Thursday, February 21, 2013


I have been painting the Amish in my area, the southwest corner of Wisconsin for the past 10 years. Being from Chicago and having no previous connection to them before moving here, I must admit I am fascinated by them. It is almost like stepping back in time, kind of like going to Monhegan Island but even further back.

Ever since I first starting driving these back country roads in Vernon County I was smitten by the Amish and their way of life. I have painted them from the edge of the road en plein air. They do not want to have their faces painted and have not allowed me permission to enter their property and I did my best to respect their wishes. I would love to set up and paint some of these little children's faces in their homes and surroundings but I don't think that is going to happen.

Now as the years have gone by, over a decade now, I look back and notice some of these same paintings are still around my studio. Some have sold but more have not.
They have been shipped out to galleries and brought back never quite finding a home. I do believe they are good paintings, Lord knows I have burned and destroyed my share of dogs over the years.

As an artist you tend to paint what inspires you for one reason or another. Sometimes one's up bringing comes into play, documenting your world around you, beautiful settings, or color harmonies, so many things to choose from, however again sometimes you are driven by certain images and not sure why. I assume I would have painted even more amish scenes if I had a market for them. With 4 kids to feed I tend to be a little more selective these days versus a decade ago. Notice I did say a little more? It is still a challenge for me to paint what may be sale-able versus what my heart and mind are drawn to.

So the question arises in my mind, what is it about the Amish, why this need to capture them in paint?
I often wonder if anyone else shares in my fascination with them and their lifestyle, at least in a painting that is?

1 comment:

Carlos Ranna said...

Those are good paintings, sir. And i enjoy the subject.

There are no Amish where i live. If you did not tell me it was a painting about them, i would never known.

I bet if you try to sell them for a different audience, say, in another state or country, and title the paintings without referencing them to the Amish, they would sell fast.

My guess is, people enjoy the painting and the "country bucolic" subject. But they are pushed away by the painting as soon as they realize it´s about "those strange guys thet lives nearby".

Of course i can be wrong. It´s really a distant matter to me, and kinda hard to figure it out. But that might just be what is so good about my guess, hehe...

Cheers from Brazil!