Today’s effort towards a better understanding of watercolors was a “field trip” to the Brandywine River Museum to study a bit from Andrew Wyeth.
Living relatively close to the Brandywine collection for much of my life has been a treasure. As a kid, it was N.C. Wyeth’s paintings that sparked an interest in me to pursue illustration. It took art school and some professional experience to squash that (although now that my kids are all in school I’ve been considering a new venture into illustration but that is for another day…). His paintings were full of fantasy and drama. His technique was full of bravado and confidence. These were easy paintings for a boy’s mind to wander into and get lost.
Later I had an interest in Jamie Wyeth as I seemed to outgrow the fantasy of his grandfather’s work and I liked his vibrant colors. I never had much interest in Andrew’s paintings. I thought they seemed too somber and too stiff. Most of what I knew of him was through what the poster stores in the mall sold.
It was through drawing that I eventually came to appreciate Andrew Wyeth. His drawings are fantastic and virtuosic. It’s now in my maturity that I can appreciate the confidence he shows as a master. The abstraction. The storytelling. The restraint. The focus.
I had never taken a tour at the museum before and today’s field trip required that I visit his studio to snoop around. As fate would have it, today was the first day they’re allowing photography in his studio. Yippee!
This is the corner in a well known tempera painting he did with a wicker laundry basket. It was funny to see some locations and instantly recognize them.
I think all artists love art books.
This is a wall in his studio where he tacked drawings.
The studio was set up to showcase his tempera supplies. I don’t know if they staged it or if that’s how it was when he died or if it was commonly like this. There wasn’t really a Q&A portion of the tour.
There was this on a table out in a hall. Again, I don’t know if this was his. It certainly couldn’t be the studio palette that he would’ve needed to do his larger watercolors. Again, no real opportunity to ask. It doesn’t look as if it’s ever gotten much use (if any) and the little dabs of color look like it was staged by the museum. There was a gigantic roll of watercolor paper in a closet that she talked about. Wyeth had it shipped from France. It was 4-5′ tall and she said it had 300′ of paper on it. I wanted to touch it but… no chance really to ask. She had a lot of information to cover and it was all very interesting so I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining.
Here are the colors isolated. This is one of the main reasons I went. Maybe someone can help me with identifying some or correcting me if I’m wrong. It appeared to be (L-R):
ultramarine, cobalt, cerulean, some kind of opaque light green, possibly black (raw umber?), maybe cadmium yellow (?), burnt umber, cadmium red (?), yellow ochre.
I’d take the tour again. Next time I’m going to take the N.C. Wyeth studio tour and I must take the Kuerner’s Farm tour. I hope they offer that one in the winter.