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.
Throughout 2022, Kestrel and the Amherst Plein Air Society (APAS) partnered on 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. During the year, a total of 37 painters participated and captured the beauty of our natural surroundings, in a variety of mediums, as it changed throughout the seasons.
Susanne Personette, the Society’s founding director, said, “APAS is delighted to have completed our first wonderful year of partnership with Kestrel Land Trust. As painters and preservers of our beloved and threatened natural landscape, APAS and Kestrel’s missions are completely aligned. Our collaboration on the Four Seasons at Sweet Alice paint-outs with members, guests, and visitors was enjoyed by all who participated. We hope Kestrel members enjoy seeing the varied approaches of these artists whose work shows the how the landscape changes from season to season. We look forward to our next collaboration!”
For the most part, the 43 paintings were created on location during the public paint-outs, though some were touched up later in the artist’s studio, or were painted from photo references taken by the artist.
View the exhibit by season below, and click on the small image for an enlarged view. Many of these beautiful pieces are available for purchase directly from the artists, who are generously donating 15% of the proceeds to support Kestrel’s mission. Artists’ emails or website links are found in the caption if a piece is for sale. (Note these are not hyperlinks.)
Selected artist statements are found at the end of the exhibit. We are grateful to all the artists for showcasing Kestrel’s Home on the Range: truly a landscape for all seasons!
Selected Artists Statements
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.