Dark Red Iris with Wheat Field.png

On the Family Farm

 Barbara Stecklein

September 8 - October 31 

"After moving to San Antonio, Texas in 1980 and completing my BFA in 1985, I began my art career. At that time my concentration was on still life compositions using watercolor and graphics. Eventually I added charcoal and pastel. I enjoy experimenting with these drawing media on different kinds of paper and working with a wide variety of still life subject matter.


While living in Texas, each year was divided into three different still life seasons. Beginning in January, work began with iris flowers in the garden. Then sunflowers were drawn over the summer months in the studio and still life artwork of squash, fruits, and vegetables were drawn over the fall and winter months. Since moving to our family farm in Kansas in 2008, my work now includes landscapes of grain fields and snow scenes.


The size of the work undertaken each year depends on the kinds of abundance of still life material. Although I have grown some of my still life material over the years, I do purchase flowers and squash at various markets. Many pastels have taken several seasons to complete as I work as much as possible directly from the subject matter. When I was first learning how to develop a pastel drawing from my garden I used photographs of the flowers to complete some pieces such as the large iris and rose drawings. Although it is difficult to work on iris pastels in Kansas due to the wind and short season, I do have a great supply of flowers. Now that I have learned to develop the compositions as the flowers grow. Since I work on pieces over several years I photograph the places I am working so that I can put objects back in place such as wagons, bails, baskets, etc. and take note of things I have changed from year to year.


My work outside may begin with preparatory sketch or drawing, but most of the time the pastel and charcoal work is done directly on paper, developing the composition as I draw. Sometimes only a pastel or charcoal sketch of the subject matter will be completed, most of the time however, the work will result in a fully developed pastel. Although most of the work is done outside, the finished work will often be completed in my studio. I have a particular organization of the colors and the way of developing these pastels that I use in all of my work. I experiment with different color combinations to create the objects in the drawing and feeling of light, space, and texture. The scene that I create on the paper is based on what I am viewing but is build from this particular organization of color.


The winter landscapes are drawn at various places on our farm both inside and outside my studio. After not seeing snow for many years I began these landscapes by using neutral gray pastels with two or three different blacks and a white. The intent of these drawings was to understand the values needed to create a winter scene and to develop a series of pastels based on the landscapes around the farm.


When working on the winter scenes I found the gray tones more enjoyable and easier to handle than the larger number of colored pastels that would be required and the difficulty in transporting them even though I have an old converted grain wagon to used as a portable studio. Beginning with a charcoal sketch I use eleven values of gray with black and a pastel paper. Although they were both developed for pastels, they have different surfaces for holding the pigment which results in a different look to the drawing.


The work for this exhibition is a selection of the latest pieces of my work, primarily pastel, from our family farm. My plan is to include landscapes, still life, and florals that will be from all four seasons. Two of the pastels are a reference to the past. All of the other pieces capture current views of the farm.


My education began at Fort Hays State University, studying there from 1969-1971. I received a Bachelor of Science degree from Kansas State University in Home Economics in 1973. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1985."

© 2019 by The Coutts Museum of Art

110 N Main St. El Dorado, KS 67042

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