Good Enough to Eat: Wayne Thiebaud

I’ve always LOVED Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings. I think we’ve all admired one of his famous cake paintings:

Wayne Thiebaud- Cakes

They’re a delight. I’m not the hugest fan of still life- I always kind of just saw it as a tool- A painting skill I needed to acquire- rather than something that could be exciting, intriguing, and fun. He elevates the still life to something more than “just” a documentation of an object in space. Instead, his paintings of cakes and other confections harken back to lazy summer days at the ice-cream shop, or being a kid again at the bakery, face pressed to the glass, salivating over elegantly displayed baked delights just out of reach.

Wayne Thiebaud- Four Ice Cream Cones, collection of the Phoenix Art Museum

I really respond to the way he applies paint- liberally and thickly, but with intention. He seemed to apply the paint on his cakes much like a baker would apply frosting on said cake. His paintings weren’t textured for the sake of being textured- the texture highly enhanced the work itself. This is the way painting should be, in my mind. I love paintings that actually look like, you know, paintings. Don’t hide those brushstrokes! If I wanted something that looked like a photograph, I’d take a photograph. Anybody can photograph a cake, and anybody can paint a cake (not necessarily well), but not everyone can paint a cake and make the viewer feel like a kid at the bakery for the first time again.

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