From the start of Matt Curtius and Gina Triplett's relationship, Curtius did most of the cooking.

"My grandmother would send me care packages with food in college," Triplett said. "But I didn't know how to cook it, so Matt would."

This summer, the married couple, who now live here and work as illustrators, looked to take a break from their day jobs. (Their work has been featured in such publications such as the New York Times and the Village Voice, and their clients include IBM, Target and Whole Foods.)

"We actively pursued [painting food] because it was part of our lives," Curtius said. "We spend a lot of time in the house painting and working long hours, so it's nice to break the routine of the day and go out to the Italian Market or Whole Foods to pick up ingredients."

The idea was to choose a recipe and illustrate its ingredients in a bouquet style by adding floral elements.

"At night, [Matt] likes to read cookbooks for fun, and he just got so into it," Triplett said. Curtius' nightstand reads included French-inspired cookbooks by Americans Richard Olney and Thomas Keller, but the magnitude of ingredients in those books overwhelmed the type of painting they had in mind.

Instead, they whittled the subject matter down to one ingredient - an apple or fig, for instance - to execute individually. But then Curtius found artistic-foodie refuge in Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Fruit and Chez Panisse Vegetable cookbooks, whose simple ingredients were perfect for the recipe bouquets they'd envisioned.

A recipe for roasted fig and quail salad spawned a tasty family meal along with an ethereally painted bushel holding the salad's ingredients, including a quail perched on a branch amid figs, leafy vegetables and flowers.

Triplett said that although their "shop fun" usually leads to commissions, she's enjoying the current food collaboration, reserved for the evenings when deadline work is done.

And if Curtius gets inspired to put the artwork ingredients to more practical use, Triplett will be even more content. "If he cooks it, I get to eat the dinner when he's done," she said with a laugh.

To see more of Gina Triplett and Matt Curtius' work, go to ginaandmatt.com.