Golden Boys is the first in a series of work
inspired by a particular young mother and the activities she shares
with her two little boys in a rural ranching and farming environment.
Scenes such as the one depicted in this painting, and others to
follow, were essentially the norm for Alberta at one time; however,
as the province has become more modernized and urban, the family
as a unit living and working together, sharing in all aspects
of the family enterprise, has become increasingly rare.
I am impressed with the capabilities of my female subject. As
a partner in the family business, she is skilled in the care,
handling and feeding of animals, and adept at such activities
as barbed wire fencing, riding and operating equipment. Yet, at
the same time, she is ultimately a mother and nurturer of her
children -- children whom I believe are in some ways blessed with
an advantage over their urban counterparts. They have the opportunity
to share daily in productive activity with their parents, eventually
becoming real contributors to the family operation. Such formative
years, resulting in a sense of competence, purpose and belonging
will benefit them through their entire adult lives regardless
of the path or profession they may ultimately choose for themselves.
Golden Boys depicts the children exploring
their world and learning through participation as they help with
the chores, in this case tending the chickens, likely having just
finished collecting eggs and providing feed.
By design, I have set the mother in the background. As is often
the case in life, she is behind the scene, watching and at the
ready if needed. The focus of each subject, including that of
the chickens, is on the younger boy's activity. My purpose was,
in part, to guide the viewer to an initial point of interest before
leading the eye into the background, perhaps to interpret the
facial expressions of the mother and brother, and to explore the
composition of the building. I have made this structure old and
weathered to create a link to the past and to suggest the idea
of generational family farm succession.
Patrick Cox, Hugh Smith