Do you have a hobby? I do! It is putting on my oldest faded blue jeans...getting in the small grey Madza truck with my husband, Frank...and off we head way out into the “boon docks” of our beautiful Oktibbeha County on a lazy Saturday morning.
What are we doing? Where are we going? You might say we are on a “Scavenger Hunt.” I’m looking, looking, looking for the perfect subject to go outside and paint on Monday morning! When I see the subject...I’ll say, “STOP”...This is it!”
Frank pulls his truck over to the edge of the country road, and I get outside to “investigate” my newly found subject. I must feel a great, almost “burning” inspiration, and then I decide that this will be my subject to place on my canvas on early Monday morning!
This particular Saturday morning I found my subject! We passed so many beautiful old barns. Have you really ever looked at one of our old Mississippi barns? They are vanishing from our landscape, and they are almost extinct! “Oh, it was the most perfect subject that I could only “dream” about...I was so excited! Barns “dot” our country road sides and each one says to me, “Hey, paint me...paint me!”
I once remember finding “a barn” that would have been just “right to paint.” I was by myself, and I pulled over...parked...and made my way to the front door of the tiny little farm house. Looked first to see if there might be a “big, bad watch dog” asleep in their yard. I did not see any dog, so I made my way to the front door to knock and ask permission to “paint you barn!”
A nice lady slightly cracked her wooden door, and said, “may I help you,”... I think she had probably watched me make my way down her grassy path which lead up to her house. I gave my full name, and told her I lived near by in Starkville saying, “I want to paint your barn?” I am asking permission to be on your property and land for only a few hours today? The lady looked puzzled and said, “My barn has been freshly painted, lately...don’t think I need a new paint job this quickly!
She did not understand that I wanted to paint on my canvas...her barn! She was such older nice lady, but I could not make her understand...so I “thanked” her, and went back to my “art supply filled car,” cranked it up...and headed on down the country road side to hopefully find another barn “begging to be painted!”
Turning the curve on the rolling hills of our country roads, I glanced up and saw the trees that had formed a perfect arch across the road, casting shadows on the pavement. I said to myself, “I’ll be back to paint this “archway of trees” another day! There was my barn! This time...I stayed on the “bumpy” pavement, and would not have to ask permission. I did not see a house near by...It was just “my bran...and I, as the artist.”
I began to “unload my art studio!” I get so inspired and so excited that I can almost not get my art supplies out for the day. It was still an early morning...so I had plenty of time to do a detailed sketch which takes abour four hours, and then by noon time, I am ready to paint, paint, paint. I believe that a detailed “perfect” sketch makes the painting the same. What goes underneath a painting is probably the most important process that an artist does...because the perfect sketch becomes the foundation for the end result of a beautiful painting. Many times I have thought, “this is a great sketch, just pack you car up...and head back home...don’t paint it!”..Each time I dismiss these thoughts and begin to put all the colors on my palette to paint it! I love colors! They make the painting “pop” and then... “come alive!!!”
Quickly I began my sketch. I do bow my head, and will ask for help and guidance that what I am about to create ...be acceptable in the eyes of a higher being...may HE guide my finger tips and my hands to show others HIS...colorful and beautiful world!!” After praying...I do feel a calming assurance that I am not alone, and I am going to do the best job with this painting that a “human being,” can paint!
Oh the “Cypress Roofed Barn in Oktibbeha County” ...was a “shinning diamond”... “tucked” into our rolling hillsides and right in the curve of the country road! Together, let’s really look at this barn. This old barn like the old grey mare, “She ain’t what she used to be!!”
Time has aged “her!” Look closely at the weathered barn boards of shades of greys and browns, and “oh my goodness” a real Cypress roofed barn! What a treasure! Notice the warm sunshine as it peeps in and out of the cracks of the Cypress wood. The cows have been milked for the day, and the tin milk can waits “patiently” for the milk truck to pick “her” up! Find the milk can. It is near the fence post and nearer the road so that the ones “dairy route man” can quickly put it on his truck to head off for the process of making this milk where we can purchase it in a grocery store to drink. That filled milk can... waits, waits, waits “patiently’ for the big old “milk truck” to come by soon, and to give “her”... a ride into town!
There is an “abandoned old refrigerator” to the right of the milk can. I wondered is it still working? Do they possibly keep cold milk bottles inside? Go past the front entrance way to the antique hay rake which has become a part of the Barn, and behind the back wheel of the hay rake...is an old hand pushed wooden plow! We don’t see any of these farm equipment pieces much any more. They too, are ...vanishing from our landscape!
Look at all the colors of the rusted tin roof, a part of the barn that I think might have been added in later years! One piece of tin has “curled” upward to the sun and at the end of the tin roof...it has slanted downward! The fence on both sides looks as if it might have been a sturdy fence to keep the cows out of the road... “fence them inside the pasture!” You get a “touch” of the landscape in the distance, and the touch of “light blue sky near the rusted tin compliments the entire painting...blue color which is a “cool color” and the “hot color” of the roof! Look at the sunshine and the shadows that fall across the “barn yard!” There is a hay loft...find it above the front door, and I just wondered,” if there might be a litter of newly born kittens up there? Fresh hay had been stored up in that loft...I could smell its “freshness!”
The day was ending, and a great peacefulness had suddenly come over me. I was exhausted and very tired. I signed my name at the bottom of the painting and dated it too. Packed up my car to head back home. I had had a glorious day...and I was bringing home on my canvas, “Cypress Roofed Barn in Oktibbeha County.”
Weeks later I was ask to show two of my pieces of work in the city of New York, N.Y. at the Lagoa Duncan Gallery for two weeks. I wrapped and insured this very painting to be shipped “way off” to “Yankee Land” ...Would I ever see it again? Would it get lost to and from during shipping? I had to have faith that I might see my barn again! Two weeks passed and “she” returned home again!
The comment from New York was, “We loved you Mississippi...very “Southern” barn. And did you know, we love anything from Mississippi because most of us have never been or will ever visit your great state of Mississippi. Thank you for sharing your painting with us in the heart of New York City!” Signed by the Lagoa Duncan Gallery.