My first trip to the Lavender farm and I was so amazed at how beautiful and peaceful this place is. It's a 25 acre farm that grows lavender plants. But that's not all... they make lavender oil and from that they have fragranced a huge variety of charming gifts and products.... all with the intention to relax and stay calm!
The first time out here I came with the Madison Art Society we were just a little bit early for the full bloom season. So I began my painting, blocking in the shapes and the gazebo with full intentions of returning a few weeks later.
My friend Patty and I have been painting together for a few years now. We headed out around 9:30am on Friday morning. We arrived about 20 minutes later - walked around, checked out the shop and found a cool place under a shady tree.
I brought this painting back with me just to pop in the violets and bluish-purples of full blooming lavender plants. When I was here the first time the day was slightly overcast. The dark tree line in the distance gave a nice backdrop for the gazebo architecture. I was debating to put a few people in the painting but for now I'll just assume they are laying down in the fields.... relaxing of course!
Definitely planning a trip back again soon!
11 x 14" oil on canvas
coated with protective varnish
$425 + tax and shipping
click here to purchase
Lavender Pond Farm website
A wonder day at the Lavender farm! The temperature was just right and I found nice shady spot under a big oak tree. I was just along the pathway where the train would come around from behind the house.... for a motorized trolley train, it ran very quiet or perhaps I was just in a painting zone... a few times the conductor rang the bell just to give me a heads up he was on his way.
This was my second time at the farm and so enjoy all the beautiful motifs and scenes. There's a lily pond, cover bridge, plenty of picnic tables under the big shady trees. A gift shop with everything lavender imaginable! And what a wonderful calming smell of lavender in the air.
I met some wonderful folks from Rhode Island, Pam and Mark as well as Cassidy, and bumped into a fellow painter friend Dawn.
The antique red Ford truck is showcased near the center hub where lots of guests gather around to pick out their very own lavender plant, wait for a train ride or chat among friends.
Today's plein air class was with my one student Marilyn. I met Marilyn and her husband Joel last year at my husband’s cooking class on April 12 - Easy for me to remember that date because it’s my birthday and my husband Dean’s birthday and…. Joel’s birthday too! Dean taught us how to make homemade pizza that night and we finished off the evening with a triple wish birthday cake. Such fond memories of a wonderful night.
The first Plein Air class was scheduled for the previous day but unfortunately was cancelled due to severe thunderstorms and heavy rain. My small group class was then split in two with one student on Friday and two on Saturday. Our first location for the season took place at Elizabeth Park which is on the West Hartford/ Hartford Line.
Marilyn and I walked around the park. Sketched for about 30 minutes and then settled in on a place in the shade. We were fortunate that it remained shady until we packed up around 1:30pm. A sprinkling of visitors came by, politely asked permission to see what we were painting. Followed by a brief conversation and then back to work.
Apparently Elizabeth Park draws folks from all over the state and beyond. We met a nice group from Barkhemstead, Maine, Virginia and New Jersey. A few even asks permission to take a photo of our paintings… which was very flattering. Even when our paintings were still in the middle stages and without the flowers!
Here’s my piece. Not sure if I’m calling it finished or not… might need a little adjustments before varnishing. Looking forward to a second session at Elizabeth Park today.
Finding Joy in the Journey: Looking Back - 6 Years Ago - Reflections and Insight for my Plein Air Class Week 3
As I prepare for week 3 -my job is to not only teach the foundational skills to paint outdoors but to be an encourager to my students. To share my past experiences.. the good and the not so good. And hopefully an insightful perspective with a few years attached to it.
This week I want to share with them about a time when I drove up to Simsbury on a Saturday morning in July looking for the Connecticut Plein Air Painters Society group Paint Out, but couldn't find them. I plugged the farm address into my GPS, packed my gear and headed north. I drove around for a while but couldn't find the painters at this designated spot. Did I have the wrong day? the wrong time? Maybe I didn't get the email that they changed locations.
Whatever the case, I didn't want to waste this beautiful day. I headed down the street looking for the possibility of another place to paint. I drove up the road and to my surprise I came across an old railroad bridge that was covered with flowers. This totally caught me off guard. Later I found it's called the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge. A local group work together each year to plant over 62 pots and hanging baskets from the ironwork. It's really a spectacular sight. The combination of the colorful and organic flowers and foliage against the steel, the Farmington River rushing underfoot and the blue sky above called out "Paint Me! Paint Me!"
I can remember hanging around for almost two hours. Looking, sketching, taking photos and looking some more. Honestly the scene was overwhelming and I had no clue how to paint it. I didn't have the experience or understanding of how and where to begin. Has this ever happened to you? Have you seen something that's caught your eye, you say to yourself this is really beautiful, I would love to capture it on canvas but when it comes down to where to begin... it's just overwhelming.
So what did I do instead? Back in my studio, I painted a scene close by but in another direction. For the longest time I just thought it was a cop-out. I didn't realize until recently and a few years of separation from that experience that... it wasn't an a cop-out at all. In fact I would love to share with my students a few lessons that I learned.
1. Be Flexible. No matter how much you plan an outdoor excursion, you've got the gear, the weather is cooperating, you've got the time, etc. it just might not go exactly how you planned. But be flexible. Keep your eyes wide-open and look for a plan B. or may plan C, or D. Looking back if I stopped at my original destination and painted there, I would have never traveled down this road to discover this amazing sight. Or what if I just gave up and drove home? That would have been a waste of time.
2. Sketching and take photos are valuable tools. I'm glad I had my sketchbook to practice and record what's in front of me. Even if I couldn't get up the nerve to set up my easel. In my sketchbook I could record the weather conditions, the sounds, and even my thoughts. Even though I spent time there sketching, drawing and walking around the sight. The photos helped to trigger my memories back in my studio.
3. Practice from your photos back in your home studio. Although being on location is what we are trying to achieve. It doesn't hurt, in fact, I think it helps tremendously to take a few intermediate steps, especially when your first starting out. Ask yourself a few questions back in your studio of why did this seem too challenging to paint on location. Too many colors? Complicated shapes? Subject too large for the canvas? Too many details? Once you define what was stopping you then you could address it in your home studio... in your safe zone. For me I set up my plein air easel in my studio and display images from my laptop onto a large screen tv in my studio to practice. . Reminder- the camera can distort the images so try not copy precisely from the photo, just use them as references. But this is the best way to practice. Take your time, measure and build your confidence. Once you've done some sketch work try going back to the location with your gear to set up and paint the scene.
4.Next Best: Find a scene close by that could feel like the area and paint that. Later on you'll reflect back on the "Next Best" painting and the memories of the place, time and moment will come flooding back to you even if you didn't paint the exact scene. You do remember the heat of the summer and the casting cool shadows from the surrounding trees. Maybe even the people you meet or the dogs you greet. Since a painter will spend much more time absorbed in a scene than when shooting a photo I believe those memories have a much deeper impact.
Hope these tips help you on your Plein Air Adventure and remember don't be too anxious to "arrive"... the Joy is in the Journey! Happy Painting!
This is a note I'll be sharing with the students who are in my Plein Air Painting Class at Artsplace in Cheshire. We just completed week 2 of a 5 week class that is held on Thursday mornings from 9-12pm. Even if you aren't in the class, feel free to leave a comment below about having the right perspective. Would love to engage in a conversation about your experience.
Note to Students:
I hope you don’t think I’m picking on you. I truly want to help you grow your artistic skills. I’m thrilled that you are in this class and I value you as a student and your desire to want to learn. We are all on this journey together. Some a little more advanced, and some are at the beginning. But that’s the exciting part because we can all learn from each other.
One of the hardest things to do is to not compare yourself with someone else. We all do it. I do it too. It’s part of our human nature. But just because it’s part of human nature doesn’t mean that it’s always helpful for us. We need to put on the right learning glasses to have a perspective that will help us, not hinder us.
Speaking from my own experience, which I hope you can relate to, I have attended classes or workshops where I’m eager to start, to take what the teacher has demonstrated and put it into practice. I gather my supplies, get set up, put the first marks on the paper or canvas, and within a few minutes I can hear that inner critic say “what are you doing? that isn’t right? “ weren’t you paying attention?”
Or I might be working away and everything is going great I just finished the first step. I pause, take a break, lift my head and look around at what everyone else is doing and boom, I immediately start to compare my work with my classmates. Let’s be honest, do you do that too? The thoughts would go something like this… “look at how much better so and so’s work is next to mine” or “why didn’t I do that?” or the dreaded “what am I doing here? They are so much better than me”. If my thoughts were visible you could actually see them travel in a downward spiral.
Or what if it goes in the other direction. What if I look around and say to myself “mine is so much better” yikes! That sounds so prideful! I’m so glad no one can read my thoughts. But this can be an equally dangerous place too. Why? because perhaps I’ve convinced myself that I know it all. I take on this “been there, done that” attitude. It just sounds arrogant as I type these words. If I spiral to those thoughts I’ve also closed the door to learning and growing my skill.
What’s happening here? I’m wearing the wrong set of “perspective glasses”.
So, instead I will adjust my focus and say to myself, “ I’m here to learn not just from the instructor but from the other students. I want to be stretched, challenged and grow. Somethings I create are really good and somethings are just practice. Accept it. When my eyes, ears, heart and mind are wide open and eager, even hungry to learn.... the Possibilities are Limitless!“
I call these “Teachable lenses”.
This is a conscience choice I have to make and so will you. Choose to see and embrace your uniqueness. Each and everyone of us has an incomparable artistic voice, that was meant to be discovered, nurtured and cultivated. If I put a halt to comparing myself to anyone else and choose to be open to new ideas, suggestions and maybe a different way of solving a problem or breaking a habit that might be hindering my ability to grow - Progress and advancement will follow. Yes!!
After all that’s exactly what we are doing here in the first place. Right? RIGHT!
I've been working very hard in my studio in preparation for my upcoming solo show at Evergreen Woods in North Branford, CT. I'm very excited to share my latest work created from my trip to Italy. Some pieces are posted on my website and social media. There are a few more that are still "cooking" and will share as soon as they are done. If are in the area please stop in or join me at the reception.
Show date: June 5 to July 5, 2018
Reception Date: Friday June 8, 2018 - Open to the Public 4:00-6:00pm
What a wonderful day it was Sunday afternoon at the Willoughby Wallace Memorial Library in Stony Creek, CT. There were 7 of us all together at the workshop. Some familiar faces, others I met just recently and a few brand new friends.
We gathered the tables in a circular formation and I talked - which I always feel I talk too much when I teach - even though that's what I'm suppose to do.:) -
We shared our reason for participating with is always fun to hear why.
We went over a variety of art materials that are often used for sketchbook journaling. I love when students bring their own supplies in because we all end up learning more about the wide array of art supplies available to create with... and that makes me excited! ..... planning my next trip to the art store!
I shared with the class one of my favorite books by Danny Gregory - The Creative License -
I"ve had this book for over 12 years and I so often pull it off the shelf when I need both encouragement and a kick in the pants! Note to self -in future classes - read few short passages to give the class a flavor of Danny's insights and writing style.
I passed around my journals so that everyone could glance through -not that I was really hesitated about sharing but afterwards, after flipping through a book quickly, I noticed.... "yikes that's a terrible drawing - why would I want to show them that!" -
That's when the lightbulb moment went on for me. I realized that is exactly what they needed to see - they needed me to honest and transparent. To show them exactly what my sketchbook looks like. Not a polished version. I could almost sense everyone's shoulders relaxed and I could hear a big sigh around the room.
If I showed them a beautiful sketchbook with page after page of perfect drawings then I would be faking it. Instead they got to see all - the good the bad and the ugly! Which leads me into my first lesson I learned from teaching a Sketchbook Journaling Class.
1. Totally Unique yet So Similar. Even though our backgrounds and experiences are so unique and different from one another, we all seemed to struggle with what should our sketchbook look like? Is it ok to have grocery lists? or a to-do list scribbled inside? and random notes or should every page be filled with a perfectly composed and exquisitely rendered illustration?
Phew - what a relief it was to know we are all on this same journey together and we don't have to have a perfect looking sketchbooks - this is where we can let mistakes happen. Ugly drawings happen. Even non- art stuff happen. Giving ourselves permission to not look perfect all the time.
The goal of sketchbook journaling is about recording and embracing everyday life. It's about discovering and enjoying your life as a whole where your everyday is woven into you art and your art is woven into your everyday.
2. Getting Started or Sticking to It -We all seemed to struggle with how to either start or how to stick to it. I had a hunch that this topic was going to come up so I copied a few 30 Day Drawing Challenges from one of my favorite websites - Sketchbook Skool - here's the link - they're a great resource for online sketchbook classes, blog tips and a friendly supportive community. I saved these challenges as a pdf so if you want to download them - click here.
The topic of a 30 day challenge came up several times and I think most of us, including me, were feeling the same way. Excited to try this Challenge but also a little apprehensive.
Before I dive in.... what am I getting myself into???
3.Create art in community is a necessity. At the end we shared contact information and from what I could gather the group was interested in getting together again.
Speaking from a personal point of view, often times artists are required to work for long hours independently on their art and developing their skills. And I don't mind, I enjoy my quiet studio where I can fully concentrate.
However, there are times when I need to be around other artists or creative types. It's in that community that I fill my creative well, gain new ideas, listen to others share their stories or process. Its funny because I feel like when one creative person meets another that common thread connects so quickly it creates an unexplainable synergy.
I think it's good for our health that we learn from each other about each others life, about new techniques, materials... we even shared cooking tips and recipes! Of course it was wonderful to have my husband Dean there to talk about cooking, food and all things kitchen-ee -
and at the end we enjoyed his homemade carrot cake. I think I'm going to illustrate his recipe !
All in all it was a fabulous day! Lot's of ideas whirling around about future classes and definitely looking forward to our next gathering! So I'll leave you with a recipe that I illustrated for Dean's Chicken Soup Recipe - feel free to download it and even follow along - and if you do try it, please leave a comment below and let us know if you like it!
Creating Art in a Community is like Chicken Soup for the Soul
Cheers! and happy drawing and painting!
Linda and Dean
I'm very excited about teaching this upcoming FREE workshop at the Willoughby Wallace Library on Sunday March, 25th from 1-3pm.
It's a hand-on, introduction to sketchbook journaling workshop. We will start with the basics - materials, mark making and color mixing. I will guide you step by step on basic observation drawings and then adding color to our sketches.
Our focus will be on creating drawings from simple things found in the kitchen - using mostly colorful fruits and veggies, dishes and cups.
This workshop will help you build your drawing confidence while having a whole lot of fun. I absolute love drawing and creating in my sketchbook and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to share my passion with others.
Designed for beginners in mind, however all levels are welcome and encourage to join in.
Creating art in a supportive community refreshes the soul.
You will need to bring your own watercolor sketchbook and a few supplies - pencil, fine Sharpee marker and small watercolor paint box. Some supplies will be included.
Date and Time: Sunday March 25, 1-3pm
Location: Willoughby Wallace Library
146 Thimbe Island Road, Branford, CT
Class size is limited: please call the Library to register-
Warning: work in progress.... please be patient
I've been promising my hubby for over a year, maybe two... yikes... maybe even THREE that I would start creating art instructional videos. He would so sweetly say things like "I think your students would love to see how you create _____ " or "people who buy and collect your work should see the process. I think they would appreciate it even more." but lately... that sweet whisper has turned into a loud voice inside me... one that's saying "Linda, it's time.... what are you really waiting for?"
Oh sure... I've created several videos for his cooking classes and my paint night events, but instructional videos... or behind the scenes... "a painting in the making". Well first of all that would require me talking. Don't get me wrong I love to talk... it's actually the listening of my voice that drives me crazy. Ok, excuses, excuses... away with excuses!
Well.... I did it!
And you are the first to see this video - I even set up a YouTube account. Don't go looking for me just yet on You Tube because I'm pretty confident the setting is still on unlisted. I'm hoping to get 7 or 8 videos uploaded before going "live" or open to the public. So I'm experimenting on you first, my blog readers. Leave a comment below or send me a message - for tips, advice or even a gentle rejection like ... "Linda, I think you should stick to painting, videos just might not be your thing." I can handle it... this in fact would be a welcome rejection. Then I can say to my hubby and myself " see, I tried it and it's not for me". Just kidding.
Like anything it takes time and practice. And more practice. Maybe at some point I'm sure I will even enjoy the whole process. You see, I do absolutely love teaching and I think art instructional videos will be tremendously helpful and beneficial for my students, I just have to take a deep breath in and say "I can do THIS" -
One of the absolute best learning tools for me to improve my artistic skills have been watching art instructional videos. Some I would find on You Tube and others I would pay for and download them. Whether I'm looking for a specific technique or if I admire an artist and I want to see their processes, Art Instructional Videos are invaluable.
A few years ago I so wanted to learn a specific technique - loose and confident brushwork. So I found a time-lapse video on You Tube and watched frame by frame how she created the painting. I even followed along, one brushstroke at a time. This fast paced video of a painting from start to finish was less than 5 minutes long but by the time I watched each frame and painted along it took me 3 hours to complete !
... but I have to say it was one of the best learning experiences for me.
I'm gathering a list of tips, techniques and instructions that I think would be informative and useful to turn into short video clips, Like:
Thanks for your patience - I appreciate your feedback -
Before we turn the page on the calendar from January to February 2018 I can't let another moment go by without reflecting on last year - and what a year 2017 was!
I'm first of all thankful for the wonderful opportunities to teach art in three locations - Artsplace in Cheshire, Arts Escape in Southbury and at Coachman Square a retirement community in Woodbridge. I have had the privilege of teaching students of all different ages with different backgrounds, some who have been creating art for years others who are just starting out on their journey. I'm grateful for each student in my classes.
As for unexpected surprises in 2017, it started with a phone call the first weekend in January when I received a message that my piece "Beachbound" won 2nd prize in the "Favorite Places/Favorite Things" show at the Firehouse Gallery in Milford.
Then in February my piece "Summer Day in the City" received honorable mention at the SOCCA Juried show in Southington.
In March, "Painters in Paradise" won "Best in Show" at the 25th Anniversary Cheshire Art League Visual Arts Exhibition.
And in October, at the Wethersfield Academy for the Arts 2017 Biennial Fine Arts Juried Competition two awards. Pictured at the top of this post is "On the Corner of Colorful and Creative" a summer scene of downtown New Haven won "Best Landscape" and "Tomatoes on the Vine- Kitchen Prep" won honorable mention!! Wow- 5 awards in one year!
I participated in 18 different shows from Litchfield to Cheshire, Branford to Southbury and a few in-between. And sold 26 of my paintings this year - some really small, some very large pieces, a few pet portraits and a bridal bouquet commission shipped to Ontario Canada, at local shows, from my online gallery, in retail locations and at Branford Art Center. Yes - a busy and very productive year it was!
Sprinkled through out the year - Dean and I organized several "Cook and Paint Together" Events - and had a blast doing it.
I am immensely grateful for my husband, kids, family, friends, students, collectors, colleagues in my life -for their support and encouragement and most of all their friendship.
I am thankful for the gifts God had given me and I so enjoy sharing my passion for the arts, creating and teaching.
I'm not sure what 2018 holds but I'm looking forward to develop new lesson plans for my students, put in plenty of hours at my easel, travel around to local art fairs and out on location painting en plein air ... and quite possibly a trip overseas could be in the works!
Thank you again for being apart of my world
with much love and gratitude -
"Mercy by the Sea, The Mercy Center, Madison, CT - 11 x 14" oil,
One of my favorite magazines is Plein Air Magazine and the publisher states that plein air painting is one of the largest movements in Art History. A movement that has become a lifestyle ... "it's the new golf." .... "whether amateurs, hobbyists or professionals, thousands of artists are living the lifestyle of outdoor painting."
I have to agree... plein air or outdoor painting is truly a lifestyle for me. I enjoy meeting up with my fellow artists, looking for new places to paint and just spending a few hours in the fresh air.... and it truly lets you forget everything else for a while.
This painting " Mercy by the Sea" was painted in two sessions approximately 3 weeks apart from each other. The first session I walked around the beautiful grounds, drew a few sketches and settled in a spot under a big oak tree. I was able to draw in the basic shapes and block in with color during the first session. On return, I set up in the same spot, filled my palette with plenty of colors and enjoyed every moment of seeing this painting come to fruition through brushwork and color play.
Background info from Website: www.mercybythesea.org/campus/grounds-and-gardens/Mercy by the Sea is located on 33 acres on the shores of Long Island Sound in Madison CT. It has a small yet diverse ecology, ranging from wetlands and woodlands to landscaped grounds and gardens. Mercy by the Sea is a retreat and conference center. Daytime guests are welcome to visit as long as they check in at the front desk. There is a superb gallery space that showcase both local and long distance artists. They offer programs for spiritual and self-discovery along with overnight accommodations.
This is truly one of my favorite places to paint along the Connecticut Coast.
I will be entering this piece into the Madison Art Society's 43rd Annual Member Exhibition and Sale.
Date of Show: Feb 4 - March 2, 2018
Reception: Sunday February 11, 2018 1:30-3:30pm
Location: E. C. Scranton Memorial Library, 801 Boston Post Road, Madison, CT
Receive my latest paintings and blog updates in
15 Helen Drive
North Haven, CT 06473
Keep in Touch
Sign up to get the latest info on events, classes, workshops, shows, and sales