I spent my childhood poking around prairies, abandoned railroad buildings and farms. I can still vividly smell the creosote, the rust, and decades-old dried newspaper. I can hear the buzz of insects and the hiss of the wind in tall grass. My first successful drawings were of the trees and plants that populated those places. More recently, as I've spent more time painting en plein air, I've visited farms and prairies similar to those of my childhood.
When my dean suggested in passing that I might want to apply for a sabbatical it occurred to me that doing so would provide me the opportunity to realize a project I'd been loosely framing in the back of my mind: to paint a vanishing landscape, i.e. the family farm in Kane County. One need only drive along Randall Road to experience the vast amount of farmland that has fallen to asphalt and neon.
Farmland and prairie provide me a strong sense of place in this world - they are the fabric of my childhood - indeed my life. What better way to complete a circle of life?