I went to the #AndrewWyeth exhibit @seattleartmuseum a few days ago and had an epiphany that brought me to tears. Oh yeah. That’s right. Crying. In the museum. While others were milling around. And I was taken aback at my response…until it came to me.
Wyeth is my Painter Grandfather!
Stay with me a bit and I’ll explain what I mean.
The term “woman painter” is a strange and often pejorative one in the male-dominated art world. It doesn’t make any sense when you really think about it. Why should my identity as a cis female in any way change the value or regard for my artwork. Art is art. Why does my gender matter? The term always left me feeling less than, like I had no right to be part of the art world—this place that called to me so profoundly.
So back to me in the museum. Crying in front of Wyeth’s early watercolors. Early in my return to painting two decades ago, I studied with Ted Betts in Virginia @theartleague. Ted was a brilliant mentor—kind and generous in his teaching. He painted in the tradition of Wyeth—often using those muted palettes, highly detailed hardscapes and landscapes. Ted passed away about 10 years ago and I miss him so much. He was such a force for good, kindness, and compassion in the world. From Ted I learnt how to mix colors, create light effects, choose paint and brushes, paint details, to know when a piece was ready and when a piece was still a work in progress, and over the course of the years I studied with him, I began my foray into working abstractly.
At the Seattle Art Museum last week, my epiphany was that for me, as an artist, Ted is my Painter Father.
Ted helped me grow my happy accidents into intention. He taught me so much and, most of all, he was respectful of me, my work and my aspirations. He was encouraging. He built my confidence after many others had torn it down. Standing in front of Wyeth’s watercolors, I pieced together that if Ted was my Painter Father, then Wyeth was my Painter Grandfather. Suddenly I went from orphan Woman Painter to painting royalty. Through painting, I had a direct connection to this artist. This was my Painter Patrilineage. On exhibit in the Seattle Art Muesum. I was uplifted and overwhelmed.
And I cried with joy, grief, and relief.
So if you haven’t been yet, I recommend you go. For more information go to: Seattle Art Museum Exhibitions.