Andrew Newell Wyeth was a preeminent American visual artist known for his evocative depictions of rural life. He specialized in realist painting and achieved immense success with the regionalism style, becoming one of the most famous U.S artists during mid-20th century. His works – often inspired by those around him at hometown Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania or his summer home in Cushing, Maine – are widely admired today. Christina’s World is perhaps his best known masterpiece, and it is now part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. (He painted it in 1948, when he was just 31 years old.)
In September, 1942, American Artist featured Wyeth as “One of America’s Youngest and Most Talented Painters.” Here are three key takeaways from this little piece of art history.
Career. Crediting his father, N.C. Wyeth, for much of his early success, Andrew Wyeth was provided support and guidance in addition to the freedom to find his own artistic voice. In addition to his famous father, the Wyeth family was large and full of many well-known painters. Andrew made his first sale at 12. By the age of 20, he had sold nearly every painting in his first solo show.
Premier Coup. When working with watercolor, Wyeth embraced its spontaneity and fluidity, working deliberately with no lifting of paint or reworking weak sections. Mornings were spent with brush exercises to warm up and preparing for a finished work in the afternoon. He would rarely spend more than 30 minutes on a painting, which required a significant amount of time preparing and planning the work. If a passage was not “right,” the painting would be started over, rather than reworked. As stated in the article, “He is first to admit the presumption of this kind of attack, and is ready to confess that it fails more often than it succeeds. The supposition is, of course, that considerably more than emotion is available for the use in those thirty tense minutes which might be compared to the brief moments of a surgical operation.
Materials. Wyeth worked in medium-rough blocks and objected to stretching paper because it “loses its capacity for brilliant effects.” He used only three brushes: #5, #10, and #14 round sable brushes.
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