In January 2003, Cheekwood in Nashville hosted the traveling exhibition of the Helga Pictures by Andrew Wyeth. These drawings and paintings were done over about 15 years with his neighbor as his model. There is a depth in the detail and intimacy of these pieces that take your breath away. I have trees I have painted that long, but no people. Except, oddly, myself, in spurts. I'm not a steady maker of self portraits, but I do bursts of them at intervals. I'm in one of those bursts now, and there are some simliarities, as there are with the Hopper portaits I've also been looking at.
I had forgotten completly about seeing this exhibition until I recently found my sketchbook, and it all flooded back. I did a whole series of sketches in this show, and it was fun to see them again. I thought I'd put them here for anyone interested.
I copied down a bunch of his quotes as well from the text panels. One which is resonating for me at the moment, in the middle of my solo woman in a big world series of self portraits is this; "I think anything like that -- which is contemplative, silent, shows a person alone -- people always feel is sad. Is that because we've lost the art of being alone?"
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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