One of the most prized possessions I have in my studio space is an old book I bought for $6.99 from a second-hand book store.

So as much as I like Andrew Wyeth’s paintings, I LOVE his sketches…

Now I have always liked Andrew Wyeth (and what artist worth his salt doesn’t?)  I bought this book on a whim because I have been to the Brandywine Museum where the Wyeth family shows most of the collection of family artwork from the three Wyeths. (NC Wyeth, Andrews father, was a genius btw, and worth studying… )  But I love this book for the sketches.

A quote from Andrew Wyeth in the book:
“I’ll take weeks out doing drawings, watercolor studies, I may never use. I’ll throw them in a backroom, never look at them again or drop them on the floor and walk over them. But I feel that the communion that has seeped into the subconscious will eventually come out in the final picture.”

cool…..

I like seeing a master like Wyeth spend so much time on tiny sketches… he was working things out just like the rest of us!! I like these sketches better than his finished works because they are not labored over- just a pure searching of intellect. Done for himself. For me, I can see the thoughts behind the images. The struggle of where to position things… I find fascination in ideas sketched out and then discarded. The process is what makes us artists… after all, we artists are nothing more than elaborate decision-makers anyway. Then you can see his completed vision in the finished works…

There is so much studying that can be done on composition from these sketches…

thinking… thinking…  I can see the smoke coming out of his head in the series below…

 

Ahhh, the beauty of these… and in the last one it is not about her anymore… where is the emphasis? The dark marks in the purse are careful and deliberate. The darkest dark lines are there and not on her anymore so the sketch is now about the weight of what she is carrying. Love it. It is intention. It is deliberate.

I have a hard time in my classes getting artists to embrace and love their thumbnails. We all want to just get to the good stuff- painting- I know, me too. But I LOVE creating thumbnails. You get to try one thing, then try it again with a different idea. Tweak the idea. Make it stronger, make it simpler, make it more powerful. THEN paint it… painting becomes fun after all the hard work is done and designed up front. And design is the singular most important part of a painting. It is your voice. I hear artists all the time say they “want in” this show or that… “gotta paint something for it!!” But first design it… love it… worry about a show later.

Again, a quote from Wyeth:
“You paint about as far as your emotions go, and that’s about it.”

more on Wyeth next week…