Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring beauties

When I was in high school my art teacher loaned me a large book about the art of Andrew Wyeth. It was love at first sight for his drybrush and egg tempera paintings, with their dull, restrained colors, tight brush strokes, and sharp details. I loved how the images were realistic and believable but charged with dreamlike, mysterious significance. They evoked a feeling of longing in me for I didn't know what. I haven't looked at Andrew Wyeth much lately, but the spring beauties blooming in the woods nearby put me in mind of this 1943 drybrush painting, Spring Beauty.

Andrew Wyeth once said, "The great danger of the Pyle school is picture making." (His father and only teacher, the great illustrator N.C. Wyeth, was taught by illustrator Howard Pyle. Many great illustrators were taught by Howard Pyle.)  I'm not sure I know what he meant, but I wonder if this painting might count as a "picture,"  an exquisitely observed picture of tree roots, a spring beauty blossom and a maroon and green-streaked skunk cabbage blossom.  To me it does not have the charged, abstract power of his later works. Not that I miss it in this piece. Picture or not, I like this painting very much.

The younger kids and I went into the woods this afternoon. They played in a sandy spot where the sun was warm while I did very quick sketches of them, of violets, and of spring beauties, shown here.

They're not much to look at, but that's not the point. I wasn't working on making art but on making an artist. I haven't been doing enough of that lately, so I'm trying to squeeze short bouts of sketching into odd moments when I can't do much else anyway. 

That bit of wisdom from Danny Gregory is crucially important to remember if you are prone to discouragement as an artist.


  1. Love the quote, the drawing, and the painting. I've never seen that painting before. Awesome. Thanks!

  2. Danny Gregory also said "There are no bad drawings. Drawings are experiences. The more you draw, the more experienced you'll get." Love the fresh spontaneity of your drawing!

    1. I love his thoughts about drawing.