Collecting a “Red Barn in Autumn”

I am finally starting to paint again after a year or so hiatus. With all the recent changes in my life, painting took a back seat to my other creative pursuits. It is a much slower medium (at least for me) than photography or writing, and can take weeks or months to complete something. And although I always enjoyed the rather Zen-like state I would slip into working at an easel, I can also get pretty impatient at times.

I might become faster at painting eventually, and satisfy my sometime need to hurry up and be done. But learning to slow down more is also one of the great benefits of the process.

Painting also requires a special space in which to work, one that is not so precious some spilled paint or linseed oil will ruin it. I set up a small area in my basement in preparation, and gathered all my paints and supplies. I had to stop at the studio space where I used to take classes, and collect some of my things, including the last painting I had done and stored there.

When I saw my painting, I have to confess it made me very sad. It is the one above, of the barn, maple trees, and fields at my old farmhouse, dressed in my favorite autumn hues.

I used to love to take photographs of the house and land, and wanted to paint everything in sight. Once it is sold, I will never walk those fields again, see the mountains around Lake George from high on the hill, look up at the trees, or visit the pond and watch the fish swim. I will never sit in my swing and watch the fireflies dance over the grass. And I will never again see the bright red barn driving down the road, coming home.

This painting I did of the barn at my old farmhouse is probably the last ever of my former country home.

I am crying as I write this. Although I know it was the right decision to move back to Glens Falls and I’ve been so happy here, it hurts me way down deep when I think of those things.

Soon, all that will be left to me of the farmhouse and my life there will be my memories of it. My photographs, all the writing it inspired, the poems I composed, and the painting of the barn will be all that I have. And I mourn it terribly. I poured love and life into the house and the land around it, brought it back from neglect, and it gave it all right back to me tenfold.

But it also took a toll on my spirit. I could not be out there alone anymore, taking care of such a place by myself. It had taken over my life, in good ways and in bad. And I had to let it go.

I will always love the farm, however. I’m hopeful soon other people will find it and love it as much as I do, and want to live there forever, in the beautiful place that I helped create. And I will be able, one day, to look back at all of my photographs and at the painting of the barn and remember it all fondly and well, although it will probably always make me just a little bit sad.

I never signed this painting, and I think I’m content to leave it so. Then it will always feel unfinished to me, which I somehow find strangely comforting. Like one of my last, brightest memories there will never quite be over.


3 comments on “Collecting a “Red Barn in Autumn””
  1. Elizabeth Heyenga says:

    I like the word “wistful” – which somehow weaves the love and sorrow together into something that captures it all

    1. Thank you, yes, that is a perfect term

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