I just returned from a week in North Bennington, Vermont -- one of 25 juried artists participating in the 2011 North Bennington Plein Air Event. What a great event! Vermont offers endless subject matter and even though we had uninvited guests – Hurricane Irene (before) and Lee (first two days) – the artists prevailed and painted 100+ paintings in just four days!
How great to reconnect with Mary Byrom and Andrew Orr (whom I met in last year's event!). And to meet new artist friends like Bruce and his wife Janice. On the second day of the event we went in search of a painting spot along a road that Andrew had discovered just within the boundaries of the little town of North Bennington. We set off, caravan fashion, all four cars making our way in the grey misty morning.
We did! But it was set way off the road down a long, winding driveway. Both Mary and I have no qualms about asking to enter private property (we're fearless women!). So we parked along the road and went up in one car so as not to spook the poor man who we could see was peering out our way.
We were greeted by Mr. Browe and after a bit of friendly chatting, he finally felt comfortable to allow us on to the property to paint. He was a third generation farmer, struggling to keep the land and farm. It took a little bit to warm up to the idea that we wanted to paint... a little bit of a foreign concept to him. We went back out to the others anxiously waiting on the road and then all drove in and set up to paint.
I chose a spot down by a babbling brook with a sweeping view up to the barn. The others set up alongside their cars and painted the magnificent view of sweeping farmland, mountains and dramatic skies. Halfway through the sun began to shine through the clouds. The rain was finally lifting!
We spent a memorable morning on that lovely farm and worked feverishly to finish our paintings. Mr. Browe drove by and stopped to look at my painting. He remarked how, indeed, it was a great old barn and that I made it look better than he thought it did. I love that aspect about plein air.... to be able to remind someone of the beauty that surrounds their everyday place. The extraordinary in the ordinary.
Browe's Barn On Coulter Road, plein air watercolor, 12 x 9
A few hours later, we finished and then packed up to head back to town for a quick lunch break. On to the next painting spot.. which was actually a cluster of barns down the road owned by the same farmer. Bonus! Two painting venues from one inquiry. Loved that!
Painting plein air in out-of-town locations is always a great adventure. It takes a willingness to explore and a love for discovery! You have to find the scene that speaks to your heart and then the painting is pure pleasure... immediately you have a story to tell.