Over and Over Again… Painting a Scene

I paint almost all of the time outside and on location, and I am often asked how I handle painting a scene over and over, and do not grow tired of it? One such scene is the LaCross farm.

Off Kabot Road, 12″ x 6 1/2″, acrylic on arches paper.

My husband discovered the LaCross farm while driving around one day. He came back and fetched me so that I could see it, too. It’s easy to get caught up in taking a drive to see the views of Leelanau County… a ritual we enjoy doing together. It lets our minds relax, ponder, escape. 

The LaCross farm dwelling with all of its surrounding barns and sheds can be found on Sharnowski Road, just off of Kabot Road on the east side of south Lake Leelanau.

The scene still grabs me every time I see it or even think about it… the multitude of outbuildings of all shapes that line up along a two-track that sweeps you by the old farmhouse. Orchards dot themselves in the surrounding, gently rolling hills. 

It is quiet. It is a farm. It is open, intrinsic to me. As a painter of landscapes, these elements make my strokes happen with ease, energy and confidence.


The painting shown above, Off Kabot Road, reflects the farmstead peaking through the trees in early spring. The linear nature of the trees’ branches allowed my underpainting strokes to shine through with full brilliance and transparent quality, like the richness of the spring sun beaming down on that day to warm things up.

I was quick to soak up spring’s energy and transfer it into strokes – thick or thin, bold and soft. I worked with pace and an eagerness to see the farm emerge.

Looking Down on the LaCross Farm, 50″ x 32″, acrylic on arches paper.

Before the Blossoms on Sharnowski Road, 11″ x 6 1/2″, acrylic on arches paper.

The two paintings shown above, Looking Down on the LaCross Farm and Before the Blossoms on Sharnowski Road, were painted. They were an unplanned duo that surfaced out of the events of the day.

Thinking that I would park myself in front of the house to get a view of the two-track that merges directly into the grouping of buildings, it did not turn out that way. High winds were everywhere I went.

Finally, I drove up into the orchard and discovered that it was completely calm. Feeling a bit confused and overwhelmed by the complete change-about, I was determined not to let my change in where I would park myself to paint undermine me! I stayed. I painted.

On this same day, the mother and daughter-in-law of the farm came out to visit me. The turn-about of encountering wind, searching to set-up, visitors, painting big and little… all elements played into how I would paint (pace, color and boldness), and what I would paint, that day. Playfulness came out in the big painting and a little bit of the farm’s reality surfaced in the little painting. The two paintings represented a merging of two mind sets – I guess. I felt exhausted and fulfilled au meme temps.


Sharnowski Road Farm–masked, 20″ x 29 1/2″, acrylic on arches paper.

The above painting, Sharnowski Road Farm– masked, reveals my intuition driving my spontaneity…the impact of the place and time, and focusing solely on the paint. I had painted this scene before and before and before. A comfort zone offered on a palette for me.

When I arrived back at the gallery with Sharnowski Road Farm – masked, it turned my husband completely around. He was, I guess, expecting a charming painting – the idyllic one painted when you go some place and set up and view and think and represent.

My stubborn self dominated. A spring day, refreshed by winter and being on location to paint, opened up liberty for me. While the beauty of the farm’s setting is visible in the painting, my familiarity and confidence with the scene brought out an eagerness and ever-too-tempting visual cue – open foreground – for me to mask into.

The bright green mass of grass that bedded in front of me as I paint and looked onto the farmstead invited me to be raw on that day. By masking into my underpainting it introduced a new shape for interpretation. It would invite a new depth, abstraction and curiousity for the viewer. This painting portrays the farm at its best and offers matter-of-fact information about how I work and what I love… the layers, the color, the mass, the depth of information and transformation.


Unless, you go with me to paint, you may never quite get what kicks in when I am on location.


I can never grow old of a scene and location because I am new and refreshed each day. 

I am mindful of the moment. And it never gets old. 

Kabot Road Farm, 10″ x 7 1/2″, acrylic on arches paper.


Written by Brenda J. Clark

Full-time artist and co-owner of the Brenda J. Clark Gallery


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