I’m a bit of a fanatic and tend to do things to the extreme, good or bad. Of course, painting is one of those things. My subject matter is not all that radical though—I like architecture. My first plein air classes were with John Guernsey, who lives here in Marietta and I consider him very skilled and I learned a lot from the sessions I had with him. One of his classes met at a park in Marietta and he had us paint views of the older southern houses on the road directly across the street. I have always been a big fan of Southern domestic architecture—classic proportions, simplified ornament. You might call this style Classical Revival and I’m drawn to them like a bee to honey and in this section of Atlanta, they are plentiful.
Again, I tend to the extreme side of the board when it comes to subjects —I like the grand plantation homes! Here in Roswell, there is an entire group of homes built by the founders and early farmers that settled this area. The old section of Roswell from the square down to Canton street is covered with fantastic examples. There are three large plantation homes, Bulloch Hall, Barrington Hall, and the Smith Plantation.
I’ve had the pleasure of painting Barrington Hall multiple times, a classic Greek Revival plantation mansion designed by Willis Ball in 1839, boasting grand two-story fluted columns on all three sides—truly magnificent! The surrounding grounds offer a picturesque view, with a broad perspective of the front. Last year, I chose an 18 x 24-inch canvas for a straightforward frontal view, and I’ve also delved into various vignettes. Among the area’s grand homes, Barrington Hall stands as my personal favorite. Nestled just south of the square at the end of Mimosa Street in Roswell, it welcomes visitors with convenient parking and a stairwell to appreciate its grandeur.
Bulloch Hall, a mere block to the west, enjoys its distinguished reputation as the former residence of Mittie Bulloch, Theodore Roosevelt’s mother. This enchanting estate boasts charming outlying buildings and ample parking for all those who wish to explore its beauty. Although touring these magnificent homes is an option, my artistic endeavors have occupied most of my time, preventing me from venturing within their interiors. I’ve also captured the essence of Naylor Hall on Canton Street—a smaller, yet equally captivating residence that has undergone a remarkable transformation from its original appearance, now serving as a versatile banquet facility.
During the past spring, I dedicated a day to capturing the beauty of Bulloch Avenue, where I painted an enchanting scene of Bulloch Hall framed by blooming dogwood trees. In addition, I took on the challenge of creating a smaller yet equally charming portrayal of the elusive Mimosa Hall. This private residence, hidden behind a long stone drive, features a distinctive sandstone veneer front adorned with white trim and square columns. Working on a 10 x 11-inch canvas in the early hours of the day under cloudy skies, I skillfully manipulated the lighting to emphasize the delicate interplay of foliage on either side of the drive, creating subtle shadows that brought the scene to life.
While the Bulloch Hall view was more expansive and grand, rendering the house presented a delightful challenge. With two sets of columns, including one set inset into the front facade, the architecture proved to be interesting and uniquely captivating. The grand fluted exterior columns soared into the sky, capturing and reflecting the play of light on the lush green grass of the spacious lawn. This return visit to the location allowed me to revisit this remarkable subject, striving to enhance my previous efforts with newfound skill and artistic insight.
Recently, I spent a few days over at the Smith Plantation—it’s right next to the city hall. Of the three, it’s the most confined and is more like a farmhouse. I believe several of the outlying buildings, some are very interesting, were moved nearer the main house at one point—I would guess to reduce the acreage, which is on prime property. I have just finished three views; one of the back of the main house, a smaller 9×12 of the cookhouse, and a 12×12″ of the charming caretaker’s cottage.
In the grand scheme of things, obtaining an optimal vantage point for capturing the front of the house has proven somewhat challenging, and I’m continually exploring new perspectives. As a recent update, I’ve successfully completed a painting of the main house from its frontal aspect. This project spanned two full days and several hours in the studio, benefiting from the absence of foliage during this season.
The grounds are open to all, inviting anyone with an interest in visiting these historic homes. I hold deep appreciation for the dedication of both the staff and the steadfast community that actively contributes to the preservation and well-being of these remarkable architectural treasures.