Tottering toques and a bumbling beetle

I have recently completed a commission for a chef, who wanted me to paint from an old black and white photo he’d found of a gathering of busy chefs eating together, a shalloon or a shallot of chefs perhaps, or maybe a shamble? Then I got distracted finding a French word to describe a band of chefs, and came up with a chapelure of chefs ( meaning breadcrumbs)…..if anyone has any other ideas, feel free to invent!

The essence of the painting is the perkiness of the  “toques” counteracting the weariness and ennui of the chefs themselves, the toques are more lively than the wearers.

(Then, I think : who cooks for the chefs, is it the apprentices?)

Anyway, en bref, as they say, here are the various stages up to the final product.

The size is 80x100cm and it is painted in oil.

1. The drawing in charcoal on the canvas:




2. Quickly making a “flogger” to dust off the excess charcoal dust:


making flog2





3. Working washy colours into the drawing:







4. At this stage I realised I should have prepared a coloured ground, I usually work on a lemon yellow ground, but I was too eager to get started so I had to work a yellow wash into it afterwards:





5. Next I worked in some reds and blues:






6. The final work :





Lastly I am moved to post the photo of another beetle. I grow artichokes in amongst our flowerbeds, and because i love them when they flower I never pick them to eat, rather silly because I adore artichokes! These flower heads are teaming with bees, moths and beetles all tripping over one another in their eagerness to collect pollen! This little chap is ungainly but determined in his mission, clambering unsteadily through the fronds :


green beetle


7 thoughts on “Tottering toques and a bumbling beetle

  1. What a fantastic painting. Such a difficult subject – all those mini portraits – very easy to overwork but you capture them perfectly with just enough loose detail. Love the chef on the left in profile. Your client must have been very pleased.

    • Thanks Stewart, I cannot say it was easy, as with many of my paintings, I had one goal and IT had another, I set out to be more abstract, but it refused to let me! Now that one is completed I am going to have another go. Yes, the client is pleased although they haven’t seen it in the flesh as yet, so you never know!

      • He’ll be thrilled with it. BTW were your ears burning. Just got back from lunch at the Gin Trap. Ordered Sticky Toffee pudding for dessert. Guess what, we looked at the wrong menu and had to settle for Crème Caramel instead. Foiled again.

      • Aha, guess what, I have just returned from The Race day (the annual soapbox) and having just gorged myself on 2 helpings of sticky toffee pudding at the celebration supper afterwards, I am sorry to gloat, but you know how it is!……

  2. It’s a brigade! They are like the soldiers gathering their strength before ‘attacking ‘ the service. Fi x

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