Martha Rich creates paintings sympathetic to her food cravings. "I wish hot dogs could be good for you and apples bad for you," she wrote on her old website beneath a portrait of a mustard-covered frank. "But if hot dogs were good, of course I would be craving apples instead. Oh, the humanity."
Another posting, a dark-chocolate cake with white frosting, read: "I am extremely hungry right now, and I would like some cake, but instead I am going to have whole wheat pasta with broccoli and organic tomato sauce. What a drag."
The artist/illustrator, who's earning a master's degree in fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania, loves food. She draws it, paints it, thinks about it and eats it.
"I guess I'm obsessed with food," Rich said. "I have an illustrator friend who I text back and forth with about what we're eating or thinking of eating."
Her obsession puts food on the table, too. Both of the paintings described above sold. Her pieces have been published in magazines such as Rolling Stone and Natural Health. But for Rich, food art is personal.
"Sometimes I'll draw [food] and realize why I drew something after the fact," she said. Example: A painting of orange Creamsicles she traced back to her childhood in Devon. Her cookbook-inspired artwork developed while she was living in California. She'd go to estate sales looking for 1950s- and '60s-era cookbooks and would tear out the illustrated pages to use as canvases.
Scion Space, a gallery in Culver City, Calif., featured Rich's food artwork at a show called "Palate." Among the 135 Rich paintings showcased were McDonald's menu classics alongside cupcakes frosted in pastel blues and pinks.
"There are things that are more fun to draw than others, like things with bright colors and hotdogs," Rich said. "I come from a family that likes to eat, and a lot of the inspiration comes from the comfort level of things."