Sharon France isn’t a typical landscape painter. . . but then again, there’s nothing typical about the vast skies and never-ending farmlands of the Midwest United States.
Driving through most rural areas, you might look around and see hills or mountains in the distance, or rivers and forests on either side. In contrast, the true heartland of America is a lot less crowded with that kind of topographical variety.
The one landmark you WILL see over and over again (which Sharon captures in many of her paintings) can be found on farms across this country—the iconic red barn.
But Sharon doesn’t paint her barns and other farmland buildings by themselves. . . instead, she ties them to the land they inhabit, to the skies and fields they govern.
The painting above is a great example of that symbolic relationship, especially in the way those perfectly cultivated rows lead directly to the focal point of the painting.
The sense of visual space has an amazing impact, and one might imagine that Sharon would use this technique at every opportunity—but she doesn’t.
Sometimes, it’s simpler than that. Life is simpler, art is simpler.
I find myself incredibly drawn to the off-centered tranquility of this piece, entitled (quite appropriately) Still Part of the Heartland.
When I look at it, it’s like all the texture and noise of life just evaporate into that gray/blue sky, hung like a sheet on a calm, calm day. And those subtle gradients found in the grass and sky make this painting all the more captivating to me.
This final piece, Old Farm Beside the Forest, is amazing as well. At its most basic it consists of just four sections.
There’s the sky, a row of trees which contain two buildings, the field, and a stretch of darkness (shadowed earth, perhaps?) along the bottom.
It’s so stable, so grounded, that from the very first time I saw this painting, it echoed in my mind like a strong, dark, musical chord.
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