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The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Heart-to-Heart Profile:
Recipe Paintings

Brenda Erickson
Recipe Paintings, Inc.
PO Box 294
Round Pond, ME  04564
Phone: 207-529-5367


Brenda Erickson, owner of
Recipe Paintings, Inc., is watercolor artist, primarily self-taught, who
specializes in the illustration of family recipes. Erickson is a Maine native, born
and raised in Kittery, who now lives in Round Pond.  

Apple Pie, Blueberry Pie, Steamed Mussels and Lobster Bake are among the
favorite recipes she illustrates.  Her paintings are sold through local gift stores,
shows, restaurants and has been selected by nationally distributed Sturbridge
Yankee Workshop Catalog.  Brenda's work has also been featured on 207
Magazine Show on WCSH-6, an NBC affiliate.

We  interviewed Brenda Erickson about her work and her life in Maine.

What inspired you to start Recipe Paintings?

I started first as a hobby, then as a business
in 2007.  I am basically self-taught, and have
been painting and drawing most of my life.  
Most recently I have concentrated on my
watercolor painting.  While taking watercolor
classes, I discovered that I liked painting fruits
and vegetables, Recipe Paintings naturally
followed.   

What did you do before you started this business?

Professionally I am a dental hygienist.  I still work part time in the profession.  
I guess working as a hygienist with fine instruments, makes it natural to paint
with fine detail and small brushes.  

Tell us about the memories you have growing up in a Maine kitchen and the
types of food your mother cooked that were an inspiration to you.

My mother was a wonderful cook and taught us the “how’s” and “why’s” of
cooking.  She introduced us to many different foods and flavors while
encouraging us to eat and cook with healthy, basic, natural foods.  When I
paint,
I try to use as many natural foods as I can in each recipe painting.

Tell us how your customers find you -- and what they ask you to do.  Where
are your customers located (just in Maine, or around the country)?  
  

My clients are all over the country and in Canada. Up until recently they have
found me by word of mouth.  Now, however, you can find my work in shops,
shows, restaurants, a national catalog and on the Internet.  Many customers like
one or a collection of 8x10 prints; others want an original or their own recipe as
an original.  We call my prints “kitchen art.”

Do customers usually have one recipe in mind or do you help them select a
favorite recipe (i.e., is there any consultation involved)?

My clients usually have a recipe in
mind.  Through having them tell me
about the recipe, I find out what’s
most important to them.  Is it a special
occasion, family gathering? Who first
made the recipe? Who would be there
to eat it, and where would it be served?
Have they ever made the recipe?  
Or does someone else always make it?  
What does it smell like, what kind of
utensils are used? Do they have any
of the original utensils?  Are special
brands used? Did someone grow the
fruits or vegetables?    

Through these questions, I can
understand the history and emotions
of the recipe. With this, I design the
painting to most represent the recipe
so that when they look at the painting,
they don’t just see the ingredients and
directions, they also experience the
memories of sharing this recipe
with their family and friends.  

Do you get to know the families while you are creating the painting for them?

Yes. And the more I know, the more I enjoy painting the recipe. I think there is
something spiritual about it.  

Why do families or individuals commission you to create the painting (is it
because of a family reunion, a gift, etc.)?  What inspires people to make a
recipe into a work of art?  

Many times it is a gift.  One member (usually the one who makes the recipe)
will receive the original, while the rest of the family receives prints.  Many
recipes are holiday-oriented.  Of course, each one is different. One of my
favorite recipes is that of a family who gathers in Maine from all around the
country on summer vacation.  As each family member settles into their various
activities, the first question is always:  “Which night is Mom making the
Lobster Casserole?”  Whether they are in Maine or Washington, when they
look at that painting, they can remember the gathering of their family each year.

What is the most unique recipe painting you have done?

Wow, that’s hard- they all are unique. Probably the most unique would be
Danish Klejners.  The client’s mother-in-law originally made the Danish
Cookies as a Christmas tradition.  The client wanted the painting to look old,
so I used the original (one handled) rolling pin, mixing bowl and copied her
mother-in-law’s handwriting.  Her father-in-law had his own comments about
the recipe, so we copied his handwriting and added that to the recipe, also.

Another recipe is my own family’s recipe of Brewis, (pronounced Bruise),
made with salt cod.  It is a Newfoundland recipe my great-grandmother
cooked before immigrating to New Hampshire in 1900.  My family still
prepares it for family reunions.   Although my family members either love the
recipe (or don’t), each member has a copy and values it because of our family
history.

What is the most common Maine recipe that you do?

Lobsters, Lobsters and Lobsters. Plus mussels, blueberries, apples,
strawberries and don’t forget the all important, Whoopie Pies. Again, it goes
back to basic foods, and generally food that clients remember growing up
with.  In fact, someone once asked me if I had great recipes.  Yes, I do.  They
might not be gourmet specialties, but they are the very favorites for many
people.

Tell us about what you sell and how to purchase them?

Basically I sell originals approximately
11x14 finished size (matted and framed).
Commissions are the same size, also
matted and framed. Prints are 8x10
finished size.  We call them kitchen size
because they fit on small kitchen walls.  
I usually tell people when I’m doing
shows that we have kitchen
art in every color and flavor.

I am not set up to order directly on line,
particularly because I need to talk with
my clients about commissioned work.  I even  like to explain my prints.  My
email address  is hyperlinked on the website for customers  to contact me.  We
ship immediately after  receiving an order and payment.

Do you have any other product lines?

Yes: cards, calendars, cups, tiles and a “Recipe Painting” cookbook.  
Click here for ordering information.

Tell us about the area in Maine where your business is located (and do you
work at home or do you have a studio)?

Yes, I have a studio, and it’s in my home.  Although it’s a small space, I’m very
fortunate to have a beautiful view of our harbor from my studio where I can
hear the lobster boats coming and going.   I live in Round Pond, Maine, which
is located on a salt-water harbor in Midcoast Maine.  

What are some of the “can’t miss” attractions in the area?

We are located on the Pemaquid Peninsular.  The Pemaquid Lighthouse is our
biggest attraction and is also on the Maine state quarter.  In addition, there are
quaint working harbors, great restaurants on the water, lobster on the docks,
boat trips, great accommodations and so much more.    

What do you do for fun when you’re not painting?

We live in Maine.  We have four spectacular seasons so there is never a lack of
things to do:  boating, gardening, camping, knitting, and sharing time with
family and friends.

To learn more about Brenda and her recipe paintings visit her Web site at
Recipe Paintings, Inc.

To learn more about Made in Northern New England products, Made Here

For travel information to Maine click here: Maine Travel
Brenda Erickson in her Maine studio
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