Here the expanse of open space marks a departure from Tracy Helgeson’s usual themes in rural landscape: large groups of trees, impressive barns, powerful color contrasts. This piece is almost an opposite of the crowded “Dark Blue Barn,” where space can hardly breathe, so confined it becomes by the barns and the trees. Together, these two works mark the two extremes in how the artist approaches and treats space in her rural artwork.
The dazzling yellow surface, which plays a minor supporting role in other such paintings, finally becomes the protagonist. It occupies more than half of the panel, and appears to almost spill over, beyond it; the composition in general bears interesting similarities to Vincent van Gogh’s “Wheatfield with Crows.”
The slightly arching path that dissects the field also assists in creating a sense of depth and perspective. It narrows towards the left — interestingly, going against the natural left-to-right direction of viewing — and acts as a suture that binds together the two resulting yellow areas. The green estuary to the right echoes the mass of trees, similarly green, to the left.
Changes in value (the yellow tone approaches reddish at its farthest point) not only support the perspective, but also lend the fields themselves an impression of volume, and of life. Largely abstract, these blankets of color convey interplay with air and light by their varying tonality; sun itself appears to buried somewhere underneath. Chaotic brushwork, clearly visible at close viewing, emphasizes — and indeed, provokes — these chromatic effects.
This is one of Tracy Helgeson’s calmest landscapes. Dramatic red and crimson hues, as well as stark light and shade effects, which can often be found in her other pieces on the theme, give way to a poised, homogeneous, open-ended depiction of nature — caught, perhaps, in a rare moment of slumber.
*this article has been edited at a later date