It's Pie Season!
cherry pie nostalgia
Growing up whenever we had any extended family gathering, my great aunt Bees would always bring along a homemade cherry pie. It was her signature dish and offered no matter what the occasion or meal. She used an oil crust and canned cherries and plenty of sugar, I’m sure. Her real name was Louise, but as children who couldn’t articulate quite so clearly yet, Louise became Bees and it stuck in the family as her nickname for the rest of her life.
It’s really special to grow up with older generations in your life. Bees lived right next door to my grandparents, and they all lived on the rural eastern shore of Maryland. We saw her regularly when we went to stay with my grandparents. She took my brothers and I to movies, buying pharmacy candy and sneaking it into the theater. She never married, making her own way in life, which was rare for a woman of her time and place. She offered a particular kind of generosity to me and my many siblings that can only exist if you live within that kind of independence.
I also grew up eating a lot of pie made by my mother and my grandmother. To this day my mom still makes mincemeat pie for thanksgiving, making the mincemeat filling ahead of time and honoring the tradition she used to have with her mom and her grandmother. She also makes her grandmother’s sweet potato pie, along with many seasonal fruit pies throughout the year.
I was a pastry chef all throughout my twenties and pie is still my favorite thing to bake. I love the time it requires and all the love that is therefore poured into it. You can’t rush that crust and you have to keep it cold and handle with so much care for the best possible finished product. So much intentional energy is channelled into each pie that is made, requiring you to be so very present. It’s such a delicious way to honor summer fruits and a beautiful blank canvas for creating different lattice work and design. And, you can get endlessly creative with your fillings. I know here in the States we generally think of sweet fillings when we think of pie, but thats quite the opposite in places like the UK and New Zealand where savory pies are most popular.
I knew I wanted to paint a slice of pie, I just wasn’t sure what type since there are so many wonderful ways in which you can fill the buttery vessel. After seeing a beautiful image that Mark Weinberg had taken of Erin Mcdowell’s cherry pie, I knew that was what I wanted to capture, In honor of my great aunt and all flaky beautiful pies everywhere. The photograph so clearly captured the rich beautiful cherry filling, and the gorgeous layering of crust and pastry. I reached out to Erin and Mark to see if I would be able to use this photograph as a reference for my painting, and they both very generously agreed.
This was the first painting I created after I got married. I was still on a roll with larger works having just finished my croissant and oyster pieces a few months earlier. I was in this dreamy heart driven stage of life post wedding time, and I’m sure was influenced by the deep loving reds in this particular slice of pie :)
I worked left to right on the page and reallllly took my time with this one. One of the reasons I think this is one of my more photographic/realistic pieces is because my reference was so darn clear and detailed itself. It really makes a HUGE difference when you are working from a photograph as to the quality and detail captured. The more that is captured, the more information there is for your eyes and hands to work with and translate onto the page. I often will hire a photographer friend to help me capture my reference just because it makes such a big difference for me when I go to paint.
The original painting measures 22x30” and was framed in a cherry wood frame (love the unintended cherry theme). It’s the largest print I have ever had made, creating a special 40x55” print at one point for a customer.
I used a lot of colored pencil on top of the paint in this one to really get the rich deep reds I wanted to capture. I wait for the paint to dry completely and go in with prismacolor colored pencils on top. To get those highlights on the cherry, I didn’t even touch that part of the paper. As I have mentioned previously, preserving your lightest areas until the very end is one of my most important tips.
We’ve been fortunate to have a really mild start to summer here in Richmond, but now the humidity and temps are rising, and pie is one of the ways in which I like to honor beautiful summer fruits most. Cherries are coming into their peak moment, and I’m feeling a pie baking session is on my horizon. It’s about the only thing I can imagine turning my oven on for right now.
This cherry pie piece is available as a print in many a size, and the large 24x36” is my favorite. You can see it here.
Pie and non-pie related Musings
-My favorite pie crust recipe is this one from Tartine Bakery.
-My partner’s favorite pie and one of the more fancy pies in my rotation is a blood orange custard pie, adapted from a grapefruit custard pie from four and twenty blackbirds. I generally use an all butter crust rather than the saltine crust, but either are delicious, and replace the grapefruit for blood orange.
-Also realllllly love this short episode of Jane Goodall interviewing Robin Wall Kimmerer on her podcast The Hopecast. Both Robin and Jane are personal heros of mine.
-Currently reading Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age by Katharine May and am loving every word. If you enjoyed her book Wintering as much as I did, this is similar in its beautiful prose and magical ability to make time slow way down while reading it. Highly recommend.
-New wholesale print accounts! I’m expanding my print library into the wholesale world. If you are an owner of a boutique, shop, hotel, restaurant, etc. and want to carry some of my work, please reach out via the contact form on my website to receive more details.
* Summer Sale Announcement *
Starting this Wednesday June 21st, I will be having a shop wide sale. Large prints are already discounted and you can take an extra 15% off your whole order with the code SUMMERTIME. Includes all cards, prints, and limited edition prints, and runs until June 30th.
Happy summertime baking and pie eating to you all. Leave a comment telling me about your favorite pie/pie memories!