The Red Wheelbarrow
William Carlos Williams
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
I am often asked where I get ideas for paintings. "Everywhere," is my usual answer. Sometimes it is a new place I have been or something I am curious about. And every once in a while something crosses my path and I need to drop everything and paint from its inspiration. Such was the case recently when my good friend Claire reminded me of one of her favorite poems by William Carlos Williams. She said that my recent painting of the solitary yellow canoe on the lake dock had reminded her of it. I knew the poem and ironically it fit with all that I have been learning this summer about farms. So I really did drop everything else to see how I could make art based on the thoughts of this short but powerful piece of poetry.
So Much Depends
12" x 24" mixed media
As I learn more about the life of farmers I am realizing that indeed, so much does depend on that symbolic tool: the red wheelbarrow. Not only did the health of the crops depend on it but the farmer's family, the family income, and the eventual consumer. I wanted this piece to reflect the brevity of the poem. The few words translated to minimal lines and limited colors. The challenge in the composition was in making the different objects work together as I did not have a red wheelbarrow conveniently posing for me in a field with white chickens!
This is one of my favorite pieces of the summer for a lot of reasons. It is my tribute to those who work to provide food for our tables, my homage to past family members who lived the challenging life of farming and my bow to William Carlos Williams for sharing so much in so few words.
Thanks Claire for reminding me of this poem and providing wonderful inspiration!