11x14" oil on linen on board
I painted this one recently at a farm near Skillman, NJ. It's township-owned land that someone still farms, but no one lives here anymore. I almost never see another soul at this farm and there's a very lonely feeling to the place. The day I painted this was hot, the sun was brutal, and a strong wind was picking up.
So there I was, painting, and I see a figure way in the distance on the other side of the field - a long way off but it seems to be walking towards me. I keep painting, watching this figure approach, and holding my easel with one hand to keep it steady in the wind. It seemed to take forever for that person to reach me - it's a pretty big hay field, but eventually I could make out some details: a tall, thin, older fellow. Long gray hair flowing down his back. Blue jeans, no shirt, great tan. Standing there in that big open space, hot wind a-blowin', being approached by this stranger, I felt like I was in a scene from High Plains Drifter.
Fortunately he was no outlaw or gunfighter, he just wanted to see what I was up to and he sat down on the ground to chat for a while. His son used to paint. We talked about the hot, dry summer we've been having and he said that the spring on the farm has dried up and that that almost never happens. He told me about the farmer who used to live there - after being seriously gored by one of his bulls, the farmer gave up farming and sold the land to the township - that's how it became Montgomery Township Open Space. After some more chit chat, he said farewell and walked back across the field. I was alone again under that hot August sky, listening to the music of rusty sheet metal roofing flapping in the wind, and thinking of High Plains Drifter and the mysterious stranger. And moments like that, I wouldn't rather be anywhere else.