Monday, October 24, 2011

On Vegetables and Soup

Dear readers, in my last post I mentioned a phrase that I heard at a panel at the Wordstock festival here in Portland, and the phrase was this:

"Take other people's vegetables, but make your own soup."

Now, ever since I posted that, the internet has been abuzz.* What does this phrase actually mean? (*note: this is a lie. The internet, as far as I can tell, is still abuzz about cute cat photos. In which case, may I present to you):

Anyway, the internet maybe did not care, but I sure cared about this new catchphrase of mine. Ask anyone in my current children's book illustration class at PNCA- I used this phrase A LOT in recent critiques. "Nice vegetables in this one." "Why not take some onions from this painting here and add it to your crockpot of ideas?" "Is anyone else hungry? It's 9 o'clock!" Since I'm so smitten with this analogy, I thought I'd break it down a bit to demonstrate what it means to me.

I am a veritable Peter Rabbit when it comes to stealing vegetables to use in my soup. One of my favorite gardens from which to harvest is, appropriately enough, THE CURIOUS GARDEN by Peter Brown (DO YOU SEE WHAT A WONDERFUL ANALOGY THIS IS?!?!)

If you haven't seen this book, I highly recommend checking it out at your local library, or- more likely- buying your own copy, because you may want to refer to it again. And again. And again.

I am absolutely in love with the color in this book, and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I call this book a masterpiece. Now, I myself would like to be a Master of Color, and when I was charged with painting a mural last summer at the Portland Children's Museum, I prepared by packing up my paints, an iPod, and a big ol' bunch of vegetables from the garden of Mr. Peter Brown.

In this color sketch I did for the mural, I took the greens and the red-oranges from Peter Brown to put in my soup. As in, when I was mixing my paints, I literally would put dabs of my paint in my copy of THE CURIOUS GARDEN to see that the colors matched.

I brought my copy of the book with me on-site (see it there in the bottom right-hand side?)

Add a pinch of salt and a sore back after two weeks of work, and...

Voila! My own soup. I honestly don't think anyone would EVER confuse our paintings, and I don't think Peter Brown would have a legal leg to stand on if he took me to court (go ahead, try me, Mr. Brown. My brother's a lawyer). I think there's a big difference between ripping someone off, and taking things you admire from another artist and incorporating those things into your work.

Similarly, I am currently harvesting the vegetables of another artist for my current book:

Edgar Degas, I'll see you in court, too, sir.


Wendy Wagner; said...

I LOVE this analogy! It's ... well, it's just perfect!

Kristi Valiant said...

Love the little butterfly girls! And I adore the colors in The Curious Garden too.

Panda in Chief said...

Great analogy. As an artist who has done quite a few forgeries (specializing in Sargent, Degas, Vermeer, and Whistler , who are fortunately all dead, dead, dead,) I have learned tons about composition, mark making, etc. Love the take on Degas. I am going to use a similar theme with pandas. Love to see your recent work.

Panda in Chief said...

Could there be a graphic novel in the works? I really am liking how you are taking your experiences in roller derby (which I know you love) and using it for visual story-telling. I think this could be a winner.