Saturday, March 8
The Art and Life of Wayne Thiebaud
Susan Goldman Rubin
Chronicle Books 2007
A book so luscious you want to lick it, that's my blurb for this one.
For those unfamiliar of artist Wayne Thiebaud, of any age from middle grade up, this is a great introduction. Better, it explains Thiebaud's growth as an artist and the circuitous route he took to get there, working as a commercial artist, in department stores, drawing cartoons for Disney, and farthest from his thinking was the fine art paintings that have been his claim to fame. What I like about this gentle message of an artist discovering himself is that while he always knew he wanted to do art he wasn't forced to make a decision before he was ready. As he was mentored by individual artists and made his living as a working artist he gained a lot of experience that would later become useful as a painter.
I think there are a lot of creative souls in the schools who know they want to do something with the arts but don't really understand how one figures this out. When I was in high school the idea of working as an artist, of making a living, meant what was called commercial art which primarily meant advertising art. If a high school student said they wanted to be an artist that's what was on offer, that was all anyone really understood about art. If a guidance counselor could have suggested how I could channel my interests in photography and graphics into, say, book design or children's books I think my life would have been very different. If someone could have put this book into my hand, showing me how a fine artist found his footing and did some artful floundering along the way, my life would have taken another very different direction.
So, yeah, I hold some real high hopes that this book finds some middle grade and teen readers who are interested in what the life of an artist looks like.
The book itself is beautifully put together. Chronicle really gets it right, with practically each spread featuring one of Theibaud's luscious cakes, tempting candies, or angular intersections faced with text in white set against an ever changing compliment of backgrounds. The paintings influence the color palate which, by design, give this book an appropriately artistic tone. Honest, just pick this book up and leaf through and ask yourself why all books on art can't look this good.
The gals (can call you guys that?) over at 7Imp did a much better job covering this book that I seem to be able to manage right now. Check out their review and then check this book out.