What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Edwin Fotheringham and … well, the Wyeths

h1 June 13th, 2014 by jules

“In college, he still dreamed of fields and woods and home. But by his junior year in 1820, he also found new things to love: reading stacks of books, discussing them with friends, and recording ‘new thoughts’ in a journal. He named his journal The Wide World. His thoughts took him everywhere. And when he finished school and set out on his own, he wondered: Could he build a life around these things he loved?”
— Art from Barbara Kerley’s
A Home for Mr. Emerson, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
(Click image to enlarge)

“Ann loved dolls but Andrew’s favorites were trains, a hook and ladder that pumped real water, and his toy soldiers. When he was six, N.C. painted his portrait.
Andrew wouldn’t hold still. N.C. gave him the toy fire engine to hold, but he kept moving, so N.C. left the hands unfinished.”
— From Susan Goldman Rubin’s
Everybody Paints!:
The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family
(Click to enlarge spread)


This morning over at Kirkus, since Father’s Day is upon us, I write about some of my favorite picture books featuring fathers. That link is here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about two new biographies, Barbara Kerley’s A Home for Mr. Emerson (Scholastic, February 2014), illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, and Susan Goldman Rubin’s Everybody Paints!: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family (Chronicle, February 2014).

Today, I’ve got a bit of art from the Emerson book, and Edwin is also sharing a few sketches and a few words below.

I’ve also got some spreads from the Wyeth biography. It turns out that (legally-speaking), I can post some art from the Wyeth book, if I include the spreads in their entirety. No problem. I’ll share them here. I’ve been a long-time fan of the art that has come from the Wyeth clan—my bookshelves groan under my collection of Wyeth books—and I hope you enjoy the spreads here today.

Until Sunday …

* * *

Edwin: The “Boy” series [below] is from the second spread in the book, and the “Woods” series is from the spread where Emerson dives into his books. Basically, what happened in these series shows how I flipped back and forth between metaphor and narrative realism in trying to breathe visual life into the story of the thinker, Emerson. It was a difficult task.

(Click each image to enlarge slightly)


One of the final illustrations: “… They set up Mr. Emerson’s library of books, his table, and, of course, his collection of journals, in which he wrote faithfully. Lately he’d been pondering the importance of creating the life you imagined for yourself: ‘Every spirit builds itself a house, and beyond its house a world. … Build therefore your own world.’ This idea and others he hoped to turn into books and lectures to support his family. Best of all, he could do this work in his peaceful study — and his nice rocking chair.”
(Click to enlarge spread; please note that the colors as they appear here are a bit brighter than they appear in the illustration in the book)


* * *


“From early childhood N.C. had ‘a constant urge to draw.’ He set up a drawing table in a corner of his bedroom and created a little studio. His first pictures were of
his house, his mother, their cow, and his pony, Bud. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)

“N.C.’s sister-in-law Nancy came to live with them and help look after the Wyeth brood. For Robin Hood Nancy posed for the figure of Maid Marian because his wife, Carol,
was happily pregnant again. But for the glowing face of Maid Marian,
he painted Carol’s portrait.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

“N.C. spread out the paintings and studied them. ‘They look magnificent,’
he wrote to Andrew. ‘They represent the
very best watercolors I ever saw!’
Andrew replied, ‘What you had to say about my watercolors means more to me than you know. You are the only person that really understands what I am after.'”

(Click to enlarge spread)

“Christina and her environment were to become beloved subjects for Andrew. Christina’s World, his most famous painting, shows her lying in the field below her house. It was inspired by a scene he observed a few years later. He was looking out the window when he saw Christina dragging herself across the grass. The image moved him and later that evening he rushed to his studio and sketched the composition from memory. … He began with the house, then the hill, and added Christina later using a drawing of Betsy’s body to work with the pose. ‘I felt the loneliness of that figure,’ he said, ‘perhaps the same that I felt myself as a kid.'”
(Click to enlarge spread)

“Betsy had always loved picking berries, and Andrew wanted to paint a picture of her doing it. But all his drawings seemed ordinary. One summer in Maine he decided to try to capture the scene unobserved. ‘I sneaked along the edge of the woods
and found her sleeping,’ he said. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)

“Sometimes Andrew took his sons, Nicky and Jamie, along with him when he painted. Often he wound up painting pictures of the boys. One time Jamie dropped a toy soldier in the field, and Andrew went searching for it. When Andrew returned,
he found Jamie sitting and daydreaming, his arms clasped around his knees.
Faraway is a portrait of Jamie, age six, wearing his favorite
Davy Crockett coonskin hate and metal-tipped Civil War shoes.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

“In 1967 Jackie Kennedy, the president’s widow, asked Jamie to do a portrait of the president. Jamie had never met President John F. Kennedy or even seen him in a public appearance. President Kennedy had been assassinated in 1963, when Jamie was just seventeen years old. Jamie’s father discouraged him from accepting the commission. He didn’t believe that an artist could do a good portrait from photographs. But Jamie took the job. He was twenty years old.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Illustrations from A HOME FOR MR. EMERSON copyright 2014, written by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. Used with permission from Scholastic Press. The sketches are used with permission of Edwin Fotheringham.

EVERYBODY PAINTS!: THE LIVES AND ART OF THE WYETH FAMILY. Copyright © 2014 by Susan Goldman Rubin. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco. All spreads here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

One comment to “What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Edwin Fotheringham and … well, the Wyeths”

  1. Love the stories behind the portraits – what a lovely book.

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