‘Wind from the Sea’ by Andrew Wyeth
Andrew Wyeth (1917 - 1985) continues to be one of America’s most prominent artists. The youngest of five children, his artistic talent was highly influenced by his famous illustrator father N.C. Wyeth, but his work was inspired by the landscape that surrounded his childhood home in Pennsylvania and his summer home in Maine.
Andrew Wyeth spent his winters in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, but when the warm weather would come around, the family would move to Cushing, Maine, where his father had bought a house. Andrew adopted a distinct palette to represent each location - earthy tones for Chadds Ford, and rich greens and blues for Maine. Based on this fact, it would be logical to deduce that ‘Wind from the Sea’ is a Chadds Ford painting due to its earthy monochromatic appearance; however, this painting is one of a few exceptions to the rule. The half-opened window that dominates the painting actually frames the Olson house in Cushing, Maine, with the sheer curtains blowing in the summer breeze, but not a trace of blue or green in the scene.
The Olsons were neighbours of the Wyeths, so Andrew painted three of the Olson children at different points in his life. Christina Olson became one famous subject, frozen in time in the renowned 1948 painting ‘Christina’s World’. It was from the very same window depicted in ‘Wind from the Sea’ that Wyeth saw the disabled Christina crawl up the hill towards the house.
‘Wind from the Sea’ is painted in tempera, a Renaissance technique whereby egg yolk is used to bind pigment. As a man well known for taking very long walks, Andrew Wyeth was equipped with the patience required to produce a finished piece in tempera. The drying period can extend to several months and deft precision has to be exercised in its application. In view of the meticulously delicate details in the net curtains in ‘Wind from the Sea’, as well as the successful replication of the fabric’s sheerness, Wyeth is a master painter, well-deserving of his renowned position in art history.
Such photo-like imagery proves Andrew Wyeth to be an artist keen on realism. ‘Wind from the Sea’ is a remarkable scene that embodies not only the heat but also the feeling of Maine in the summer. In Wyeth’s words, ‘Art to me, is seeing. I think you have got to use your eyes, as well as your emotion, and one without the other just doesn't work… If one could only catch that true color of nature – the very thought of it drives me mad’.