A Summer of Watercolor Part IV

Marianne Graff

Andrew Wyeth, cited in Part III, was asked in 2007 to share his choices for the top 20 watercolorists by Artist Daily editor M. Stephen Doherty [Artists network]. The point of the list, according to Doherty, was to offer a broad view of watercolor held by Wyeth and to highlight the qualities that drew him to other artists. He noted that “a vast number of watercolors he created since the late 1930s reveals he was often captivated by the power of nature, the transience of life, the juxtaposition of animate and inanimate forms and the ability of watercolor to represent the soul of the artist.”

The choices of Wyeth were wide-ranging and included Milton Avery, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Thomas Moran, John Pike, Millard Sheets and Georgia O’Keeffe [1887-1986] who produced nearly 50 watercolors catalogued in Georgia O’Keeffe: Watercolors 1916-1918. Her early work was created during her years spent in Canyon, Texas and represents what the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum describes as “a radical period of innovation for the artist during which she firmly established her commitment to abstraction.” Her watercolors “explored the texture and landscape of the Texas desert and the artist’s own body in an exceptionally fragile and sensitive medium” in an expressive, vibrant and singular approach. In the 1970s when her vision was deteriorating, O’Keeffe painted a series of watercolors which were remarkable for their intensity of color and range of expression. “Her watercolors are poetic, full of emotion, movement and meditative repose,” according to Liz Brindley, writing in Watercolors: A Beginning and an End. Besides Wyeth’s choices, an important watercolor artist to note who was influenced by Millard Sheets, was Milford Zornes. His paintings were known for their bold brush strokes and colorful scenes drawn from his extensive world travels as well as California landscapes.

Southwest Art has drawn attention to more recent artists and produced a work called Watercolor Artists Today: The Best Watercolor Paintings in Contemporary Art. Three artists are featured: Laurin McCracken of Mississippi who paints highly detailed realistic still life’s featuring glass, metals and fruit; Nelson Boren who was born in Arizona, paints large-scale watercolors of cowboy life within tightly cropped subjects and, lastly, Dean Mitchell, who is regularly compared to Andrew Wyeth, takes his subjects from the poor and marginalized and their environments. He is quoted in Rich in Spirit by Bonnie Gangelhoff, “I think my paintings are often trying to elevate the underprivileged so I can convey a sense of their dignity and give them a voice in American society.” He does this with great sensitivity using subtle color tones.

PebbleCreek artists deserve many thanks for participating in this summer endeavor. You are invited to view these watercolors in the Creative Arts Center and in the Eagle’s Nest and Tuscany Falls clubhouses.