Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Talking models

In 1993, Andrew Wyeth invited Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Hoving to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania for a two-session portrait.


(Link to video.) It ended up being perhaps the only time Andrew Wyeth was filmed in the act of drawing. Wyeth insisted that Hoving talk during the entire posing session because, first, he wanted to hear Hoving’s stories, and second, because he wanted Hoving’s face to be animated: "I must have animation," Wyeth said.



John Singer Sargent also liked his subjects to talk while he painted them. Vernon Lee told her mother that she enjoyed sitting for Sargent very much: “John talking all the whole time and strumming the piano between times...He says I sit very well; the goodness of my sitting seems to consist in never staying quiet a single moment.” They were childhood friends and she was as much a whirlwind talker as he was.

via Muddy Colors
Book: John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes.

8 comments:

Sam Easton said...

I've seen this video several times before, but I'm always fascinated how there's crazy clockwork goin on inside Wyeth's head.

My Pen Name said...

so much for complaining about the model moving! think there is something in one of Robert Hale's lectures where he jokes about students complaining the model was breathing!

Seriously i do think one captures something from that slight animation that one cannot get from painting from a photograph

Steve said...

An equally insightful portrait of Hoving was done many years ago by John McPhee -- using words, not paint. It's the lead piece in McPhee's collection of essays titled A Roomful of Hovings.

arturoquimico said...

Anyone know what Andrew was doing when he made a circle with his thumb and finger several times, and then looked at his work at different angles? I've seen mapping and plumbing with the brush handle, but how does this hand motion work (are parts of the view being blocked out to focus say on the eye or the nose?)

whatdyaknow said...

I could only guess that the gesture with his thumb and forefinger was a means of measuring distance as pinched them closer and further apart, and then matching the same on his drawing. Only a guess.

dylansketchbook said...

Andrew Wyeth has the most fascinating balance between realism and style. I love looking at his paintings.

Eileen said...

I was taught to use a similar gesture to isolate a small area from any distracting elements nearby. What a joy to see and hear him in action. He was so different than I had imagined. Thanks for posting the video.

Erik Bongers said...

I'm in shock. Wyeth's paintings always seem so tensed.
And yet his portrait sessions seem more relaxed that with most painters.