Fine Cartoon Art

exaggerated, in a good way

Archive for October, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish for… But Do It Anyway

Posted by jtebeau on October 21, 2010

Colleen's Wish Painting

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
~ Lewis Carroll

You probably wouldn’t set out on a road trip without first deciding where you’re going. Once you have that settled, you probably reach for a map.

This new customized painting series I’m doing is sort of like an artistic road map for your life.

I call them spell paintings, because there’s magic in making a visual representation of how you want your life to be. It’s powerful to declare your hopes and dreams then hang that vision someplace where you’ll see it every day.

If you’ve ever heard of a vision board — often photos clipped from magazines and glued to poster board — spell paintings are similar. They include pictures of people, places and things you want to be a part of your ideal life.

But spell paintings are better than vision boards in some important ways:
— creating your vision as a beautiful painting gives you art you will be proud to display in your home or office
— your spell painting will have a cohesive, consistent feel, pulling all the pieces together rather than a patchwork of photos
— I will help you create your painting, discussing everything from the mood to the key components of your perfect life

A spell painting would make a great way to start 2011 — a sort of visual New Year’s resolution for yourself. Place your order by Nov. 30 and we can begin working on a painting that shows your wishes for the new year and beyond.

Oh, and holiday cards? I’m doing those, too. You can have an original design for as low as $125. Again, let me know by Nov. 1, as time (as we perceive it) is of the essence.

Here’s one I did based on the It’s a Wonderful Life poster for me and Colleen a couple years back:


Xmas Card


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Words? Lynd Ward Didn’ Need No Steenkin’ WORDS!

Posted by jtebeau on October 18, 2010

Lynd Ward from "Gods' Man"

I trucked on up to the Whitney Museum one day last spring. Made a special trip of it, too. It’s not every day I amble up the toniest precincts of Madison Avenue, winder-shoppin’ in my jeans and rope-belt. I like the Whitney (all American art, all the time!), and wanted to see what they had going that week. Always there will be some Hopper, and that’s worth the trip alone.

Anyway, it was closed. But NOT the GIFT SHOP! So I did a little book browsing, which, if you’re into that sort of thing, can be about as good as spending a couple of hours at a museum.

I happened upon a book about “wordless novels,” a trend in publishing from the first half of the 20th century. They were usually illustrated in a classic woodcut style and often told a story of the Common Man. Lots of melodrama, class inequity, despair, revelation, redemption, etc. A friend had recently given me two books by one of the featured artists, Lynd Ward (1905 – 1985), who illustrated a couple hundred books in his day, winning a Caldecott Medal for children’s book illustration in 1953.

His book Gods’ Man is mesmerizing, the tale of artistic integrity and the price paid to achieve it. If you look at no other work by Ward, check that one out at least.

from "Gods' Man"


So there’s a little about Mr. Ward for you. I’m inspired to write this post due to a new collection of Ward’s work released this month by the Library of America and edited by Art Spiegelman. The Times ran an excellent review of the two-volume set by Steven Heller, and it inspired me to do this little write up on Ward and re-read Gods’ Man. Excuse me: re-look.

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Wayne Thiebaud: This Week’s Fine Cartoon Artist

Posted by jtebeau on October 11, 2010


"Lemon Cake" (1964) by Wayne Thiebaud


I like looking at Wayne Thiebaud‘s paintings. I mean, seriously – how could you not? The colors are vibrant as the sun shining into a Laguna Beach bakery window at 10 a.m. And the subject matter is often dessert. What’s not to like?

But one time someone said to me, “What is there to his work? What’s it ABOUT?” Well, it’s about still-lifes. And light. And beaches. And peace.

His colors are hyper-real. His subjects are outlined, and often “haloed” in warm tones. Thiebaud’s art is rooted in the fundamentals of cartooning: solid composition, strong lines and bold colors. And that makes sense when you know his back-story.

Thiebaud grew up out west and in his teens briefly worked at the Disney studios. In the Army he drew a comic strip for the Sacramento base newspaper. He also worked as a cartoonist for the Rexall Drug Company in Los Angeles. He wound up teaching art at the little UC campus in Davis, CA, about as far from the Aht World as you could be. This allowed him to do his thing, which was basically representational pop art. His signature maneuver is slathering the paint onto the canvas like frosting (which is at times only fitting), creating what former student and current Director of the Yale University Art Gallery Jock Reynolds calls “the most tactile and sensuous visual compositions imaginable.”

That’s what it’s about, my friend. And Mr. Thiebaud’s still doing it, painting twice a day at age 90.


"Bakery Case" by Wayne Thiebaud



"Fields and Furrows" by Wayne Thiebaud


The New York Times ran a nice piece about him recently. Another nice piece:


"Lemon Meringue Pie" by W. Thiebaud


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In New York, It Heats Up in the Fall

Posted by jtebeau on October 5, 2010

... and a tip o' the hat to Bruegel the Elder

Something about the energy of fall…. Why is it that when nature starts shutting down, we humans start revving up? Maybe it’s a leftover, Pavlovian reaction to the bounty of the harvest or some inherent understanding that we only have a handful of perfect days left before The Big Sleep of winter nails us indoors for a few months. We make the most of it, like the peasants in those Bruegel paintings going bananas at their rowdy little peasant parties. Bruegel – now there’s a fine cartoon artist, but not now, not now….

That autumn buzz goes back to childhood. School would start up, Halloween was just around the corner, and of course (perhaps most importantly), THE NEW TV SEASON STARTED. I believe it was Albert Brooks who said television was like heroin when you were a kid. Seemed that way to me, I guess, though I wouldn’t know for sure. I think I literally did convulse if the cable went out, having conniption fits if I missed an episode of “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” or “Dusty’s Trail.” You can understand. I was a visual kid. Who didn’t play football.

And in New York, fall is When Everything Starts Happening Again, after, it’s implied, three months of Nothing Important Going On. Actually, except for the vomit-sauna effect of certain special streets and a forced reliance on wicked, wicked air conditioning, I sort of dig summer in NYC, provided I know that I have the option to split. It’s not so crowded and there’s actually plenty to do. It’s just really, really farging hot und shticky while you’re doing it. But there’s stuff to do. In the fall though…. Ahh, that’s when the real action goes down. Like art openings.

Which brings me to the point: this week at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, three-count-em-three shows open, with a great big reception tonight from 7:30 to 9:00 tonight: Tuesday the 5th. MoCCA is celebrating the work of three excellent artists, who have all contributed admirably to the great American art form that is cartooning: Al Jaffee, father of the Mad Fold-In and “snappy answers to stupid questions,” Liza Donnelly of New Yorker fame and underground comix kahuna Denis Kitchen, a pioneer of the scene (daddy-o) and founder of the venerable Kitchen Sink Press.




All three exhibits run through January 30 of 2011, so there’s plenty of time to check them out. I recommend stopping by the opening tonight, though. It’s autumn. It’s on. And nothing happens after the holidays. You know that.

And for your nostalgic, boob-tube enjoyment:

Darren McGavin: The Man.

And if you remember this one, you get a Coke….

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