Demolition Sketches

The church property where I work was once owned by the Oehlke family. The Oehlke’s purchased land and built a farmhouse and several other buildings on a piece of land that had been settled 150 years ago, they were the fourth owners. The church was gifted the property where the farm buildings have remained after the Oehlke’s vacated them, and the buildings and shaded areas have been used for years for outdoor worship and other uses. I sketched the farmhouse and barn last fall, knowing that the buildings would be taken down this year. You can see those sketches here:

Fast forward to July 2021. The farm buildings were set for demolition this summer, and as I had sketched a few of the buildings last fall, I wanted to sketch the demolition too. I was able to get over to the site, sketchbook and paints in hand, as a large yellow-orange excavator with giant metal jaws ripped and chewed its way through building walls. Like a large metal T-Rex, it crunched its way through wood, metal, and a host of other things, until big piles of debris remained.

Here are a few of the sketches I did…

In this sketch, I watched the driver maneuver debris from the metal jaws into a large green dumpster. A man helped move things around in the dumpster.

I next watched the barn come down. Here is a sketch of part of the barn front being demo’d.

Here is a photo of what the scene itself was like, after much of the barn had been taken down…

I worked with Faber-Castill Pitt pens, watercolors, and a white Gelly Roll pen. I got as much of the watercolor washes done as possible, layering paint to deepen values, then back at home, deepened values more and highlighted with the white pen. So that is why these onsite sketches look lighter. Between the noise, dust, and my time constraints, I had to work quickly, but I got plenty of visual information onsite.

I went back another day and sketched the demo of the pole barn. The excavator had ripped away some of the building, but then parked, and the driver got out and adjusted something on the side of the bucket. So I quickly sketched it parked.

I am glad I got to be a citizen-reporter and capture both the history of this property, before, and after. These buildings and property have meant a lot to many people, and I am glad my sketches will be part of this history too!

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