#66: Waikato Farm


This small painting is – again! – of a spot I pass on my morning walk. A larger resolution image and the source photo is shown below. I was really just playing around when doing this painting, not expecting any outcome (thanks Aletha!), so I did it on an old, very rough canvas.

The image above is deliberately made a bit smaller and framed – I believe this is what the painting looks like when viewed across a room. The photo below shows a closer view – you can clearly see the rough gesso. I wish I chose to play on a better canvas!

#66: Waikato Farm (Oil on Canvas, approx 10 x 8 inches)
#66: Waikato Farm (Oil on Canvas, approx 10 x 8 inches)

The source photo is shown below. As you can see I have used quite a bit of artistic freedom – primarily by omitting some sighs of humanity and enlarging the shallow pool and changing the shape to lead the eye a bit better through the landscape.

Num-66-Source (2)

When I started painting again earlier this year, I was fearful that the typical Waikato landscape was too pretty and green for me to paint. While I love living amongst it, I found it hard to paint. I kept returning to invented landscapes that featured dry, warm marshes – the colours of my childhood.

Now, slowly, as I practice painting my own surroundings more and more, the landscape comes alive with possibility. Truly, everything is a source of beauty. Perhaps I am also slooowly becoming a better person, which may be an essential element of painting.

Robert Henri says:

Whatever you feel or think, your exact state at the exact moment of
your brush touching the canvas is in some way registered in that stroke. 
If there is interesting or reasonable sequence in your thoughts and feelings, 
if there is order in your progressive states of being as the paint is applied, 
this will show, and nothing in the world can help it from showing.

Henri, Robert. The Art Spirit (p. 54). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

This weekend we saw some really wild weather in the Waikato. Endless rain and wind. This afternoon my son and I had so take a chainsaw to a tree fallen over our driveway. Amidst it all I had several hours of painting with my music in the background. The world ceases to exist and my joy is wide as the river. I think this is what Rilke meant when he wrote:

#14 (first verse)

This is my labor - over it
my shadow lies like the shell of a nut.
It's true I'm the same as leaves and mud,
but as often as I pray or paint
it is Sunday, and in the valley I am
a jubilant Jerusalem.

Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Bly
from The Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke

I hope you have had a great weekend, filled with joy and contentment. Thanks for visiting my blog!

15 thoughts on “#66: Waikato Farm

  1. I live in a very different environment than you do, in a suburb of Washington DC where we have lots of traffic, noise, houses close together, airplanes over head (I’m near a major airport), sirens (near a firehouse too). But it’s funny to me that when you write, “The world ceases to exist and my joy is wide as the river, ” I had nearly the same exact thought an hour or so ago.

    I was daydreaming and thinking about the walks my daughter and I take in nearby Capitol Hill. We like to see the little gardens that people plant when sometimes they have only a few feet of ground. (It’s amazing what some of them look like!) And pretty as it is, Capitol Hill is still city. Crowded streets, cars, cars, cars. And I was wondering, what if people woke up there one morning and discovered that their streets were gone! and in their place were creeks meandered through and among the houses. Shady trees along the moss covered banks, hilly ground broken with rocks and different kinds of plants growing and whatnot.

    Tolkien has a scene in Lord of the Rings early in the first volume, I think, that my mind was calling forth … They made the movies in your part of the world, I believe …. Well, anyway, in this imagining it was streets that cease to exist and creeks that carry the sensible water, with joy, snaking through landscape of Capitol Hill houses ….

    It’s good that you’re looking at your lovely actual landscape and seeing it more vividly. Surely those things get stored up in your mind to come out later as paint. Love seeing the gesso under the image in a beautiful scene of philosophical calm.

    In fairness even in a densely urban place, nature asserts herself. I was walking the dog the other night and two deer were standing in the school yard where we walk. She saw them before I did and almost wrenched my arm and leg straining to get them. Miss Dog fancies herself to be a mighty hunter. Fortunately, I clung to the leash and saved my dog from perhaps a kick in the head delivered by a large, incensed, indignant Bambi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Aletha, to be honest, I also like the rough gesso coming though most of the time. It emphasises that the picture is after all just paint on a flat surface, real, not a picture in the mind. But I found most people do not like that effect, which I can also appreciate.

      Regarding the rest of your comment, I once saw a picture in National Geographic magazine in which they showed Times Square in NY now, and then the same spot at different time periods in the past (artist representations). A few hundred years ago it was just a swampy creek. A blink of an eye on nature’s watch.

      I have to say I would find living in a big city very challenging, but I am imagining what I would do in your situation: still life and Koi, I imagine! But then there are so many beautiful cityscapes by modern day masters on Painting Perceptions, and just yesterday I looked at Utrillo and liked his buildings so much I decided to copy a few.

      I guess, wherever we are, we pehaps live in a paradise, if we just look in the right way? All the best to you, hope you are having great new doors open in your art this week!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My favorite part is the textured canvas!!!! Different strokes for different folks I suppose. Green…wow! I was quite surprised to see this today. I think it is a cool painting and let me say again, I like the textured canvas. Gives interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I truly do like the texture of hte gesso, I have to say! It looks bold and courageous to put it on so thickly and then paint something as faint and delicate as this sky on top. Wonderful juxtaposition! As are your paintings to the lovely Waikato landscape. I don’t know the Waikato that well but in Canterbury all the rural beauty DOES have a deeper and more serious side to it and I back when I lived there many years ago I found a friend in that depth. But I couldn’t SEE it in a way that allowed me to paint it. I think you see that depth in that way and I am glad I can see your paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Antje. It is always difficult to paint something well if it is inherently picturesque, isn’t it? I am starting to find that the more familiar I get with the landscape, the more I see in it, especially in the “small places” hidden in folds in the landscape. Thanks again for your kind comment!


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