Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Inspiring the Inner Artist... {Part 1}

Before I stepped into the kitchen, I spent most of my time in lecture halls, listening to facts and stories about Caravaggio and his contemporaries. Yes, this itsy bitsy balebusta graduated with an honors degree in Art History. And the most commonly asked question upon this discovery?

Do you paint?

No. No I do not paint. Even my stick figures look like something out of an abstract expressionist era. But appreciation and admiration for those who can indeed represent emotion and passion, all the while leaving a historical foot print - that my friends, I have plenty of.

Truth be told, Art History was no where near my radar when I started at the University of Toronto - wow, 6 years ago?! I went in all ready to come out some fancy, hot shot lawyer. One year of Political Science later and not only was I POSITIVE law was not for me, I was also terrified and confused to admit it. I forged ahead with planning the next year of torturous Canadian Politics courses.  I continued this until a very special person stopped me and asked, "Why?"

I had no legitimate answer. And that was all the answer I needed.

I went home that night and opened the course catalog for the summer session. I figured I would take one random course, if it was even slightly more appealing than law I would leave my program. I'm the least spontaneous person in the world. I like a planned, orderly schedule and if I plan on something, I see it through (everyday I continue to remind my self that, "Man plans, Gd laughs" in an effort to change). This wasn't just spontaneous, it was terrifying.

Clearly, I never planned to fall in love with what I chose.

All that was available in my time slot, between my summer job and commuting, was an intro to Art History class. Art History? The first thing I did was e-mail the program coordinator and make sure I wouldn't ever have to draw anything. Upon receiving that confirmation, I enrolled. Really, a summer studying old pictures in an air conditioned room couldn't be so bad? And it wasn't international politics, so I was willing to give it a shot.

It took all of two classes to have me completely enthralled. The people who were just names, or Dan Brown titles, suddenly became visionaries, producing works which provided an insight and portal to their era, to history itself! I was blown away. Image after projected image, I was no longer listening to someone lecture on the French Revolution, I was seeing what it looked like through the eyes of both the bourgeois and the royalty who commissioned works themselves. It was one thing to listen to and read the history, it was another to see it.

The Books That Started It All

Art moved me, inspired me and forced me to think outside of the box. My absolute best professor throughout my University career, said something in our first lecture that stuck with me. She told us that she would only show us photos of art or architecture in her slides that she had taken and seen with her own eyes. It was remarkably different than seeing a textbook image projected and hearing a lecture on its history. Instead I could see my Professor's pictures and listen to what it felt like to be in the presence of these great works. At the end of that semester I was on my way to England to spend a summer abroad, studying and viewing these pieces in the first person. It was my turn to experience them for myself, and what an incredible experience that was! I saved up all the money from my part time job, and when I handed over the cheque to pay for my tuition and flight, I knew that the adventure was going to be completely worth it.

So what does all this have to do with food? Because we all know, everything always has to do with food! Remember when I said I hold absolutely no artistic talent? I'm like the fan in the stands, cheering and yelling at the hockey players, but who can't skate to save her life. Well, while I don't feel very creative sitting in front of a canvas, once I get into the kitchen the ideas and colors and inspiration hit.

There is nothing like icing a cupcake, making a marble cake or decorating a sugar cookie, to make you feel like you're the master of your canvas. Twirling and sprinkling and decorating and getting lost in the craft, is magical. The fact that baking and cooking require creativity and passion to really flourish makes them art in my book. And even though a paint brush may not be my thing, hand me a piping bag and I can adopt the same concentration and passion needed to transform a blank canvas to a piece of art.

I hope you'll come back really soon and check out my review of an absolutely fantastic new cookbook that takes all the excitement of art out of the lecture hall and into your kitchen. A cookbook which is certain to help "inspire your inner artist"...

Special Thanks to Sterling Publishing

13 comments:

  1. Wow, you are so young. Glad you found your calling, but what does one do with an Art History degree? Start a blog?

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    1. I was initially an English major so in the end I double majored in English & Art History. I'm teaching now (mainly preschool). Art History taught me how to think outside of the box, push myself and look beyond the initial image and take into consideration context etc. all aspects that help me in both blogging and being a better teacher now! :)

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  2. Victoria, what a beautifully written post. I can totally relate. I was an art history minor in college, and I still kept all my textbooks! I used to spend my days going from gallery, to museum to art shows. I miss it!

    And food is definitely it's own art form.

    Great post, looking forward to the CB review

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    1. Thank you so much, Sina! I also miss the days of gallery hopping and endless hours in the company of slides and images (although I may not have been as happy about it while I was studying!). I kept most of my textbooks and I love to occasionally flip through them! So awesome to know another fellow kosher food blogger also has the same interest!

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  3. My blog also allows my inner artist an outlet for expression.

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  4. I can relate. I can't either draw for the life of me. Cooking allows me to express my artistic side without pen and paper and I'm so thankful to have found something that allows me to do so!

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  5. Finally! People who understand! :) I can just about draw a straight line. My cooking and my writing are my methods of expression, and I take what I see in my world and put into these things. For the longest time after I became religious I thought I had to give all this up, and I did -and until I took it back were some very unhappy years. Thank G-d there are method of expression for the artists in all of us!

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  6. Hi Victoria - I love this post -- even if you didn't connect it to food at the end its great to get to know you more! I btw consider myself very very creative but CAN NOT draw or paint or craft to save my life :-) I can skate but don't like hockey (UR SOOO CANADIAN!) - basketball and football and baseball yes :-)

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    1. Thank you so much, Jamie! Glad to share a little bit more about myself! You more than make up for not being able to draw with your incredible recipes! & I guess I am pretty Canadian... I'll have to brush up on my basketball and football metaphors for future posts! :)

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  7. Wonderful story, and for what it's worth, I was a lawyer, on Wall Street making a bundle of $$ and left it all to write (where the pay can be bupkes). When you find your calling it's so satisfying to pursue it. I look back with no regrets. Btw, I was a history major in college but Art History was my favorite subject. I can't paint but I can admire and just knowing the difference between a Manet and a Monet has made all the difference in the world to me. Keep up your wonderful and delicious art.

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Ronnie! It's so great to know someone understands how I feel about art history - we may not be able to add canvases to the art world, but we can definitely appreciate and admire the incredible work that comes out of it (& cook up some great stuff while we're at it!). I admire your decision to leave law and write - it must have taken a lot of will and passion for writing! You're a fantastic writer, so from your readers perspective at least, thank you!

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