Skip navigation

The work I did from 1990 to 2009 can be viewed here.

1974 Born in Central Pennsylvania
1988 Began painting with oils
1995 Graduated from the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts
1996 Managed a Sour Dough Bakery, Albuquerque
1999 Started selling paintings in Jackson Square
2005 Began painting full time

I was accepted to several art colleges but instead decided to go to culinary school for pragmatic reasons. Seeing many graduates of art school produce work that seemed all very similar, the message was weird: the idea is all that matters in a painting and the more people that don’t understand the idea the better “it” is. Don’t worry, you probably just don’t get it. I already felt like a jedi master of ideas so I decided to learn a real world skill. After 15 years in the back of the house I was pleased with my decision to not go to fine art school because I discovered they really don’t teach drawing or painting, the work is rated according to the professor’s “taste”. In culinary school, before a cook is allowed to saute they must be able to dice. It puzzles me why so much value is placed on expression instead of skill. I believe what’s even worse is that it’s not true expression, but rather the zeitgeist of investors, a downward spiral of bad art and dirty money. My cooking degree carried me from Louis Back Yard in Key West to the American Orient Express, but all the while I was quietly building my visual art skills during my free time.

In 1999 I acquired a Jackson Square licence and started selling paintings off the fence. There I met artist Wendell Haynes who encouraged me to pursue Plein Air painting, the act of painting what’s in front of you, on site, from start to finish, what Haynes dubbed “Pure Bop”. The challenges were far more than I expected but I got hooked on the rewards of working from life. In 2005 I traded my cooking knives in for artist’s pallet knives as a means of survival. Three weeks before hurricane Katrina smashed the city I bought a van and started across the country in search of new and exciting scenes to paint. Needless to say the timing was impeccable. Within a year I felt the city pulling m me back; there’s nowhere in the states like the city of New Orleans. Since then I’ve spent the Springs and Falls in the crescent city downing oysters and pushing paint. The rest of the year I travel the US and Mexico plein air painting.

My subjects revolve around landscapes, architecture, the human form and naturally food; but the subject is usually secondary. The acrylic paintings are thick, layered and compiled with a veritable cornucopia of mediums, gels and pigments. My oil paintings are either thick alla prima (À la Minute) or slowly built one layer of classical and modern pigment after another (Sous-vide). It’s always about the paint for me, the virtual nuts and bolts of the painting as an object and the magic of how the light bounces off of it. It’s a paradoxical position because of the contempt I have for abstract expressionism, primativism and contemporary (idea) art, that I find the most joy in the abstract elements within my recognizably mundane subjects and sometimes bizarre paintings. It seems the saying that artists are born to suffer rings true for Thibodeaux. In school I was taught that people eat with their eyes first and I carried that principle of culinary arts into the painting world. But I also believe that just as the most beautiful dish is a failure if it doesn’t taste good, a painting is a failure if it doesn’t have all the right ingredients. I continue struggling finding those ingredients, getting my mise en place in order and staying out of the weeds.