Wayne Thiebaud - 100 Paintings, Prints and Drawings
One thing about the pandemic, I suppose, is that occasionally it provides reminders of the simpler pleasures in life.
It’s been a while since I went to see an art exhibition, but luckily, I managed to catch the Wayne Thiebaud at 100 exhibit before it wrapped-up recently at The McNary Museum, in San Antonio.
In encouraging signs that a Texas education isn’t a complete waste of time, my eight year old has been learning a little about Thiebaud at school, and so we made of the visit that almost obsolescent thing, ‘a family outing.’
Thiebaud makes a good early intro to art for kids, what with his sublime cakes and ice creams, but it’s a mistake to limit ones thinking of him (as the art world once did) to the category of ‘illustrator.’ Thiebaud’s art is an art without angst, and perhaps this is another reason his work was for too long taken as ‘confection?’ His palette, and the (mostly) California light he portrays, tend towards the sunny. Happiness may, as it is said, write white on the page, but in this instance at least, it largely paints in brights and pastels.
Thiebaud’s career was long – he died on Christmas Day 2021, at 101 - and several works in the exhibition were painted when he was well into his nineties. He taught art for many years, and you imagine him as the most encouraging and genial of instructors.
There is a gentle melancholy to some of his portraits (the one above is of his wife, a frequent model in his work), and I particularly enjoy his skewed cityscapes. His superb draughtsmanship, his extraordinary use of color, are particularly inspiring. Leaving the exhibition, it was hard to contain the urge to rush home, pick up a pencil, paint, a crayon. Anything really – even a camera.
*The Juice - (noun) elements of sustenance that sustain a creative practice