Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Local artist paints, cooks and then eats his models

Beaver Dam pepper by Bob Sommers. Courtesy photo

Biblical and historical scenes have been canvas fodder since the dawn of time, but local artist and UC Davis professor Bob Sommer has found a different subject for his paintings: vegetables. Sommer paints a diverse array of veggies from greens to peppers, and will be displaying his work at a reception on Friday, Aug. 9.

Sommer is also an avid cook, describing himself as an artist who cooks and eats his models, and he has written a book of recipes involving greens that he will bring to the reception.

A long-time mushroom painter, Sommer began painting peppers in the early 1970s. Today, he considers his specialty to be the Capsicum genus of pepper, but he has also expanded his portfolio to include paintings of eggplants and, within the last few years, paintings of greens.

He added that he paints many plant varieties that are unknown to people, such as colored eggplants. Examples include Thai eggplants, which are green or orange; Turkish eggplants, which are red; and white eggplants, which are known by names such as Casper or the Easter Eggplant.

For Sommer, the artistic process begins at farmers markets. The vegetables shown in Sommer’s paintings were all purchased at various markets. Sommer shops frequently at the Davis Farmers Market, and he added that he and his wife, Barbara Sommer, always make sure to visit public markets whenever they travel. Once they are at the markets, the search for models begins.

“I look for species and varieties that I haven’t painted before, and I especially like things that are going to look pretty,” Sommer said.

Once he has obtained his desired model, Sommer returns to his house to paint it. If he and his wife obtain a model while traveling, they return to their hotel — they make sure to stay in hotels with good natural light.

“Natural light is kind of essential,” he added. “If you use artificial light, you paint weird colors that aren’t there.”

Sommer prefers to paint with watercolor, explaining that it is “incredibly economical, portable, and, for me, emotionally satisfying.” Although he used to do all of his artwork on 8 inch-by-10 inch pads, he now uses heavier-grade paper and matches the size of the sketch and the size of the paper to the size of the model.

Furthermore, Sommer paints both interior and exterior views of his models. Although he used to feel squeamish about cutting them up, his wife soon convinced him that painting the insides of vegetables would be more interesting.

Sommer first began painting vegetables other than mushrooms in the summer of 1973 at the suggestion of Dorothy Coyle, then a grower at the Davis Farmers Market.

“She gave me a pepper that was really beautiful and suggested that I paint it because there were no mushrooms around,” Sommer said, explaining that mushrooms are hard to come by during the summer.

Sommer noted that another influence on his work was his job. Sommer has been at UCD since 1963, and he was the first director of the Center for Consumer Research at the UCD College of Food and Agriculture. As this position had him doing research on farmers’ markets, it gave him access to a large variety of vegetables to sketch.

The Aug. 9 reception featuring Sommer’s work will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at the International House, Davis, 10 College Park. Exhibit hours for the Community Room are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday in August and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday in September and October.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

 
New mosaic mural reflects Peña family history

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

UC Davis biodigester hungers for food scraps

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Penalty decision looms in Winters homicide case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Hay bales burn east of Davis

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Woman killed by train ID’d

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Pro-Russian insurgents hold journalist captive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Fire damages Woodland home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

 
Register to vote by May 19

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sign up for enviro organizations during Earth Week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Bible fun featured at Parents’ Night Out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis businesswoman presides over conference

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Birch Lane sells garden plants, veggies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Team Blend hosts fundraiser for Nicaragua project

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

 
Davis Arts Center: See ceramics, join the Big Day of Giving

By Erie Vitiello | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Fire crews gather for joint training

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Odd Fellows host culinary benefit for nonprofit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

400 bikes go up for bids at UCD auction

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Sunder hosts campaign event for kids

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Church hosts discussion of mental health needs, services

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

UCD to host premiere of autism documentary

By Cory Golden | From Page: A4

 
UFC hears from two local historians

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Fundraiser benefits Oakley campaign

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
UCD professor to talk about new book

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Fly Fishers talk to focus on healthy streams, rivers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Train to become a weather spotter

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Learn survival skills at Cache Creek Preserve

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Veterans, internees may receive overdue diplomas

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

UC Davis conference showcases undergraduate research

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Conservation District celebrates its stewardship efforts

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Slow Food tour showcases area’s young farmers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

 
.

Forum

Even a safe house needs boundaries

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
I support Sunder for board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Will anyone notice?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
My votes reflect city values

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
A plea on the Bard’s birthday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

DHS thunders back to win an epic DVC volleyball match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
DHS/Franklin I goes to the Blue Devil softballers

By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis gets to Grant ace and rolls in DVC crucial

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Walchli is under par in another Devil victory

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Seniors send Blue Devil girls past Broncos in a lacrosse rout

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Baseball roundup: Rangers rally to beat A’s in the ninth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Sharks go up 3-0 with OT win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

 
.

Arts

 
Five Three Oh! featured at April Performers’ Circle

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Celebrate spring at I-House on Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Music, wine flow at Fourth Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Biscuits ‘n Honey will play at winery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Catharine ‘Kay’ Lathrop

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6