By unusual fortune, in my late 20's I bought a lithograph of an Eyvind Earle print for about $2000. (This was a little over 20 years ago, so was a lot of money for a newly graduated student.) It's the only "real" art I currently have, in the sense that everything else hanging on my walls is a print (mostly by Kandinsky or Michael Parkes) or a framed poster or one of my own photographs. Of course, then I was even dumber about art than I am now, so my good sense then is a bit surprising to me now. For some reason I just loved this huge frame of a bright red barn with very graphic bare trees with lots and lots of branches.
But these days, my activity on ipernity brought up the thought of Earle's work and who he really is and what else he has done. Then I remembered that when I bought the piece I also got a small cataloge of his other work and so searched for it. I also searched online for something affordable. It seems all his art is still very expensive but I did find an affordable used book he wrote about himself. It's titled Horizon bound on a bicycle. This post describes his life, as I've read it from that book.
Eyvind Earle is a American landscape artist with a strong graphic sense. A life-long nature lover, in his youth he often would take a long bike ride and paint a scene which captured his imagination along the ride. He lived through the Depression of the 1920's, survived an abusive father, and went on to great professional success.
His mother's name was Charlotte Herman, the daughter of Nanny ("Nana") Hafslund and Paul Herman of Monroe, NY. Charlotte was born in Buffalo, NY, but lived in Mornoe at the time of her marriage to Eyvind's father. For his teenage years on, Eyvind referred to his mother by her first name or as Lotte (as opposed to "Mom"). She was a musican and taught piano, mostly through private lessons.
His father's name was Ferdinand Earle, an artist (painter), writer, and ocasional set designer for the Hollywood motion picture industry. Ferdinand married Charlotte in about 1913. They bore a son before Eylind (who was born in Manhattan NY in 1916). Eyvind was very close to his brother, but he died of polio. This happened around the time Eyvind was 8 years old, and he almost died of as well. In fact, his face was partially paralyzed for his life as a result of the sickness.
Charlotte was Ferninand's 4th wife and his marriage to her lasted about 10 or 12 years. When they split up, Ferdinand took young Eyvind with him to Mexico and told him he had to paint a painting or read 50 pages every day. He did both. While in Mexico, they usually painted together, and his father taught him how to mix paints, draw preliminary sketches, etc. Eventually, the moved to France and Eyvind at th age or 14 or 15, tired of his father's abuse, ran away and went all the way back to California to his mother. He continued to paint, landscapes mostly, especially after taking a long bike ride to a beach or mountain vista. In his early 20's he decided to bike across the US, painting along the way. This was in the 1930's. He tried to survive at first on less than 50 cents per day but eventually needed more to eat. He was hit once by a car, but he survived, surprisingly intact (his bike did not fair so well though!). At the end of his trip, after a short stay with relatives, he had several shows in New York Ciy galleries and was hailed univerally by the critics. The Metropolitan Museam of Art even bought one of his works for his permanent collection. He painted and designed Christmas cards for money. (Earle called himself an "Emersonian" though and though spiritual, was not particularly religious in the conventional sense.) Eventually, WWII arrived on the scene and the US started the draft.
Eyvind registered as a conscientious objector, and went into the medical corp. There he met his first wife Alice Johnson, whom he married in October 1944 (or 1945?). Their daughter Kristen was born the following August (though possibly it was a year later - I couldn't figure out the dates from the book). Eyvind and Alice were always close to their only child. She went to college in California and eventually married her long-time boyfriend Tom, an architect. Tom and Kristen eventually moved to Canada.
In 1951, Eyvind's father died of a heart attack in California. Eyvind wrote that he "cannot forget the hundreds and hundreds of spankings, whippings, slappings ..." nor hearing him beat his mother. However, he called him
The most inventive person I ever knew.
The hardest working person I ever knew.
Also, the greatest influence on him as an artist.
Much much more painful for Eyvind was the slow death of his first wife Alice by lung cancer in 1970. He tried hard to improve her life during this time, and her death was a crushing experience. During this time, he worked as a painter, and galleries sold his art he provided them within months. He was so hurt by his wife's death that he moved to Canada near his daughter for a year or so.
Eventually, he met Joan Kennedy, whom he married in 1972. They moved to New York, where his art business and creativity thrived. He started silk-screens at this time, where he silk screened his own graphics
Joan helped Eyvind care for his mother Charlotte, who grew more and more forgetful and hard of hearing. Since she would forget, Eyvind would write his mother every night a little "good night poem", and left it near her bedsite in case she work up in the middle of the night. One reads
Starting from nothing to where we are
is farther than the farthest star.
And farther than the farthest star
is where we're going from where we are.
This loving attention continued until her death of natural causes in 1981 (or 1982?).
It was in 1984, not long after his mother's passing, that Eyvind and Joan moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they lived for the next 4 years. He continued painting and silk-screens, and hired several assistants to help him with the silk-screens. However, even with Eyvind's close, loving attention, his wife's health was declining. Following her doctor's recommendation, they decided to move to a less dry climate. Their next house was in the Carmel area of the California coast, with a view of the Pacific ocean. The writing ends a few years later, around 1990, when Eyvind is in his mid-seventies. He was in good health and painted every day, at the time the book stopped. Other sources indicated he died in 2000.
A remarkable man.