On a recent visit to the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg (Pennsylvania), I found myself drawn to The Iron Worker, an oil painting from 1905 by Gerrit Albertus Beneker. Drawn to it as in, I would walk away, and then walk back and stare. Several times. I studied the brush strokes maybe a little too closely; I backed away and soaked in the composition.
I’m not sure entirely what it is about this one that grabs my attention. It might be a combination of things: I’m completely in love with the palette—those colors, you know? I love his brush work and the strength of the silhouette against the background and the gesture he created in the body and the shape of the hand to go with it.
When I read more about him online, it didn’t surprise me to learn that Mr. Beneker was an illustrator.
Of course he was.
Gerrit Beneker tells stories; that’s what illustrators do, and that’s what illustrations do. But, to be honest, I don’t think it would matter what story he was trying to tell. This could be happening on an alien landscape or in some distant future or in a prehistoric past. Those colors are magnetic, and they’re sucking me right in. That’s the kind of feeling I want to aim for in my own work.