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“en Plein Air”: Painting the Valley From the Summit of Mount Holyoke

Woman painting a picture on Mt Holyoke summit

Local artists paint “en plein air” to celebrate land and history at the Summit.

The view of the Pioneer Valley from Mount Holyoke has inspired people for generations. In 1836, Thomas Cole hiked up the mountain, made some sketches, and later painted one of the most famous images of the Oxbow and our local landscape. Almost 200 years later, we can still enjoy the same view thanks to the early conservation movement inspired in part by the landscape artwork of Cole’s generation.

It was in this spirit that Kestrel partnered with artist Lewis Bryden and R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton for our first Paint Out at the Summit House in June. Lewis is a plein air painter (“in the open air”) known for his remarkable landscapes reminiscent of Thomas Cole and Winslow Homer.

More than 20 local artists of all levels joined Lewis to learn about his approach before finding a choice spot to begin their painting. Local ecologist and artist Christine Labich, whose work was featured in the July issue of Plein Air Magazine, was also on hand to offer novice painters guidance in composition. Non-artists were invited to take a guided hike up to the Summit to see the artists at work.

We expect this will be the first of many more chances to bring the arts to the land.

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