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Painting the dinner hour.


Portrait of Cooper, November 27, 2018 for Vegetable Stew. Caroline Kuchta

By Caroline Kuchta


I started this work by asking myself a series of questions: Why am I painting? What am I painting? Who am I painting? Where? In what colors? For how long? My answers led me to a closed-loop social exchange: I brought my painting materials to the homes of close friends. They cooked for me while I painted their portrait. We talked as we worked, and then sat down to eat together. Afterwards, I gave them the painting, as they had given me the meal.

I began this project by trying to engineer obstacles for myself to create a painting. The cooking process imposed constraints within which I was forced to work; the amount of time it took to cook the meal and the colors of the ingredients informed the images I created.

I used to struggle with painting from life, as real objects are constantly shifting—the light, the angle, the placement of hairs and clothing. But rather than trying to capture a non-still subject in a still way, this way of working exploited unavoidable movement, making movement itself the subject of the work. It removed the stress of trying to flatten a moving object into a still one, while allowing me to view my subject in a new way.

This work was also driven by a desire to take my practice out of my studio. As someone who draws energy and inspiration by surrounding herself with other people, the social component was integral to this work. The conversations I had while painting and eating in an intimate setting with a close friend were a deeply valuable piece of this project. My subject was not a friend, but rather a relationship.


Portrait of Lauren, November 28, for Pesto Pasta. Caroline Kuchta.


Portrait of Sophie, November 25, 2018 for Tofu and Noodles. Caroline Kuchta.


Caroline Kuchta is a College senior.

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