View Full Version : B. Kuhn, Farrier and Blacksmith

Jim Updegraff
02-21-2005, 10:33 PM
Last week I saw a pen and ink piece in another forum that made me think for the first time in years about Barny Kuhn, the blacksmith in the little Ohio village where I grew up in the early 1950s. Barny was hardly the village smith of Longfellowís doggerel:

The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

Barny was a skinny, raw boned, bald, middle aged guy. He was reputed among the local kids to have escaped from Revolutionary Siberia (Hi, Pavel) by hiking across the frozen Bering Straights. Maybe he just got a kick out of telling outrageous stories to credulous kids. If, however you needed to have a groove put in a piece of river smooth stone so as to make a genuine Shawnee war club, Barny was your guy.

For the most part Barneyís business was sharpening plow blades and fixing farm equipment but there were still a few farmers who kept draft horses Ė older guys whose operation could not finance a tractor or more prosperous one who kept a team for old time sake and light work. Mostly the animals were a Percheron and something cross. Huge tall animals with remarkably gentle dispositions. Barny would shoe them at a hitching rail in front of his shop without using a twitch. Instead he tied a gunny bag with a hand full of oats or barley to the beastís mussel and went to work slow and easy. As far as I know he was never kicked but he did get a load of horse manure on the back of his neck on a pretty regular basis.

So, here is a start on Barny Kuhnís shop with himself out in front dealing with some big old draft gelding. Oil on canvas, 24" x 30".





pero lane
02-22-2005, 09:47 AM
Jim...I love your narratives as much as I do your work! :) I have always been fascinated by the blacksmith and his work since I was a child. The one we used for many years was a little wiry fellow with a gentle hand. Thanks for the memories! :)

02-22-2005, 10:03 AM
I like your work very much!:)It is so wonderful always, including your narrative:)
I do have one nit pick though: IMHO you put the blacksmith working on the horse's leg to close to the horse's behind ( no, no I am not afraid that horse will kick him :D ) so the horses leg's top part is too short for it size:)


02-22-2005, 03:49 PM
There was a time I worked in a job that involved publishing childrens books. I wish I still had some of those contacts. I'de send them your info... your ability to tell a story with words and paint ought to be collected.

The history is priceless. The painting is looking excellent. I'de like to have something - maybe a bench on the side of the building behind the standing man.

Jim Updegraff
02-22-2005, 11:14 PM
YLCIA, I think you are right about the horseís rear leg. It does not match op with the hoof the horseshoer is holding between his legs. The problem is, I think, that the ham is too short as is the span from stifle to hock. I think that can be fixed with out too much repainting.

Spyderbabe, despite your unnatural preoccupation with buttocks, I thank you, and thank you all. Iím told that Iím going down to the Capital to see the grandbaby this weekend so I donít know how much more will be done to this thing this week.

02-23-2005, 09:50 AM
Count me as a fan of both your art and your narratives! :)

Jim Updegraff
02-25-2005, 12:00 AM

This piece continues toward its logical conclusion. The elevator in the back ground is the main tower for John Craigís grain and feed business. His proprietary feed was Mac-O-Chee Feeds. Mac-O-Chee was the Shawnee name for the Mad River. The tributary that flowed in to the river just on the edge of town was called Mac-O-Chee Creek. Blue Jacketís Town, one of the principal permanent Shawnee town and the place Tecumseh was born and grew to youth, lay just above the creekís mouth.

Iíve added a dog. You may think this is Butch, the companion of my youth, a middle sized dog of uncertain parentage and questionable intelligence, but a good dog none the less. The horse is now grey and more clearly a Percheron with its tail tied up for style and hygiene.

Jim Updegraff
03-02-2005, 07:51 PM
I feel like Iím monopolizing this forum this evening. This is the last one, honest. I think this thing is done. Iíll post it in oil painting and structured critiques and see how it fares.


03-07-2005, 03:35 AM
I just wanted to congradulate this wonderful painting! I was reading the thread and I had some suggestions for the painting but by the time I got down to the bottom of the page, all my suggestions were fixed and lovely!! wonderful painting! :clap: I wish I could paint like that!