. I did exceedingly well in the class that I then decided to then major in art history. In being able to utilize both sides of my brain — to analyze paintings, write lengthy essays about them, and in some cases recreate them as part of a project, — the field of art history prepared me a great deal for graduate level courses in psychology down the road.
I had a fine time spending four years looking at several hundred images of paintings and statues made as far back as 16,000 years ago... and, on occasion, posing as a docent for unsuspecting groups of museum attendees at places such as the The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where I'd give a well-rounded tour of the all the important collections. If I had to go back and do it all over again, maybe start off as a psychology or cognitive science major from the get-go, I wouldn't. Not one bit.
I'm not much of an art historian these days. I don't don my finest business attire and give impromptu lectures about paintings like Thomas Cole's Il Penseroso, or Édouard Manet's Olympia to whomever will listen. Nor do I frequent museums often enough that I have to remember to wear flat shoes. But I still carry around two lists with me, one that details which paintings I have seen, and one that details which works of arts I haven't yet viewed (I'm about 5 paintings short of having seen Vermeer's whole known collection). And I do still visit both Getty institutions, LACMA, MOCA, and the main art museum of every city I visit. But whereas before I might attend the Getty to do research for my thesis, or carry out my art historian shenanigans, these days I visit the Los Angeles-area museums for the purposes of drawing culinary inspiration from the paintings.
Which brings me to today: After a long work week, I found myself low on creative ideas for cooking and baking. Running this week failed to get the wheels turning in my head, so I turned to the Marble Fortress on the Hill (the Getty) for some help. This trip proved to be very fruitful, and my chef's sketchpad now has four fewer pages of available space in it.
It's a little known fact that reproductions of Lawrence Alma-Tadema's Spring (above) and Vincent van Gogh's Irises make up the bulk of the poster sales at the Getty gift shop.
However, I'm a bigger fan of Gustave Moreau's Autumn because of the color scheme, because of the subject matter and style, because fall is my favorite season, and because some of my favorite foods are only available from September-November.
Caspar David Friedrich's A Walk at Dusk is a favorite Romantic period piece of mine.
Gericault's Race of the Riderless Horses: Such a tiny painting for an artist whose Raft of the Medusa is larger than most living rooms.
Dutch still lifes (like this one by Jan van Huysum) are actually one of the painting niches I know the least about; however, their visuals are very inspiring.
Clip-clop, clip-clop: The sound of my heels hitting the varnished floors ricocheted off the walls. At some point I just walked on my tippy toes.
Breakfast: Iced latte with tea bread; purse not edible.
I still get a kick out of these warnings.
A sketch workshop recently opened at the Getty, so I got to spend an hour trying to reproduce a plaster copy of one of their busts. I would have stayed longer, but sitting saddle-style on a wood bench for 60 minutes was hard on my tailbone. The woman running the activity asked me if I wanted to donate my drawing to the collection, I told her I would (after I went home and finished it).
Ideas started to percolate while I was at the museum. Afterwards I picked up some new books at Barnes and Nobel for the purposes of conducting some further culinary research. Can't wait to test out what I've thought up!
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