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Afternoon with Wyeth 19 x 24 Dry Brush Watercolor on Strathmore Bristol paper
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Process shots start at the bottom of this post.
One of my favorite artists is Andrew Wyeth. One of my favorite books is about him; Andrew Wyeth – A Secret Life by Richard Meryman. (I wonder if this makes me a Wyeth groupie?) The book is draped over the arm of the chair in this painting. I was so amazed at the author’s ability to describe, I wrote to him to say how much I enjoyed his writing and insights about the Wyeths. He had been interviewing the family on and off since the 60’s, and he managed to harvest and organize years worth of recordings, notes, essays and impressions into one incredibly deep and personal book. You won’t find details about AW’s preferred brushes, or dry brush methods, but the pages are filled with his idiosyncratic character, as well as his philosophies about art, and background on his individual paintings, and the people in them. To me, that’s a painting lesson too.

I mentioned in a previous post that I planned to hang a mirror behind me in the studio so I can look over my shoulder and see what’s on my easel from a distance and in reverse. While I was at it, I hung another one to my left so I can see a side view of the art – off kilter. I also think painting self portraits from life would be an adventure. Good practice, me thinks.

My Mabef desktop easel sits on top of a bookshelf so I can stand while working. The reference photo for this painting is tacked to the corkboard on the left. The chair-back in the photo was straight across the top, but I extended it into a curve, to interrupt what I felt was too much horizontal dissection of the composition at the base of the shutters. I also omitted the fig tree behind the chair, and added – late in the game – a black capped chickadee. I grew up feeding them out of my hand in New England, and Andrew’s wife Betsy – especially in her youth – reminds me of a chickadee; small, quick, smart & observant, with short dark hair & sparkle eyes.

To get the drawing expanded to 19×24, I did a quick trace of the basic shapes in the photo on a piece of tracing paper (beneath the reference photo on the cork board above), and folded it in half, twice – both horizontally and vertically. With watercolor pencil, I duplicated the fold lines on the tracing paper with a measured grid on my paper, and laid in the chair, table, mug, book and roses. Using watercolor pencil (lightly) to set up the drawing keeps things flexible, so when I wanted to add more roses to the vase, and a bird on the back of the chair, I just blotted the lines intersecting those areas with a wet paper towel and started drawing.


I’m excited that both paintings above are in the Richeson75 Annual Small Works Show. The bottom painting – Adventurous Heart (2.75×2.5 Watercolor) is in the exhibit till March 25th. The painting above it – Counting My Blessings (9.5×5.5 Watercolor) is in the exhibit catalog. If you’re near Wisconsin, stop in and see the show: Richeson Art Gallery, 557 Marcella Street, Kimberly, WI 54136 PH: 800.233.2404
To make this good news even better, some of my lovely artist pals are also in the show, including Raymond Logan, Keiko Tanabe, Margaret Dyer and Jelaine Faunce. It’s a party. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Watercolor: Afternoon with Wyeth”

  1. I love how much soul you put into your work. Beautiful painting, and gorgeous portraits.

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoBarbara

    P.S. Love the Chickadee, one of my favorite birds.

  2. I love your painting today! I chose it as my favorite daily painting on my blog, rosaspicks.wordpress.com. I hope you’ll come by and check it out! Thanks, Rosa

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