Lemons are Yellow

9″ x 12″

In the backyard of our California home we have an abundant Meyer Lemon Tree. At first it does not look like you are going to have many lemons. Then they slowly start arriving. The little buds show up and they must grow and divide, as all of a sudden there are lemons everywhere.

Last year I made Limoncello, Lemon Bars, Lemon Marmalade, Lemon Chutney, Lemon Pie and etc. So in other words, if it had lemon in it or on it I made it. This year I am making the Limoncello, but little more than that! This year I will paint the Lemons, not bake the Lemons.

Lemons are Yellow

Ewe Look Lovely

This is another smaller painting. 8″ x 10″.

My studio is now smaller, so I have been working smaller.

Today walking downtown I was asked if I would consider having a show at a local venue, so maybe I need to start working on some bigger pieces, so I could have a show there.

Keep you posted!

Ewe Look Lovely

After the Fire

After the Fire 12″ x 24″

Picking up and moving to a new place for half a year is proving to be an interesting transition. Definitely not a bad one, but traveling and hoping you have packed everything you need.

I brought a lot from my kitchen, as my new kitchen in the north is so much smaller and out of date compared to the house l sold. I do miss the view of the harbor when I am in my Washington home, but adapted by enjoying the trees (that constantly make a mess of my back yard), the deer wantering through and the smaller space. I finally had the kitchen of my dreams, but not the marriage. So the choice was be happy in the house and miserable in part of life or move on. I am very happy I moved on.

Then there is the packing of clothes. So very often when I get dressed in the morning I realize that I left a few too many things behind. When I arrived in California it was supposed to Fall, but it was still summer and I had no summer clothes. Thanks to Nordstrom Rack I found end of summer sale clothes, so filled in what was missing. (sort of). With the Pandemic having the right clothes certainly is not as important. I just needed a few lighter weight clothes and some T-shirts to get me to Fall.

Fall has finally arrived and I am savoring the weather and finally got a studio, of sorts set up in the 1918 garage. I got a heater, a light and have a folding table and one easel for my art. I got the heater after the first day I painted and had to wear tights, a turtleneck, a flannel shirt, overalls, a fleece vest, cashmere gloves, which I cut the fingers off, a hat, Ughs and I was still freezing. The heater has helped a lot.

The fires were finally under control in Central California, so I painted the above painting in honor or that and for all the people that lost homes, pets and loved ones. I usually do an abstract rather quickly, but I think I felt a little emotional over the fires that blazed so close. The painting was done for our home in Vacaville and seems to fit in perfectly.

After the Fire

The Air is Clearing

It is so very nice to finally awaken to fresh clean smoke free air. Another day at last in my studio enjoying putting paint on a 36″ x 36″ canvas. With time in my studio and time in my kitchen life is good. I called the “The Air is Clearing”, as I could almost see the sky become blue during the day.

When I am not painting I seem to be cooking and made this Plum, Nectarine and Blackberry Galette in the morning.

My friend Reed really liked I think, as this was what was left after breakfast…

The recipe is in one of my earlier posts, and it is so easy and so delicious, you should make one. The last one I made with peaches and blackberries. I like to add a little cinnamon on top and four or five dabs of good butter, with an egg wash and a little sugar on the crust. I use Italian Joe’s Pie Crust recipe, as it is moist, flakey and goes together easily:

Italian Joes Pie Crust

Ingredients:

3 cups (375g) Plain Flour (unbleached and unfortified)
2 tbsp Sugar

I tsp salt

2 sticks (220g) of Butter 
(small cold cubed)
1 beaten Egg mixed with
3/4 cup Milk (cold)

  1. Mix flour, sugar & salt to evenly distribute the dry ingredients
  2. Place mixture into a large bowl ( He uses a food processor, but I prefer doing by hand.
  3. Add cold butter cubes with the flour mix and use cold bakers knives or your fingers until it transforms into small pea-sized crumbs
  4. Add egg and milk mixture mixing by hand or cold utensils until the mixture comes together or take the mixture out to the work surface
  5. Make a well with the flour crumbs mixture adding the egg and milk mixture in the well and lightly handling the mixture by hand or utensils.
    (do not knead)
  6. Incorporate all ingredients together to form a dryish dough
  7. Wrap it well with cling film & refrigerate for 1 hour
  8. Roll out the dough split it in half for two pie crust and roll it out bigger than the pie dish
  9. Fit the rolled out pie dough in the greased and floured pie dish making sure pie dough is press all around the crevices of the dish so it doesn’t sink in or collapse when cooking.
  10. Cut around the edge of the pie dish and refrigerate again for 20 before egg washing it and filling it with pie filling and cooking in the oven.
    Enjoy!

I put the second half of the pie dough in plastic wrap, then use my Seal A Meal to seal it before I freeze it till I need it.

The Air is Clearing

Art Classes

William Wrey.jpg

William Wray is a very talented artist and came from Los Angeles to teach at The Winslow Art Center this summer.  Signing up for the class, which was quite expensive, I was hoping to learn how to take my more impressionistic painting to a more edgy look, but it was a class about extreme basics and blocking, which is always a good refresher, but not what I was hoping to learn.

The first morning of class, he announced that there was no democracy in this class. We were to do as he required.  I commented that right now in the world, we don’t really know what a democracy is anyway, so it did not really matter.  Not so sure he liked my comment.

We spent three days working on 2″ x 3″ drawings and if he and only he approved of our drawing, we could move on to painting in two colors.  Middle of the day on the first day, he reviewed one of my drawings of a gas station and comment:  “That is about a B+”.  Considering he had not said anything to any of the other drawings in the class, I just commented back: “Well, that would be the lowest grade I have gotten in the last twenty years.”   I complete my Ph.D. at 62 with a GPA of 3.85 having gotten a couple of A-‘s, but no B’s.    He was no sure what to think of my comment.  I felt it was a little “macho” at the time and at this point in my life, I am not out to impress anyone.

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Here are a few of his paintings:

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I was attracted to the etherial rawness of his work and hoped to be able to learn from a person I considered masterful.  I walked away with a couple of new ideas, a few new artist’s works of whom I was unaware, but I did not feel the class brought any real “ah ha’s”.  I could have learned as much studying his work.  The technique was not shared.  This is the only class I have taken where I actually think the narcissism of the artist got in way of actually teaching students anything new.

There were several successful professional artists in the class.  I wondered what they felt about the experience, as it was more of an experience than a learning environment.  I did not save any of the small tonal works that I did as I did not like them, and did not feel I learned much new from them.  I was frustrated in the class.

Our first day out Plein Aire painting, I could not find anything that looked remotely interesting to paint in our 2″ x 3″ block.  He came to talk to me and asked me how I reacted to classes I hated in high school or college.  I told him, the problem was that I loved my classes and loved learning.  The only thing in high school that upset me about a class was the time I spilled acid on a new pair of shoes and ruined them.   I didn’t mention the one class I had to drop in college as I stayed out all night partying rather than studying for a test.

I was being sarcastic, as I felt it had nothing to do with painting and irked me a bit.  I started not to attend the last day of class, but it was by the marina and I love the water and boats.  My first drawing and painting, which I did not save was of a “floating” dock.  He came by and said my perspective was off.  I told him the dock had moved.  For some reason, he had not noticed that the dock was not stationary and moved with the tide.  I just laughed.

Later that day, I sketched a little tug-like boat at the dock. and he said it was “ok” to paint.  IMG_1887.jpg

So first we had to do a “block-in” using only three values.

Boat block in.jpg

Then we could actually put the painting on a 6″ x 8″ canvas.  Mine is below.  It is certainly not one of my favorite works, but it was on par with other work in the class.

Boat done.jpg

Conclusion:     Find out how and what the teacher is going to teach and don’t bother taking classes that only go over basics if you do not need that level of instruction.  Don’t take too many classes in a close time frame, as it is only and always confusing.  My lessons of classes grew my credit card bill and didn’t expand my knowledge as much as I would have desired.  I can see improvement in my painting, but it was only from a couple of the classes.

Art Classes

7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen

This a great article from Dwell Magazine.

If you have serious culinary chops and take pride in preparing meals that wow your family and friends, keep these tips in mind when designing or renovating your kitchen.

If boiling eggs is not your forte, and you’d much rather eat out than experiment with new recipes, then a basic kitchen may be all you need. But if you’re serious about cooking and love nothing more than spending hours trying out new dishes that’ll impress guests at your next dinner party, then here are some elements to incorporate for a professional-grade kitchen.

1. The Magic Triangle

When planning the layout for your kitchen, refer to the “kitchen work triangle” with the cooking area, sink, and refrigerator at its three points. Though modern kitchens have evolved, and it is sometimes geometrically impossible to abide by this configuration (for example, in a single wall kitchen), the triangle is a good concept to keep in mind when designing to maximize functionality and ease of movement.

What they did not talk about is the new triangle, where the refrigerator is off to the side and a little out of the way.  There needs to be space across from it or beside it to put food when cooking, but it does not absolutely need to be part of the triangle anymore.  I love the cooktop part of my triangle, as I am working there, more than in the refrigerator. (unless I am really hungry)

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2. Two Sinks

Install two sinks so that you can clean fruits and vegetables in one while washing or stacking used pots and pans in the other. Ensure that the sink is deep and the faucets are high, so you don’t have to worry about water splashing onto the countertop as you strain your pasta or wash your dishes.

I have a little different take on this.  My utility room is adjacent to my kitchen, so I added a large stainless sink in there if I need a place for pots and pans.  If I am entertaining, I do not want my guests to see dirty pans in my kitchen, so this works great! 

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3. Plenty of Durable Work Counters

As a home chef, you’ll be engaged in many food preparation tasks, so think about how to maximize counter space. Surface counters made of quartz, laminates, and solid surfaces are good choices for their durability, and antibacterial and anti-staining properties. Such surfaces are ideal for areas where you’ll do the most peeling, chopping, and blending.

Quartz is the new popular countertop and it is great, but if you select a plain one, be prepared to constantly be cleaning it, as it shows every spot.  I love a good granite that hides a little.  

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4. Built-In Appliances

Integrated appliances are your best bet for freeing up space, hiding unsightly electrical cords, and getting a clean, streamlined look. Wherever possible, choose built-in ovens, dishwashers, coffee machines, microwaves, and pullout fridges. This will help free up more counter space and make your kitchen look much more inviting.

I love making my dishwasher and refrigerator look like cabinets.  Now there are drawer refrigerators and freezers.  I hide my microwave and toaster oven in my pantry.  Clean is the new look!  

5. Good Lighting

A bright kitchen is not only healthier for your eyes, it makes preparing food safer and will probably put you in a cheerier mood. Locate your kitchen close to windows or incorporate skylights to increase the amount of natural light it receives. When choosing light fixtures, consider ambient lights, task lights, and accent lights. Use down lights to prevent glare and shadows, strip lighting under cabinets, and wide-rimmed pendant lights above the bar or island counter.

In my last home I had windows under the cabinets that looked out to the garden.  It had a wonderful effect.  We added another window when we remodeled last summer to take full advantage of our water view. 

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6. Ample and Intelligent Storage

Easy and intuitive access to a large pantry, spice racks, pots and pans, utensils, dinnerware, and cutlery can make all the difference when you’re preparing a feast for a large group. Consider storage systems which hold all your kitchen basics neatly and beautifully like a secret armoire.

I personally think that although this is “cool”, there are a lot better use of space, than hanging your utensils and knives.  One knife block on the counter is quite practical. 

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7. Wine Storage Facilities

Good food isn’t complete without great wine, so consider including wine storage facilities.  We love ours and use it every day.  

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7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen

Luxury Kitchens Sell the Home: Design Trends

 January 21, 2018 by 

Recently some 60,000+ people gathered in Orlando, FL at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) hosted by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. It’s where companies that supply the kitchen and bath trade showcase their wares to interior designers, retailers and dealers, architects, builders, and remodelers. KBIS is part of Design and Construction Week with the NAHB International Builders’ Show.

Kitchens take center stage at KBIS and have been a focus of my research over the past year as well. I participated in a series of AuthLux day-long workshops on luxury kitchen and bath design sponsored by ROHL, the kitchen and bath luxury fixtures company, and part of the Fortune Brands family of companies.

An excerpted hour-long version of that full-day event was presented at this year’s KBIS, but I thought to share more insights from an AuthLux Summit panel discussion about designing the luxury kitchen of tomorrow today, hosted by Dallas-based interior designer Denise MaGaha.

The kitchen unlocks the value of a home

The kitchen is now the showpiece of the modern home. “The ultimate design statement of the home starts in the kitchen,” said MaGaha as she introduced the discussion focused on the three essential design elements for the modern kitchen – Cabinetry, Appliances and Water Appliances. “With the trend toward open-floor plans, the kitchen sets the stage for all the other design decisions in the home.”

The kitchen’s importance to the home owner is second to none. In today’s open-floor home designs, the kitchen takes center stage as the place where the family’s lifestyle starts. Kitchens are the most important selling point in home buyers’ decision, according to Realtor.com, and homes listed with “luxury kitchens” sell faster and command a higher selling price than similar-sized homes in the same ZIP code.

It’s no wonder then that interior designers find the greatest demand for their services in remodeling kitchens. Some 80% of home remodeling projects take place in the kitchen, according to the National Association of Home Builder’s Remodeling Market Index survey.

Here are some highlights from the panel discussion:

Upscale cabinets must be as beautiful on the inside as on the outside

Cabinets are the grounding element in the luxury kitchen, as all the other elements are mounted on them or placed within them. What’s more, they set the design style for the kitchen. “Today we see transitional and modern style with strong architectural references increasingly popular,” explained Jason Artus of Rutt HandCrafted Cabinetry, based in Lancaster County, PA.

“That’s also why we find European style frameless-constructed cabinets growing in demand,” Artus said. Frameless cabinets allow for additional storage with wider drawers and pullouts because they do not have a face frame attached to the front of the cabinet box and no center stile coming down in the middle of two cabinet doors. Frameless cabinets give a sleek, simple aesthetic that provide easier access to the items inside.

Another trend Artus sees in luxury cabinet choices is more drawers, instead of hinged door cabinets. “Additional drawers in the kitchen results in more accessible storage and organization, which is a top priority for clients to be sure that each and every kitchen item has its place.” And once those drawers or cabinets are opened, lights need to turn on automatically to guide the way.

And for the luxury home owner, the outside is just as important as the inside when it comes to cabinets. “It is expected that today’s upscale cabinetry look as beautiful on the interior as it does on the exterior,” Artus said, as he points to growing interest within the design community in white oak on cabinet interiors for “those looking for a lighter option to pair with darker exterior finishes.”

Luxury kitchens mean chef-quality appliances

While cabinetry provides the modern kitchen’s form, the appliances provide its function. And today that function is going more high-tech as smart technology is added into the mix. Selecting appliance brands that serve their function in style and are ahead of the curve in innovation is key.

Juanita Galliford, of Thermador, part of BSH Home Appliances Corporation, shared that her company has been at the forefront of kitchen innovation since its founding in 1916. It invented the wall oven and cooktop combination and was the first to introduce stainless steel. And in 1948 it brought the first professional-quality and performance ranges to the home owner, followed by the first self-cleaning oven in the 60s. When it comes to kitchen appliance innovation, she said, “Thermador has led while other brands have followed.”

On the cutting edge of cooking technology today is the steam/convection oven, Galliford explained. “The steam oven is one of the healthiest ways to cook a meal. Traditional ovens pull moisture out of the food as it cooks, while in a steam oven food is cooked in its own juices, enhancing flavor and retaining nutrients,” she said and told how it is also super-fast, allowing a 14 lb. turkey to cook in only 90 minutes.

And in the modern luxury kitchen, the refrigerator has taken on a new role as the “culinary preservation center,” noted Galliford. “Refrigerators are no longer just about preservation. Today’s homeowner wants personalization allowing them to customize the line up of cold storage combinations that give them exactly the cold storage solutions they desire.” So a modular concept in cold storage is required allowing the homeowner to pick fresh food store, freezer and wine storage combinations right for their needs.

From sink and faucet to water appliance

And perhaps the most overlooked, yet most critical function in the kitchen is the faucet and sink, which ROHL has redefined as the water appliance. “The most used appliance in the kitchen is actually the faucet/sink combination,” said Greg Rohl. “A family of four uses their water appliance 20-30 times a day. We encourage designers to think about reallocating budgets towards this most heavily used ‘appliance’ allowing clients to spend more for better quality and more attractive solutions.”

To discover the water appliance faucets, fixtures and fittings that meet 21st century needs in quality, style and function, ROHL canvases the world to find products that meet the luxury homeowners’ needs, like the innovative Pull-Out Kitchen Faucet, which founder Ken Rohl discovered in Europe in 1983 and which became the flagship product for the ROHL brand.

Through close collaborations with its worldwide partners, ROHL finds it critical to maintain authenticity in time-honored material and craft while adapting to modern needs. “We work closely with on-staff engineers and industrial designers to incorporate low-lead material requirements, meet California water-use and flow restrictions and IAPMO and EPA WaterSense criteria without compromise,” Rohl noted.

Designing the luxury kitchen of tomorrow today

Designing the kitchen of tomorrow today requires bringing many separate components provided by a variety of suppliers with unique expertise together into a cohesive kitchen package that combines beauty and function, efficiency and style. “Traditional kitchen configurations with upper and lower cabinets are being replaced by full-on kitchen islands – grounded by larger sinks, faucets and accompanying accessories,” Rohl explained. “Today, and in the future, the multi-function sink/faucet combination will continue to be the mainstay of the kitchen, flanked by the cooking and cold storage appliances, and installed with beautiful, architectural cabinetry that defines the kitchen’s style.”

The kitchen’s place of presence in the home is without doubt. Yet its form and function continues to evolve with technology, product and design innovations. Perhaps Christopher Peacock, a high-end cabinetry designer in Norwalk, CT expressed the evolution of the modern kitchen best: “It’s almost not worth calling it a kitchen anymore—it’s a living room that you can cook in.”

Luxury Kitchens Sell the Home: Design Trends

IS THERE ANYTHING CLASSIC IN A CURRENT TREND?

Every year new trends are announced and we respond to them in some manner. Just how important they should be in your lifestyle is usually at question. “Consumers always want to see something new, but they want that with something familiar”, according to Leatrice Eiseman –executive director of the Pantone Color institute.

There are some that think it is important to have the current trends in design be a part of your home and others that really don’t care. What is most important is how do you bring your home environment current so you enjoy living in it. If a trend seems terrible to you, then bringing it into your home is not the best idea for you.

If you want to add the latest color trends in your home every year, there are many ways to do it and not spend a fortune. Remember when you buy a trendy piece of furniture, you are most likely going to have to live with it a long time. Accents added in the latest and greatest color and/patterns are not terribly expensive to replace when you tire of the trend, as most of us do after a while. If you love a trendy new color, throw pillows or vases might be an easy solution and not cost a fortune. I love that we now have Home Goods, TJMaxx, Marshalls and Ross as great sources for buying easily replaceable accessories. Little or no guilt when you spend $20.00 on a accent rather that the $200 a custom-made designer pillow might cost.

That beige or gray neutral sofa may look dull on display at your local vendor, but it will go with everything you put on it over the years. Look for simple classic lines and you will not grow tired of your furniture. Look for fun splashes of color to liven it up every year or every season. When you shop for your “big” items, if there is even a tiny doubt you will not love it in five or ten years, then it is probably not a good choice.

Clean lines are always in style. Ornate looked great in the Victorian era and if you have a few  family pieces, they can look fantastic in a very modern interior, as a lovely focal point, but a whole room of them might be kind of depressing. Think simple and you won’t get tired of it.

If you go neutral in most of your home, you won’t have to change much often. Paint a wall one of the newly trendy colors and love it for a while. Paint is relatively cheap and easy to replace. Add a couple pillows in a coordinating color and you are looking trendy. Add flowers in the new colors (if appropriate) and your friends will think you know what you are doing.

Texture is another way to add interest to a neutral interior. Trends in texture do change, but they seem to have a little more longevity. A cowhide rug may not go out of style, but florals and certain print designs don’t say in fashion for long.

Avoid trendy when it comes to big signature pieces, as you will want ones that meet the test of time. Dining room tables, beds, kitchen cabinets, flooring and architectural details are not the place to be trendy, as they are all expensive to replace. Pick ones you love when you see them. Pay a little more and get something that is made well with great lines.

One of the most important things to remember about trends: if you don’t like it when you first see it, you most likely never will. That being said, there are some trends that never go out of style. Tasteful animal prints are always a fun look in small doses. Some say granite in the kitchen is on the way out, but I am not sure I am totally on track with that one. Beautiful classic

oriental rugs always add interest to a room and I personally think some of the Mid-Century modern furniture will never go out of style. Mid-Century modern seems to a “trend” coming back to be popular, but I think it never went away as it has always been classic, workable and beautiful. From a designer point of view, they have never made anything more comfortable and beautiful than an Eames Lounge chair or as elegant as a steel and glass Platner coffee table or side table. If I could afford four Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chairs from 1929 in my living room, I would be forever happy.

Balance may be one of the key words in bringing trendiness into your home or office environment. Function of the piece should be an important part of your decision making when buying long-term pieces. Maybe this year the glass dining table is popular. You buy one, then you remember you sometimes have twenty for holiday dinners and the glass table does not expand. That brings the word “versatility” to mind. Can you use that trendy item some other way in the future? Can you paint it? Can you change it?

I have a beautiful old-world Baker round dining table I bought twenty years ago. When I got tired of the wood look, I painted it black and put a dark wax finish on it. I paired it with see through ghost chairs, so it now looks up to date. It expands and I have seated twelve for dinner. Think about what you have and how you can change it, to make it more current. Good lines always look good.

Timeless design always doesn’t pull from trends and is quietly understated, simple and sophisticated. Let go of the idea that your taste will never change. As we go through life our taste changes. What we should strive to do is to find something that is highly functional, not bland, while being subtle, adaptable and will pass the test of time.

If you are having a hard time finding the right balance in your home, it might be the time to hire a professional interior designer. I would love to help you make your home your living paradise. It is what we designers do.

IS THERE ANYTHING CLASSIC IN A CURRENT TREND?