This work shows clusters of people at work, children at play, and animals in the pasture. Sources for these figural groupings and vignettes came from popular media such as magazine illustrations, greeting cards, and advertisements. Find postcards, magazine images, or photographs showing similar activities.
Find the following compositional devices in McDonell Farm:
- A winding fence. A path, river or fence that winds through the landscape from foreground to background to give a sense of deep space.
- Changes in size. A tree or figure that is close to us appears much larger than a tree or figure of the same size that is far away.
- Changes in clarity. A distant mountain range appears less clear and distinct than a form that is closer to the viewer. (This device is also called atmospheric perspective.)
Grandma Moses shows us a scene of the countryside. How does she create this expansive view on a flat surface? Which of the compositional devices listed above are used to create the illusion of a three-dimensional space?
McDonell Farm depicts a farm—what types of activities occur on farms? Discuss why these tasks are important. Describe the activities that are shown in this picture.
Describe the landscape and its features. In what part of the United States would you find this kind of topography? Why?
What season is depicted in this work? How do you know? Discuss the seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. What different activities would occur on a farm during each season?
What different animals are depicted in this scene? List them. Write a paragraph or short story about an animal or animals in general.
Grandma Moses’ McDonell Farm was inspired by the children’s nursery song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Find the lyrics of the song and compare them to the painting. Does the painting have all of the animals included in the lyrics? More? Fewer? List the differences.