Painting: The Preservationist

The pictures are solemn brown studies. Here and there, light flashes within them like electricity inside a summer thunderhead. At first glance, they are quiet paintings of commonplace subjects—familiar faces, weather-beaten buckets, battered stone walls and boulders — with none of the candy-colored savor of pop culture or the treacle of lap dogs and firesides. Basically, An drew Wyeth paints his own backyard.

Yet to the careful observer his scenes crackle with an instant's discovery, the look that a mirror cannot capture, an insight that burrows beneath anatomy.

Snowfalls & Souls. Wyeth,...

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