Happy Hour – Shaken

It’s happy hour time again! Before moving forward, it’s time to reveal the name of the cocktail from the Happy Hour – Roosevelt post from a few weeks ago… the Sazerac! It’s a great drink and the next time you’re in New Orleans I highly recommend a visit to The Roosevelt for the original recipe.

This latest addition to the series should be much easier for you to figure out, although it wasn’t necessarily easier to paint. Happy Hour – Shaken is an iconic cocktail indeed and something that James Bond fans will recognize instantly, although 007 preferred a stirred version.

This cocktail is a top choice in my household – even the dogs like it! Well, they probably would love it, but they just get to have the ice cubes after the drink has been strained. Yes, it’s hilarious – they hear the shaker, come running to the bar, and proceed to sit (without a command mind you) until I’m done, at which point they each get a piece of ice. They are, without a doubt, very lovable booze hounds.

Back to the painting…

I’m very happy with the outcome and feel like the repeated efforts on this Happy Hour series is starting to show demonstrable improvements in the artwork. This was a challenge on 2 fronts. First, the ongoing challenge of glassware in a still life has been tricky to refine, but I finally figured out the right value scheme to make it work – the solution for me was simply being more aggressive with the darker values. Secondly, I lacked experience painting truly reflective metal in still life compositions. Again, a more concerted approach with the darker values made a difference, but more importantly was simply waving the wand of artistic patience and working through the various reflected elements.

A few additional observations and details about the composition:

  • Reference Photo: As you can tell the shaker is not exactly the same as what’s in the photo. I used a reference photo blending technique, using the real shaker as my primary source, but simplifying the object by looking at other photos and paintings on-line that were, quite frankly, better cocktail shakers.
  • Brush and Knife: The vast majority of the piece is done with a Flat #4 and Round #2 brush, but the olives are all knife work. They are the focal point of the composition, and as such I wanted them to have some more texture and a reflective quality of their own.
  • Size: This is more than twice the size of previous Happy Hour series pieces, 8″x10″ vs 5″x7″ boards. Usually when I go bigger, the work is harder technically, but this time it seemed easier. Like I said, progress.

I haven’t figured out what the next cocktail in the series will be, but I’m leaning towards something with a shaker. Cheers!

Happy Hour – The Roosevelt

Happy Hour – The Roosevelt
Oil on board, 8″x6″
We’re returning to the still life series called Happy Hour. Cocktail #2 is hot off the easel and ready for your guesses. But first, time to reveal the answer to cocktail #1 from Happy Hour – Angostura… it was a Whiskey Old Fashioned! The Old Fashioned is one of the classic cocktails, but despite the simplicity of it’s composition, there are a number of subtle changes one can make in the base ingredients to create a wide range of variants. A very good recipe can be found here on PUNCH, my go to resource for all things cocktail. If you have a favorite riff on the Old Fashioned, please share in the comments!
Returning to Happy Hour – Roosevelt, the hints are few but specific. I excluded the city name from the napkin, but suffice to say it’s arguably the most important cocktail (and food) city in North America (although I defer to our Canadian readers for any challenges to this claim), birthplace of many classic libations. Any guesses? The answer will be revealed in the next cocktail series piece in a couple weeks.
The Roosevelt is another oil composition on an 8″x6″ gesso board. The type of cocktail glass is not something I would have tackled at this point, as it’s very complex and a bit beyond my comfort zone, but it was true to the cocktail, so I gave it a go. The other challenge was the color of the drink itself, a mix of cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow deep, titanium white and ultramarine blue; there are also some bits with cadmium yellow.
Next time I’ll pay more attention to the dark values in the drink itself, as I strayed from that tenet early on, getting a bit obsessed with trying to nail down the elusive pink/orange color of the drink. If you look at the block-in picture, it’s obvious that I knew there were very dark values in the drink itself, but I didn’t paint them in properly.
And beware the challenge of painting words, especially words with fancy letters… with lots of curves… on an undulating cocktail napkin! Definitely not something to do if you’re jacked up on caffeine – it requires a steady hand and a lot of patience. I had to make a big withdrawal from my limited Bank of Zen to get through it.
I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of doing the blurry, colored bar of illuminated bottles in the background. This is also true to the actual setting of The Roosevelt and a handy approach to call upon in future compositions.
Thanks for visiting and don’t forget to post your critiques and cocktail guesses in the comments!

Happy Hour – Angostura

As the saying goes, “It’s happy hour somewhere in the world”, but seeing as it’s 10am here in Austin, a post about cocktails is about all I can muster.

HH Agostura 20200108
“Happy Hour – Angostura”

This is a small piece, oil on board, 5″x7″. This is the first in a series I’m going to do over the course of this year called “Happy Hour”. I’m always trying to think of ways to make art creative and engaging, which can be done in a number of ways. Instructors and workshops will often stress composition and technical prowess, which is very important, but I consider that table stakes. What’s often missing is intrigue, of which I’m plenty guilty of excluding in my works. To get the interest piqued with the Happy Hour series, I’m not going to reveal the specific cocktail in the name of the piece or initial blog post. The intrigue is for the viewer to figure it out based on bartender savvy hints.

Take this initial piece, “Angostura”, which is very simple in terms of composition. What do you consider valid and helpful hints in the painting? When putting this together, I wanted to provide 3 hints that a savvy bartender – professional or simply someone like me with a well stocked bar at home – would be able to use to identify the drink. In this case, those hints are some, but not all of the ingredients, color of the cocktail, and glassware. Can you figure it out?

If you want some help, PUNCH is a fantastic libation focused publication that is a notch above pretty much everything else out there, at least as far as I’ve been able to find. Once you crack the mystery of “Angostura” (hint: think simplicity… I’m not being clever with this one), dive into PUNCH and see what I mean about great cocktail insights.

Maybe 2020 should be the year of artistic intrigue?