Kate Brockman [NM] : Portrait bust of Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945) [NRA 1908-1945], 2022.

Kate Brockman [NM]
Portrait bust of Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945) [NRA 1908-1945], 2022.
Clay maquette
? x ? x ? inches


Kate Brockman was born in England and moved, with her family, to the United States in 1979. She took her first course in figure sculpture while an undergrad at West Chester University, Pa. Formal art study began at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in1986. This time solidified her love of figurative work and specifically the nude. Kate continued study with Evangelos Frudakis and Myron Barnstone. She has had solo exhibits in the Philadelphia area and the James A. Michener Museum in Doylestown, PA, as well as numerous group shows in the tri-state area. Her work work is in many national and international private collections and the permanent collections of the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Harriet Tubman Museum, Cape May, New Jersey and the Culver Girls Academy, Indiana. Brockman’s work has earned many awards including a Cresson Memorial Traveling Scholarship from PAFA, two grants from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, the Alex J. Ettl Grant from the National Sculpture Society (NSS) in 2011, the Michael Gressel Memorial Award from the Hudson Valley Art Association in 2017.Most recently her portrait Fearless in Fear: A Young Harriet Tubman was awarded the Gold Medal in the NSS 88th Annual Awards Exhibition.

Kate is currently a board member of the National Sculpture Society and is on the sculpture faculty at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, teaching figure modeling and Foundry. Her studio and foundry are in Philadelphia.


NC Wyeth.

A Sometimes Overlooked Giant in American Painting.

Newell Convers Wyeth, known as Convers, is a giant in American art history. The first part of his career was during a time called the Golden Age of Illustration, from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. The art scene at that time was fairly elitist, steeped in high brow European attitudes, but illustration brought pictures of everyday American life into homes and schools, and informed the public about news and current events. It was an art for everyone. Some would say, at the time, that illustration was the one true American art form. Much like jazz music perhaps. Good illustrators were in high demand and artists could expect to make a very decent living. However, European influence still ruled supreme, most art schools did not support illustration as a viable form for formal study and instruction was through apprenticeship.

Convers Wyeth was a complicated man wrought with conflict all through his life. He was a practical man, but also highly emotional. He was conflicted about the idea of home. Was it in Pennsylvania with his family and studio, or in Massachusetts, where he grew up and his parents lived. He quickly surpassed his teacher Howard Pyle, but was doubtful of his own growth and constantly in search of an intellectual peer who could critique his work and inspire him. Perhaps his most acknowledged struggle was between his reputation as an illustrator and his desire to be a “real painter”. These two things he held completely separate and believed you couldn’t be both at the same time. He would periodically stop taking commercial jobs so he could immerse himself in painting, but he tried to make it something totally different, not allowing anything he knew as an illustrator to influence his work. He was constantly disappointed in his efforts and prone to depressive mood swings. Ironically, when he was deep in an illustration project, he seemed to be the happiest and most fulfilled by his work, but this didn’t penetrate his concept of the two entities. He was just an illustrator, that’s how he paid the bills. By the time he was middle aged, the attitude towards illustration had changed and his paintings were being seen as works of art, but he never allowed himself to see his worth as a painter, or his contribution to American painting, and was resentful of his commercial success.

I chose NC Wyeth for a few reasons. In my youth, before art school, I lived very close to is home and studio in Chadds Ford, PA. Visiting the Brandywine River Museum, I was always drawn to the juicy richness of his paintings, his mastery over color and light. To me, at the time, Andrew Wyeth’s paintings were dry, with muted tones and simple subjects. But it is Andrew who quickly rose to fame as a painter and Convers fell into the background. Andrew became the “real painter” Convers never was. Also N.C. has a wonderful head and face and wild hair. I saw an opportunity for an exciting composition. But mostly, he is an important figure in American art history who is sometimes
overlooked as a mere illustrator. I feel he would be an excellent addition to the Salmagundi Club library Collection.

Specifically about my portrait.

I chose to portray N.C. in his mid 30’s. His work on Robert Louis Stevenson’s, Treasure Island has put him on the map as a book illustrator. He is well established in Chadds Ford, in demand, making money and supporting a young family. His presence is imposing yet kindly, his expression is of confidence and doubt. He is grounded, yet constantly searching for that elusive identity as a painter. On reviewing the guidelines for submission, I realized that my piece substantially exceeds the width, and slightly the depth parameters set forth in the prospectus. After considering various changes to bring it into conformity I decided not to make any alterations at this time. I feel the inclusion of the shoulders and chest are important to the composition and convey his commanding presence both literally and figuratively.
Changes can be made at a later date if needed.