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Gifts for food lovers: Art and craft (Recipe: four-fold gratin)

Part Four of an eight-part series.


My little log house in Rhode Island is the old-fashioned kind, with lumpy-bumpy walls inside and out.

Some logs stick out more than others, as though trees were felled and simply piled up in a rectangle, holes cut here and there, until someone said, "Okay, that's enough -- let's put a roof on it!"

I know the construction wasn't quite that haphazard, but try hanging artwork on a log wall, and you'll know what I mean. Nails or hooks go into the logs that protrude; then the art must be shimmed out on the bottom to make it more-or-less level, or it looks like it's sliding down the wall. And you'd better like the height, because those protruding logs aren't always quite where you want them to be.

Except in the kitchen.

The kitchen has one long plastered wall. No lumps, no bumps, no logs. Perfect for art.

If the food lover in your life has an art wall, or an art corner, or a tiny space above the countertop for a little painting, here are gift ideas galore for art-loving foodies or food-loving artsies.

Bread, 4x6 inches, acrylic on board, by Shawn Kenney. Image used with artist's permission.

Providence artist Shawn Kenney's iconic food paintings grace the kitchens of some of Rhode Island's top chefs and restaurants, and I have three small paintings (garlic, sushi, moon pie) on my art wall. Shawn offers food-themed blank note cards, too. $20; portion of proceeds donated to hunger relief agencies.

On Etsy.com -- a fantastic source for a wide range of affordable original artwork -- I found Alan Reinhart's sensuous images of food and kitchen tools. This wrinkly pepper spoke to me. Prints ($20), note cards (6 for $20).

Very Old Pepper, 8x12 inch pigment print on archival paper, by Alan Reinhart. Image used with artist's permission.

Also on Etsy, Jessie Oleson, known to food bloggers everywhere as Cakespy, sells original watercolors, prints and note cards featuring her charming anthropomorphized cupcakes. $24-38. I hope I find her Yes We Cake postcards under my Chanukah tree this year.

Cuppies walking a cuppie puppy, 2.5x3.5 inches, pen-and-ink and watercolor on Bristol board, by Jessie Oleson. Image used with artist's permission.

I love this set of three 8x10 prints of found-object sculpture, including "Retro Mixer Pups" and "The Espresso Family", from Artsy on Etsy. $36 for the set.

Retro Mixer Pups, 8x10 matte finish print, signed and dated, by Cat Bishop. Image used with artist's permission.

More ideas for a food lover's art wall:
Small woodcuts with food and kitchen themes from CPlummerart on Etsy. $15-20.
Kitchen utensils fine art poster, from art.com. $29.99.
"Gentle rants about everyday life" by Mary Harman will make you think -- about housework and food, relationships, dogs, and the green life (11x14 prints of original watercolors, $25; portion donated to Kiva).

Several food bloggers sell their food photos as posters, prints, cards and calendars. Meeta, of What's for Lunch Honey, has a shop on Zazzle, where pantry lovers can buy her wonderful Array of Spices (11x13 print, $9.95) and other drool-worthy images. Beautiful food photos from blogger Food Chic are available on Etsy ($15-20).

Even food bloggers who don't have a "shop" might sell prints of the photos you love on their sites. Two of my favorites do: the fabulous Matt Armendariz of MattBites and Lolo from Vegan Yum Yum. And everyone's favorite food blogging illustrator, Ximena Maier of Lobstersquad, happily accepts commissions.

'Tis also the season for the best of three-dimensional art to come out of hiding, at craft fairs everywhere, but there are some fantastic fine craft gifts available online:

Whisk earrings or a chef's knife pendant by Debbie Howe, at Uncommon Goods. $45-65.
Wonton or pierogi pendant from Waxing Poetic. $38.
Linen reversible  no-tie apron from Inklore at 1000Markets. $45 and oh-so-clever!
Pewter fish measuring spoons from Stowe Craft Design. $64.


And to the many readers who've inquired about my Robert Fishman Pottery tagine, please contact the artist directly. Note: 2008 tagines are sold out; orders now being taken for delivery in early 2009.

[Next Tuesday: Gifts of books for cooks]
[Last Tuesday: Gifts from travels near and far]
[Previously: Gifts for kids who love to cook; Think outside the box]

Four-fold gratin

In case you need proof of the bond between food and art (you don't, do you?), here's a recipe from The Art of Cuisine, written and illustrated by the incomparable French painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, with Maurice Joyant. Need I say more?


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Egg noodle, cheese and cauliflower gratin
French onion soup
Roasted fennel with potatoes and onion

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Your kitchen looks so colorful! My staff commissioned a Shawn Kenney small painting of a Dunkin' Donut Great One. It was a perfect gift.
Wonderful ideas. Thanks.

I could be very happy in your kitchen! I love kitchen art. It's the first room I decorated in every house I've lived in.
Happy Holiday!

I love Jessie's illustrations - they are adorable! I also love the colors on the tagine!

Rupert, Lydia's kitchen is a colorful and artfully inspiring space. You should visit. Lydia, I love this post.
I have one of Shawn's paintings and love it. Also, Bev Thomas's wild Dancing Lobster cavorts on my kitchen wall.

Really a fun post. And I second the compliments on Lydia's kitchen. Her entire house is just charming. I could happily live there!

I love all the glass containers filled with grains & stuff. I can't wait to get a bunch of matching canisters (perhaps a great Christmas present). Right now they're all in random jars I've saved from products, many too small (I have 5 jars filled with popcorn).

I love your kitchen and I love the idea of art in the kitchen. Wonderful suggestions here.

Lydia - thanks for the gift ideas! They're all so cute!

Thank you so much for including my artwork in such a beautiful and inspiring round-up! Shawn Kenney's bread painting is so lovingly rendered, I can practically smell the fresh, yeasty aroma of bread! It's all so inspiring. How cool are those mixer sculptures!? Oh man, too much coolness!

What a great collection of links! I've had fun browsing around them so thank you for putting this together.

What a fantastic collection of melamine bowls!! I'm in love with this area of your kitchen and drooling over all those bowls and pretty canisters.

How about doing "Other Peoples Kitchen Art"...it could be a companion to Other Peoples Pantries

I've just forward that list to anyone who might even be thinking about gifting me this holiday season :)

Your kitchen looks very homey - all of your art is so cheerful!

Rupert, what a great gift from your staff. (Full disclosure -- Rupert made one of the pieces of art on my art wall, too!)

Joan, Julie, Hillary: I love having art in the kitchen. It's the first thing people notice when they walk in the room.

Veron, Jessie's work always makes me smile. The cupcakes are so cute.

Marcia, I have two of Bev's paintings on my art wall, too. I'm partial to the Blue Hubbard squash.

Kalyn, thank you. Of course I hope you'll visit again soon.

Susy, the glass jars are really handy; I always know how much of everything I have on hand.

Cakespy, you're so welcome.

April, I do a lot of teaching in the kitchen, so it's convenient to have everything out where people can find it. And where I can find it, too!

Honey, great idea! I always wondered whether lots of people had art in their kitchens.

EB, good luck. I've forwarded a few of these ideas to Ted, too....

Maris, it's a great place to cook, and the art really helps set the mood.

What a beautiful collection of arts on your kitchen wall! Tks for sharing all the great art links!

Oh my goodness, I love your kitchen! How cozy and inviting!

Now that's a Great Wall... and what great links. I got so into them, I almost forgot to post! Have a very Happy Thanksgiving Lydia.

Oh my, what a lovely tagine!

I have this vision of your kitchen, Lydia, and the wall fits with my vision! Can't wait to see more.

LK, hope you found some things you like for your own kitchen.

Pam, it is a wonderful place to cook -- but hard to get a photo of the whole thing because it's long and thin.

Callipygia, I think I will call it the Great Art Wall now. Thanks for the inspiration. And did you find some art for your own kitchen, or do you hang some of your wonderful drawings?

Mimi, I will try, one of these days, to figure out how to photograph the entire kitchen in one shot. The tagine is quite at home there, as are many other pieces of both two- and three-dimensional artwork.

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