An Organic Palette documents one summer’s harvest from the author’s organic vegetable garden.
Inspired in equal parts by the culinary and visual arts, the season’s fruits and vegetables were picked, washed, and photographed. The food went directly to the kitchen to be prepared for family and friends. The images were likewise processed for delightful consumption, though here as the suite of harmonic colors nested within.
When browsed in chronological order, this creative nonfiction project highlights one complete New England growing cycle, from asparagus through rutabega.
Artists, graphic designers, gardeners, and cooks will all enjoy An Organic Palette.
Scroll down to read the introduction and see sample illustrations.
Visual artists, by personality type, are prone to harboring obsessions above and beyond the work they do in the studio. In my case, I love plants and I love to cook: two lifelong passions I’ve developed through my education—my undergraduate degree is in biology—and through my professional life—during my twenties, I cooked in a variety of restaurants for my night job. Currently, I make time for both by cultivating an organic garden, with which I feed my family and friends throughout the year.
I find that time in the garden binds me to the larger cycles of life as few other activities can. Because plants live by balancing the influences of the water, air, earth, and sun, gardening constantly reminds me to observe how every day is different, and compels me to decide how to help each plant thrive in relation to what I see. Come harvest time, to eat food fresh from the garden is to physically embody our natural environment, internalizing our time and place in an unparalleled way.
When I prepare a meal, thoughts about the complications of daily life gently fade away. I work with an awareness of the flavors I seek, and with consideration of how the meal will look on the plate. In this way, I find cooking both relaxing and focusing. For me, standing in front of a cutting board filled with fresh vegetables is one of life’s simple pleasures. I find handling the various colors, smells, and textures delightful. Of course, exploring the subtle ways each can be combined is further rewarded, one bite at a time.
One day, while deep in a reverie working with food from the garden, I was ruminating on the curious homophones: palate and palette, sounds that are equally comfortable in the culinary and visual arts. The first of the duo, palate, means the roof of one’s mouth as well as one’s preference for a favorite set of flavors. The second, palette, calls to mind the wooden oval that artists use to mix their paints and the set of colors graphic designers or computer coders use in their work. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if my garden’s harvest could serve as the foundation for recipes that fed my body and my art? In that moment, An Organic Palette was born…