An Artist’s Notes: Gleeson Side Road, Almonte

I can’t pretend to know much of anything about living on a farm.

Eileen Hennemann

There would be so very much more to learn than just what we assume farmers do every day. As we enjoy our country drives we pass many farms far off in the distance, in the middle of fields, on the edge of creeks and rivers and right beside the road. Those farms didn’t foresee their cart track becoming a byway between the towns and villages that folk need to get to. You can stop your car beside the ditch and lean on the fence to moo at the cows while they watch you without concern. I’ve taken lots of cattle photos to paint from. They’re all so handsome.

This painting is of a farm on the Gleeson Road, just off County Road 29 to Pakenham. The road was named after the Gleeson family who settled in the area decades ago. We knew a few Gleesons, one of whom we loved dearly. Lamb Chop. He’s gone now, and had been gone from the farm for many a year. But his “farm ways” were always very much a part of him. Welcoming. Hardworking. Ready to help any time. We miss him and have deeply fond memories of him.

Late last summer I went out that way to start a painting of the stone arch bridge on the other side of the road. It’s a beautiful bridge built recently by the master stone mason who is also building the community oven beside the Almonte library.

I walked down the laneway to have a closer look. That bridge is an absolute masterpiece near or far. I turned around to return to the car and once again a sunset caught my breath. That end-of-day light – it never disappoints. I knew then and there that scene was my next painting.

How many sunsets did that farm have while the farmers worked feeding their livestock, mending fences, fixing this and building that. Did they have a chance to stop and look at the blazing sky and technicolour clouds? Or did they keep their focus and just got things done? Probably both, being farmers. Generations of farm work and strong values would have been part of their appreciation of the land and weather that they depended on. I don’t think they learned much of their wisdom from books – more likely from generations passing down their knowledge. Gives me a great appreciation for those picture-perfect farms that surround us here in the country.

Eileen Hennemann | ekhennemann.com | thetencollective.com