I travel a lot. I do lots of alla prima studies on small formats when I am away from home and I take a lot of photos on the road. I also spend a fair amount of time looking for domain free images of places that interest me.
When I get back home for the summer, I spend time working on series of paintings about the places I discover on the road. I have always believed that working through a series on subjects is a great way to paint and to learn.
Of course I have my favorite places and themes that I go back to over and over again for years. I have always loved painting at a couple of farms in Marion County in Florida. I have done hundreds of paintings there and will do hundreds more if God is willing.
The same goes for Cross Creek and the fish camps around the lakes here in North Florida. Florida’s rivers are also a favorite theme for me. I tend to rotate around to different areas of interest, revisiting them every few month. I always have a new vision when I return and something different to say with the paintings.
At one time I relied only on plein air work as my strength but that has changed. I now use the plein air work as a reference for my serious paintings in the studio. I still feel that plein air work is very important as a learning tool. It keeps my work fresh and I learn a lot about light and value on location, but it is lacking in finesse for me and my composition suffers on location. Composition and design is a difficult part of painting and best left in the studio for me.
Food Glorious Food
Today I want to talk about one of my regular spots to eat, Pearl Country Store in Micanopy, Florida. It is a combination gas station, convenience store and restaurant. It has no redeemable atmospheric qualities but it is clean and the food is wonderful. It is a basic menu of all your favorite breakfast foods, hamburgers/fries and the best BBQ around. The ribs are huge and meaty, dripping with sauce. Lots of seasoning on the meat. Thy also have great pulled pork sandwiches, various vegetables, homemade mac and cheese, and homemade desserts. The store itself is full of interesting bottled hot and BBQ sauces, books about Florida, as well as the usual convenience store fare. It is located at the caution light on US 441 in Micanopy.
Red Velvet Cake
Cake: 2 cups sugar 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature 2 eggs 2 tablespoons cocoa powder 2 ounces red food coloring 2 1/2 cups cake flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup buttermilk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 tablespoon vinegar
Icing: 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese 1 stick butter, softened, 1 cup melted marshmallows, 1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture. Pour batter into 3 (8-inch) round greased and floured pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting.
Icing: Blend cream cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl. Add marshmallows and sugar and blend. Spread between layers and on top and sides of cooled cake.