11 October 1983
Another illustrator who's work I can't really say when I first became aware of, was N.C. Wyeth. His Treasure Island paintings are some of the most beautifully designed and executed pieces of book illustration I have ever run across. I recently got a chance to do an adaptation of Treasure Island myself, and of course, found myself immediately drawn back to these for inspiration. Mine, of course, didn't hold a candle to these, but it was nice to feel some sort of connection, however tenuous, with this outstanding artist.
And, while researching these pieces, I came across a project that Wyeth did for National Geographic back in 1928.
17 March 1983
I wasn't exposed to much 'art' as a child. I may have been taken through the national gallery in Washington DC when I was quite young (5 or less), but I remember little about it. I remember seeing a rembrandt show in Detroit when I was in my teens, and touring the Mott museum on my own when I took a summer drawing class there when I was fifteen. Mostly 'lowbrow' art, like cartoons and book illustrations were my main influences.
Oddly enough, the biggest expose to the 'great works' were from the Parker Brothers' 'Masterpiece' game, on little 3 x 5 glossy reproductions. Later, in the eighties, when I made my first treks over to Chicago, I was tickled to discover that a lot of the paintings used in the game, were from the collection of the Chicago Art Institute. Probably since these works were ingrained in my memory from a young age, they are particularly enjoyable to see 'in person'. In the years since, I've visited several museums in different parts of the country, and seen other examples of many of these artists' works, but none quite have the power to stop me in my tracks like these pieces from the Chicago collection.
I recently revisited the museum after a long absence (January 2009), and was reminded all over again of these personal art icons and thought I'd collect a few favorites to post here by way of 'influences'. Oddly enough, the more 'famous' paintings from the Chicago museum, which everyone seems to rave about whenever I mention the collection (specifically, the Seurat 'sunday afternoon' piece, and the Hopper 'nighthawks' painting), they never quite register on my own personal radar. Perhaps I've seen them elsewhere so often that they have become somewhat dulled in repetition (and I have a hard time seeing nighthawks anymore without picturing that horribly kitchey poster shop knock-off, with Bogie Monroe and James Dean sitting at the counter).