Now that I’m officially done with sophomore year (halfway through college, what?), I can finally take a break from writing papers to write a blog post. My first Saturday at home, I had a banana pancakes morning to myself—Jack Johnson style. I put on a soft acoustic playlist and got to work. Well, as much work as these simple three-ingredient pancakes require. When you want pancakes, but without the prep or the guilt that comes with them, then these pancakes are perfect: only eggs, overly-ripe bananas, and a splash of vanilla. The result is an omelet-like texture, but with the sweetness of bananas. You can’t expect a true pancake when you make these, but you can somewhat satisfy the craving, without the added sugar or carbs. I find that they are a great grain-free option that pair well with fresh berries and maple syrup.
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs (plus one more for fluffier texture)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all in a small bowl. Cook 1/4 cup of batter at a time over medium heat. Top with whatever you’d like (chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries, peanut butter, syrup, Nutella, etc.)
Last week’s painting homework was focused on self portraits. Three portraits—two from life and one from a photo. I’m a little uncomfortable with depicting myself in any way, whether it’s a selfie on my phone or a formal portrait in oil paint. I just don’t like it. It’s too much ‘me’ or looks nothing like me. Inevitably, something is messed up that leads to me burying my drawing or painting or photo under everything else and pretending it never happened. If I have to do a self portrait, I go for a pose that hides my face or obscures it, so I can avoid the awkward moment of stepping back and seeing a creepy face that could maybe, possibly, be mine.
My first two portraits for the assignment were no exception—I cringed as soon as I put my brush down. These, needless to say, were not documented and will soon be shoved into my reject pile, though they provided a great learning experience. The second part of the assignment was a more time-intensive portrait, to be done in the style of a selected portrait artist. My artist was Jenny Saville, a British painter who focuses on the female body in a realistic and raw way. She paints the imperfections, the unattractive angles. She works on a huge scale (around 8×8 feet, typically) which leaves her figures towering over viewers. Her paint is layered and textured, and she moves from cool to warm tones to create a color landscape even in one area of skin. It was ambitious to choose her for this project, but I learned a lot: layering, using big brush strokes, and utilizing the full range of colors in skin. I also learned to embrace the unattractive angle, even when it’s my own face.
I took a few pictures during the process to try to show the different layers built up, but also to help myself critique in-progress. Also included are some aesthetic palettes, and the underpainting for one of my first two self portraits, which looks more like me than the final product.
Some photos from a short weekend trip to Boston last month. It was my first time actually exploring Boston, and though I walked most of the city, there is so much more that I didn’t get to see. My visit included strolling through Harvard’s incredible art museum and seeing some other parts of Cambridge, taking a tour of the Boston Public Library, and following the Freedom Trail down to the North End. Most of these photos are from the BPL, which is full of beautiful architecture and murals, including a set by John Singer Sargent. The best part was the Harvard Art Museum, which housed works by Monet, Van Gogh, Pollock, and other big names. I definitely geeked out and talked too much about the art, but it was exciting to see work by artists that I’ve been learning about in my classes. I hope to go back to the city soon to check out more of the shops and the restaurants, and maybe see Keytar Bear again.
Happy Earth Day. Here are some of my favorite photos of this earth.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman.
Though I (shamefully) saw the movie before I read the book, Call Me By Your Name is a beautifully emotional story full of imagery both on and off the screen. Set during the summer in a small town in Italy, Call Me By Your Name tracks Elio’s complicated emotional relationship to a young American professor, Oliver, who’s staying for six weeks with the family to work on his book with the help of Elio’s father. Elio, seventeen, tries to figure out Oliver’s casual bravado, his simultaneous push-and-pull, as the days run into one another with morning jogs, bike rides to town, soft-boiled eggs, and endless hours under the Italian sun. There is a connection between Elio and Oliver, one that needs no words to be communicated. Yet Elio holds on to the ecstasy of pining as he bounces by the day, the hour, the minute, between hope and despair. Their story shows what it means to be truly intimate with another, and what it means to embrace yourself and life without shame.
The film was more than deserving of its Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and that’s being said with having watched the movie first. The imagery in the book is rich and sensual, and the movie interprets it perfectly and gorgeously. Elio and Oliver’s story is set on a backdrop of vibrant life, which comes through in both versions. I highly recommend watching the movie after (or before) reading the book. It’s a truly beautiful film with excellent music that remains true to the story (though the film spins the ending a bit), with phenomenal acting by Timothee Chalamet and real-life-Ken-doll Armie Hammer. Both the book and the movie are definitely for a more mature audience, as everything is quite adult and explicit. All beautifully written, but not much is left to the imagination. That being said, I think Aciman has created a tragic story about first love and its subsequent loss that will resonate with many.
A few of the studies from last week’s painting class, with an afternoon workshop on representing motion of a figure through painting. This class was a lot of fun, as it really freed you up to make spontaneous brush strokes that interpret the movement, rather than focusing on creating an exact replica of what’s in front of you. It’s all about movement. All of my classmates’ approaches were different, unique in their own styles of painting, which was also really fun to see. Our model walked back and forth, shifted position on a stool, and danced to James Brown during the session, so we got to depict various types of motion, trying out new techniques and letting things go for a few hours.
Happy Easter! As it is the only appropriate way to celebrate any holiday, I had to bake. This was long awaited, too, because I gave up sweets for Lent and needed something extra good. I went all out with a four-layer carrot cake with flower decorations. The cake is my great-grandmother’s recipe (which I forgot to write down for this post; email me if you want it!) topped with a lot of cream cheese frosting. It’s super moist and erases any misconceptions that carrot cake is healthy. It’s also an easy, fail-safe recipe; just make sure it’s baked through. All the flower decorations are piped by hand, which was fun but also frustrating. I only recommend if you feel a certain amount of dedication to your cake and even more patience. I say go for it, because the end result is gorgeous and sure to impress.
For the colored frosting, I used totally amateur food coloring from Dec-a-Cake. The roses are piped with a large star tip. The blue/purple flowers are piped with a slanted tip on to parchment paper on top of a metal spinner that is included in most piping tip sets that you can buy. For the leaves, I used a basic leaf tip and two tones of green frosting. If you want more information on piping flowers, I highly recommend Pinterest or Wilton.com, because there are a lot of straightforward tutorials for lots of different designs. Or you can contact me, though I’m a complete amateur.
I baked the cake in two layers, then sliced each in half to create four. There was a slight sinking problem in the cake though, which I suspect is from opening the oven too early in the baking process to see how much longer the cakes needed. But it’s nothing a little frosting can’t hide, as you can see from the photo of the inside, below.