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Tuesday, August 25, 2015


There are times in our busy lives where eating healthy is a must but finding the time to prepare the meal is not available to you. If you have about 15-30 to basically put something in a skillet and walk away, then this easy recipe is for you. 
I love Aidell’s chicken sausage. I love brussels sprouts. I love vodka marinara sauce. I love parmesan. This seems like a pretty simple solution, huh? I like to let my brussels sprouts burn in my skillet just a little bit. So all I do is slice them and put them in a pan with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and put it on low-medium heat. I set a timer for 15 minutes and go do something that needs to get done (you can absolutely vacuum a few rooms in that amount of time, fold laundry, or put away dishes). Then, I slice 1-2 chicken sausages and throw them in the same skillet, setting the timer for 10 minutes and get something else done. This gives you time to marathon clean something or allot yourself to sit down for 10 minutes. After the timer dings, throw everything in a bowl, toss with parmesan and vodka marinara sauce. It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s low carb and low cal. You are welcome!


Friday, August 7, 2015

First Friday: Art Mapping, Jennifer Brickey

A little over a year ago I introduced you to Jennifer Brickey in a Mother's Day piece. If you haven't read it I encourage you to. Especially if you are a mother. It is an encouraging spread full of love and artistry.

Anyway, I am really excited to share more of Jennifer's work with you all. I have mostly seen her work online yet even still I am drawn in for minutes on end. Sitting on my couch staring at my computer screen, probably causing early blindness, trying to soak in all of the intricacies of Jennifer's work. Tonight will be the first night of about a month-long exhibit in the Emporium. So stoked to see more of her work in person.

In addition to creating her own body of work, Jennifer also trains young artists on a day-to-day basis working at Pellissippi State and with the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies. She is just returning from Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin where she taught Drawing I and II. Next year she plans to direct the Italy program. Sign me up!! There aren't many days that I find myself saying I want to be a student again but I would love for Jennifer to be my professor especially if it means I can travel with her wherever.


Here is a recent Q & A with the traveling professor. If you are in the area you can tell her how much you like her work this evening at the Emporium!

PP: Does the majority of your body of work have a map base or underlying theme?   
JB: It is better to start from the beginning to answer this question. I have always worked relatively non-objective. It was during graduate school (thesis) that I discovered a need for structure. Maps naturally evolved from that need. To be honest... Maps are some of the most interesting and beautiful things for me.  I love the natural forms combined with the seemingly congestion of the suburban landscape. In the beginning, I experimented with projecting the maps. It was not until about two years ago that the actual physical map became more apparent. 
PP: Has your work changed over the years gravitating to a map theme or have you always been drawn to maps?
JB: The map has always been a consistent or underlying theme, even if I was unaware of it.  I am fascinated by systems of organization, puzzles, games, as well as the formal elements of line, shape, form, color and space. The environments on which these elements are placed are ultimately my goal.  
I am also both fascinated and repulsed by the living in the suburbs. I grew up in the suburbs outside of Pontiac, Michigan. My parents are both hard working factory workers. So then, a combination of both the isolation and comfort of suburban life are evident in "my" maps. 
PP: Does your love of travel play into your work directly? How?
JB: Absolutely!   I am extremely lucky that I get to teach abroad each year. After my first trip to Italy, I found myself dabbling in walnut ink stains. I find beauty in the process, the richness of age, history of marks and elements of time.  
PP: Does exploring a new city inspire a new piece? In what way?

JB: I think it does. Although, it is not that obvious at first. I am defiantly fascinated by the old vs. the  new during my most recent trip this summer I visited Berlin. The East Side Gallery in Berlin is a surviving section of the Berlin Wall covered with phenomenal work by graffiti artists. It was stunning. The combination of elements, language... layered by time, age, marks, color, images.. I saw many similarities with some of my recent "MAP!" series. I guess the full impact remains to be seen.
PP: Does each piece you produce incorporate a certain map for a certain theme?

JB: You know, I have been asked that a lot, the places, the specific cities. In the beginning it was identify with, that I had lived in or was most familiar with. ... Detroit, Cincinnati. But then, I realized that the city itself, which city I was using had nothing to do with the content of the work.. I am drawn to all kinds of maps, regardless of specific location. The maps that I use are specific for specific pieces. Sometimes I need a map that is "tighter" more congested, gridded, or more spread out, it really just depends on the situation.
The only thing I would say is that I have not really had a chance to use any map outside of the U.S. I am not really sure why. It may have to do with the way the U.S cities are laid out. ... too perfect, too gridded...

PP: How do you begin a new piece? Do you find a map you like and go with the lines and space of the map?

JB: The map is added in the middle of the piece. First I stain the paper, through a series of pours (using walnut and acrylic ink).  Then, the painting, drawing, mapping happens.  Recently, I started to add images found in vintage homemaker magazines to spice up the composition.

PP: What makes you choose one map over another?
JB: There is not really a map that I don't like. Although, I would rather have city maps. And the color... the color is super important too.
PP: Generally it seems that you use certain colors in every piece but from time to time incorporate a watercolor look...Is that true? What denotes the colors/technique used?

JB: I used to have a basic system of Red, Blue, and Green, warm vs. cool, compliments and so on. Harmonization was the key. Now, it really depends on each individual piece. However, the stains are usually neutral.. browns, earthy, gritty, dirty tones. Then, the rich vibrant, often "candy" colors get piled on top. I like the reaction of two seemingly different things. It's magic.
PP: Do you typically follow the lines of the map/the base of your pieces? Do they provide the structure you enjoy while color provides fluidity? It seems as though some of the lines you choose create fluid patterns as well.

JB: I do like to follow the lines of the map.. then off the map to the unknown (the world of the stains). For me, the line represents freedom, connection, purpose. It directs, provides structure as well as fluidity. The color also does the same, but in a different way. In terms of patterns... There is pattern by color. I link colors by surrounding colors, either by similarities in value or saturation. The pattern of line happens by the element of time. Mark after mark, after mark, after mark.  Recently I started making these choppy marks... I call them hatch marks or tics, that mark time, repetition, the sameness.
PP: What materials do you normally use?

JB: It depends. The most recent work is pen, ink, gouache, map and magazine fragments. I also do oil and acrylic paintings on canvas.
PP: What motivates you to create work?

JB: Everything. I am a victim of my environment.  I am impacted by everything around me.  There is a quote from Georgia O'Keefe that I like, "I found I could say things with colors and shapes that I could not say any other way-things I had no words for." That pretty much sums me up.
PP: "I am for art that is real, one that represents loss and presence." -J. Brickey What represents loss and presence in your work? Or how is it represented may be a better way to ask that question...?

JB: Loss is absence. It is everything that is not there. It once was, but is no longer there. Where presence is being. I always think that a single mark is the most present I can be. Just that single mark. Breathe, make a mark, breath again, make another mark. It is being present. The work then is present. But, there is a sadness for what is not there. What once was, either wiped away through process of making the work, or simply what is implied.
PP: I think I could stare at one of your paintings for an hour a day for a number of days and walk away seeing something different every time. Is this something you expect to hear from someone who looks at your work? If so how does that impact your creating? 

JB: Oh, I plan it that way. It does the same for me too. I tell my students that good art will always question, not just make a statement. The work is should be a  journey. It takes you up, down, around, through, in, out, etc... The good work always keep you looking, guessing, wondering, wishing, watching, its better than TV.

If a work is understood immediately it leaves me empty. Then, I can help but say.. so, what?

PP: Have you found being a professor of art affects your own work? If so, how?      

JB: It goes hand and hand. My work affects my teaching. My teaching effects my work. I learn to go back to the basics. They make me check my ego.

Jennifer during her recent stay in Berlin
I am a painter and a professor of art, among many other things. I am both compelled by my busy life and repulsed by it. I am empowered by elements of feminism, history, and the suburban landscape. I resist conforming and respond mostly to honesty. I respect formalist conventions and technical integrity. I find freedom in travel, space and multifaceted worlds of beauty, romance, structure, congestion and complexity. I like lines, because they are honest, shapes because they are organic, space for its emptiness, and color for its vitality. I seek perspective from history and deny certain superiority in art making. I acknowledge the alienation my work creates in being autobiographical. I am not an intellectual and will not overwhelm my viewers with knowledge of art theory or concept. I am for art that is real, one that represents loss and presence. I am for art that is persistent, moving, timeless, and thought provoking.
 Find Jennifer:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Good Southern Read

Several months ago, I met with the bubbly Sarah Sadler Butler and her adorable toddler, West to discuss creating an illustration for a book she wrote. I have never done an illustration before but was overjoyed that she wanted me to be a part of something so fun. She has a passion for the culture of the South and I was excited to embark on a project that glorified that.
So, I settled into reading the book, set in Charleston and rich with southern gems of phrases and twisty relationships. The characters were as rich as a good pie. The relationship between Larken and her mother Bunny was so fun to watch unfold. 
I LOVED it. I missed the characters after I was finished and highly recommend reading this book. I feel like I know these characters-maybe because I have come across a few in my life who she could have easily based them on! It’s so Southern in every good way. 
You can purchase a copy on Amazon here OR you can come pick up your very own copy this Thursday, August 6 at Parnassus Books here in Nashville at 6:00. I will be there and there will be giveaways of this cute little bunny who is so sneaky, yet elegant just like the character Bunny herself:

Read this review for yourself and trust me, you will not be able to put it down:

As rich and distinctive as the Lowcountry itself, Southern Solstice presents a clever and charismatic journey of love, heartache, adaptation and emotional fortitude as told through a patina of family heritage. 

When twenty-four-year-old Larken Devereaux is left brokenhearted by her fiancĂ© on the West Coast, she reluctantly returns to her charmed aristocratic roots in Charleston, South Carolina to rebuild her life and gain self-determination in a prominent southern family that offers everything and requires nothing. 

As her impetuous mother orchestrates a reunion with a first love, Larken becomes entangled in a dilemma where she must choose between an intriguing, passionate plastic surgeon—who is anything but superficial—and the annoyingly irresistible man who has silently loved her forever.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Summer "Garden" Salad

If you are gardening this year I hope it is going well! I love having "free" food in my back yard during the summer. Love cutting out veggie buying at the store. I waste less I think. That hoarder/stocker mentality comes out when I buy veggies at the store...I always end up letting things go bad before I'm able to use them. Cooking with food from the garden also spurs a little creativity in the kitchen for me. This "garden" salad is one I came up with when I really only had cilantro, tomatoes, zucchini and a bell pepper...and not a ton of any of them. Then I found a lime, some black beans and rice in my refrigerator and a little corn in my freezer...Summer "Garden" Salad was born!

You may want to tweak this for your liking but here is what I came up with. Enjoy your summer veggies while you can!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Alison McQuain Photography: Recent Work

I know Laurie apologized for our delinquency a while back but here I am, finally (!), apologizing for myself. A lot has changed in the last few months and I didn't realize how much all of this change would affect my attentiveness to a number of my commitments. Paper Pearl has been one of many that has suffered. But, here I am saying I am getting back to my routines and work.

For the last two months I have been phasing out of a full-time job I had for the last three plus years, phasing into a new part-time job, and managing new jobs with my photography business. We had a number of weekend trips and a four day July 4th trip mixed in there as well. Not to mention I have had the pleasure of hosting two sinus infections in the last month. How could I be so lucky?!

Ok, so recent work. I've had the pleasure of working with a couple returning clients and one new family in the last few months! Having clients hire me every year is one of the most fun experiences. Seeing their family grow and change is priceless. Life happens quickly! Be sure to document it as often as you can!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tilapia Ceviche

In the summer, I love to eat fresh tasting food that is nice and cold on a hot Tennessee day. I have never made ceviche before, so I thought I would try this right after we had gotten back from our cruise. Mexico was our last stop so I guess I was inspired! This was the perfect light meal to detox a little and still enjoy it. I’m allergic to shrimp so I used tilapia. I’m sure you can substitute the tilapia for any other white fish, shrimp or even scallops. Make yourself a margarita, take the ceviche to the porch and play some Reggae. You’ll feel like you are in the Caribbean!

  • 1-2 pieces tilapia (depending on size), cooked and cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 limes, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 avocados, halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cucumber, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Small tostadas
After cooking tilapia, cut or pull into small chunks. Mix together lime juice and onion and pour on top of fish. Leave it to marinate in the refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients. Chop tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and cilantro and mix together. Add veggies to the fish. Sprinkle the top with salt, pepper and garlic powder then mix together, adding as needed. Place ceviche in a small bowl and serve with tostadas or tortilla chips and a lime wedge. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

TGIF: Thank Goodness I Found American Beauty

We live in a beautiful, diverse country. Despite all the division and disagreement on social issues and politics lately, America is a vast land of opportunity. It's time to stop the complaining and cutting down the views of those around us and realize that each one of us is unique and loved by a grace-giving God. Please don't forget that and don't forget how beautiful in every way this country really is. 


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