A BEVY OF BARNS
At June’s workshop with AL LACHMAN, we painted from photographs, something I have not done in years. It was a great two days and a useful exercise, but I felt out of my element at times.
Like Al, who has done a beautiful series of barn paintings, and painters like Wolf Kahn, I have long had a fascination with these huge, nostalgic, often dilapidated or slightly out-of-kilter structures. They seem ancient and majestic, towering over the landscape. Their spacious insides are often dark and fragrant with years-old hay, wood, livestock, grain, apples, or tobacco. Even the poorest of farmers has at least one barn. No two barns are alike.
Barn paintings have their own section on my website.
But my results at the workshop were mixed. In the order in which they were painted, starting above:
Back in my studio, a barn began to emerge in one of my abstractions, to which I added a few details:
AL RECOMMENDS beginning each painting with a premise. It can be anything: choosing a single color, perhaps, singing, or standing on one foot — anything to help shed judgment and inhibitions and start painting. I do this on my own, but I have become more deliberate about it since the workshop.
I began a painting years ago of interlocking swirls that resembled a thick rope on a beach. It never quite came together. The more I tried to fix it, the worse it looked.
Dusting it off recently, I decided to turn it into a barn:
Since then, the barns have kept coming, nearer and nearer:
HERE are some earlier barns that escaped my attention when I made my website.
4 Replies to “A Bevy of Barns”
Yay! I own “Barn IX” and I am so proud to have it in my possession. (Or is this one a variation on a theme? If so the paintings are cousins and I’m still proud to own the one I have). Barns are such presences in our New England landscape. I like the old, slightly dilapidated ones. They inspire rumination of all sorts as to what kind of animals they housed, how many stalls were in them, did they have a big hay loft in which children could hide, how long did it take to build them, who kissed who in them, what kind of delectable scent did they emanate etc., etc. Of this lot, I really like the “Milking Barn,” its abstraction.
Right you are about “Barn IX” — it is indeed the one you bought when I first painted it, not a variation on a theme. I love your imaginings of the interiors of barns. They give voice to our fascination with these massive, sturdy structures and the history they house. Thanks.
“Barn IX” rocks!!!! Love the way it all comes to the window….looking out? looking in? Makes me wonder. Lots of great textures in many of the paintings. I also enjoy the weather and times of day so abstractly portrayed in each barn painting. Thanks Russ for sharing this large timeline of work with us. You are as ever, my inspiration to continue.
Thank you, Jan! Fascinating how a theme emerges over time, without intention (well, until recently). I have a feeling I have not painted my last barn. I appreciate the kind words and feedback.