May 28, 2010

At the Farm

This is the view from the Roy farm, a few miles from my home. It is one of my favorite places to visit to hunt images for my paintings: because it's a large working dairy farm, there's always a lot of equipment parked, and it is in such a beautiful spot that it is a pleasure to walk around. In this area of Vermont, there are many farms such as this one, with rich fields on the tops of hills, providing grand views out towards a working landscape. I realize I must seem rather perverse, focusing on machinery rather than the expansive views; I began with landscape, but over time, with my developing interest in abstraction, I zoomed in on equipment. I have written about this change in a couple of posts: "At a Point in Time, Change" and "Contemporary Agriculture".

Cows are wonderfully curious creatures, giving you a sense as they follow you, that they are ready to communicate, somehow. At the Roy farm, the animals are kept in a free stall hoop barn, a modern, more economical, structure in the shape of a giant quonset hut.

Below are two of the fifteen or so images that I gleaned yesterday from the farm, very different from each other. Finding compositions is something similar to noticing small things in the woods or garden: opening the eye and mind.


  1. nice to get a glimpse of a farm but I really like that shot with all the cords or are they some kind of hardened plastic tubing. do you ever show the farmers your paintings? do you ever have a sense that seeing you look closely at details makes them take a second look at their familiar workplace?

  2. rappel, those aren't cords, but metal rods and are part of a hay rake, which is raised when not in use. To see one in action, though a different color, check out this youtube video:
    Since I formerly completed paintings on site, I got to know several of the farmers quite well and gave them studies as a thank you. Not all, but some did look again at what I was painting with a new eye; if an artist wanted to paint it, there must be some beauty there. Of course they find their landscape beautiful, but to look at their equipment in that way is something new, and sometimes puzzling.

  3. Altoon, as a child who grew up with family photos of farm machinery and tractors turning up around the house I can certainly appreciate your interest in the abstractions that are noticeable in this subject area.
    Its is so reminiscent for me of the endless looking I did as a child... not very consciously taking it all in but still taking it all in! So many memories come from seeing your work... let alone the pleasure of the compositions and such.
    Interesting to see the surrounding countryside and appreciate the part of the world you are in...after seeing your wooded images and creeks, mossy places etc!

  4. that video is a riot, I don't know why. maybe it's the music, maybe it's the 'boys with their toys' aspect/ pride. thanks for directing me to it.

  5. Sophie, it's lovely for me that my work calls up childhood memories. The Vermont countryside is very beautiful, made that way from the hard work of farmers.

    and rapp, glad you like the video; it is fun, with the pulsing music, farming hip hop.

  6. Mark's parents have a little house half-way up a bluff overlooking the Mississippi. They are at a bend in the river and you can see 14 miles upriver as well as the highway and railroad. But when you drive up the road past their house to the top of the bluffs, it is all farms like your photo. But no mountains in the distant; just sharp drops and gullies and contour plowing and an occasional river glimpse. Like your photos, it is a visually rich landscape. Interesting for me to be able to mentally compare the two bluffs.

  7. Linda, I've driven across the Mississippi on both Interstate 80 and 90, and both landscapes were very beautiful; the land near the river is so rich, much more so than on the hill farms of Vermont.