July 26, 2014

Being Inspired by Summer's Bounty

July Onions, 8 x 10", Acrylic on Canvas by Tracy Feldman
One of the things I love about living in our area is the number of local farms that include a "truck farm" section.  In that section, the farmers grow a larger variety of crops that they grow specially to sell on a retail basis to individuals.  Sometimes they truck the bounty of these gardens into town to sell at larger farmers markets, and sometimes they sell them right at the edge of their farm, so individuals need to come to them.

     Lancaster County has the richest farmland in the US, and the nature of our farms is greatly influenced by the "plain people" who farm around here.  The ones who depend on horses to plow their fields have to keep their farms small (for example farms here average 78 acres vs 241 acres in Indiana and 433 acres in Oregon).  Another difference is the commitment to diversity of what is produced, even in the farms' cash crops. On one farm, you might see a cornfield next to a soybean, and/or grain, hay,  melon, pumpkin, or potato field.  It is also typical for farmers to include among their cash crops tobacco, orchards, and fields left in grass so that their dairy cows can graze.  And we don't have the only rich farmlands in this part of the country.  Maryland and southern New Jersey are also famous for their truck farms.

    In summer, therefore,  I'm able to stop by many different farm stands to see what is good -- knowing that what I get will have been picked that day.  These lovely onions are from such a road-side farm stand in Maryland, just over the border from Pennsylvania.  I bought them specifically to paint -- my Arny is NOT a big onion fan, but we will eat them in some form.  I loved their vibrant colors and shape.  I even loved the fact that the dried roots were left on the onions.  It reminds me of their (and all of our) dependence on the earth for sustenance.  I felt a little "bad" buying these lovelies in Maryland, instead of my county. I didn't feel "bad" because our farmers are doing badly -- they are actually thriving.  But, because we in PA are prohibited from bringing certain types of consumables into our state.  It's actually alcoholic beverages because liquor here can generally only be sold in state stores,  Many ignore that rule, going over the state line and avoiding paying PA taxes by buying booze in stores as close to the border as the farm stand I went to.  Vegetables never were protected in that way in PA, but it still felt a little like I was being bad when I got my veg.  It kind of gives you a good picture of how rule-following I tend to be :).

     When I got my non-contraband onions home, I realized that I wanted the painting I created to have a somewhat modern vibe, so I placed them on vivid warm and cool placemats and took a lot of photos to determine the best composition and lighting for the piece.  I love how the colors of the shadow marry the elements of the piece (the onions and the placemats).  Hope you enjoy.  I'd love to know what you think.

    As usual, I'm putting this little piece up for auction in my Daily Paintworks gallery.  Check it out here, after July 27th if you might be interested in it.

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