When I first saw William Forsyth's "Still Life", I was drawn to the orange in the center. From there I began to wonder what was in the adjacent bottles and figured that perhaps they were related to the orange. Is there a drink that involves an orange and two liquids? Of course, one of my favorite classic cocktails, a Rye Old Fashioned came to mind almost immediately. In this instance, the larger carafe contains whiskey while the smaller bottle is filled with bitters. I'm not quite sure what's going on in the rest of the picture, but those details (which may very well be illicit) almost become irrelevant at this point as I use the Old Fashioned for my sole inspiration.
Studying Forsyth and his painting further, I learned that the oil on canvas was probably created in the late 1800's or early 1900's. This is the exactly the time when whiskey cocktails were rising in popularity. As a matter of fact, the Old Fashioned originated in Louisville, Kentucky in 1881. By the time Forsyth called Marion County home in the 1890's, the drink surely would have made its way up from Louisville to Central Indiana. Before moving to Indiana, however, Forsyth lived in France and Germany, meaning he probably had a refined palate and high expectations for quality food and drink. Many of Forsyth's other pieces of art feature scenes from the outdoors, at farms and near rivers, underscoring his relationship to nature and fresh delicacies that would pair well with his rye cocktail. I therefore round out my original creation with some gourmet victuals.
I arrange my cocktail ingredients and homemade cuisine and photograph it just so. Using photo-editing software, I manipulate the picture to mimic an oil painting and proceed to print the finished product on canvas. I have framed this creation not only as an homage to William Forsyth's original, but as a prelude to an evening of classic cocktails, grand hors d'oeuvres, and desserts for eight at my riverfront home. Near the end of his life, Forsyth wrote in an essay, "To live out-of-doors in intimate touch with nature, to feel the sun, to watch the ever changing face of the landscape, where waters run and winds blow and trees wave and clouds move, and to walk with all the hours of the day and into the mysteries of night through all the seasons of the year---this is the heaven of the Hoosier Painter!" I think he would have enjoyed painting the South Bend River Lights, so we'll be sure to feature a special display of the River Lights alongside our food and drink.