Stories Behind The Work: Pump and Barn
Southern Indiana has no shortage of scenic old farm buildings and being an artist, I found myself
continually drawn to a particular old abandoned farmhouse as a potential subject for one of my pen and
ink renderings. As I walked around the structure taking pictures, I found an old water pump by a weather
Looking at the pump took me back to the days when I used to run around my grandfather’s farm and how
good the cool drinks we got from his pump tasted on hot summer days. The barn reminded me of rides
with my grandfather on the tractor he stored inside. I quickly took a few pictures of the pump and barn
and got back in my car.
Upon developing the film, I no longer found myself interested in the farmhouse, but instead was drawn to
the barn and pump that had brought back memories of my grandfather. I took out my pad and pencil and
began the lengthy process of sketching the rough outline in preparation for the detailed ink work.
After a few weeks of dedicated evenings work, I was ready to begin the final ink rendering. I left the
picture on the drafting table in my basement art studio on that Friday night with everything in place to
begin work first thing the next morning.
I had slept in that Saturday morning, but found that, in addition to enjoying the morning cartoons, my two
and a half year old son, Todd, had also entertained himself by using a purple pencil to create his own
enhancements to my pencil sketch (that could not be erased). Fortunately for Todd and I, neither of us can
remember the exact words that I said to him, but I can remember they were not the most encouraging I
ever gave to him.
After cooling down, I turned the paper over and started over with the pencil sketching process, but this
time the lines effortlessly flowed from my pencil. I worked on the drawing the rest of the morning and
completed the sketch that had taken me weeks to complete before and began the ink work that Saturday
afternoon. I continued to work through the weekend and again the ink work seemed to flow just as
effortlessly as the pencil work. The grass in the foreground, the cement foundation for the pump and the
planks on the side of the barn seemed to just appear from the tip of my pen.
By Sunday afternoon the drawing was finished and although I am always amazed at the artistic
inspiration and abilities God has given me, I believe it was more than a coincidence that I was able to
re-create in a single weekend an artwork that normally would have taken me several weeks. I feel this was
God’s way of gently teaching me a lesson that no matter what children or others do to our possessions or
alter our plans, He will be there to help us put the pieces back together and get us back on track. All I had
to do was turn the page over, pick up the pencil and start again.
The barn and pump have now been removed from the farm, but the original of this picture (with the purple
pencil sketches on the back) sits in our family room and is a daily reminder of His presence in my life’s
direction and how I need to be patient in dealings with others and with life’s little setbacks.