When I was in high school I began painting murals around my parent’s house.
I kept them small until I painted a 3/4 scale horse on my sister’s bedroom wall. I found I liked working large and could draw and paint freehand.
One summer during college I convinced my boyfriend to hire me to paint a mural of the Garden of Eden as a Vermont pastoral landscape on his brand new barn door. I promised to drive the tractor and help with the haying when I wasn’t painting.
It was huge!
I needed to use his bucket loader, normally used to scrape manure off the barn floor, as a lift to get to the top 1/2 of the door.
But that mural only took a few weeks, so I began painting the other barn doors too. He was raising Charolais cattle, so one door showed a crowd of cows appearing to leave the barn. I was trying to create a simple trompe l’oeil effect by adding a bright window to the back “wall” of the mural. To add complexity I sat our two dogs outside the barn door, and later photographed them, posing as themselves.
Ray, the hired man, fed a pen full of imaginary pigs,
and I leaned provocatively out of another doorway.
Eventually I painted every door, on every barn and outbuilding.
And was finally able to paint a fully life-size horse.
All these photos were taken by Tim Clemens and appeared in an article and Calendar produced by Vermont Life in 1978. The barns on Doolittle Road are still there but the original murals are long gone. Back then I didn’t know much about using oil paints and I didn’t prep the older doors properly. The murals deteriorated over time. Since then I have painted many more murals with better success. I’ll talk about some of them in future posts.
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