Watercolor: Afternoon with Wyeth – and a New Documentary on Andrew Wyeth

a watercolor painting as an ode to Andrew Wyeth
Afternoon with Wyeth 19 x 24 watercolor on paper

Inspired by Andrew Wyeth

One of my favorite artists is Andrew Wyeth. One of my favorite books about him is Andrew Wyeth – A Secret Life by Richard Meryman.  In the watercolor above, Meryman’s book is draped over the arm of a chair as an ode to both the author, and the artist. I was amazed at Meryman’s ability to open a door, and pull you over the threshold to sit at a table of Wyeth children on a wintery night – with words. I was in those rooms, watching eager kids draw, and then pause to listen, startled, as their father N.C. Wyeth stomped across the roof on a snowy Christmas night to mimic Santa’s arrival. Have you read the book? I’m convinced that you’d love it as much as I did.

Documentarists of Life: Artists and Writers

I wrote to the author Richard Meryman (1926-2015) ten years ago to say how much I enjoyed his writing and insights about the Wyeths. He wrote back.

Wow!  You are a writer’s dream.  It’s hard to convince oneself  that your past books are not marooned in bookshelves, trophe decorations never to be disturbed.  So your enthusiasm is a tonic.  Of course, your reaction is what I – and I suspect Wyeth – fantasized the book might do for a new generation of artists.  Thank you for taking the trouble to write such a lovely email. ~Richard Meryman

Isn’t it something that authors have similar wonderings as us artists; that over time, the stuff we create – the very sweat of our earnest tryings – might be shelved, stuffed into an attic, given away or forgotten? You and I know which fears pester us as painters, but did we ever consider authors to ponder the same fates for their creations?

A Storyteller’s Profile of a Man

Meryman started interviewing the Wyeth family in the 60’s. As a seasoned journalist, he skillfully harvested decades of recordings, notes, and observations, and simmered them all into one incredibly deep and personal book. You won’t find particulars about Andrew Wyeth’s favorite pigments, or his dry brush methods, but the pages are filled with his idiosyncratic character, his philosophies about art, and thought-provoking background on individual paintings. You’ll also meet many of the people in Andrew’s life. To me, that’s a painting lesson too.

andrew wyeth watercolors
Her Room, watercolor by Andrew Wyeth

Painting Your Own Symbolism

The black capped chickadee in the watercolor at the top of this post might seem an odd addition to the painting.  I grew up in New England, feeding those tiny, nimble warblers from my hand around my grandfather’s bird feeder prototypes. Andrew Wyeth’s wife Betsy – especially in her youth – reminds me of a chickadee; small, quick, smart & observant, with short dark hair and a sparkle in her eyes. So, the chickadee in the watercolor is both a nod towards Betsy and her influence on her husband, and a remembrance of the makers and keen observers of nature in my family.

Afternoon with Wyeth under way in the art studio

Wyeth Documentary

If you’re an Andrew Wyeth fan, there is a brand new documentary about him coming out tomorrow!! It’s titled WYETH, directed by Glenn Holsten and produced by Chayne Gregg. The documentary runs 82 minutes, and will air on PBS’ American Masters  Friday – September 7th (check your local PBS listings)

It’s worth noting that the first review of the film written on Amazon is very favorable and detailed, based on an advance copy of the DVD.  Here is a link to the extended trailer.

Tomorrow night, when the documentary airs, I’ll make tea and popcorn, and I’ll save you a seat on the couch for us. Let’s bring sketch pads and take notes too. 🙂

If you watch  Wyeth: The Life of Andrew Wyeth in Bold Strokes, come back and leave a comment to share your thoughts on it. I can hardly wait to watch it!

Thanks for visiting, and I’ll see you in the next post,


P.S. You can subscribe to get each new post via email (free) right here.

P.P.S. Another reader alerted me to a BBC production about Wyeth, and I found it on youtube. Check it out here.

P.P.P.S. The amazing James Gurney must have seen an advanced copy of the film, since he posted his review today – before the broadcast on PBS tonight. You can read his thoughts on the film here.

Andrew Wyeth painting
six tips to paint more often
Click the pencil to visit this new course, and get your painting mojo fired up again

Art Quote

When you know something, and you feel it and you have a love for it… my God, do it!

Don’t let it go by!

~Andrew Wyeth

18 thoughts on “Watercolor: Afternoon with Wyeth – and a New Documentary on Andrew Wyeth”

  1. Kristy Brenner

    Boy oh boy, Wyeth was great! I recorded it so I can watch it again, which was a good idea if I do say so myself, because there’s so much to see and absorb. I’m am envious of his skill, and I’m fascinated by his fascination with the people and life around him.

  2. Pingback: Watercolor: Stay Here - Belinda Del Pesco

  3. “I Require Art” on facebook had an amazing painting of Wyeth’s today, titled “Airborne.” Astonishing.
    I love your painting. It’s good that you said something about the chickadee. I live in the North, and I thought it perfectly normal to have one in your painting.
    The painting is vertical on the easel. You work very dry?

    1. Hi Kirsten (thanks for the postcard) – I looked at the ‘I Require Art’ post, and I love the painting Airborne! Thanks for your compliments on my Afternoon with Wyeth. It’s horizontal on the weasel in the process photo. I start with transparent washes, and then layer with glazing and dry brush from there. Happy painting to you!

  4. This is truly an awesome painting! Love, Love Love! I think the bird puts it at the top. What a story you told!
    I purchased a used magazine article on Andrew Wyeth a few years back. He is one of my favorite too.
    As usual, thanks for such interesting blogs!

    1. Hi Bonnie, My fellow animal lover! Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad my randomly inserted chickadee works for you too!One day, we’ll find ourselves exhibiting in the same art festival, and you and I will celebrate all weekend long. 🙂

  5. You may also be interested in a documentary film from a few years ago called ‘Michael Palin in Wyeth’s world’. This was originally shown on the BBC (UK)

  6. Sheila Eastman

    Belinda, that is an amazing and beautiful detailed painting. Bravo! – I understand your art better knowing your hero is Wyeth.

    1. Hi Sheila, Thanks for your encouragement and compliments. I suppose the Wyeth family of painters appeals to my New England roots. And I could add to that Andrew’s lovely pencil draftsmanship skills, and total mastery of watercolor in both fluid-loose application, and totally controlled application…. I’m in awe. Thanks for visiting. 🙂

  7. Luis Soto, Jr

    Hello! Just reviewed the Andrew Wyeth movie trailer. It was awesome enough to provoke me to write something! Have been enjoying your subscription emails. I wish you All the Best!

    1. Hi Luis, Thanks for your visit, and I’m glad you enjoyed the Wyeth trailer as much as I did. I’m excited to watch the film tonight! 🙂 I wish you all the best too!

Write something.... pretend we're neighbors, and we’re painting watercolors together in the garden....