Exercising your creative muscle
“When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college – that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?” ~Howard Ikemoto
Today’s guest blogger uses her creative muscle regularly and shares her personal story with us. I have the honor and priviledge to introduce you to another artist and cook, Sharyn Dimmick. She is the guest blogger for Art Epicurean and a fellow blogger that I follow regularly. Her wonderful blog is http://www.thekalechronicles.com This is a wonderful site to find recipes using seasonal ingredients and view her folk artwork of the experience – a true Art Epicurean. Sharyn also has many other talents to share so be sure to stop by her site and introduce yourself. The following post was written by Sharyn – enjoy.
Trick or Treat: Sharyn’s Cocoa Shortbread and How I Tricked Myself into Painting Every Week
Today I clicked a link on http://themanageablelife.com/ and heard a commencement address that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005. You can read the speech here: http://www.womanatics.com/2011/04/stay-hungry-stay-foolish.html He told three short stories about his life. One thing he said is that you can’t connect the dots forwards, meaning you can’t see where things are leading you until you look back later. He also talked about how important it is to do what you love, including work that you love.
Sixteen months ago I was let go from a job that I had held for many years. I had loved the job, but I hadn’t been loving it the year they let me go. It was a convenient job with hours I liked. Jobless, I foundered for a bit, applied for jobs I didn’t want, hired a coach for awhile: what I wanted, what I want, is to earn my living through my creative work.
In 2011, I sold my first painting — and then another, and another. I continued to sell a few music CDs. I taught writing practice at a free workshop at a music camp and coached a friend in writing a memoir. I started a blog called “The Kale Chronicles.” Blogging is natural for me because I have been writing everyday for years.
Blogs usually feature photos. I can take photos. Sometimes I even like to take photos. But I didn’t want to be taking photos of food: when I cook food I want to eat it, not let it get cold or warm while I fuss with a camera, which is slow work for me. I didn’t want the pressure of competing with the many bloggers who take beautiful photographs of food. What could I do?
I realized I could paint a picture of my ingredients or my finished recipe or both (I had done a limited edition cookbook in 2011 for holiday gifts, featuring food paintings). I committed to blogging twice a week. That meant I would paint two pictures a week every week, or more if I were going on vacation or retreat. This is the trick: I wanted to paint more, so I built it into my weekly obligations by setting up the blog illustrations as paintings. Pretty, good, huh? Make it so you have to do more of what you want to do anyway: that’s a treat.
|Trick or Treat Cocoa Shortbread, 8″x8″ gouache and watercolor pencil by Sharyn Dimmick|
Without further ado, I present my most-requested recipe, dolled up for Halloween.
Sharyn’s Cocoa Shortbread
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
1 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sifted natural cocoa powder
2 cups sifted unbleached flour
and (optional ingredients)
1 tsp instant espresso powder OR
1 tsp ancho chile powder
Shape cookies into thumbprints by making small balls and pushing your thumb in the middle of them to make an indentation.
OR, for rolled and cut cookies, chill dough for at least half an hour. Meanwhile, fill a shaker can or sifter half with powdered sugar and half with cocoa (this prevents the dough from sticking without giving you a white flour bloom on the dark cookies). Shake mixture on work surface and rolling pin (I use a marble slab). Roll out dough and cut with cookie cutters of your choice — because these cookies are rich, I like small cutters. Decorate with coarse colored sugars: hot pink, light yellow-orange, turquoise, light green and purple look good on the dark brown dough.
Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 20-25 minutes in a slow oven.
These are an adult cookie, not especially sweet. I like them plain, but if you want to, you could dip one side in melted chocolate for an extra treat — that’s how I made the crescent moon cookie in the painting: yellow sugar on one side, chocolate on the other. Or you could drizzle caramel on them. Or, add an extra tablespoon or two of sugar to the dough — if it’s dry, just add more vanilla