Barton, John Rector, 1897- / Rural artists of Wisconsin
Ralph Krug: Route 1, Calvary. Ploughman-painter, pp. 79-82
the feeling after a while that here at least is one young person who does not feel the need of a train ride, con- tacts with city crowds, or the new and exciting experi- ences made possible by a rapidly changing world. On the walls of the farm home are a number of paintings of pastoral scenes which reveal a deep appreciation of na- ture's forms. He is at home in the open fields, among the herds and the trees. Why should he leave? Born on the present farm in 1917, he spent the first three years of formal education in the Tom Paine School nearby, after which he was transferred to a Lutheran parochial school on highway 23, a few miles to the south. Finishing the seventh grade there, he then at- tended the eighth grade at the parochial school in Fond du Lac. Here, for the first time, he received some or- dinary instruction in drawing and water color and found that he liked it. There was no special art instruction, and he can remember no one teacher who spurred his efforts, but the opportunity was in itself sufficient. He had discovered a natural interest. His use of oil paints began the following summer in 1931, when his uncle, Arnold Krug, visited the farm. The uncle was located in Arizona and spent most of his time painting desert scenes. He noticed the boy's water colors and, without attempting to give him advice or instruction, gave him brushes, tubes of oil paint, and a pallette. For guidance he left an ancient-appearing book called The Painter in Oil, by Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst. This the boy read carefully. Occasionally he made a few paintings, most of which have been given away; but it was not until five years ago, when young Krug began work away from home as a hired hand for a neighboring farmer, that he painted a half dozen large impressive oils of real or imaginary farm scenes which had caught his interest. Seeing a print in a book of a Rosa Bonheur painting of sheep in a pasture, he got the idea of painting a herd of dairy cows with his neighbor's farmhouse in the background. The color treatment is romantic, and without knowing consciously how to plan a design, he nevertheless placed the cows in diverse positions to avoid uniformity and monotony. Another pastoral called "Late Summer Morning" has a rather classical arrangement of tall stately trees and a good design in contrasting lines of trees, fence posts, and cow paths. The sense of depth and perspective in the picture is realistic. "Threshing in Wisconsin" por- trays an imaginary scene which is a composite of many threshing experiences which he had long wanted to put on canvas. This picture was recommended by Curry for the month of September in a rural art calen- dar. One of the most convincing works he has done is a portrait of his mother knitting. The paintings were usually done on long winter evenings, never on Sun- days. The only exhibit he has entered was the Rural Art Exhibit in Madison, which he saw announced in the local newspaper. He does not care to sell his pic- tures; he does not seem to be particularly interested in 80
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