Strawberry Layer Cake
This week the word for Illustration Friday was “layer.” Naturally the first thing I thought of was a layer cake. Since strawberries have just started appearing on the shelves of the markets in Spain, I decided to do a strawberry layer cake.
I’ve actually been thinking about layer cakes a lot lately, maybe because you don’t see them much in Spain. Layer cakes are a classic American dessert but they don’t tend to come up too often in the lists of typically American foods. You hear about the pancakes, the fried chicken and the apple pie. But not much about layer cakes which is a shame because they really are delicious and also an excellent metaphor for the American mentality towards food. Mmmm- what do you do when you have a spongy deliciously sweet cake slathered with creamy frosting? You make another one and stack it on top! And then another one!
One place I do see layer cakes as an image of Americana is in certain gourmet food shops and cafes around Spain. The kind of places that are trying to promote a sort of kitschy-cool American theme. Often there will be brownies and cupcakes on the menu (remember that cupcakes are still seen as a new thing here in Spain). Curiously, these places don’t usually actually serve layer cakes. Rather they just have boxes of American cake mix sitting around on the display shelves to add to the ambience. I still can’t get used to it since it seems very weird to me to go into a nice little cafe and see several boxes of artfully placed Betty Crocker cake mix as part of the decor. It’s also a bit embarrassing when I go into the international section of an upscale food deli only to see American cuisine represented by jars of peanut butter, bottles of corn syrup, poptarts, Cheerios and boxes of cake mix.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun with this illustration. The only medium that I feel really comfortable with is colored pencil and I am determined to break out of that. I love drawing but the style in which I work is quite time-consuming and I’d really love to experiment with other techniques. I’ve always loved the look of watercolor so I’ve been doing more of it lately and really enjoying it. The lack of control is exactly what I need. It was also fun to experiment with combining the painting and some photos I took of strawberries in Photoshop. I definitely learned a lot this week!