Guests In The Kitchen

Tuna Steaks. Acrylic on unstretched canvas, 30 x 30 inches by Sarah Atlee.Tuna Steaks. Acrylic on unstretched canvas, 30 x 30 inches by Sarah Atlee.

As you might imagine, I take a lot of food photos. A few of them turn into paintings. The piece you see here is from a wonderful meal cooked in someone else's kitchen, where my companion was housesitting.

It's a strange thing to try and find your way around an unfamiliar kitchen - it's that feeling of being slightly off-balance. It's also a great opportunity to compose a food photo using something other than your usual props. In this instance, I had access to a chartreuse cutting board and a very nice chef's knife. Not to mention these beautiful tuna steaks.

My perspective on tuna changed completely after seeing Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a fascinating look into the process of one of the world's great sushi chefs, Jiro Ono. Have a look at this clip to see how the tuna market has changed over the years:

How did our meal turn out? Beautifully! See for yourself:

Tuna steak, cooked, with heirloom tomatoes

Tuna steak with sauteed shrimp, green beans, and homemade guacamole

See Tuna Steaks in Person

Tuna Steaks will be available for purchase in February 2015 at Ro2 Art in Dallas. Join us at For Real featuring Sarah Atlee and James Zamora. Contact Ro2 Art for more details.

UPDATE: For Real has been reviewed by Jenny Block for The Huffington Post! Read the full review here: "A Hyperrealism That Questions Reality With James Zamora and Sarah Atlee at RO2 Art"

To Shaking Things Up

For last year's words belong to last year's languageAnd next year's words await another voice. -- T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding

Manhattan, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30 inches by Sarah Atlee Manhattan, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30 inches by Sarah Atlee

Happy New Year everybody!

Although we typically toast the New Year with champagne, allow me to suggest the classic Manhattan cocktail as a festive alternative.

How to make a Classic Manhattan Cocktail

The basic Manhattan is very simple:

3 oz bourbon 1.5 oz sweet vermouth dash of bitters

Pour over ice, stir and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and/or orange twist.

Manhattan Tips & Variations

Like any classic, this recipe is infinitely adaptable. I'm certainly not a purist when it comes to tweaking traditions.

For a dryer Manhattan (my preference), use rye rather than bourbon, skimp on the sweet vermouth, add an extra dash of bitters, and skip the cherry. Or at least use a good cherry, if you can get them.

A very Dry Manhattan uses dry vermouth rather than sweet. A Perfect Manhattan uses 50/50 dry & sweet vermouth.

Stirred v. shaken: Personally, I like a shaken cocktail, even when it's de rigeur to stir (as with a mixture that's all spirits and no juice or cream). I like the extra ice fragments and don't mind if things get watered down just a tad. It's a personal choice.

As far as glassware goes, any pretty stemware will complement this colorful quaff. Some prefer their Manhattan served on the rocks, like an Old Fashioned. Again, adapt to taste.

Don't forget that garnish! If you don't have the fancy cherries on hand, an ordinary orange will do nicely. Peel off 1-2 inches of the orange's skin (not the pith), hold it over the glass, and crease it longways to release those aromatic oils. Swipe it around the rim of the glass before dropping it in. (Nice how-to video here.) Using orange bitters rather than Angostura enhances this wonderful citrus aroma.

See Manhattan in Person

Manhattan will be available for purchase in February 2015 at Ro2 Art in Dallas. Join us at For Real featuring Sarah Atlee and James Zamora. Contact Ro2 Art for more details.

UPDATE: For Real has been reviewed by Jenny Block for The Huffington Post! Read the full review here: "A Hyperrealism That Questions Reality With James Zamora and Sarah Atlee at RO2 Art"

What are you shaking up this year?

Let us know in the comments below.

Peachy Patchwork

Peaches & Quilt. Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches by Sarah AtleePeaches & Quilt. Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches by Sarah Atlee

Peaches are revered in many cultures as a symbol of longevity, vitality, and wealth. Small wonder - who can resist the sweet smell and juicy flesh of a ripe peach? Each fruit is a treasure.

Peaches. Janet Fish, 1971. Click image to view source.Peaches. Janet Fish, 1971. Click image to view source.

In this painting by Janet Fish, the tempting peaches are sealed in plastic wrap, increasing our anticipation.

Riverbank of Peach Blossoms. Shi Tao, Chinese, 17th century. Click image to view source. Riverbank of Peach Blossoms. Shi Tao, Chinese, 17th century. Click image to view source.

Peach trees blossom before their leaves appear each spring, contributing to their association with health and vitality. Here landscape painter and poet Shi Tao treats us to a whole riverbank alive with peach blossoms.

Fanciullo con canestro di frutta. Caravaggio, Italian, 16th century. Click image to view source.Fanciullo con canestro di frutta. Caravaggio, Italian, 16th century. Click image to view source.

In European painting, the peach represents the heart, while a leaf attached to the fruit suggests the tongue. Put them together and you have a symbol for speaking from the heart. The young man in this work by Caravaggio looks as though he's about to do just that.

Example of an apprentice geisha's momoware or Example of an apprentice geisha's momoware or "split peach" hairstyle. Source unknown.

The humble peach is even celebrated as a symbolic hairstyle in the world of geisha.

By now, I know you're thinking about it. Who can forget the immortal tribute to peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America? Here's a cover of their famous song "Peaches" played on actual peaches.

See Peaches & Quilt in Person

Peaches & Quilt will be available for purchase in February 2015 at Ro2 Art in Dallas. Join us at For Real featuring Sarah Atlee and James Isaac Zamora. Contact Ro2 Art for more details.

UPDATE: For Real has been reviewed by Jenny Block for The Huffington Post! Read the full review here: "A Hyperrealism That Questions Reality With James Zamora and Sarah Atlee at RO2 Art"

All About the OKCCoCo

News 9 has produced a story about the OKCCoCo (the home of my new studio). I'm in it for just a second, don't blink!

OKCCoCo is a new collaborative coworking space in downtown Oklahoma City. It's a place for freelancers and entrepreneurs who don't have offices of their own to work and network. At the CoCo, people work to further their careers or reinvent themselves in new businesses. The concept is a little difficult to get across, so watch the video for more insight.

I recently moved into one of the CoCo's reserved offices, and have set up my studio there. It has changed my life for the better. I'm excited about being among a community of creative people, not just from the art world, but other fields as well.

It's not just for geeks! The CoCo wants to expand their artistic community, and are doing so through events like the monthly DIY craft meeting, and the upcoming Craft Camp Weekend.

The CoCo offers various membership plans, detailed here. There's something here for everyone.

Alison Bechdel on Creating Fun Home

Alison Bechdel is the creator of the comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For. Her recent book, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, is a frank and tender deconstruction of her childhood and adolescence. It's never easy to understand one's parents from an adult perspective, and Bechdel uses Fun Home to explore her father's identity through fresh eyes.

Note: If you are reading this blog (and watching the videos) in Firefox, good for you! (If not, please switch browsers right away. You won't regret it.) Since you are a savvy Firefox user, you might benefit from the Flashblock plugin, which reduces the load time for web pages with embedded videos.