Helga

Braids by Andrew Wyeth (above)

The Seattle Art Museum has a nice tribute exhibit for the late Andrew Wyeth called Andrew Wyeth: Remembrance.  It features several beautiful landscape paintings of Chadds Ford, as well as my favorite Helga paintings.  

Although the Helga paintings are portraits, they relate perfectly to Wyeth's landscapes, both because Helga was the Wyeths' neighbor in Chadds Ford (therefore belonging to the setting), and because of the way she is painted.  For example, the gouache painting of Helga's braids, where light strands are layered thickly upon darks by using little or no water to thin the paint (rather than relying on transparency for lighter color as with more fluid watercolors), is very similar to Wyeth's landscape paintings of the dry, wispy grasses of Chadds Ford.  

The detail Wyeth captured using gouache, ink, watercolor and the drybrush technique is amazing- from Helga's eyelashes and the loose strands of hair escaping from her long braids to the individual knits of her sweater-- creating textures that contribute to the reality of the image so much that you believe you know what the subjects actually feel like when you look at them.