Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Used to be Bigger, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

I have been playing around with some alterations to the barn imagery. It began with an aerial photograph of our property that hangs in our kitchen and which I look at often, enjoying the history of our property.

It was taken in the fifties or so, back when this was a real working farm. The photo was given to us by Clyde, who grew up in this house and who now lives about a mile down the road. As you can see, the barns in the photo are pretty extensive, however now, only one piece of that whole structure is still standing. The other structures are long gone and a newer silo is now standing next to the remaining barn. But in the last few months I have become enamored with the "ghosts" of the barns in our community that I see everyday. I've gradually been looking through my barn reference photos with a new eye, imaging what may have once been there. And since I alter so much of the reference that I work from, it hasn't been a big stretch to also imagine what might have been surrounding the structures that I like to paint.

So I have been occasionally adding scratched in barns or houses, clunky additions, and structural elements to some of my barn paintings, portraying what may have been, what is and what could be there as well. This is the first one I did and while not a barn, it was an encouraging start. I have been pleased with the continued results, and several of these pieces, including the one above, will be included in my upcoming show at Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh. The scratched in "ghost" elements are actually very subtle and the challenge is to get the painting and composition to work, whether one can see the additional elements or not. That takes a bit more planning than I am used to doing, but I am enjoying the challenge.


indigomar said...

I like the alterations. I recently noticed (have you always done that?) the scratched in windows and doors on the barn and the extensions make sense. It's funny, just this morning as I was proctoring an exam---great opportuninty for the thoughts to wander--I was making mental alterations to composition in my work.
ya gotta have change to grow!
by the way, where was your Aunt's farm in Ohio? maybe its near where I live...

Angela Wales Rockett said...

I was wondering what those lines were all about in some of your recent paintings. That is SO COOL!

Ed Terpening said...

I love the idea of mixing real images with those that came before. We have so much change in the California landscape, that could present some really interesting possibilities.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Mary Ann, Yes, I have been doing the scratching in for awhile, it seems to work as a subtle way of indicating certain elements. It doesn't always show in the photos, which I kind of like:)

I can't recall the exact town anymore where the farm is, but it was in the Columbus area, near Wapakoneta. Aren't you further east?

Thanks, Angela!

Hi Ed, I know, it's amazing how much things change. I am intrigued by the changes but also saddened as well. Our society gets rid of things so easily sometimes.

Daphne Enns said...

I saw your scratched elements and thought of them as the elements that would be on the land for a short time in history.

They're a thoughtful addition. I can imagine that they're also a challenge because their scale is so different compared to your other objects.