Thoughts on a Passage from Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth, A Secret Life (Book Cover)

I thought you would like this passage from Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life.The author describes Andrew’s understanding of his father’s struggles:

“From his boyhood he had watched his father churning with philosophic introspection and rejecting the innate gifts that gave his art its power—his mastery of drama, his fierce sense of romance, his counterpoint of violence and sentiment. ‘He tried to get serious and do other things,’ Wyeth says sadly. ‘But they didn’t have his quality. That’s the tragedy of my father’s life.'”

I think there’s a great lesson there. Most of us are inclined to dictate for ourselves who our instinctual selves should be but that’s a fundamental contradiction and the results, artistically, are never satisfactory.

Even if what we see in our natural talents isn’t on the level of our hero’s there is still at least the flicker of artistic genius there. If we want to accomplish something of real worth, we have no choice but to identify it, recognize it, embrace it as our own and put it to use.

That’s the nut of what I’m always trying to do in teaching: Guiding students to that recognition.