Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Outhouse 1

You don't see many of these anymore. I remember when I was a child going on vacation in Wisconsin. These were always fishing vacations since my Dad was an avid fisherman, off we would go to a lake that boosted "modern" accomodations. That did not mean indoor plumbing however. Up before dawn and into the boat, my Dad would row us out to the perfect spot, I would put the worm on and throw in my line and watch for my little red and white bobber to go under. I remember the sounds of the water rippling against the small wooden boat, the birds chirping as the sky lightened, fish jumping, the mist rising from the water, and my  toes wriggling in the cold water in the bottom of the boat. Catching just enough fish for breakfast, cleaning them and watching them cook in the big black frying pan. Great memories of time spent with my Dad. But you ask what does that have to do with the painting of the outhouse? None of the places we stayed at had indoor plumbing. There were no fancy resorts, mostly just little one room cabins with a bed. Now I didn't mind getting hosed off outside, and brushing my teeth outside was actually kind of fun. Couldn't do that at home! Using the outhouse was something else again, kind of scary for a skinny little kid. My first visit made me sure I could "hold it" until we went home a week  later. Visions of monsters under the bed are nothing compared to what was living down in that black hole! We are talking snakes, spiders, wolves, bears, mountain lions at least. Although thinking back now, no respectable animal would go near that smell! Of necessity I  became quite adept at getting in and out of the little houses quickly with only a few slivers to show for my haste. The old outhouses have been replaced by modern indoor plumbing in most situations and if outdoor accomodations are needed the blue plastic "Port-a-Pottys" are there. I don't think there were ever two outhouses that looked the same. Some were quite fancy. At Lincoln's home in Springfield Illinois the little house out back was a "three holer". Now what kind of a conversation would you have with someone using the adjoining hole. Hmmmmmm, makes you wonder.  Depending on where you are the building change in appearance and in the material used to  build it. Some have been kept up and used as garden sheds or just conversation pieces. Once in a while you will see one of the old ones sitting out in a field, overgrown, uncared for, abandoned. A joke to some, an eyesore to others, for me, memories of special times with my Dad.

This painting is the first in a series of paintings of old outhouses. I wanted to show age, the old outhouse, the old horse and dog, even the hills are old and bare. My palette stayed in the  purple and mauves, in the shadows of the outhouse, horse and dog and repeat in the distance. Not too much background to show the isolation of the area and still keeping the painting light. I enjoyed doing this painting and decided that doing a series of outhouses would be an interesting thing to do.

1 comment: