Feel Better #10: Gorge on Paintings of Cakes and Gumballs

For some reason Saturday hung like a sad ending inside my chest. Maybe it's that I went to sleep Friday thinking about the California wildfires and imagining a dystopian world where these scorched-earth scenes become the norm. Maybe the brooding part of me was feeling ignored and decided to throw a party. Either way, I was not doing a very good job tolerating myself.

The first course of action was to take my Feel Better tip from yesterday. I went for a run, breathed in that crisp bark-y fall air and imagined that all the trees I passed by were shaking their gold-red leaf hands at me, saying "hi hi hi hi!" I nodded hello, took a couple photos but without a lot of feeling. I took a detour to see the horses at this new stable on the middle of the Island. There was one horse out and about and he must have sensed my Eeyorian mood, because he promptly turned his back on me.

White and brown horse from the backside.

Right after I took this photo, the horse started pooping. I took that as a sign to head home, and shuffled the last couple miles at a pace so slow my 1.5 year old grandson Caden could have beat me home.  

A little later, I got busy in my office setting up a new printer (HERCULEAN SUCCESS), and reorganizing my freshly painted blue-walled office space. The productivity burst made me feel better; that, or I just forgot about myself.

And out of nowhere, don't ask me how or where, I thought of . . .


You might recognize these classic paintings by the American painter Wayne Thiebaud. Critics say there's something plaintive about these but goddammit I think they're fun.

"Cakes" 1963

"Cakes" 1963

Three Machines, 1963

Three Machines, 1963

Does it mean something that the first two paintings here share the same birth year as me? Probably not but it's funny how life can be that way: Person has existential funk to tune of "What's it all about?" then OUT OF NO-BLOODY-WHERE thinks of paintings created in the year of her birth, and she takes this as a universal nod to keep going. 

"Lemon Cake" 

"Lemon Cake" 

To see more visual sweetness, go to this Google search results page for Wayne Thiebaud paintings.

In the summer of 2000, I went to the Squaw Valley Writer's Conference where, because writing and painting are related as artwork, Thiebaud gave a talk. He was fascinating, telling stories of his artwork connecting to popular culture history and industrial history. I was enthralled, hanging on every word, loving everything he said but . . . I can't remember a thing he talked about. I just remember my reaction.

For whatever reason, I think about Wayne and his art work from time to time. Maybe the images capture the 1960s I grew up in. He also painted a series of highway art, pieces that captured the growing circuitry of our roadway systems that in the sixties was considered rather cool, or at least that's how I remember it. The sixties were still mid-century, a time when the future was bright with images of space exploration and our school movies showed us a world where kitchens had these computer screens from which you could order everything you could ever dream of (WHAT?). And here we are.

What if we just let ourselves believe the future will be as bright as the contents of a gumball machine?

Thiebaud also did a load of really cool and colorful landscape paintings.

Colorful painting of a street with apartment buildings on both sides by Wayne Thiebaud.

I'll tell you something. You know what made me feel better today? Doing some office organizing; looking at some Thiebaud paintings, and writing this blog. Writing to YOU, so thank you! Also, when I saw the photo of the horse giving me his version of an equine middle finger, I laughed.  

Thank you for being here! If I can be there for you, let me know. 

This month is dedicated to Feeling Better in a Troubled World: Simple ways you can catch a breath and remember a bit of beauty when the news is getting you down. If you want to talk more about feeling better in troubled times, email me for a conversation at tatyana@everydaycreative.net . There's no need to feel alone! XO