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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Wyeth’

I was looking for something this morning and came across the above quote from Andrew Wyeth which really rang true for me.

I am in the midst of working feverishly towards my June 1 show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. my 19th solo show there. I’ve done over 50 solo exhibitions over the years so you would think that I would be over any uneasiness that comes with showing my work. But I still get that terrible queasy feeling in my gut whenever I first see each show hanging. It really is a feeling much like Wyeth describes, like standing there with no clothes on.

The worst of these feelings came at my first show at the Principle Gallery back in 2000. It was called Red Tree, which was the real introduction of the that signature tree that populates much of my work. I had only been working as a full-time artist for two years and had only two small solo shows at regional art centers under my belt at that point, so I had no expectations for such a show. But I had developed a solid base of collectors at the Principle since I began showing there in early 1997 and they felt I might do well with a show.

I understood at the time that this was a wonderful opportunity and put a lot of pressure on myself to put everything I could into that show. The rustic studio that was my home for the first ten years that I worked as an artist was much smaller than my current studio so when the show was done every space in it was filled with new work. I couldn’t get a real idea of how the show might look together, especially since this was pre-digital for me, all my work documented in slides rather than JPEGs.

I felt good about the work but maybe I was just being delusional. It happens.

So on the day of the opening we first walked into the gallery several hours before the reception and the then burnt orange walls of the gallery were filled with these paintings. There was a dizzying vibration to it that gave Cheri and I both an overwhelming feeling of nausea. It was like the inner self that I tried to keep hidden from the world was suddenly splashed through the gallery and I was trapped there amidst it, like someone standing naked in a dream with no way to escape and nothing with which to cover up.

Thankfully, that night exceeded all my expectations. If it had not, I don’t know that I might even be writing this blog now or where I would be in my career. If it had not done well, that horrible feeling would surely have stayed with me forever. As it is, it still visits me with every show but to a lesser degree and for shorter time span.

I suppose you get used to public nudity after a time.

 

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Wyeth Winters

Andrew Wyeth – Fence Line 1967

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.

Andrew Wyeth

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Andrew Wyeth – Over the Hill 1953

Andrew Wyeth- Heavy Snow

Andrew Wyeth- Not Plowed 1985

Andrew Wyeth- Farm Pond Study

 

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I have been enjoying the films I’ve been sharing lately featuring the work of some of my favorite artists. It sometimes gives me a wider view of their body of work, giving me glimpse at lesser known pieces alongside their greatest hits while listening to music that often fits the tone of the work.

Today’s pick was an easy one for me.  It’s a lovely compilation of the work of Andrew Wyeth set to the gorgeous guitar of John Williams‘ version of British composer Stanley Myers’ Cavatina. You might recognize the song from its prominent place in the film The Deer Hunter.

Andrew Wyeth would have been 100 years old in 2017 and to mark the occasion, the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown has an exhibit opening in May that celebrates the life and work of Wyeth. It is curated by his granddaughter, Victoria Wyeth, and includes many items from his personal collection. It is on my to do list.

Anyway, enjoy this beautiful group of paintings and the music that accompanies it. I am off to work, happier for having watched this short film this morning.

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Andrew Wyeth- Night Sleeper 1979

Andrew Wyeth- Night Sleeper 1979

I dream a lot. I do more painting when I’m not painting. It’s in the subconscious.

Andrew Wyeth

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Andrew Wyeth- Trodden Weed

I love this short quote from the great Andrew Wyeth.  That second sentence speaks to how I view my own  relationship with what I do– I do more painting when I’m not painting.  The mind is always clicked on, seemingly always seeking that something, that one inside thing that is crying out to be expressed.

It’s a built-in thing, one that can hardly ever be turned off.  You would think it would be a maddening quality but it has become a normal way of functioning and I would probably panic if I found my mind not churning in some way.

Sometimes it is in the form of day-dreaming, just letting the imagination run free.  Other times it takes place in the words or sounds or images of others. Like pulling a new thread from an existing fabric.

Inspiration comes in many different forms and the mind is always looking for them.

Here’s a neat short film from artist/filmmaker Andrew Zuckerman that shows Wyeth describing how he sometimes find inspiration.

Andrew Wyeth from Andrew Zuckerman Studio on Vimeo.

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GC Myers-Peerless sm

“Peerless” – Included in the “Traveler ” Show

I am back in the studio this morning  after returning from Friday night’s opening of Traveler at the Principle Gallery.  There is  a sense of relief in the aftermath, a deep exhalation at having mostly completed my obligations for the show.  But there is often a letdown as well,  a combination of having passed the endpoint  you’ve been working towards for months and  natural self-doubts about things you might have done differently in this show.  Fortunately, this show left me with only the mildest of letdowns.  I am already focused on my next projects and as far as doubts, while there may be just a few minor ones, I am sure that I have done all that was in my power for this show and the work in it.

We had a lovely few days in Alexandria, blessed with the best weather we’ve seen in all the years that we have been visiting in early June.  In the past, we have often endured 100° temperatures, torrential rains and excruciating humidity on this weekend.  But this year it was as perfect as the weather could possibly offer with temps in the high 70’s, blue cloudless skies and low humidity .   I am available for other  regional  weather reports, as well!  In short, perfect conditions to wander around the area a bit before the show.

We attended the ceremony  at the World War II Memorial honoring the living veterans on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion.  It was a beautiful setting there on the Mall, often moving,  and I felt very honored to be able to spend a short time in the near presence of those vets who survived that day of days.  We also were able to see the Andrew Wyeth show at the National Gallery that I wrote of earlier in the week.  It was wonderful to see so much of his work together, to be able to see the constancy and consistency of his personal vision as well as his ability to capture deep emotion within his scenes.

All in all, it was a great stay.  But the highlight was being to see many of the folks that I have met over the years who opted to spend some time at the gallery instead of out in that perfect weather.  I know that if I were in their shoes, it would have taken a lot to get  me there.  But for the many who did turn out and to Michele and her great staff– Clint, Jessica, Pamela and Chris along with guest bartender, Fernando Ascencio– I  extend a simple and grateful Thank You.  I wouldn’t be here right now writing this if not for you all.  And that I will always remember.

Okay, it is Sunday morning and we need to music.  I was thinking something calming while I decompress.  Here’s a classic Vince Guaraldi composition, Cast Your Fate to the Wind.  It has some of those same elements that you might recognize from his iconic work with the Peanuts gang.

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Wind From the Sea - Andrew Wyeth

Wind From the Sea- Andrew Wyeth

A friend sent me a link to the  exhibit,  Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In,  that is hanging at the National Gallery of Art until the end of November.  It centers on a group his work that features windows in the imagery, a theme that he revisited numerous times in his career.  It is work that demonstrates a real sense of abstraction and deeper emotion within his realism, something he felt was often overlooked in his career, particularly by those critics who downplayed the importance of his work during his lifetime.  There has been a reevaluation in the aftermath of his death with a deeper understanding of it and  at last Wyeth is getting the full acclaim his work accorded.

My friend said that the introductory essay for the exhibit reminded him of my work. At first,  even though I was pleased with the compliment of being compared to Wyeth in any way, I didn’t quite see it.  Our work is, after all,  so different in appearance in so many ways, our surfaces and imagery having little in common.  But the quote  from Wyeth  at the end of the essay made it much clearer:

Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth

You can have the technique and paint the object,  but it’s what’s inside you, the way you translate the object — and that’s pure emotion. I think most people get to my work through the backdoor. They’re attracted by the realism and sense the emotion and the abstraction — and eventually, I hope, they get their own powerful emotion.”

It’s a sentiment I have often tried to get across to people.  I want my work to have a simplicity that invites easy accessibility into the picture, hoping then that they will see the underlying elements– the forms, colors and textures– that transmit the emotion of the piece, hoping that my own emotion will be replaced by their own.  Like Wyeth, I consider myself an abstract painter in this same backdoor approach, inviting the viewer with something with which they can easily  relate  initially until they fully realize the emotion of the piece.

That is, if they do at all.   There are some who just won’t get beyond the apparent simplicity and accessible nature of the work.  Certainly the critics of Wyeth never did try to look beyond the surface and  that was their loss.  But if you’re in the DC area this year, try to make it to the National Gallery of Art to see this wonderful work.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Andrew Wyeth -Mother Archie's Church 1945

Andrew Wyeth -Mother Archie’s Church 1945

We went to Cooperstown this past Monday to catch the last day of the Wyeth Family exhibit at the Fenimore Art Museum.  It was a great show featuring work from patriarch NC Wyeth,   son Andrew, grandson Jamie, daughter Henriette and daughter Carolyn as well as Henriette’s husband, Peter Hurd and NC’s primary influence Howard Pyle.  That’s a lot of talent to jam into a relatively intimate space.  You might think that it would be less than satisfying but the curating of this show was masterful, showing each artist in a truly representative manner that gave a real taste of their body of work.   Just a wonderful show.  I am glad I got to see it  if only to see a few of NC Wyeth’s gorgeous works and to discover more about his son-in-law, Peter Hurd, whose work is wonderful, bringing to mind the regionalist painters such as Grant Wood.

Thomas Cole- The Course of Empire- Destruction

Thomas Cole- The Course of Empire- Destruction

Of course, there was also the spectacular Thaw Collection of American Indian Art to see.  As always, it was a thrill to see the beautiful aesthetic of the native culture.  And as good as both the Wyeth show and the Thaw Collection were, I was truly bowled over by the current show, The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision, featuring works from the Hudson River painters of the 19th century,  Just beautiful and strong examples from the genre, highlighted for me by the works of Asher Durand and the spectacular Thomas Cole series of five paintings, The Course of Empire , which features the rise and fall of an empire in the landscape, a rocky peak with a precariously perched boulder standing as a constant witness.  You have probably seen some of the paintings from this series but to see them together  in their full scale is to really get a great appreciation for their power.  It hangs at the Fenimore until September 29, so if you can, take a trip and see some incredible work.

 

Cole, Course of Empire - Savage State 1834 Cole, Course of Empire - Arcadia, Pastoral State 1834 Cole, Course of Empire - Consummation of Empire 1835 Cole, Course of Empire - Desolation 1836

 

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