EDM #49: The contents of my refrigerator

There’re few things as depressing as a bare fridge. It’s the cliché of the single person you always see in movies: a few moldy Chinese takeout containers, a half-empty jar of mayonnaise, a box of baking soda, a six-pack.

But shopping for one is tricky. These days, I do tend to eat at home and to cook more than I did when I had a teenaged roommate. But I have to be careful not to be too ambitious and to fill my kitchen with stuff I’ll never have time to eat. I hate throwing out stuff that survived past its due date: a head of cauliflower, a half-gallon of milk, some cheddar that’s turning into bleu cheese. Still, I’d rather waste food than face an empty larder.

Whenever I do a drawing in indian and sumi ink, I think of Ben Katchor. For years he did comics in the Daily Forward that had a bleakness and everyday decrepitude that made a big impression in me. His weltschmerz came out in a sigh of grey washes, a shrug of indifferent lines and cramped composition. These days as he branches out to publications with bigger budgets,  he uses bright colors but his work still has a lovely unsavoriness to it that smells vaguely of sour milk and unwashed socks.

56 Comments

  1. diane gerrard

    I really enjoy and appreciate your blog, so glad you are back posting. I sympathise the fridge scenario.

  2. Gina

    Love the sketch – several weeks ago I cleaned out my fridge (very frightening!) and did a sketch of the clean inside which I never posted. Maybe I’ll go back and revisit that sketch.

  3. tamhanley

    The part of me raised by my father just wants you to close the refrigerator door!!! All that cold air has to be replaced!!! …it’s not easy being me. Great drawing!!

    • Evelyn N. Alfred

      LOL! I thought that same thing, but the drawing wouldn’t be as detailed with it closed.

  4. JaneLaFazio

    “His weltschmerz came out in a sigh of grey washes, a shrug of indifferent lines and cramped composition.” such a lovely sentence! I had to look up ‘weltschmerz and what a great wordl.

  5. sweetwatergal

    Love this drawing and the sweet story that goes with it!! Keep ‘em coming, sir!! They make my day!!

  6. Sally Graves

    You inspired me to buy a Lamy Safari pen (which is on its way to me in the mail). I also ordered black ink cartridges and I will soon find out whether the ink is water soluble or permanent. So. Can you tell me if you are using cartridges or that tricky infusor thingy … and do you use watercolor for your grey washes or just a brush loaded with water? Love your work, always have, always will!

  7. Brenda Swenson

    Few things are more comforting than a full frig! The contour drawing with a light wash of diluted ink took an everyday scene and created a delightful sketch.

  8. Ruca

    The sketch is great and I love the description of Ben Katchor’s work. Keep the posts comin’!

  9. Pamela

    I’m still looking for peaches although the strawberries might suffice :-).

  10. voyagesofroadkill

    My wife would kill me if I left the fridge open long enough to draw everything inside of it! lucky you!

  11. Dram and Morsel

    Like the sketch. The cliche always got to me though. When I see that lonely piece of old fruit and a half empty jar of mayonnaise, I’m just thinking “who’s Mr. Moneybags over there wasting electricity on moldy take out and whatnot?”, haha. The open fridge door was worth it for the drawing though, right?

  12. 2five2life

    I’m a huge fan of food in art and I love this drawing! Well done!

  13. pezcita

    I love this black-and-white drawing! It leaves just the right amount of detail up to the imagination.

  14. Frenks Brown

    Very artistic sketch. It is simple yet the shading is perfect. I love the story and I really enjoyed reading. You should see what’s inside my fridge.

    Best,
    Frenks

  15. Jane

    Great sketch! I’m the same way – a full fridge does look a lot better, but then I end up eating more and getting fat!

  16. zebachetti

    hello david good morning

  17. Suzie Althens

    Gregory, you can make a refrigerator into a work of art. Your work is so approachable and encouraging. Thank you!

  18. Sue Ghosh

    Love the sketch! Wish I could sketch as well as you :)

  19. Feng

    You inspired me to start drawing with ink again :)
    Great picture and a nice story!

  20. Feng

    Reblogged this on Feng. and commented:
    It’s not just the picture or just the story… it’s how they both compliment each other. I love this.

  21. Scribbler

    Such a lovely sketch and yes, and empty fridge is a fearsome thing.

    Adieu, scribbler

  22. Healthy Artists

    Love the drawing and the apt description: “smells vaguely of sour milk and unwashed socks”

  23. Anton English

    It doesnt get easier. We have 6 kids, we still have stuff rotting in our fridge that we didnt eat in time. The only thing that doesnt go bad is the milk. The kids seem to finish that fast

  24. artexpectations

    Love your sketch. Happiness is a full refrigerator!

  25. Lilian

    Great sketch. Weltschmertz is such a good word.

  26. thejennyjacobs

    Ah… the ubiquitous box of baking soda… :) Great post!

  27. odiousghost

    Awesome sketch!

  28. Jocelyn D Hancock

    Ah the Fridge – I’m an English Butler & have worked in a number of wealthy homes – but no matter how many chefs – there is always something interesting lurking in the back of the fridge – forget the sell by date – if it moves – stamp on it – if it doesn’t – check out the colour!! finally snif it! hehe

  29. Reblogged this on The Narcissistic Anthropologist and commented:
    I like the commentary in this blog refarding how the contents of said bloggers refrigerator depict a bleak portrait of decrepit single-life.

    I spent much of te early part of my career as a consumer anthropologist working in the consumer package good space, with endless hours engaged in scrutinizing the contents of different household refrigerators: seeking context for grocery purchase-decision-making behavior.

    It’s a habit I still hold on I and have used (in addition to pantry and bathroom drawer / medicine cabinet-audits) as a dating litmus-test as well as to gain a better understanding of my friends / family / etc.

    You can learn an awful lot about a person’s socioeconomic status, priorities, habits and lifestyle choices based in their “consumable” artifacts: all organic veggies? Condiments-only? Name brand booze but generic food items?

    In often catch myself in the checkout line making up stories about the person in front of me in line based on what’s in their belt.

    It makes me wonder what people might think of me. Last grocery order : cottonelle toilet paper with aloe, organic yogurt, egg whites, coconut ice cream, razors and salt and vinegar pop chips…the analysis please?

  30. Jeremy White

    Great sketch. I absolutely love your description of Katchor’s contemporary work.

  31. Imad Kafarani

    I like your illustrations!

  32. thelyniezian

    I find it mystifying that the contents of a fridge should have any impact on how one feels. For me, fridges are a practical concern- they store the food you want and need, and what’s more important is what you’re eating, whether the fridge is full to bursting point- far worse than how empty it is if you want to avoid a mess- and whether the stuff in there isn’t so ‘off’ it constitutes a health hazard. An empty fridge is, at worst, a sign of an underutilised resource and that you’d probably be better off a smaller fridge. ‘Tis all. And, if it means more, perhaps that’s a sign of low self-esteem which need not be. You are more than the contents of your fridge, or lack thereof.

    As for the part concerning the drawing… a delightful, if equally mystifying, non-sequitur, perhaps? (It seems I am no artist.)

  33. segmation

    Are you sure this sketch isn’t my refrigerator? Great art! http://www.segmation.wordpress.com

  34. Grumpa Joe

    The sketch is great. Empty refrigerators suck, full ones rock.

  35. desireedianne

    I love your sketch, but although I love a freshly filled fridge I hate a overfilled fridge. I find that I buy all these “good for me foods” and fill the newly cleaned ice box. Organizing drawers and shelves so that I remember what is there, then something gets placed randomly and shoves the fresh cilantro to the back. Then another intruder misplaces the freshly sliced red peppers for salads and the science project begins! LOL I hate to throw out food too so that is why I compost.

    Love the word also,Weltschmerz, I looked it up and its the perfect word to describe Facebook.

  36. Jackson Williams

    Reblogged this on Bored American Tribune. and commented:
    Yes.

  37. devinwittig

    A full fridge is one of the best things t come home to. Just imagine walking in to an ampty fridge. Instant disappointment

    http://devinwittig.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/lakeside-race-report/

  38. randommango21

    Amazing sketch :)
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Check mine out too?
    Cheers! :D

  39. amaya ellman

    It’s great to see artistic inspiration coming from such unlikely sources. Off milk! Love it.
    Really enjoyed your post.

  40. emanuelpavao

    Great sketching skills!

  41. The FaithBook

    A full fridge vs. and empty one—such a conundrum. Of course left overs make great for an on the run lunch for me.

    Great drawing by the way. I love the method of rich black lines and watercolor-esk shading with the sumi ink. I use to use a similar method with india ink and diluting it in various measures to get the shades of grey i wanted.

  42. talhadar

    good to know im not alone…nice illustration :)

  43. sturutter

    Great pic! In some parts of the UK the fridge is the only part of the house with culture in it! :-)

  44. KarolynWojtowicz

    I live alone as well and tend to buy slightly more expensive things in order to make sure I’m not wasting food or letting it go bad. Examples: the half gallon milk vs. gallon; single cup servings of mac & cheese versus the boxes that don’t leftover well. I tend to freeze things often to mix up meals more.

  45. mirrormon

    lovely sketch!… and i m hungry now

  46. Lori

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. I can empathize on the fridge for one. For some reason, I always thought that a person’s fridge is a reflection of them. Why? I don’t know. Because mine would have said, “spoiled rotten over achiever, who really is empty inside”.

  47. superbenefitnews

    I agree – a bare fridge is depressing – especially when you’re hungry.
    Congrats on being FP

  48. kellyjdrummer

    Happiness is a top shelf that’s “just so.” Nice story.

  49. drawmeacat

    That gives me ideas for my blog :)

    http://drawmeacat.wordpress.com/

  50. omieelizabeth

    Your fridge looks like mine, everything is gray. I love your sketches…

  51. littlecitybot

    cooking for one is the HARDEST! i’m the worst with buying vegetables, forgetting about them and then having them all go bad. or cooking way too much that i can never finish the leftovers and have to stare at them for a couple days. nice read, thanks for sharin!

  52. Emma Chadwick

    Nothing better than a great sketch of a refrigerator filled with food…excuse me while I grab a midnight snack!

  53. Jim Bumgarner

    Just dropping in to see what’s new with you. Good to see your posting again. You are the “guru” for so many peeps who are enjoying their creative sides, again. I know you got me started about six or seven years ago, and though I don’t say, or post much, I’ve been following right along. My fridge needs a cleaning, too. But, mmm, not today.

    • dannygregory

      Yes, my fridge doesn’t look like this anymore. Sandy consumed all my food — even my condiments had to go!

  54. Carol

    Hey, Danny,
    Hoping that you survived Sandy ok; sounds like you may have gotten power back just last night, if my calculations of where you are are correct … and this drawing may timely.
    My thoughts are with you – stay safe!

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