Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Hardie Gramatky: Among the top American watercolorists. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
The late Westport artist Hardie Gramatky has been named one of American’s all-time great watercolorists by artist Andrew Wyeth.
Wyeth was asked to choose the top 20 American watercolorists in an interview with Watercolor magazine for its 20th anniversary issue this fall, and Gramatky was named on that list.
He was internationally known for both his fine art watercolors and his fourteen children’s books, which included “Little Toot.”
Gramatky’s grandson Andew Smith said the selection was like asking Mick Jagger to name the two all-time greatest rock bands.
“The final list of 20 great painters includes those who elevated the importance of watercolor and helped define a distinctly American attitude toward the medium, as well as artists who are less well known yet offer a uniquely expressive approach to working with combinations of water-soluble paints,” said American Artist Editor M. Stephen Doherty.
Hardie Gramatky’s “Old Mill Pond.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
“The selection includes some obvious choices that would be on almost anyone’s roster—such as Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent—as well as artists such as William Thon, Hardy [sic] Gramatky, and Morris Graves, who reflect Wyeth’s age, experience, and attitude.”
Gramatky was born in Dallas and moved to California when his father died when he was 10 years old. He attended Stanford University and Chouinard School of Art.
In the late 1920s, he helped start the California Watercolor movement while he began work in 1929 as an animator for Walt Disney Studios.
When his contract was up with Disney in 1936, he and his wife, artist Dorothea Cooke, moved to New York City to work as illustrators.
Hardie Gramatky’s “Country Road.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
It was in 1939 that Gramatky saw a small Moran tugboat out on the East River that didn’t seem to want to work. It spawned a pile of watercolors and the idea for a children’s book, which was “Little Toot.”
In 1946, Gramatky moved his family—which included current Westporter Linda—to Roseville Road in Westport, and he was elected an Academician in the National Academy of Design in 1951, an honor given to only 25 “aquarellists,” another term for watercolor artists.
Gramatky won prizes in over 80 exhibits, wrote and illustrated children’s books, gave chalk talks at area schools and continued painting until he died in 1972 from cancer of the ileum.
The 100th anniversary of his birth will be on April 12. In September, a restored classic edition of “Little Toot” will be published by Penguin Putnam.
Also, a Hardie Gramatky exhibit will open in December 2007 at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass.
Posted 11/29/06 at 09:57 PM Permalink
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You can view a portion of Gramatky’s portfolio on his website: <a href=“http://www.gramatky.com/index.asp” target=“_blank”>Hardie Gramatky - Artist, Illustrator, Author</a>.