The-Headlands-of-Monhegan-Island-Maine-2007“The Headlands of Monhegan Island, Maine.” Jamie Wyeth (2007). Har, har… “Headlands.” Okay, Jamie, we get the joke. In the past few days I’ve shared paintings by grandfather N.C. Wyeth and his son Andrew. Here’s Andrew’s son, Newel’s grandson. Jamie is a bit out of his head (har) and has an obsession with jack-o-lanterns. I tried to verify this story just now, but was stymied by a barrage of slow-loading ads and lost my patience. So take this as hearsay… I seem to remember reading a book about the Wyeths that told a story behind this painting: The inhabitants on Monhegan Island have a fall festival, post-Halloween, of tossing their decaying jack-o-lanterns over the cliffs onto the rocky shores far below. The heads land on the rocks. “Headlands.” Enjoy the spectacle of the splats, then let the waves wash them away. From holiday decor to fish food. Good enough excuse for a party in my book. Now consider the painting itself… Always first, composition: Notice the flight path we take from bottom left into to the pale cliffs beyond, beginning with the broken shards on the rocks, then following each falling pumpkin as we recede into the misty horizon in a great spiraling arc. Next, the bold, saturated colors: the deep prussian and ultramarine of the waves, the verdant shore and the brilliant oranges of the doomed carved gourds in the sun. Contrast those chromatic colors with the earth tones of the rocks and cliffs, the soft gradation of cool gray to lemon yellow in the sky. Also notice the chaotic “brushwork.” Jamie is known to push paint around with things besides brushes, including his fingers, then lick them clean. I suspect it’s just a marketing act. But, I have to applaud Jamie. There’s a method to his madness.