The Magic Behind the “The Rooster of Salesville, Ohio”

Meg Awaiting the Rooster
John preparing with “Fireweed” Red.

My trip back to Ohio was an unpredictably fun and magical turn of events. My good friend, Meg, commissioned me to “paint a rooster on the side of the barn” simply because everyone kept asking her, “Where’s your rooster?”  She and her husband, John, own several hens on their sprawling farm in rural Salesville, Ohio (they also own three horses, two cats, and a dog!). 

Meg envisioned a large-scale rooster walking over “barn red” siding and sent me photos for inspiration. That began the conversation. 

And, I returned with an image that came across my path, this wonderful painting by artist, Robert Joyner (part of a series). 
But how does a painting go from the kernel of an idea to the final piece? It can be very systematic or it can take on a life of its own. But, I am in love with the creative process when magic unfolds in a collaborative event! That is exactly what happened. 
Physical circumstances nudged us into thinking about some practical, yet creative solutions, as is often the case. Originally, “Rooster” was to be painted directly on the prepared wall. Meg and John used quality exterior primer and paint to ensure longevity (Kilz primer and Sherwin-Williams “Fireweed” exterior “SuperPaint”; and, I was using Sherwin-Williams exterior “Resilience” line as it holds its brightness longer). The moisture in the air and in the wood of the barn wall, as well as the look of foreboding rain clouds overhead, prevented me from painting on the actual side of the building. It was just too big a chance to take and I had a limited time to produce. But, this is when things got incredibly fun!

Meg and I proposed a separate “canvas” on wood and John was only too proud to show me his collection of 100-year-old barn siding. He had a storehouse of stacks and stacks of beautifully rustic wood slats in many lengths and states of decomposition. To an artist, this is like gold! He was ecstatic at my full appreciation of his treasure, stating only a small population see the beauty and potential of such a find. A portion of the pieces were already “primed” with weathered red paint. I especially liked the look of these and in no time John was ready to construct the painting’s foundation.

John’s ability to see how best to engineer the frame that would hold the eight slats together, not to mention his forethought on how this structure would be attached to the barn, and his sawing skills were invaluable to me. Determining the proper “random” length, John cut the pieces to size. Our “canvas” was very heavy but moveable and we employed our strong, young sons to help set it up in what became my temporary artist studio for the next two days. The studio: an historic, dirt floor barn complete with rusty old equipment, hay, wood pieces, etc., but most importantly, a long existing roof for shelter and protection!  I found myself giggling at how surreal my surroundings were! This was better than my wildest dreams. And, I laughed out loud when the hens wandered through, seemingly choosing the color palette for their future visitor who had not yet been realized. 

I was really attracted to the color palettes in Meg’s original inspiring images and I love the loose and “strokey” manner of Mr. Joyner’s artwork. I knew I would marry these things somehow, but I couldn’t tell you exactly how. Fortunately, for me, my good friends and clients had given me very loose parameters and are supporters of the creative process. They, as writers, understand it. I am convinced that this is the space in which something divine can take place if the artist is willing and able to be the conduit. And, once I got rolling, my heart and soul were in sync and I was in complete and total joy! 

This was no ordinary creation… or even an accident. I had been intentionally calling out for art projects of collaboration with like-minded, creative folks that would impact others in a larger way and bring total joy in the process. And, no surprise, that is exactly what I received. 

I am so very grateful to my friends, to the process, to the skills, to our Higher Power, and to the Magic.