Land and art have long been intertwined. The historic tradition of landscape painting here in Western Massachusetts by artists like Thomas Cole contributed to the rise of the American land conservation movement in the 19th century.
This year, Kestrel and the Amherst Plein Air Society are partnering to offer a 4-part Plein Air Landscape Painting series, one for each season, at Kestrel’s new Home on the Range in Amherst. A group of hardy artists began the series in February to capture on canvas the various picturesque views of the pond, the Mount Holyoke Range, and the surrounding landscape as it changes through the seasons—or even day to day.
“The exciting new partnership between Kestrel and the Amherst Plein Air Society brings great joy to all of us,” said Susanne Personette, the Society’s founding director. “As artists, we treasure the Valley landscapes that Kestrel works to conserve. I can’t wait to paint the beauty of the pond in her different garb in every season this year.”
“As artists, we treasure the Valley landscapes that Kestrel works to conserve.”
Whether you paint plein air regularly, want to try it for the first time, or you simply enjoy watching artists as they create, mark your calendar for the rest of the year’s seasonal paint-out events: May 21, July 16, and October 1. Details will be posted on our events page.
View the artworks below the artist statements. Some of these pieces are available for purchase, and the information about how to contact the artist or view more of their works will be in the caption. (Note these are not hyperlinks.)
Martha Brouwer: I really admire Kestrel and all they do for conservation in the Valley. I’m so pleased that they have gotten a new home in such a beautiful setting. I will enjoy seeing and painting it in all the four seasons.
Louisa Davis-Freeman: As someone who just retired, it was wonderful to finally pick up a paint brush again and take in all the beauty that surrounds us here in the Valley. The paint-out at the Kestrel House was a fun event with friendly and talented participants and provided yet another way for individuals to engage in their natural environment.
Jenny Hansell: I wear two hats—Director of Kestrel’s sister land trust, the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, and plein air painter and so it was a joy for me to spend the day at the Home on the Range, both to see what wonderful events are possible at a beautiful home base like this, and to immerse myself in the landscape.
Susan Reyes: It was my first time visiting Sweet Alice Conservation Area, and it felt like another world. This winter day was relatively warm, and it was easier than I thought to spend a few hours outside at this captivating location.
Ruth Rinard: Painted on a warm early spring day. My senses were alive with the warm sun, light breeze, and sparkling light.
Donna Roy: The Kestrel House is in an exquisite location full of inspiration and great light. There were so many comfortable spots to choose from and a cloud filled sky that didn’t disappoint! I continue to paint in studio from the collection of photographs that I took when we were there. I can’t wait to return to paint each season! I began pastel painting during the quarantine of the Pandemic and found this medium a source of comfort and positive focus. I fell in love with soft pastels because of their rich color and tactile sensation. Painting PleinAir fills all the senses and makes the act of creating exhilarating.
Steve Schneider:The gazebo on the pond is such a charming element. It keeps the pond feeling very personal and gives a sense of scale to this beautiful spot.