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Tom Elmer's Art

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore... Dream... Discover.
Mark Twain

This page will be a place to showcase my art. Here you will find information on my: drawings, poetry, photography, acting, writing (current project(s)), and cooking (that's an art too :))

If you are looking for my photography, please visit my galleries on Wikitheus

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This is the drawing people tend to like the most for some reason.
It is a sketch I began after James and I went to Mexico to see a solar eclipse in 1991
Date: 1991-07-11 - 1994-09-20


Jana Series
This is my test subject for trying out new media/techniques.
(left) Original rose I drew for Jana's birthday (delivered late)
(up-right) An exploration in color.
(low-right) A test using a water-soluble graphite (similar to watercolor) (image height 12in / 30cm)
Dates: 1994-11, 1995-02-28, 2000-04-12


Mother's Day
I went through a rose phase at one point... don't ask :).
After I drew the above rose for Jana and liked how it turned out, I decided to draw others. These two were given to my mother for Mother's Day
Dates: 1995-02-11, 1995-02-28


This is one of my favorites. Not necessarily because of the drawing itself, but because of the memories associated with it.
This was a sketch of a combination of two lighthouses in Oregon. (Drawn while Jana and I were driving through OR.)
Date: 1997-06-21


I like turtles.
This is a sketch I did in the margin of my notebook one night.
Date: 1999-03-11 (ignore the '98' on the sketch... it was a mistake.)


Sketched Turtle
The Turtle Moves!
This picture was taken from a postcard of a painted turtle (ergo the title).
I started this one when a good friend (Lisa) left Argonne. I lost confidence in drawing the head, but finally finished it a half a year later :)
Date: 2000-03-29


A Rose By Any Other Name...
Yeah, yeah... another rose. But this one is different. Really! :) (It's a sure way to tell if I am depressed over women if I am drawing a rose.)
Date: 2001-06-05


Delicate Arch
Colorized Version
Utah is one of my favorite states for raw beauty. This is a sketch of Delicate Arch from Arches National Park. (Although that's a better picture than the one I had. I may have to do another :D) The colorized version was an attempt to reproduce the style of old-fashioned colorized postcards. This was actually a study for a larger drawing I was going to do in color, but I could never get motivated to go past the initial layout stage.
Date: 2002-06-08


I Arted!
I was in a depressed funk, so I did something I have not done in years... Got out my pencils and drew something.
Date: 2015-03-08


Christmas Rose
Rough month stress relief, plus present for my girlfriend to boot! I've had so many unfinished sketches over the last few years, so I decided to finish one.
Date: 2018-12-08 (I know the drawing says the 6th...)




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[Turtle Rolls]
Peanut Butter Turtle Rolls

The original recipe for Peanut Butter Turtle Rolls is from breadworld.com
(I change it to reduce fat content and replace 1/4 of the flour with whole wheat flour. I also add cloves and cinnamon since I'm a spice addict.)

The rolls pictured here were made for Winter Solstice 2000


Elmer Family Tomato Gravy

This gravy is one I used to have all the time when I went to see my father and grandmother during the summer as a kid. Goes great on fried potatoes, biscuits, etc. The traditional recipe has a lot more sugar in it, but this seemed like a fair compromise. (I actually end up putting 1 tbsp or less of sugar in it myself.)

1/4 c white flour
1/4 c water
2/3 c milk
2/3 c canned (crushed) tomatoes
2 tbsp sugar

Mix flour and water together until there are no lumps. Add milk and tomatoes and heat on low until desired thickness. Mix in sugar and heat for 1 minute more.

There is a quicker method which involves boiling the liquids (water and tomatoes) first then adding the flour, then milk and sugar, but it takes very careful attention.

Lately I've been adding about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes and occasionally some basil to add a little kick to it... Very good. (Also, I use honey instead of sugar when I use the pepper.)


Green Tomato Mincemeat Cake

I used to love this as a kid. I haven't made it yet, but I picked up the recipe recently when I went back to Maryland.

[Mincemeat Cake 1.png]
[Mincemeat Cake 1.png]
(Mock Mincemeat)


Clarke Family Tomato Cakes

This was one my mom's family would make a lot. It's an interesting side to be served with mashed potatoes and greens. (However, it is sort of an acquired taste. Most people find it hard to take the first bite, but many people do like them after trying them.) This is my mom's recipe. I personally tend to add more garlic and add cornmeal.

1 c canned (crushed) tomatoes
1 1/2 c crushed crackers
1/2 tsp chicken seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients and fry into flat cakes (like pancakes). Traditionally served with butter and garlic salt. I like them with horseradish/mustard.


Tom's Fried Rice

I came up with this recipe by reading the ingredients list on a hot&spicy fried-rice mix. It's still a work in progress, but people do tend to like it. Quantities are basically to taste. *shrug* There's a pretty good (with a few modifications ;) hot-and-sour soup recipe to go with this at boutell.com.

1 c cold cooked rice
1-2 chopped green onions
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
1 c frozen mixed vegetables, portabella mushrooms, red bell pepper, etc.
black pepper to taste (1/4 tsp)
2 tsp brown sugar (for cohesiveness mostly, not needed with s&s sauce or 'sticky' rice)
1 egg
1 tbsp soy sauce (Reduce if using the sweet-and-sour sauce.)
salt and/or chicken broth (I use McKay's (vegetarian) Chicken Seasoning)

Stir-fry frozen vegetables to thaw. Add rice and other vegetables. Stir-fry until almost done. Add seasonings then soy sauce, stir-fry 1 minute. Push to side and scramble the egg, mixing into rice when almost done.


Tom's Sweet and Sour Sauce

I often make sweet-and-sour fried-rice using this sauce. Serve it over chicken, fish, rice, etc. This is excellent served with plum wine.

1/4 c pineapple juice
pineapple chunks (optional)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1-2 tbsp vinegar (rice-wine or apple-cider vinegar)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp wine (plum wine prefered or can use sherry or a sweet wine. Nothing stronger than sauvignon blanc.)

Boil liquids. I usually add about 1/8 c pineapple chunks to cook with it. If making with rice, I do this step first then start stir-frying the rice. Stir starch in cold water and add to sauce, turning heat down. (Do this right before the 'add seasonings' step on the rice.) Watch constantly, being very careful not to let it get too thick. (Multitasking is good at this point if you're making rice too.) If making sweet-and-sour fried-rice, I'll sometimes stir it in with the rice and let it thicken in there.


Tom's Master Pizza Recipe

A few people have asked for my pizza dough recipe, so here goes. This is something I usually make every weekend.

Dough (1 14-inch or 2 12-inch pans)

  • 1 to 2 c white flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 package yeast (see yeast note)
  • 1 c warm water (For slow-rise method, cut this with 1/4 c warm milk and about 2 tsp honey)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • herbs / spices (see dough variations)
  • cornmeal

Quick-Rise Method: Use rapid-rise or bread-machine yeast. First, get sauce ingredients and toppings ready. Combine 2 cups flour (use less whole wheat flour for this recipe), undissolved yeast, garlic, herbs, and salt. Stir very warm water into dry ingredients. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes. During this time, make sauce. Sprinkle baking pan with cornmeal. Shape dough into smooth ball. Divide and roll dough to fit desired pan(s). (My doughs tend not to be very conducive to the toss and twirl method.) Top pizza. Bake at 400oF for 20 to 30 minutes.

Slow-Rise Method: Combine warm water, milk and honey. (NOT BOILING! So many little yeast guys have given their lives to boiling water. Please donate to the active duty yeast widow fund today!) (The milk and honey helps the yeast live the good life. They didn't call it the land flowing with milk and honey for nothing :) Anyways... back to the directions. Sprinkle in yeast and stir until dissolved. Stir in 1/2 c white flour (by 1/4 cupfulls). Set aside for 5-10 min until it becomes foamy (called a sponge). (The flour helps feed the yeast at this stage, but you don't want to feed it too much yet.) Mix in garlic, herbs, salt, whole wheat flour and 3/4 c white flour. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. (I usually only put about 1/4 to 1/2 c more in at this point. You want it just slightly tacky.) Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic about 4 to 6 minutes, loading more flour to keep it at the slightly tacky stage, not too much. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled, about 30 to 60 minutes. During this time you can make your sauce and prepare the toppings and pan(s). Punch dough down. Remove dough to lightly floured surface. Shape, top, and bake at 400oF for 20 to 30 minutes.

Slightly Longer Method (my usual method): Instead of baking immediately, I will let the dough rise for another half hour or so before baking. Seems to turn out better. Be careful in transferring it to the oven, however. It can be very sensitive at this point. (I'll usually let it rise in the oven itself, then turn on the oven. This will only work with an oven that heats up quickly... i.e. gas.)

Extremely Long Method: If you have time, decrease the yeast by 1/2 and double your rising time. (Use the slightly longer method above.) It makes the dough much better in my opinion.

Dough Variations:

  • Add olive oil to dough to make it easier to knead and make the crust crispier.
  • Also, if you brush olive oil (or use cooking spray) on the formed dough before adding the sauce / toppings, it helps to keep the dough from getting soggy. (Of course, it makes it crispier again too.)
  • For herbs in the dough, I usually put rosemary and oregano. Sometimes I'll put black pepper if I'm not making the sauce with wine. Sometimes I'll use thyme and basil to give more of a prarie taste. It's all on your taste. Most places don't put anything in their dough, but that really takes the enjoyment out of it if you ask me.
  • Sometimes, if I want a crispier crust I'll replace 1/2 c flour with cornmeal

Toppings: If you want a true Tom experience, here is how I usually top my pizza: 1/4 w/ sliced portabella mushrooms, 1/4 w/ sliced tomatoes, and the last 1/2 with pineapple and walnuts and/or jalapeños. Under this I put a layer of parmesian cheese and on top I put feta, with a layer of another-Greek-cheese-that-I-get-in-Greek-town-but I-can-never-remember-the-name however-I-know-it-starts-with-k-and-ends-in-ari.

Yeast Note: I use Fleischmann's bread machine yeast, which works well in both quick-rise and slow-rise methods.


Tom's Master Sauce Recipe

  • 1 c crushed tomatoes
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or black pepper, depending on the dish)
  • 1/4 c chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 1 tsp salt (course sea salt is good)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil to taste. (I am a spice addict. I use a lot.)
  • 1/4 c sauvignon blanc or cabernet sauvignon (optional)

Saute onions, garlic, and pepper in oil. Add spices about 10 s before adding wine, stirring rapidly. Reduce wine to about 1/2. Add tomatoes and cover. Simmer until reduced to desired consistency.

Vary spice ratios and black pepper to use with spaghetti, pizza, etc. Serve with the same type of wine you used in the sauce.

A note: Most pizza/spaghetti sauce recipes are geared for making huge batches of sauce for canning and freezing. This calls for hours and hours cooking it. I prefer a very fresh sauce, which only takes a few minutes to make. Some people don't like the taste, however. It's up to you. Using canned, crushed tomatoes is my compromise. (Fresh tomatoes will take longer to prepare, but it does taste so much better if you have the time.)




The Bumble Bee

My first poem, written in 1980 in first grade with the help of my teacher at the time, David Drew.
Cue the Rimsky-Korsakov....



This was written on 1999.12.30 while I was in Sweden visiting Jana and Magnus for the Y2K celebration. I went out walking one night thinking about 'things & stuff' and this prose-poem gradually began to form in my mind. This is probably my favorite (and most refined) work.


The Pen

This was written on 2000.09.02 at 0810 UTC (that's 2:10 AM CST) I woke up and was in a restless funk, so I wrote... (Too often people think poetry is about the rhyming... you'll find none of that nonsense here. I have plenty of other bad examples of rhyming couplets, but the unrhymed ones turn out better 99% of the time. I focus more on the imagery then instead of trying to find synonyms for the words I really want to use.) I find it interesting that people find this a dark poem, because it's really about how the pen is mightier than the sword. They can both kill, hurt, etc., but the pen can also heal, sometimes at the same time as it seems to be spilling darkness.


Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris

Now for a bit of whimsy... Gamera III submitted for Haiku Kaiju Review. The original idea was to do a bit of an extra silly 'riddle' about the movie in 12 syllables with no true solution because the important parts seem to be missing (The answer of course in my case was 'survive this movie'.) (Sort of an homage to Bilbo's winning 'riddle' in The Hobbit when he discovers the ring.) And now of course the description is longer than the actual haiku. (I'll just quote it here as a backup in case Haiku Kaiju Review goes away.)

Gamera can do...
The monster Iris can't do...
Darn this form, haiku!



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