Consider the Bale

"Fading Sun Hay Bales in the Finger Lakes," acrylic painting by Mark Stash. Private collection

As an artist, I’m constantly on the lookout for interesting things to paint. I’ve always had an affinity for painting and drawing birds and other animals. And I also like to paint from different life experiences.

As a kid I explored a lot in the woods near my parent’s home, and I would draw what I saw. Now, I still like to paint what I see.

Every day on my way to the office I drive past some pretty incredible farm landscapes. The rolling fields reach back and disappear into a patchwork of woodlots and barn silos. Throughout the year, those fields change from bright white desolation in the winter to the brown and tan fields of spring before the grasses and crops start to grow. And then, sometime around the middle of April into May, the green colors explode throughout the landscape. The change in color from drab to bright and beautiful is astounding. Then those green grasses grow and grow and become hay, and before you know it, a farmer is out there cutting it down into neat rows that run up and down and around the fields. Then those rows of cut hay are baled into all kinds of shapes. Small square bales and larger square bales are usually picked up right away and stored in a barn. But the much larger round bales are sometimes left in the fields for days, weeks and sometimes months.

The round bales, to me, are quite beautiful and really complement the rolling hills and fields of the Finger Lakes. The round geometric shapes of the bales act as a focal point in my paintings – a few round bales in the foreground leads the eye to more bales in the middle ground and then the background, and then the viewer sees the hills and trees in the distance, and maybe even a Finger Lake.

Derek Doeffinger’s article “The Beauty of the Bale” on page 56 in the May/June 2015 Issue helps us to learn a little more about hay bales and how to appreciate some common country sights that may have been taken for granted in the past. When you’re driving through the Finger Lakes this early summer, take notice of these farm fields and the round bales of hay with an artist’s eye.

by Mark Stash

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