Monday, March 25, 2013

Wayne Thiebaud Cakes

In celebration of our school's 50th Birthday, first and second grade artists learned about Wayne Thiebaud. He was famous for painting pictures of cakes and other sweet treats. We tried to capture the halo effect that Thiebaud called "halination" by outlining with oil pastels before AND after painting with lightened tempera paints.

Some biographical information about Wayne Thiebaud from a great art blog, Art For Small Hands.

The Life of Wayne Thiebaud
Wayne Thiebaud was born in Mesa, Arizona, in 1920. His father worked, among other things, as a mechanic, an inventor, a rancher, and a milkman. When Thiebaud was six months old his family moved to California where he spent a lot of time on his grandfather’s farm. His first art projects were with his mother on rainy days and with his uncle who was a cartoonist. 

For many years Thiebaud did odd jobs like sign painting, cartooning, and illustrating movie posters. One summer he even worked in the animation department of Walt Disney studios. He was almost thirty years old before he realized that he could make a career of painting. When he returned to college to learn about art, he was offered a teaching job and spent many years teaching art in California universities.

At forty years old, he began his series of still-life paintings of food. Drawing with color and correcting his drawings with darker color led to a halo effect around his objects. This outline of pure, intense colors has become known as halation and adds to the vibrancy of Thiebaud’s paintings. He uses bright colors, thick rapid brush strokes, and simplified shapes to paint common, everyday food. Filling his canvas with a single cafeteria-style cake or pie elevates it to an absurd status that is part of his humor. At times he repeats the desserts over and over again, giving the impression that there is no end to these sweet things.

When painting a cake, Thiebaud says that he is painting a picture of an object that has already been painted. It’s as though he transforms the thick rich texture of oil paint into whipped cream or icing as he spreads it across the desserts on his canvas.