Happy Monday! Next weekend marks the official beginning of summer, and I couldn’t be more ready. So ready, that I have actually been stockpiling sunscreen for months now – every time I pass a tube of SPF 50+ (because you can never be too pale) on sale (which is incredibly often given the huge number of drug stores in my neighborhood) I grab one, and at this point I am probably ready to leave on a months-long cruise around the equator. I’m not going on any cruises this summer, but I am headed out of the city this weekend with friends, so I’ll bring along my collection of sunscreen and these dog cookies, which are sure to bring huge smiles to everyone’s faces!
These cookies are inspired by one of the repeating motifs in some of Paul Gauguin’s works, the red dog. Gauguin visited Tahiti (which would become his future home) for the first time in April 1891 in search of a simpler way of life, and was incredibly inspired by the tropical paradise he found. After returning to Europe, he painted a series of pictures inspired by his trip (perhaps to justify such an expensive trip at the time), and in these works he created an enchanted and blissful place full of bright colors, exotic fauna and native figures.
This painting, Arearea, or “Joyfulness,” was completed the year after he returned from this initial trip, and Gauguin considered it one of his best paintings. The work shows two women at the center of the foreground, sitting against a tree that rises through the top of the canvas. To the front left is a reddish-orange dog sniffing the ground. Behind them, several women worship a statue in the background. The composition is balanced and bright and made up of large planes of colors that don’t exactly correspond with reality. Arearea is a work where dream and reality co-exist, and Gauguin’s dreamland is an enchanted world in romanticized Polynesia. The female figures and dog are the most realistic elements to the painting, but they are still very creatively rendered – the women are natural beauties treated like mythical beings from another world and the dog’s coloring is probably not frequently found in nature.
I’ve taken the dog motif and bright colors and made these fun dog sugar cookies. The dogs I made are painted red, yellow, green and blue to match the rich shades of the painting, but feel free to paint them any color you wish. The beauty of this work is that it encourages imagination, so the (green?) sky is the limit here!
Sugar cookie recipe adapted from Bon Appétit
Featured art: Paul Gauguin, Arearea, 1892, oil on canvas