Cook Up a New Recipe for Mixed-Media Art

16 Jan 2013

Up until recently, my husband and I have had completely different approaches to cooking. I find a recipe I like and follow it. He looks up a bunch of recipes for a particular dish or main ingredient and puts his own spin on it.

My mixed-media painting.
For years, I admired his way of cooking. And I always claimed I could never cook that way. Too much uncertainty. Too little confidence. What if I wasted the ingredients? What if the dish wasn't edible? Then my way would be wrong. If I followed a recipe and it didn't come out, well then, it must have been a bad recipe. Nope, improvisational cooking just wasn't for me.

But recently something changed. Maybe it's because a friend who stays with us occasionally has become a vegan, and I've had to adapt some dishes to her diet. Or maybe my focus on using the ingredients we have on hand rather than making a trip to the grocery store has affected my culinary creativity.

In any case, I have begun improvising. I've begun to ask, "What if?" "What if I used spinach instead of kale?" "What if I put in cumin instead of coriander?" "What if I left out the chicken breasts?"

And you know what? Not only has my cooking become a lot more interesting, but I am having way more fun. (And, so far, no one has refused to eat what I've made.)

You see how this applies to art, right? Say you want to make a mixed-media collage. You could look for a collage project in a book, in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, or here on the community and follow the directions. And that would be a good way to learn a technique.

But after a while, following someone else's directions might get kind of frustrating. Or you might compare your end product with the original artist's and find yours wanting . . . or too similar! On the other hand, following a "recipe" is a safe.

Or, maybe you've been using the same techniques over and over again. You're really good at them, but possibly bored. Yet trying a new technique is risky: what if you waste supplies? What if it doesn't work? Maybe you can't do anything else. Maybe you should stick with what you know.

If you're in an art rut or think you can only create "by the book," then maybe it's time to think of yourself and your art in a new way.

If you want to learn about mixed-media collage, look at several projects and techniques. What do you like, what part could you do without?

Ask yourself, "What if I used a different color palette?" or "What if I substituted fabric for paper?" "What if I took the supplies list and made something completely different?"

I'm willing to bet that your art may get a whole lot more interesting. I'm absolutely certain you will have more fun.

Need resources and encouragement? In my book Mixed-Media Self-Portraits, there are many different exercises and techniques to help you stretch your skills and find yourself as an artist.

cate's signature

P.S. Do you stick to the recipe book or just plunge into the pantry and see what you can make? Tell me about it below..


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Comments

edith Tsacle wrote
on 16 Jan 2013 10:50 AM

Congratulations to your friend on turning Vegan, the healthiest way of eating.  I turned Vegan recently and found that it greatly changed my way of cooking AND making art--I also am becoming more experimental and fearless in both and am loving both transformations!

edith Tsacle wrote
on 16 Jan 2013 10:50 AM

Congratulations to your friend on turning Vegan, the healthiest way of eating.  I turned Vegan recently and found that it greatly changed my way of cooking AND making art--I also am becoming more experimental and fearless in both and am loving both transformations!

on 16 Jan 2013 10:54 AM

My journey in the pantry sounds similar to yours! I also use to follow recipes to the letter, but now (with dairy, gluten, egg and nut allergies) I have had to branch out, try new things and voila! I rarely follow a recipe anymore!

I have been relying on my 'right' brain for years in my artwork - freeform is my passion. Now my cooking is a lot more freeform - and yes more enjoyable.

Shannonmixed wrote
on 16 Jan 2013 11:02 AM

Love all of your posts. Look forward to my emails from you thanks for so many inspirational ideas! I think I'll just dig into my art supply and see what happens :)

pdrapala wrote
on 16 Jan 2013 11:12 AM

Hi Cate, I like to discover new dishes in my kitchen, just like I like to create new art processes in my art room.  However, sometimes, I hesitate when I see a new project completed on a webpage or magazine, and think, "Can I do that?"  Of course, I can!  I need to think positive 100% of the time!

pjmockit wrote
on 16 Jan 2013 11:45 AM

I will follow a "recipe" to learn a technique, but the end product has my spin on it. Now if cooking was as much fun as art...

Ele4 wrote
on 16 Jan 2013 11:54 AM

Good for you, learning to freestyle cook. My mother taught me how to cook and she didn't use cookbooks, just what we had on the farm. Every day she cooked for my dad and nine children so she had to be very creative. My one outstanding cooking failure was when I decided to make Mung Bean Dahl from a recipe I found in a cookbook. It was a greenish yellow color, tasted horrible, and we all agreed that it was not fit for human or animal consumption. We had been digging a well that didn't produce water but was 20' deep and 6' in diameter; we turned it into the biggest outhouse hole in the world. Guess where the Mung Bean Dahl went; yep, right to the bottom of that cavernous hole. It felt good and I have never made it again, but the memory lingers on.

Lisa

LorriF2 wrote
on 16 Jan 2013 4:14 PM

I live in the foothills outside of Boulder and if I'm missing an ingredient, I'm not driving into the store for it!  I'm also not one to plan the menu for the week and then shop for it (although I do this for my business, Art Camp for Women!).  I end up improvising a lot and it almost always turns out well and my husband is very accomodating.  I love trolling through online recipes, reading the comments, taking them into consideration and tweaking the recipe accordingly to what I have on hand.

I'm a fiber person and love the freedom of using mixed media techniques in my art quilts.  Along the "recipe" line, I also love traditional quilts, however, a truly beautifully done traditional quilt is more than following a recipe.  Color placement and paying attention to value really make a piece shine.

Lorri F

Art Camp for Women

on 16 Jan 2013 6:13 PM

I love to look at books and other great resources sock as Cloth Paper Scissors, but I don't use them when I am creating. I like to pull different things out of my closet and start moving things around and then adhering them. For example, I found a long piece of Kraft paper that was black on one side. I had started a mixed media piece and had been unhappy with the direction. I started tearing strips and playing until it turned into a really cool tree. I know that I was influenced by all the great work I've seen in books, but like any good dish I added my own take on things, adding things that make it mine.

on 19 Jan 2013 6:42 PM

Or what if you've read all the directions and jump into the project only to discover halfway through that you missed a step?! Yeah, I've got a really good memory ... it's just very short!  But I've found that flopportunity sometimes leads to great discoveries.

on 19 Jan 2013 6:43 PM

Or what if you've read all the directions and jump into the project only to discover halfway through that you missed a step?! Yeah, I've got a really good memory ... it's just very short!  But I've found that flopportunity sometimes leads to great discoveries.