Barb Pennypacker was a faculty member in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State holding the rank of Professor of Agronomy and Assistant Dean of the University’s Graduate School before retiring in 2005. She soon realized that the farmland she enjoyed during her career at Penn State was rapidly disappearing.
While not yet an artist, Barb wanted to paint the endangered barns before they vanished. To realize her dream, she took a private, total-emersion drawing class. The studio was an abandoned farm with a crumbling barn. Barb spent the first year of her retirement visiting Centre County farms and making plein air sketches of the old barns. The immense barn beams, marked with adze cuts and fastened with wooden pegs to create the soaring structure of the barns, speak to old-growth trees that are long gone from Pennsylvania. These barns are virtual windows into our agricultural past.
The gift of a set of Yarka watercolors from a Russian friend resulted in a three-year adventure in painting plein air watercolors of Centre County barns and landscapes. Finding watercolor a frustrating medium, Barb switched to oils after taking classes at the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania.
Barb became a member of the Farmland Preservation Artists of Central Pennsylvania in 2009. The mission of the FPA is to help preserve farmland by donating a portion the proceeds from art sales to the Centre County Farmland Trust. The Trust funds are used to buy development rights from farmers, thus ensuring the land will remain a farm. Barb finds a great inner peace when creating her farm-themed oil paintings and works closely with a local dairy farmer. Many Amish friends have permitted her to paint on their farms, broadening her appreciation of farming in central Pennsylvania.
Barb exhibits her paintings with the Farmland Preservation Artists and has participated in numerous regional juried shows. She is also a member of the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania and the Bellefonte Art Museum Artists’ Registry.