Andrew Wyeth: Pencil Drawings and Watercolor Sketches

  • Andrew Wyeth, Open House Study, 1979, watercolor and pencil. ¬©Andrew Wyeth
November 14, 2012 - March 24, 2013
Wyeth Study Center

The pencil drawings and watercolor sketches in this exhibition offer an intimate look at some of the working studies for several of Andrew Wyeth’s major tempera paintings. Included in this exhibition are studies for the tempera painting Chambered Nautilus that were included in the recent exhibition Andrew Wyeth: Looking Beyond at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. Andrew Wyeth’s tempera paintings are the culmination of months, sometimes years, of work. He would often create many pencil drawings and watercolors of a subject before beginning a tempera, but every drawing and painting started with an emotion. As Wyeth explained:
"But there are no rules to my thinking about painting ... to me it is simply the question of whether or not I can find the thing that expresses the way I feel at a particular time about my own emotions. The only thing I want to search for is the growth and depth of my emotion toward a given object. To me, pencil drawing is a very emotional, very quick, very abrupt medium. I will work on the tone of a hill and then perhaps I will come to a branch or leaf or whatever and then all of a sudden I’m drawn into the thing penetratingly. I will perhaps put in a terrific black and press down on the pencil so strongly that perhaps the lead will break, in order to emphasize my emotional impact with the objects. And to me, that’s what a pencil or pen will do. Now about watercolor. The only virtue to a watercolor is to put down an idea very quickly without too much thought about what you feel at the moment. In some senses it is similar to drawing but drawing in all aspects of color. ... Watercolor perfectly expresses the free side of my nature."
(Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth:
Kuerners and Olsons, pp. 30–31)