The art of cooking: in my kitchen with painter Nicholas Wilton 

As many of you know, art is a big factor in my life. Whether composing a gloriously vibrant plate of food or a painting in my studio, the process seems the same to me: a playground for curiosity, an openness to inspiration, and a love and respect for the materials I’m working with. I shared this piece with my very first post on my new Connecting the Dots blog in July 2015 and The Hummingbird, celebrating the the life of a very dear someone whose  life was fleeting but treasured in my new year’s greeting for 2017. 

In the past year, I’ve made a commitment to more art!  I had the great fortune of finding out about a truly amazing artist and gifted teacher — one of those serendipitous moments when someone casually said, you really ought to take a class with this guy. “This guy” was Nicholas Wilton, a renowned artist with an innovative teaching program called Art2Life. Rooted in his own discoveries in making art, Art2Life  revolves around 6 core principles: design, value, color, texture, risk, soul. He says that, to his surprise, he found that people can easily assimilate these principles, even with minimal art experience. 

I started following his marvelous blog and resonating with his philosophy (you don’t have to be a painter to enjoy his blog, btw). When I learned that he was teaching a 7 day workshop on the Hawaiian island of Molokai last January, it didn’t take much persuading. I dropped everything and went.

I met a man who’s MUCH taller than me (6’5”) — a charming, down-to-earth, teacher/artist — whose generosity of spirit is HUGE. You don’t always find that in a teacher. Nick is not only an excellent artist, but a superb communicator. A treasure, in fact.

There were 12 of us in the workshop, a really nice-sized group, and we learned to look at our art in a very different way. When  I got home, I started taking his online course, The Creative Visionary Path Program — 12 weeks of intense work, where you really launch into the principles. 

I really started seeing the similarities in what Nick does in art and in how I approach food. 

Nick and I had a conversation about this, and he suggested we do a video together, exploring places where art and cooking intersect. So we did an hour-long video for his Art2Life Academy, where he interviews artists from all over for his master classes. He thought, let’s talk to a culinary artist! 

It quickly became clear to us that in many ways, the cook and the painter look at things in a similar light. Does your painting tell the story? Does your plate tell the story you want to tell? Whether balancing flavor or bringing impact with color and texture, an artist looking at her canvas and choosing a little Titanium white to punch things up, or a cook tasting her dish and choosing to add a little lemon to brighten flavor, each are steeped in a vibrant, intuitive process. 

The food palate and the paint palette. 

We excerpted 11-minutes of the video for you, in which we bring to life my approach to flavor-balancing called FASS, which I wrote about just recently in The power of yum. The easy-to-learn FASS process relies on creative intuition — in this case, yours!  You don’t have to be a great cook to understand how to balance taste and flavor, because it’s about what tastes good to YOU — and our taste buds don’t lie. 

Join us in this fun process, in which I’m taking quinoa and elevating it using Nick’s principles. I should also say that Nick is an amazing cook himself. It’s not uncommon for artists to be really good cooks. Again, there are lots of intersections! He  certainly has been an inspiration to me in my both my art-making and food making. 

Explore and learn more about Nick!

Painterly recipes to play with!

If you haven’t done so before, try FASS! I guarantee this is an easily learned skill that you will appreciate for LIFE. Take a few minutes. Taste and correct as we show in the video and I detail in this blog post. You don’t need to worry about what ANYONE else things. As my grandmother said, “If it tastes good, it’s good!” Whatever suits you is IT. Isn’t that fun?

This is the recipe we demo in the video, and a huge reader favorite. For those of you who already love quinoa, this is a delightful addition to your repertoire. For those of you who don’t know quinoa, or who think it tastes like cardboard? This is a revelation.

Soups are really fun to FASS! You’ll be surprised by how tiny shifts — just a squeeze of lemon juice, or drops of maple syrup or a pinch of sea salt — can transform a pot of soup from ok to yum! So go slow. Take a few minutes and taste, taste taste. Your reward will be great!

A perfectly refreshing soup for spring!