The Golden Age of BBQ
December 7, 2017
This summer, I received a call from the folks at Texas Monthly, my hometown/homestate hero and one of the great magazines out on the stands these days. Emily Kimbro, Victoria Millner, and the wonderful TJ Tucker were hoping I might be able to create an elaborate Dutch still life of the classic BBQ meal to grace the cover of their once-every-5-years celebration of the Art of BBQ, Texas-style. The trick: they contacted me on Tuesday evening, and needed art first thing Friday morning. Could I do it? For Texas BBQ, anything is possible!
We agreed that they send me a "wish list" of items they'd like to see in the image—ranging from brisket, ribs, and sides to the classic Texas beverage of choice for BBQ, Big Red—and that I'd have a sketch for them when they arrived in the office Wednesday morning. In return, they'd get a quick approval with any edits so that I could begin final art by noon that day. I set to work roughing out a composition.
With the addition of a few items for "color" (paper napkin, jalapeno, salt & pepper packets, and plastic cutlery), I got a sign off and was ready to paint by noon. Then, paintbrush in hand, the race against the clock started.
I work in a modified version of an Old Master's method, starting with monochromatic and increasingly opaque underpainting, then adding glazes to bring vibrant color to the finished art. This is a labor intensive process, but it's something I tend to get lost in—a meditative state of mind that lends itself nicely to demanding projects like this. I generally draw from my imagination rather than any specfic reference material, but all those images of BBQ and ribs I'd researched and gathered for inspiration kept my stomach in a low growl throughout...
Approximately 36 hours later, the art was completed, scanned, and the link sent to the TM crew. When the piece hit the stands a week later, my email lit up with inquiries about prints of the art itself—Texans love their BBQ! I was happy to have the final art itself end up in the hands of one of Austin's finest photograghy teams, Adam Voorhes and Robin Finley, whose enthusiasm for the painting was a particular honor. Or maybe they just really like brisket...
To see the Texas Monthly list of 50 Best BBQ Joints, check out the link here. And enjoy!