Landscapes for Landsakes

Isn’t that a great title? Farmboy and I had a wonderful opportunity this past weekend to attend an exhibit presented by the Agricultural Stewardship Association in Cambridge, NY titled Landscapes for Landsakes– the 11th Annual Art Exhibition to Benefit Farmland Conservation. Located on a beautiful farm, nestled in a valley surrounded by flaming orange and red hardwoods, it was quite a visual treat and very well attended.

Maple Ridge Farms is the estate/gallery were this event is held annually. An old rough-hewn, wooden peg barn was converted into a lovely gallery-  well lit, gigantic walls and a wide open interior. In the lower part of the barn (shown below) a gallery was created as a special Tribute to Barns after the curator Serena Kovalosky’s numerous conversations with artist regarding the disappearance of many of the historical structures in the local landscape.

35 different artists created work that celebrated the landscape, farms and animals that inspire them. Beautiful oils from Leslie Peck (shown at top), an artist that we had seen in a gallery in Saratoga, were for sale as well as some compelling mixed media pieces, ceramics and photography. The $5 admission was well worth the price and included samples of New York State wine and cheeses. 50% of the art sales were also used to benefit farmland conservation.

Farmboy and I were inspired to create a beautiful community event in one of the old barns at home… if only there was more time in the day. : )

For more information on this event and the conservation of farmland please visit the website.

Plein Air Oil Painting Workshop

Wow. It’s been awhile… the kids have returned to school, the Clothesline Festival is behind me. I am beginning to be able to focus again. Most of the tomatoes from the potager have been harvested and made into sauce, salsa, pico de gallo and gazpacho. My freezer is stacked full for a delicious reminder of summer 2011.

Junebug and Poppa visited Linwood Gardens this spring for the Tree Peony Festival wherein they found out the gardens were open throughout the summer season for artist’s workshops. Guess what I got for my birthday??? Yay. A weekend workshop in Plein Air painting! Such a treat… on so many levels.

Stay tuned for more info on Linwood Gardens. Hoping to post a Fabulous Friday Find on that this Friday. You won’t want to miss it. A hidden gem.

Jean Stephens taught the workshop. I had visited her website and seen her work before the workshop and thought that her style/vision was just what I needed to help me get over my block in oil painting. Jean’s demonstration Saturday morning was so informative and helpful.

Saturday morning demonstration. Jean does a quick value sketch of her subject (left) then creates a monocromatic  underpainting on her canvas.

 A limited palette with warm and cool primaries (left). The sky value goes in first then Jean builds the painting out into the foreground based on her original value sketch.

I am not an experienced oil painter and I have never painted in the plein air style before (painting in plain air). It was marvelous. I was inspired by the beauty of the gardens and challenged to use that lovely french easel that I had sitting around in the studio. Jean was so professional in her set up. I am a messy painter. Its the only time I have ever painted in oils and NOT been covered in paint when I was done. Her “house keeping” made me feel so organized (not an easy feat)!

Bringing out the values/hues in the middle and foregrounds (left). At the end of the day we put up our work and had a lovely critique.

Our lesson on atmospheric perspective was a turning point for me. You will see. Some of you know how I love to paint the view from my studio. Now… I get it. Just wait and see.

It was such a treat to talk art, technique and social media with other artists. The weekend encouraged me to get involved again with my local art community. I was so impressed with Jean’s demonstrations and her open, giving style of teaching.

Sunday morning demonstration on painting trees… a good thing to learn when painting landscapes!

I have a few changes to make to the paintings that I worked on there. Perhaps I will post them when I feel like they are done. Until then I may be showing up with my french easel all over town!

For more information on Jean Stephens artwork and classes please visit her website. Also, if you are in the Rochester, NY area be sure to visit Jean’s upcoming show at The Arts & Cultural Council October 12th – November 3rd. Her work is amazing!



New Paintings

I’m getting ready for the Allentown Festival this weekend. Shown below are some new paintings/studies that I hope to have framed for the show. Which one is your favorite? They don’t have titles yet… any suggestions?






Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.


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