Friday, January 16, 2009

N. C. Wyeth-American Artist and Illustrator

Illustration for the Book Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Illustrated by N.C. Wyeth
Image Source Wikimedia Commons-Public Domain

Sadly, Andrew Wyeth passed away today at age 91, and considering I already wrote a post about him in December 2008, I thought it would be a good idea to write something about his father, Newell Convers Wyeth.

I am including this in my series of My Favorite Artists. Although I was not familiar with his work until I did my research for the post on Andrew Wyeth. I think his work understandably had an influence on Andrew, and without doubt N. C. Wyeth had a great influence on American Illustration in general.

N. C. Wyeth 1882-1945, was born in Needham Massachusetts and was a pupil of renowned illustrator Howard Pyle, who was considered the father of American illustration. He was an accomplished watercolor painter by the age of 12, and attended Mechanics Art School to learn drafting, Massachusetts Normal Arts School, and later the Eric Pape School of Art to learn illustration.

His first commissioned work was a cover for The Saturday Evening Post, and after another commission for the same magazine, was urged in 1904 to go west by Howard Pyle to gain direct knowledge and experience of the subjects he was using for his illustrations. Over a period of two years, he travelled through the west taking on various jobs, and soaking up the environment of Cowboys and Indians in the wild wild west which added a dynamic, romantic flavor to his work.

Over his career Wyeth managed to complete over 3,000 paintings and illustrations, and did artworks for books such as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Robin Hood, The Last of the Mohican's, and also did work for magazines such as Century, Harper's, Ladies Home Journal, and Scribner's.
As if that was not enough, he also did posters, calendars, and advertisements for Lucky Strike, Cream of Wheat, and Coca Cola.

By 1914, Wyeth became disenchanted with commercial art, and thereafter had an internal struggle, as he thought the work he was doing only served his publisher masters wishes, and their desires to satisfy the needs of the buying public, and the limitations of the printing processes of those times. However he did make a successful living at it, and managed to raise a family on his income form his illustration work.

After sifting through images of his work for a couple of hours, I am amazed at his use of color, and his strong sense of design and composition in his work. His illustrations give you the feeling of actually being there, even looking at them today. The way that he painted clouds impressed me perhaps the most. The shapes and the colors, the lights and the darks are in my mind just perfect.

View more images of N.C. Wyeth's illustrations.
Treasure Island-Online Book.









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