Written by Henry Culvyhouse.
Tudor’s Biscuit World is a Huntington icon.
With its oldest standing location at the corner of Twentieth Street and Sixth Avenue, Tudor’s has been the city’s number one choice for breakfast sandwiches since its inception.
Cheese, eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage–hell even pepperoni–served inside the fluffiest biscuits this side of the Mason-Dixon LIne, Tudor’s has been the breakfast of choice for the working West Virginian’s commute for years.
But for one Huntington artist, Tudor’s isn’t just for breakfast. It’s also inspiration.
The name of Brandy Jefferys might not ring a bell for you at first, but her subjects will—Tudor’s biscuits. Since 2016, Jefferys has devoted her artistic talents to oil paintings of the banging breakfast biscuits, unwrapped from their iconic yellow paper.
“I’m not an abstract artist. I just don’t create from my mind and put it down on the canvas,” she said. “I paint from my observations, almost fitting it together like a puzzle.”
Always gravitating towards the “everyday and ubiquitous,” Jefferys said a friend suggested she try the biscuits as a subject. After the first painting, Jefferys said she was hooked.
“I liked the way the color plays on the biscuits and trying to capture the folds was fun,” she said. “There’s the blues, the purples, the yellows. Once I painted one [of the sandwiches], I had to paint them all.”
Jefferys now has about two-thirds of the menu painted and is on her way to completing the series. And it isn’t her first unusual subject matter to paint.
Focusing on what some may deem too trivial to note, Jefferys said she did her first painting series in 2012, while she was a senior at Shawnee State College in Portsmouth, Ohio.
“I was living in Ironton at the time, so I’d commute everyday to school either in the early morning or right around dusk,” she said. “Anyone who has driven that road a few times knows there’s always road kill there.”
While certainly not as appetizing as her present project, the hues and colors of the splattered critter corpses attracted Jefferys so much she finally stopped and took a few pictures. From there, her road kill series was born.
“I’m ADD, so it’s hard for me to stay on track,” she said. “I try to work in series because it forces me to build good habits that force me to paint. I know when work is done; I have another one to go to.”
That series, consisting of large canvases depicting eviscerated opossums and raccoons, has become the biggest conversation starter at art shows, Jefferys said.
“It makes for good people-watching, because you never know what someone’s reaction will be,” she said. “Some people are disgusted; others love it. It helps that the paintings are big, because it’s the first thing people will see when I’m set up at an event.”
Unlike the road kill series, Jefferys said she purposely painted the biscuits on the smaller side so she can finish the work more quickly. Because some days, it can be a chore to get the creative juices flowing, she said.
“There’s a thing with ADD called hyper focus; it’s when you get into the zone,” she said. “Painting and drawing will do that for me, but some days I have to really fake it before I actually get into that zone.”
As the Tudor’s Biscuits Series winds down, the artist will now be searching for new subjects—and she’s got a lot to choose from. Like professional wrestling.
An admitted “cheese fan,” Jefferys said wrestling is her favorite form of escapism because “of its cheesy story lines, out-there personalities and extraordinary athleticism.” Jefferys has entertained the idea of a wrestling series but stopped short of saying she planned to paint one anytime soon.
Like with the biscuit series, Jefferys said she‘d probably turn to Huntington itself for more inspiration.
“It’s really an inspiring city, with Ritter Park and the old rail yards along 8th Avenue,” she said. “I like to paint genuine things people will identify with, things that will tie local people into the piece.”
The next “genuine thing” Brandy Jefferys might paint could be another Huntington comfort food: the southern West Virginia hot dog.