(Art?)book of the Day: Counting with Wayne Thiebaud

Okay, this isn’t a traditional artbook, per se. I mean, most art books cost upwards of $60, have 100+ pages, and tend to come in at above a 1st grade reading level. This book meets none of those criteria, but, yknow, Wayne Thiebaud. ‘Nuff said.

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It’s exactly as the title suggests

This book is just too adorable to pass up. So, even though I have managed to reach the age of 23 with the ability to count to 10 (still working up to 20- I’ll get there,) I still love this simple little book.

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It’s kind of funny how well Thiebaud’s work fits in with such a childish concept. I call him a “painter’s painter” all the time, as the subtleties in his approach to everyday objects tend to be more readily appreciated by fellow painters. But obviously, his bright color palette, along with his playful subject matter totally fits with a children’s book concept.

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*spoiler alert*

Thinking back, I realize that what I probably most remember from my favorite books as a kid is the artwork (I’ve talked before about my love for Leo Lionni’s charmingly simple  illustrations in particular.) What better way to introduce children to amazing artists than through a counting lesson? I don’t need to count to ten to know that Wayne Thiebaud is number one in my book. (Sorry, that was terrible.)

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My Tribute to Thiebaud’s “Rabbit”

I’ve never done a tribute of any sorts to a famous artist’s work before- yet I see this all the time in art school. I’ve never so much as kept an art book open while working. I guess a part of me thought it was wrong to look at another artist’s work for enough inspiration that it became really noticeable. BUT, I’ve come to realize, that when you really love and admire another artist’s work, sometimes a fun little tribute can be just fine!

In my Painting III class right now, I basically can paint anything I want. I took advantage of this freedom to paint something I’d always wanted to paint but somehow never found the occasion to do so: a hamster. Now, let me explain: I love hamsters. I couldn’t have a dog, or a cat, or any sort of large, allergenic pet growing up. So, I had hamsters, and subsequently came to think of them as just about the most adorable, lovable animals out there.

And then, there’s this painting by Wayne Thiebaud, which shows a rabbit in the most interesting way I’ve ever seen a rabbit (or any cute and furry animal) painted:

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Wayne Thiebaud: Rabbit.

Ever since seeing this painting, I’ve told myself that I would do a painting of my own as a sort of “tribute” using a hamster as a subject. A few years later, I finally did it:

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Megan Koth, Hamster, Oil on Canvas, 2013.

This was something I painted solely for myself, just for fun. I’m in the middle of developing my body of work for my thesis exhibition, so I haven’t painted something just for the heck of it in awhile. I’m glad that I took a break to paint something fluffy (both figuratively and literally) and fun!

Felted Hamster!

I finished my needle-felted hamster! I’ll probably work through some small details but it’s basically finished:

I’ve had a lot of hamsters over the years, since I’m allergic to cats and my mom is allergic to dogs. So, I know my hamsters. I’m frequently disappointed that there aren’t many cute stuffed animal hamsters out there, so I figured I’d make one myself. Luckily the “no pets” policy at my dorm doesn’t extend to felted ones!

Felting Fun!

The felting continues. Because I’m the best sister in the world (and because I had leftover felt from Fibers 1) I made my sister this adorable felted Totoro for Christmas:

      

If you don’t know what a totoro is, then I feel really sorry for you and your laughably inferior childhood. Hayao Miyazaki’s film My Neighbor Totoro is basically the cutest movie ever made. A staple of many childhood film viewings.

 

Despite the cuteness, the movie is really about the relationship between two sisters, about the same age difference as my sister and I, who are struggling to deal with their mother’s illness and hospitalization. It’s a coming of age story, but with cuteness.

A totoro is actually a great project to start with, as the form is pretty simple and round. And all that you need to make one is a needle-felter and some soft felt, also sometimes called wool roving. You can buy bags of it at Joann’s or pretty much any craft store.

This is the needle-felter that I use- it’s not the best (the needles are really brittle). But what differentiates a needle felter from say, a cheap plastic tube with plain ol needles stuck in, is the fact that its needles are serrated. So, the little grooves in the needle grab at the wool fibers to felt them together into whatever shape you want 9and in turn makes the form more dense.) Basically, the needle felting process is just stabbing a ball of roving over and over again to gradually build up form.

Currently, I’m starting to make a hamster, specifically a roborovski dwarf hamster. If you’re a connoisseur of cute like me, you’ll know that roborovski dwarf hamsters are just about the cutest thing in existence. I’ve already hammered out a basic shape to start with:

     

Wish me luck! I’ll be sure to post the finished product!