Over the last several years I have developed an appreciation and love for the paintings of Andrew Wyeth.
I am not sure why that is. His work is so different from my photography. I like bright and colorful. He goes for earth tones and some occasional subdued blues. I like happy, cheerful scenes. Much of Wyeth’s work feels distinctly melancholy. I like bold sunsets with dramatic colors. I have not found a colorful Wyeth sunset, or any kind of sunset. I like spring, summer, and fall, Wyeth likes fall and winter. My fall photos have bold autumn colors. Wyeth’s fall paintings are various hues of browns and ocher.
In short, we are artistic opposites. There is one more big difference. He is a justly famous and a highly skilled artist, and I am just one more largely unknown photographer doing what I love. Maybe I love his work because we are such opposites. Maybe he puts me in touch with something different than I usually tune in to. Plus his paintings speak to me and I am entranced by the details of his work with tempera.
After two days reading books about Wyeth and exploring his work, I was inspired to go out and create an image in the style of Andrew Wyeth. Because Wyeth likes farm houses I went out and did images of farm houses and farm country. Not one of them is worth posting here. And as the sun popped out of the clouds just before it set, I was lured in by the colors and created this image, a colorful sunset unlike anything Wyeth would ever do. I failed miserably at my attempt to do something like Andrew Wyeth. I ended up being me.
But one day years ago I did an image that is roughly reminiscent of Wyeth’s style. I was driving home from a photo trip in the Colorado Rockies (Wyeth likes hills, I like mountains) and spotted a farm house in the part of Colorado where my mother grew up. I wanted a nice bold, colorful sky, but that is not what I had. The sky was flat and colorless. Andrew Wyeth’s work and name did not cross my mind as I looked at the scene. The only color I liked was in the grasses between me and the brownish farm house. So I made the most of the grasses in my photograph and minimized the sky. I used a wide angle focal length (28mm) and small aperture (f/22) to maximize the depth of field. When I was done I packed up my tripod and camera. But I was still wishing there had been a more colorful sky behind the farm house.
For some reason, over time the image grew on me. Now it is one of my favorites. And it is much more akin to Andrew Wyeth than my usual style. I was channeling my inner Andrew Wyeth before I knew in any detail who he was or what his work was all about.
Some day I hope to go out and create an image that is deliberately in the style of Andrew Wyeth!
You can find books about at Andrew Wyeth at Amazon.com.
Andrew Wyeth – official web site
You can buy reproductions of some of Wyeth’s work at Wyeth Print Gallery