The farmhouse across the street

The farmhouse across the street had been abandoned for many years.  The sounds of children playing and dogs barking no longer entertained my ears.  Barns had been torn down and the retired milk cows vanished.  Each night as the sun set, the house faded into the darkened landscape having no lamplight to illuminate the windows.  Although, in its lifeless state it continued to inspire me as the sunlight played upon the geometric forms of the building, I missed the signs of life.

In early fall a team of workers appeared.  Dead trees were removed, the lawn was cut twice a week and new sounds began to make there way across the street.  We have a new neighbor, a man who lives in Florida during the summer and purchased the farm as a winter hunting retreat.  The farm is starting to breathe again.  A dozen or so white chickens scurry about catching the sunlight and delighting my eyes, little spots of highlights leading toward the white house as it stands among the dark pines.  There is a warm glow of light through the windows at night and smoke pours out of the chimney.

On Christmas Day I brought a plate of my traditional holiday cookies across the street and up the long drive to my new neighbor, hoping he was home.  I had not met him before and was not sure of his reaction to my intrusion.  He welcomed me in and I expressed my delight at seeing new life on the farm.  We had a short “weather” conversation and I returned home.

The day after New Year’s, Tom and I found a bottle of Bailey’s tucked inside the front door with a note from our new neighbor.  I wanted to thank him and let him know that we appreciated his thoughtfulness.  I am often at a loss for what to say or do that isn’t simply proper etiquette.   I am also at a loss when it comes to gifting people who are able to buy whatever they want whenever they want.

Recently I have been thinking about all the sketches and paintings that pile up in my studio and in the studios of most artists.  I feel it is risky giving drawing and paintings to people because my work might not be something they like and they might not want to hang it on a wall to be forced to look at it on a daily basis.

A simple sketch on a note card can avoid the issue of forcing my art onto the recipient.  If the person wants to frame it and hang it, fine.  If not, it can be tossed into the trash without a problem.  The moment of realizing that I’ve taken a bit of extra time to draw something specific, something that is not just a generic image, has already happened and the drawing has accomplished its goal.  In this case, I had the fun of doing the drawing and sharing it with my new neighbor.  I may never know whether he liked it or not.  It doesn’t matter.

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