Fine Cartoon Art

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Archive for the ‘fine art’ Category

A Postcard from New York: the Empire State Building

Posted by jtebeau on March 21, 2011

I carry a decent little camera with me pretty much all the time. Okay, pretty much when I’m wearing a jacket or shorts with big pockets. Pretty much then. The point is to take pictures that are better than you can get with a (“my’) crummy little phone.

A couple blocks from the Empire State Building I took a snap of an incongruous view: the ESB surging into the sky from behind a couple smaller, ornate buildings from an earlier era. I’m working on a b/w version of this picture, done with ink and brush. It’s not completed yet, but here’s a peek:

taken in studio with Photo Booth


Posted in fine art, original art | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

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


Posted in artists, fine art, Painting | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Justin Bua: Fine Cartoon Artist of the Week

Posted by jtebeau on September 19, 2010

“Jazz Trio” by Justin Bua

In the mid-90s I drove a van out to California and ended up moving into the top floor of a large, drafty Victorian house in San Francisco that had made it through two major earthquakes and a fire. She was a survivor, and she swayed when the damp west wind screamed over the hill at Alamo Square, blasting down Grove Street and boom, smack into the side of 640 Laguna: Ol’ Wobbly. My room was large, and I took full advantage of all that wall space by letting my inner 13-year old decorate it as he saw fit. That meant posters, baby, and plenty of ’em.

San Francisco is the legendary home of the “rock poster” movement of the 1960s and 70s, and I figured I’d get my mitts on a few of those. Reprints, yes, but the originals were pretty pricey, so I kept looking. At one of the 1,500 stores with posters on Haight Street (lots of mushroom posters, people, LOTS of mushroom posters) I found something that knocked me out: a collection by an artist I’d never seen before. This alone was unusual.

I look at art, illustrations, cartoons and all types of graphic design constantly. CONSTANTLY. I soak it up, noticing it all even when I’m not paying attention. For something to catch my eye, overloaded as it is like Mr. Creosote in the Monty Python flick just before he eats the dessert wafer, well… a poster would have to be pretty good. These posters were excellent. The composition, the colors, the mood, even the paper they were printed on – everything was top-notch. I was delighted. I was mesmerized. I had to have one. Fortunately they were in my price range, which was just about big enough to squeeze a gnat through in those days. Man, it was a drag being that broke. The upside was having plenty of free time and all those BYO parties with other budget-constricted neo-bohemian types, but man…. Being broke in a city that swank could be a bummer. The best of times/worst of times, fer sher.

Anyway, I got the poster, and savored the purchase. “Jazz Trio” by Justin Bua. It called to me partly because I had jazz trio on the brain. My roommates and I were into seeing the Charlie Hunter Trio play in SF around that time Yes, they played The Jazz. In those days you could catch them all the time at Cafe du Nord on Market Street for about $5. A deal, to be sure. Plus, we could walk there. Frugal entertainment, I love ya!

Bua is solidly based in the cartoon idiom, and given the formidable quality of his work and of the production of the poster, it felt like fine art to me. It was lyrical, moody and surprised me with its originality and wit. Bua’s an “urban artist.” I know, I know. I don’t like the moniker either, but he comes out of the hip-hop tradition of art. Urban? Have it your way, Dude. In the old days art which affectionately featured city folks was called the Ash Can School. Bua seems influenced by guys like Ernie Barnes, Archibald Motley, Jr., and I’d say a little Thomas Hart Benton too, both accepted as fine artists. The lyrical, exaggerated figures, the rich colors, the obvious fascination with people and what they do: Bua, Benton and Motley all the way.

Check out these dance scenes, one by each artist, and you’ll see what I mean.

“The Twist” by Thomas Hart Benton

"Nightlife" by Archibald Motley

“Nightlife” by Archibald Motley

“Sugar Shack” by Ernie Barnes

“1981” by Justin Bua

Take a look at more of Bua’s work here. And that poster? I’ve still got it rolled up and stored away, ready to be tacked up again in my man cave. Or should I say manchild cave, covered in posters, to be sure.

Posted in artists, fine art | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Robert Williams Show at Tony Shafrazi Gallery

Posted by jtebeau on May 21, 2010

One of the best fine cartoon art shows I’ve seen in a while was Robert Williams at Tony Shafrazi‘s in Manhattan a few months back. Thought I’d share a few pictures from it…

He calls it “Lowbrow Art”. I think it fits comfortably into the Fine Cartoon Art genre as well.

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