For Artistic Purposes

I probably shouldn’t have mentioned to the farmer that I was selecting carrots for “artistic purposes” when considering the most colorful and interesting bunch at the farmers market. But I thought it might be a compliment. Instead, I got a thinly veiled, perturbed look that suggested she hadn’t toiled all season long for me to paint her carrots. I dug myself in deeper trouble when I asked for advice on prolonging the freshness of the greens. I saw the eyes roll and quickly agreed to paint soon or refrigerate. Alas, I think this bunch was well worth the effort to grow and paint.

A note about colorful carrots: Carrots trace their roots to Afghanistan, where cultivation is believed to have begun sometime before the 900s. A diversity of colors was the norm as carrot cultivation spread to Europe and Asia. It wasn’t until the 1500s when the Dutch selectively bred and then popularized the orange carrot. Visit the virtual World Carrot Museum for tons of information, including a gallery of carrots in fine art.

29 Comments on “For Artistic Purposes

    • Thanks Ellen. I don’t know which farm it was…I’m sure some would be more engaged in vegetable artistry! I am hoping to do a vegetable series this winter.

  1. I always tell our sellers of beautiful veggies that I am buying them to paint!… Japanese eggplants, green name it..I say See ’em, BUY ’em, PAINT ’em n’ EAT ’em…whats better?.. your work is so lovely they should die happily anyway…

    • I did actually plan to eat these, but they ended up in the compost pile because of holiday travels. Farmers markets are great visual feasts — glad you find them inspiring too!

  2. Terrific painting. I use subjects from the garden all the time. For future reference if you’d like to paint and enjoy eating colorful carrots, try (growing! ) Amarillo (yellow), Danvers (orange), and Purple Haze — we’ve had best experience with these varieties!

    • Thanks for the advice on varieties. I recently moved and need to start from scratch to build a garden. In the meantime, I love the selection at the farmers market.

  3. I adore your carrots – beautifully done – each unique in both line and color – I don’t know their names but I recognize them. I love how you use line. Very sensitively done work and pleasurable to view. Thank you for posting along with your amusing description of your conversation with the farmer.

    • Thanks Mary- I used a Lamy Safari fountain pen with permanent black ink for the line work. Even with an extra fine nib, the ink is pretty graphic. Still, I like the way it worked for the fine roots.

    • I was a little surprised Katie, but not dismayed and will certainly continue to draw on the beautiful fruit of the farmer’s labor. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Love the carrots. Do you draw with pencil first, your lines seem so perfect.

    • I didn’t draw in pencil first– I typically jump in with pen, unless I’m doing a very careful piece of artwork. I find that working in pen is really good practice and forces a certain concentration, but also a freedom that is really nice.

    • Great Coleen– I enjoyed the fine art carrots, too. There was also a nice section on historical texts with illuminated letters and carrots– a very exhaustive site! Nice to hear from you!

  5. Greetings from the World Carrot Museum! great painting! – some farmers are quite brusque but surely a sale is a sale! btw keeps the greens looking fresh and bright by keeping the carrots (greens still attached in a jug of ice cold water. If you do keep greens attached beware that they will with the carrot quite quickly as they continue to suck out moisture.
    May I please use the painting in my arts pages?

    • What an interconnected world we live in. Glad you found me, and thanks for the info on the greens and wilted carrots– which happens every time and now I know why. You are welcome to use my painting as long as there is attribution and a link back to my website. Your site is quite an exhaustive source of information–thanks!

  6. well she clearly doesn’t understand the art of art and food painting. I am definitely checking out any museum dedicated to a food, that is beautiful! The world would be a better place if we all did! Beautiful painting! Go ask her for more veggies next week!

    • Hi Rebecca– Glad the post caught your interest! There really is such a long history of food in art…and that’s a beautiful thing.

      • I will admit I went to the World Carrot Museum site and was a little sad that there wasn’t an actual location….the website is amazing and informative and well laid out but silly me thought there might be a building….food is our life and it is really really nice to see it celebrated that way!

      • Yeah…no building…just lots and lots of carrots! It’s hard to imagine compiling all that information. Glad you checked it out.

  7. Jean I always manage to learn something with you!
    If I’m not amazed by a brush stroke or color combination I can always
    Know that you will bring to our attention something very unusual – a carrot museum!
    Love the root tendrils and light that is reflected in your work.

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