Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Inspired by Andrew Wyeth...

   I've loved the paintings of Andrew Wyeth from the first moment I saw them back in the late 1960's.  For a short time, I worked as a painter and his meticulous tempera and watercolor landscapes influenced my brush work.  When I started photography again in 2005 I looked again at this man's work.  This time it was more his compositions that struck my eye rather than his painting technique.

  "Christina's World" is perhaps the most recognized of Wyeth's paintings.  I have been to Cushing, Maine where the house is located.  I even sat in the field looking up at the house as Christina did.  She and her brother are buried in the small family cemetery to the left of this view.  The house is a museum now and it and the surrounding countryside are wonderful places to photograph.

   I've been inspired by Wyeth's work in several ways but most notably in his use of ordinary, rural subjects and his high horizon lines.  My image "Up Close and Far Away" definitely has a "Wyeth-like feel to it.  The high horizon line throws the foreground into greater importance and creates an immense sense of space.

   I also love the "bare bones" feel to Wyeth's work and I guess that is what draws me to photograph in November and early December here in Maine when the skeleton of the landscape is beautifully revealed.  I think it is also what inspires me in the Burren in Ireland and in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  Things are uncrowded there...there is room to breath and the images have an expansive quality to them.  Some people's response to such images is that they feel "lonely"...but that says more of the person themselves than the photograph.

   I urge you to not limit your inspiration to just photographers.  Visit an art museum and check out the painting galleries.  Bring your sketch book and make some visual notations of different compositional ideas or unique subject matter.  A contemplative photographers inspiration can come from anywhere!

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