Friday, July 14, 2017

Andrew Wyeth

Lately Andrew Wyeth has been on my mind. Mr. Wyeth died at age 95 in 2012, and although his birth centenary is this year, I didn't know that his actual birth date was July 12. A few days ago, by happenstance, I ran across Michael Palin's documentary about Wyeth on YouTube, and having always been a fan of Mr. Wyeth's work, I took the time to watch. Mr. Wyeth grew up in the area of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, but for much of his life spent his summers in Maine. His most famous painting,
"Christina's World," egg tempera, 1948
"Christina's World," which is now in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, depicts the Olson's farmhouse, which was occupied by the subject of the painting, and her brother. Today it's a museum, wholly a result of the enormous volume of influential works that Mr. Wyeth produced there.

"Braids," egg tempera, 1977
But if Christina's World is all one knows of Wyeth, then there is a great deal more. Mr. Palin mentions the Helga pictures, and even interviews Ms. Testorf, the title subject who still lives in the area. Mr. Wyeth's paintings and drawings of Helga surfaced in the mid-1980s and drew an enormous sum from a single collector. There were more than 200 separate pieces. According to the press at the time, Betsy Wyeth, who managed the business side and kept precise records of all of his works, was completely in the dark about these works for about 15 years. Whether true or not, given Ms. Wyeth's deep involvement in the business side, anyone who wants to study Mr. Wyeth's work should study these sublime paintings and studies.

"Happy Century, Andy,"
There was a closeup near the beginning of the video that I stopped while I sketched a closeup of the painter's seamed and expressive face. Somehow the icy blue of his eyes drew me so that I kept the edges sharp and value changes fairly crisp when drawing the left side eye and reduced crispness and detail and I progressed radially from there. I used my Wacom Cintiq tablet and Sketchbook to make the drawing. 
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