Posts Tagged ‘Wayne Thiebaud’


Commonplace objects are constantly changing… The pies, for example, we now see, are not going to be around forever. We are merely used to the idea that things do not change.

Wayne Thiebaud
I am not really hungry this morning but I felt like looking at some pies. Well, paintings of pies. And more specifically, those from Wayne Thiebaud, a favorite of mine. He’s going to turn 98 years old in November. I am not sure if he is still painting but I think he probably is. He was still painting two years ago when the following short film was produced by Christie’s auction house. If you have five minutes I urge you to take a look.

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When you think of painting as painting it is rather absurd. The real world is before us – glorious sunlight and activity and fresh air, and high speed motor cars and television, all the animation – a world apart from a little square of canvas that you smear paint on.

–Wayne Thiebaud


These words from the great contemporary painter Wayne Thiebaud ring completely true for me. I have talked and written many times before about those moments in the studio when I suddenly find the whole idea of painting, of smearing paint on some surface, completely absurd. The whole idea of making these two-dimensional things that represent inner feelings about the outer world seems suddenly abstract and, to be honest, a little ridiculous.

It’s a little like waking up one day to find yourself standing in your yard with a forked stick in your hand. You began by thinking it was a divining rod that would mysteriously lead you to something valuable but in that moment you realize you’re just a fool standing in your yard with a stick.

Believe me, there are days when I feel like a fool standing in a room with a stick in my hands. Of course, my stick has bristles with paint on them but it might as well just be a stick in those moments.

But somehow that feeling passes and I find myself immersed back in my own little world and that stick returns to being a divining rod.

Wayne Thiebaud has long been a favorite of mine.  Most people associate his name with his paintings of  cakes, ice cream and confections with their bold colors and beautiful thick brushstrokes. They are wonderful but for me, his most striking work are his landscapes, often set from a high perspective.  They have such great color and their compositions feel as much like abstraction as they do realism.

Just plain good stuff.

I always feel inspired by this work, moving me to try to find that same balance in my own work.

Here’s a video of his confectionery works, which is, as I said, his more popular work. I haven’t found video with his landscapes but this is still a good intro to his best known work.

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Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone Wyoming Photo by Jassen T.I am in the last full day of preparing my work for my show, Home+Land, for the West End Gallery before delivering it tomorrow. This last day is always one filled with a great sense of relief and just a bit of anticipation as I begin to envision the whole of it in the gallery.  Over the last several days, I’ve began to feel very good about this group and am eager to see it hanging together.

But this morning I didn’t want to think about it at all and scanned some of my favorite sites to see what’s new.  Well, new to me.  I went back to the National Geographic site and came across some photos by a San Francisco based photographer named Jassen T.  I wish I had more info to share on him but his work on the Nat Geo site is great, mainly aerial imagery including the one above, a shot looking down on Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.  Love the jewel-like colors and the organic flow of the forms.  Just a great image.

Another of his aerial shots is the one at the bottom of a salt marsh in the San Francisco Bay.  It has a very painterly look, reminding me in some ways of another Bay area artist, Wayne Thiebaud.  I find myself constantly moving my eyes back to this image, taking in the forms.  I know what it is in reality but my mind wants to continuously interpret in many other ways.  It just sparks all sorts of thoughts which must be the sign of a good image.

Thanks, Jassen T., for the great images.  They were very refreshing this morning.  Hope to see more of your work in the future.

Salt Marsh San Francisco Bay Photo by Jassen T.

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