Saturday, November 30, 2019

Apple Cider

This is an appropriate subject to work on in November. I often visit Letchworth State Park in the fall to view the leaves. On the way there I look for a farm that sells apples. Buying apples direct from the farmers is not only cheaper but the apples are usually fresher.

Years ago, I found a farmer that also sold apple cider. He kept jugs of it in a cooler with ice and you would just help yourself and put your money in a locked box. A lot of farmers use an “honor system” like this. I suppose it’s the reason why the produce is less expensive at the farm. They don’t have to haul their produce down to a farmers market and spend their weekends chatting with customers, and making change for everyone.

Fresh apple cider is extremely sweet. I don’t think of it as being healthy because of the amount of sugar that’s in it. However, fresh apples are good for you and they taste great. I usually eat one every day after lunch.

I like adding McIntosh apples to my morning oatmeal with cinnamon, chopped walnuts, and maybe a tablespoon of flaxseed meal. Yum!

If you don't like apples it may be because you haven't found a variety that you like. I like McIntosh apples but some people don’t like the tartness. I love tart apples! Tart apples work well in pies too. You would think that a sweet apple would be better but the tartness of the apple creates a nice contrast with the sweetness of the added sugar that apple pie recipes call for.

"Apple Cider"
Acrylic on canvas
The apple in this painting is Red Delicious which have a sweet and mild flavor. If you don’t like tart apples then give Red Delicious a try. There’s also Golden Delicious which has a yellow or yellow green color. I only really like these apples if they’re fresh. That's because once they’ve been stored for too long I find that the texture starts to get mushy.

Empire apples are a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious apples.

Cortland apples are another popular apple in New York. According to wikipedia, it’s a cross between McIntosh and Ben Davis apples. I had to Google that one. I was already familiar with the origins of the other varieties because my supermarket has signs that describe the flavor of the apple, along with a little bit of the history.

I’ve noticed a pattern and that is many apple varieties are just McIntosh apples crossed with another variety. McIntosh apples are doing all of the heavy lifting in the produce section!

Anyway, I included the copper cup in this painting because it has more charm than a glass or a ceramic mug. I think most copper mugs are for made for decoration, although I do believe some are lined with other materials so that you can drink from them.

Copper objects are great subject matter for paintings. The color in the highlights is attractive and it contains a lot of interesting reflections that are fun to paint. This copper mug came from a thrift shop which gave me the impression that it was old and not as common as something you would find in a store.

That was the impression I had until I saw the exact same mug at a local big box store. Oh, well.

In the YouTube video above, you can see that I started the painting by brushing on a thin coat of Burnt Sienna over the entire canvas. People often comment and ask me why I do this.

Toning the canvas has a number of benefits. For one, it quickly eliminates the stark white of the canvas. Sometimes it’s difficult to judge color against the pure white canvas because it makes the color that you're putting down appear darker than what it actually is. Toning the canvas with color before you begin painting helps to eliminate this effect to some degree.

I also use a rag to lift some of the paint from the areas of the painting. It’s a quick way to “draw” the shapes. I like to lift some of the paint from the brightest highlights. You can also draw lines into the wet Burnt Sienna with the end of the wood handle of the paint brush, if it the handle comes to a sharp point. I've been known to take a pencil sharpener to some of my paintbrush handles so that I can draw with them in this way.

The biggest benefit of toning the canvas is that it eliminates the problem of having white gaps show through in the areas that you missed. For example, if you paint two shapes next to each other, sometimes you miss a spot and it really stands out when the white canvas shows in these areas.

I hate when pure white shows up in the areas that I missed with my brush. It’s distracting and makes the painting look like it’s unfinished. It takes a long time to fill those white areas in with color, but toning the canvas with color eliminates this tedious task.

That's this weeks painting, time to snack on a McIntosh apple!

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