My father spent so much time searching for material. He worked very hard at it. As he explained in his book, A Gallery of Paintings, “Few of my paintings derive from ready-made scenes. Usually, I find an interesting base and then search for elements with which to decorate it. This requires me to keep several different scenes in my head simultaneously, constantly remembering the direction of the light and the perspective in each. At the same time I must search for figures and other elements that will fit into them.
“Sometimes I come across things that I record without a specific scene in mind. I know that someday I’ll find their scenes.”
Every once in a while, though, all the hard work would pay off spectacularly. This Portuguese Farmyard painting is a perfect example. I’ll let him tell you about it himself: “I was wandering around a farmyard in Portugal, disconsolate because I had found nothing worth painting. As a last effort I nudged open a large, heavy door and was greeted not by the barrel of the farmer’s shotgun, but instead with this beautiful composition.
“The farmer was busy pitching hay into his barn. I held up my camera and nodded ‘May I take some pictures?’
“The farmer nodded back, ‘Si signor.’
“Once again all I needed was there: the relation of the buildings to each other, the angle of the light, the juxtaposition of all the elements…. All I had to do was coax the cat into the wheelbarrow.”
For more insights like this from Clark Hulings, purchase A Gallery of Paintings here.