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Rob Evans p2

Artist Rob Evans mentions an 858 page paperback collection of letters by one of the best Pennsylvania painters and illusrators. It’s been highly praised by many admirers of the artist…

READERSVOICE.COM: What sort of books on art, or memoirs of artists have you liked over the years, especially any books on some of the great Pennsylvania artists?

ROB EVANS: One standout book that comes to mind is The Letters of N. C. Wyeth edited by Betsy Wyeth [full title: The Wyeths. The letters of N.C.Wyeth. 1901-45].  As a child I was drawn to N. C. Wyeth’s powerful illustrations of children’s classics such as Treasure Island, The Yearling, and The Last of the Mohicans. I collected the first editions of these books as a teenager, biking around to used bookstores and flea markets. Later this fascination led me to discover the work of the entire Wyeth art dynasty including Andrew and Jamie Wyeth whose works I would come to admire and who I would eventually, much to my thrill, exhibit alongside in museums later in my career.

The book of N.C. Wyeth’s letters is a wonderful and fascinating window into his entire progression as an artist, from his wide-eyed enthusiastic early years as a student of Howard Pyle, to his last years contemplating his worthiness as an artist vs. illustrator as his son, Andrew, grew more famous in the art world.

RV: When you draw pictures like Gravity Air, in graphite, you have some bold use of dark tones. When viewed up close, can you see hatching and lines, or is it like blocks of dark tone created with the graphite?

RE: Gravity Air was created using pencil and powdered graphite on a heavy museum board. The texture of the board is actually what gives the impression of tiny hatch-marks or dots of tone. The deep-toned areas are built up gradually by rubbing in the powdered graphite first with a soft rag, and then, after spraying it with fixative, adding layers of strokes with the pencil over top. Sometimes I will also use alcohol mixed with powdered graphite to apply a thick dark tone initially – the alcohol evaporates quickly, leaving a textured coating of the graphite on the surface of the board – you can see this in the rough concrete floor in Gravity Air.

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