Art Month: Meet Carol Gillot

published Jan 19, 2007
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Carol Gillot says paintingis “a lot like cooking.” She mixes up her own watercolor paints from raw pigments, including Vermillion red from China, Lapis blue from Turkey, Burnt Sienna from Tuscany and many other intense colors.

Carol’s watercolors and blog reflect her “twin passions” for breakfast in Paris.

As a part of our Art Month celebration, I interviewed Carol and she posted photos and a new painting inspired by Au Petit Bonheur La Chance, a antique kitchen store in Paris.

Are you a morning person? With a blog named for breakfast it seems like you must be?
I’m a lark, up at 4 a.m. That’s when I create my blog post with a cup of hot chocolate for assistance. Later I have fresh fruit (pomegranate and a mandarin) if I’m going to the pool. And a boring hard boiled egg after the pool. But in Paris I pull out the stops: croissant, jam, hot chocolate, O.J., yogurt, fruit. I’d prefer to have breakfast in Paris all the time.

It seems like you mostly paint watercolors of food and serving dishes, especially when they are in Paris. What is it about food and Paris that inspire you to paint? Breakfast is the best meal in France in my opinion. All the beautiful crockery and silvery trays, even the water carafe is heavenly. So much attention to detail… I can flip for a glass of tap in Paris – their ARC glassware is a dream for a still life painter. I found restaurant
stores that sell those bistro glasses.
We’re celebrating Art Month here at The Kitchen. Do you have art hanging in your own kitchen? Yes, a painting from an annual Christmas dessert party in my watercolor class. First we’d paint the desserts. Then we’d eat them. Maybe that set me on the path to painting Paris breakfasts.
I like how you show photos of your inspiration and then the finished watercolors on your blog. Do you ever get funny looks or questions when you take your pictures? I think you were especially brave to shoot pictures in Bergdorf’s. Years of reading spy stories and thrillers prepared me to shoot on the sly in French shops. It helps to have a small camera. Mine is a Canon Powershot A510 always ready in my pocket.

Usually no one minds. In France I’ll ask permission, after I’ve shot the windows. I pretend not to hear, when they say: Miss ah photos. Click!

Can you recommend other artists who often are inspired by food?
The impressionists, Manet, Fantin La Tour, Monet, Van Gogh painted whole tables of food and we artists can’t help but be influenced by them.

Duane Keiser is the still life master who started everyone posting their paintings daily. He can make a gumdrop look ethereal. Jeff Hayes does terrific food paintings and he’s a whiz at painting glass. Justin Clayton is another superb daily still life painter.

Can passion for food and cooking can be an entry point, a way for us to learn more about art?
Currently people care more about their food, where it comes from, even going to a farmer’s market to buy directly. Has this made us look more carefully at food and then want to see it hanging on our walls? I think so. But food has always been beautiful.

The Impressionists knew that as did the Dutch. Romans painted murals of feasts on the wall for their guests. Paintings of food are a window into a culture’s taste, but I’ll never paint a Big Mac.

Learn more about how Carol Gillot paints here and savor her Flickr gallery.