Thursday, January 7

Inspirations and Influences deux et trois

Yesterday while at the PMA buying a new calendar, I picked up a monograph on Andrew Wyeth. I saw his retrospective show there a couple of years ago, and was blown away by his intense detail, the mastery of tonalities, and his way of making a landscape seem to hold a narrative.
Andrew Wyeth, Brown Swiss
Most of his images are set in either Maine or the Brandywine River Valley in SE Pennsylvania, 2 places that feature largely in my childhood memories. My family vacationed up in Maine on the coast for a week or 2 nearly every summer when I was an adolescent, and we visited either Longwood Gardens or the Brandywine Battlefield every year, in Spring or Fall. So I'm very drawn to his sparse, wintry landscapes. They feel like home to me.
Andrew Wyeth, Sunday Times
There's something very different about photography vs realistic painting. Most photographs with general focus present the world with exact overall detail, or conversely focus on one detail and leave the rest to blur. In a realistic painting like Wyeth's you can feel his eye and focus shifting from object to object. Our eyes never see everything before us in precise detail. We scan and shift focus and select details.
Andrew Wyeth, Battleground
I admire Wyeth's detail and the time it took to create. Especially in techniques like drybrush and tempera, you feel every mark. It's like the stitches I take to make an embroidery.
Another artist Wyeth makes me think of is Rob Matthews, an artist here in Philadelphia who shows at Gallery Joe. He too does landscapes and portraits that have a kind of melancholy and memory and thoughtfulness. In his work, too, you see every mark, every line, and I feel the pencil in his hand and the ache in the thumb like I feel the pinpricks in my fingers when the needle slips. I love Matthews' work. I love that he's chosen a medium and style that takes time. Rob Matthews , The Great Disappointment #5

It's a Wyeth sort of day. Cold and wintry, the light slanting in and pulling everything into sharp focus.


  1. I'm not a fan of Andrew Wyeth, but I love your description of his landscape paintings. I see how he is an influence on your work. I guess "Christina's World" gets too much attention to the detriment of his other work.

    We heard a gallery talk by his niece a few years ago at the Brandywine Museum that was a hoot. Highly recommended. Also the tour of his father's studio is a must see.

  2. There's a funny comment about "Christina's World" in his autobiography. Someone was gushing over the "beautiful girl" in the painting, and Wyeth laughed cause it was an image of a stranded cripple- the viewer had gotten it so wrong. To see his other portraits of Christina, it's obvious that she's not exactly gorgeous. It's not my favorite painting of his either, but you never know what you're going to get famous for.