Through the Back Door

Experimented some more on the coffee pot.

Experimented some more on the coffee pot.

I’ve had young artists say, “Of course, Mr. Wyeth, I can go out and take a photograph in a blizzard of that tree with the snow hitting it; and I don’t know why you waste months making dozens of drawings, because I can take you back in a couple of seconds with this splendid photograph that I can work from in the studio.”  I said, “You’re forgetting one thing, you know, and that’s the spirit of the object, which, if you sit long enough, will finally creep in through the back door and grab you.  With a photograph you will lose all that.”  I don’t think anyone can deny it.

Andrew Wyeth

I’ll never wear out this quote from Wyeth.  For years I worked from photographs because I just didn’t get it.  Plein air painting the landscape broke me away from photos, but then I found myself terrified to “address” a still life object up close and personal.  Two winters ago, I broke out of that phobia and painted two large still lifes in my garage on full sheets of watercolor paper.  Both are framed now, and over two dozen smaller ones have followed.  Wyeth really nailed it–the longer you spend staring at an object, contemplating its appearance, the more it seeps into your consiousnessness, and it is so subtle, as though slipping in through the back door.  I had a number of business matters to address this afternoon, and even more quality conversations, so there wasn’t a great deal of time left for the studio tonight.  But I did take some more pokes at the coffee percolator and feel now that I have done about all I can with this one.  I’m not satisfied with the result, but that only means it is time to begin a new one.  For over a week, I have made premliminary studies in charcoal, pencil and watercolor of a lantern, coffee mug and percolator, and have learned so much about watercolor washes and texturing techniques. Yet I feel that I am just beginning my study of this genre.

This blog entry is going to be short, but there is very good reason–I have had no fewer than six very meaningful conversations with very special people today and tonight who mean more to me than they could ever realize.  These conversations began over the lunch hour and extended until just a few moments ago.  You know who you are–thank you and I love you all.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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2 Responses to “Through the Back Door”

  1. lifeofawillow Says:

    what a magnificent post. thank you for sharing.


  2. Angeline M Says:

    A beautiful quote. As an aspiring photographer (I do not paint at all), I must say that when I am out photographing nature, I stand, sit, lean, and look at that which I am photographing until I do feel the spirit there, the connection; and now will revel in Wyeth’s quote of it coming in the back door and grabbing me. I never knew how to put in to words what I was feeling.


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