Gertrude and Molly | Art Q&A with Jim Klein

Every so often, abstract artist Jim Klein creates a painting that is less abstract than most in his gallery. His recent works of Gertrude and Molly are prime examples and pay a gentle homage to his lifetime of agriculture. He took a moment to explore the themes and memories these paintings brought to mind.

What’s the story behind these lovely works of art?

Jim: Gertrude and Molly are an example of my rare, intentional paintings.

What’s makes them an example of intentional paintings?

Jim: An intentional painting is one that, before I paint, I set an intention or theme to set out and create. Most of the time when I place brush to canvas the artwork is completely spontaneous. I will be drawn to certain colors that day and choose my palette, but the brush takes off on a journey of its own after that step; I’m just along for the ride. For Gertrude and Molly, I knew I wanted two canvases: one black on white and the other white on black. I also studied many photographs of cows, noticing that as they aged, their faces seemed to grow longer.

What was the inspiration? Why did you choose cows as your subject?

Jim: As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up within a decidedly agricultural background on a farm in Colorado. In fact, I often say I grew up having more experience with cows than people.

My aunt and uncle were also in the agriculture world and owned a small dairy farm, only a mile down the road from ours. I spent many of my younger days around their place as a boy in the late 1950s.

Every day, very early in the morning and again before sunset, my Aunt Emma would stand outside the dairy barn in her rubber boots and call out each of their cow’s names. As I watched in the barn entryway, when each cow heard her name, she would come up to my Aunt and wait her turn to be milked. I recalled names like Molly and Gertrude as among the types of names from way back when.

I always loved visiting their farm. Having grown up around them, I grew to understand and have a sense for cow personalities. Cows also happen to be great listeners. I would lay in the fields with them and sing, and the cows would be content to hang out with me.

Are Gertrude and Molly meant to stay together as a paired artwork?

Jim: They could function well as single pieces, but my intention is that they are meant to be together and a home together. Right now, they are hanging in the Art Factory, so please stop by to visit if you can. Gertrude and Molly are very popular, and I hope you enjoy them.

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