Thirty in Thirty, 2014: Fallow Field

Fallow_Field:copyright_2014:Michaela_Harlow:pastel_on_paper:michaelaharlow.comFallow Field, 2014 – Michaela Harlow - 20″ x 15″, pastel on paper (24″ x 19″) 

Driving back to my studio the other day, I was struck by the beauty of my favorite, golden-bronze-tipped native grass (Little Bluestem, or Schizachyrium scoparium), catching light in a snow-covered, fallow field. The vision stayed with me, as did the word fallow; a term I associate with both painting and agriculture. In horticulture, when a previously cultivated field is left to fallow, it is purposefully not worked —untilled and unseeded— allowing the land to rest for a season or more. To an artist, fallow is a synonym for ochre; a pale, yellow-brown  color, often associated with the landscape.

Because so much of my time is spent looking at and working with the land, I pay an above-average amount of attention to my neighbors’ fields and forests; noting subtle shifts from month to month and more significant changes from year to year. After so many seasons spent fighting the natural state of the land —in the name of cultivation and beautification— I have come to admire Mother Nature’s tenacity. Watching fields, forests and abandoned homesteads revert to their natural devices secretly thrills me. I cheer the arrival of velvet sumac after a wildfire and delight in un-mown cemeteries filled with native grass.

Fallow field …Wild and free …Filled with wind-blown flurries.


This entry was posted in Thirty-in-Thirty 2014, Winter Paintings, Work on Paper and tagged , , , , .


  1. Jen January 24, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    I had no idea that “fallow” was a color. Allowing things to fallow is an important, and oft neglected, part of the growing process – in humans and in plants. 🙂

  2. Michaela January 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    I agree. I’ve seen it work many times in horticulture. Let’s hope for the same effect in humanculture!