HumanitiesWeb.org - Andrew Wyeth - "Painter of the People" [Quotations]
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Site last updated
26 June, 2013

Andrew Newell Wyeth
Quotations



"My father helped me greatly in this, giving me books to look at and read and putting a skeleton to draw in the studio. And that was a marvelous revelation. I drew it hundreds of times from every conceivable angle. This went on for months. Then one day, my father said to me, 'Fine, now you've done those things. Now we'll take the skeleton away and I'd like you to do it from memory to see what you've gained from it.' ...He wanted me to see the third dimension of something, not simply a frozen image in front of me...He wanted me to come alive with the object."

"I played alone, and wandered a great deal over the hills, painting watercolors that literally exploded, slapdash over my pages, and drew in pencil or pen and ink in a wild and undisciplined manner."
 
"Emotion is my bulwark, I think thatís the only thing that endures, finally."
 
"My father helped me greatly in this, giving me books to look at and read and putting a skeleton to draw in the studio. And that was a marvelous revelation. I drew it hundreds of times from every conceivable angle. This went on for months. Then one day, my father said to me, 'Fine, now you've done those things. Now we'll take the skeleton away and I'd like you to do it from memory to see what you've gained from it.' ...He wanted me to see the third dimension of something, not simply a frozen image in front of me...He wanted me to come alive with the object."
 
"Technique is not what interests me. 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 life and my own emotions. The only thing that I want to search for is the growth and depth of my emotion toward a given object. In that way I free myself from the bonds of routine technical quality. I don't htink one can develop technically in new ways unless one's emotions dictate it. To be interested solely in technique would be a very superficial thing to me. If I have an emotion, before I die, that's deeper than any emotion that I've ever had, then I will paint a more powerful picture that will have nothing to do with just technique, but will go beyond it."
 
"You never know how influences come in. If they come with me, they come casually. I'm certainly never conscious of them, if I am truly interested in what I am doing. Knowledge of the works of certain others is, of course, important. But that doesn't mean that you should think about it. These things should go into your bloodstream and disappear."
 
"I think a great painting is a painting that funnels itself in and then funnels out, spreads out. I enter in a very focused way and then I go through it and way beyond it. A painting has to come naturally, freely, organically in a sense, through the back door. And one has to be careful of getting too wrapped up in the meticulousness of the technique, or of getting frozen or constipated."
 
"My father used to have some people ask him, 'Well, aren't you scared that all this academic, stiff training that you're putting your son through is going to kill this marvelous freedom?' He would say 'If it kills it, it ought to be killed.'...If it isn't strong enough to take the gaff of real training, then it's not worth very much."
 
"Why not have abstraction and the real, too? Combine the two, bring in the new with the traditional and you can't beat it...I try for an equal balance. If somehow I can combine my absolutely mad freedom and excitement with truth, then I will have done something."
 
"A change of subject is really very unimportant to me, because there are always new revelations coming out of that one subject."
 
"I think a great painting is a painting that funnels itself in and then funnels out, spreads out. I enter in a very focused way and then I go through it and way beyond it. A painting has to come naturally, freely, organically in a sense, through the back door. And one has to be careful of getting too wrapped up in the meticulousness of the technique, or of getting frozen or constipated."
 
"Watercolor shouldn't behave, it simply shouldn't."
 
"You will notice that in my temperas I am not trying to gain motion by freedom of execution. It's all in how you arrange the thing-the careful balance of the design is the motion. It's a moment that I'm after, a fleeting moment but not a frozen moment."
 
"You can lose the essence by detailing a lot of extraneous things."
 
"Just because you have a simple subject of a hill, doesn't mean that it isn't complex as hell. It shouldn't show too much if it is good. It should all be there, but you should cover it up. Don't show every muscle in the body you are painting, emphasize just salient points, just enough. That's where the master comes in, the person who is really good. I have noticed that people who spout great knowledge all the time usually don't have much knowledge."
 
"Just because you have a simple subject of a hill, doesn't mean that it isn't complex as hell. It shouldn't show too much if it is good. It should all be there, but you should cover it up. Don't show every muscle in the body you are painting, emphasize just salient points, just enough. That's where the master comes in, the person who is really good. I have noticed that people who spout great knowledge all the time usually don't have much knowledge."
 
"What I was after is what you get after sugaring off maple sugar from the maple tree. You keep boiling it down until you have the essence of purity. That is what I was after."
 
"I find sometimes I may want to end up with subtlety, but I have to start out boldly. I think you have got to exaggerate to get it across."
 
"There would have been a time when I would have made hundreds of close, methodical, even oddly dull drawings of an object when I was learning to catch a subject off balance. And slowly, one learns to know anatomy, to know structure, proportion, perspective, when to modify, when not to, when to exaggerate, when to thin down. These are all things that an artist should train himself to do so that at the right moment, the decisive moment, one is there to catch it, whether it's imaginary or graphically right there in front of you. It only becomes good when you no longer think about it. When you've got to think about every motion, you're no damn good."
 
"There would have been a time when I would have made hundreds of close, methodical, even oddly dull drawings of an object when I was learning to catch a subject off balance. And slowly, one learns to know anatomy, to know structure, proportion, perspective, when to modify, when not to, when to exaggerate, when to thin down. These are all things that an artist should train himself to do so that at the right moment, the decisive moment, one is there to catch it, whether it's imaginary or graphically right there in front of you. It only becomes good when you no longer think about it. When you've got to think about every motion, you're no damn good."
 
"My pictures are almost angles of things flashing here and there. That's what excites me."
 
"We study a face or an ear as the absolute truth. We are apt to look at a hill or a building and not do it with the truth that is there. We think we can get away with it."
 
"Every person's ear is different. Ears to me are important in portraits. But a lot of people make them all lok alike. They're not. It's a matter of being sensitive."
 
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