I've always been a fan of N. C. Wyeth. I love his lusty, heroic illustrations and the books that went with them. I wasn't a fan of his son, Andrew. He seemed spoiled and sulky to me, self-important. That's the problem with being alive at the same time as another artist. I can judge them, not just their work. When he died and his Helga paintings were discovered, I assumed he had an affair with her and was even more judgmental. I didn't want to like evidence of something I consider wrong -- though as far as I know Helga never admitted to anything other than posing for him. I watched a youtube video on Andrew and realized I do like his work, and probably would've liked him personally a lot better than his father. Maybe I need to gain some maturity to get there?
|Andrew Wyeth's Helga
What our eyes see is bent by the way our brains think. We all make judgments despite the biblical admonition, "Judge not lest you be judged".* Our critical minds make observations which help us get through life, but it's like eating apples. One apple is good for us. Too many apples give us a stomach ache. One judgmental, critical observation may be true. That doesn't mean all our other judgments and criticisms are true too.
The important thing is to be able to change our minds. Changing my mind about Andrew Wyeth lets me look at his work in a new way which will change what or how I paint. On a national level, I'm hoping people will change their minds about social distancing, wearing masks, and climate change (plus who they vote into office!). Being able to change course is a sign of intelligence and humility. None of us know everything. I respect the people who learn and grow through their lives.
Something I didn't expect to discover during the Covid pandemic is that I like masks because they hide fake smiles. A real smile crinkles a person's eyes. An old person with a lot of smile crinkles is a good person. I'd like to draw them. I want to get to know them. I want to know what they know, and how I might be still self-deluding myself or unfairly judging others. Some day I want to be the old lady with the crinkled eyes whom a younger person wants to know because I'll have discovered the secrets to life and laughed through the journey.
The internet is full of false perfection. We all want to look better, seem more successful, be happier than anyone else. I see TV commercials about ointments that take away wrinkles and I don't think the people really look that much better. Other ads promote airbrushing your skin issues away. That isn't where true beauty is. I think this makes people look plastic and unreal. Nobody wants to paint someone that fake, and the best art can exaggerate the flaws we see in ourselves because that's the stuff that shows our character and makes us interesting. People who love us will love us with our flaws anyway.
Observe, have an open mind, be willing to change course. You'll do better at whatever you do and will be a much more beautiful person to be around too.
I did a post about drawing eyes. You can see it here. I also did a post about painting an eyeball. I still think about painting a mess of these and putting them on the mantle.
*Matthew 7:1, and a sign that even the unwashed can quote scripture :)