Artist Perrin Sparks painted this view of Mount Washington out of a three-day plein air art session on the mountain during August.

Artists tackle Mt. Washington

You can get a different views of Mount Washington from different geographical locations but you can also get different views of the mountain from the eyes of a diverse group of artists.

A group of nine plein air artists spent three days at Mount Washington’s Paradise Meadows last August. Plein air artists are painters who create their art on location.

The results of that three-day visit are now complete and the group is exhibiting a selection of their work at Sybil Andrews Cottage throughout December. There will be an opening reception on Dec. 3 from 1-4 p.m. at the cottage.

The artists participating in the show are Heather Hughson, Nanci Cook, Bob Peel, Perrin Sparks, Carole Goodwin, Mary Harrison, Kathy Fitzsimmons, Jill Paris Rody and Linda Goodwin.

“The decision to go to Mt Washington was based on the organizer, Perrin Sparks’ desire to gather like-minded people for a time of complete immersion in what they love best: Painting our magnificent scenery, in the fellowship of serious fellow artists,” group member Jill Paris Rody says. “We all love to talk art, share our experiences, and gather friendly critiquing of our work. Many of us are professional artists, so a solid critique of the subject and process of painting is invaluable. Working outdoors gives such a wonderful sense of freedom to all of the above.”

Artist Bob Peel recalls their time on the mountain: “The location and weather were great but, more importantly, the sense of being with people who were both accomplished in the art and dedicated to partake was impressive. When you arise only to find that others have been up before you to grab all that daylight brings to a painter (and I am an early riser) and you end the day joining those who paint the last of the light, colour and shadows before a last sip of wine you know a perfect day has drawn to a close.”

Painting outdoors was a new adventure for Cathy Fitzsimmons.

“It was an eye opener to be out in the wilderness with the wasps and occasional hikers for company, and to figure out how to do in a relatively short time what usually, for me, takes many hours of careful, controlled work in my studio to capture the essence and character of what I saw in front of me, on my paper,” Fitzsimmons says. “This is even harder when trying to capture the scene with the changing light, colours, and shadows of a certain time of day in a small window of time.

“I will paint plein-air again, definitely, because my camera doesn’t really quite capture the colours or the glow of light the way I experience them when I see something in the landscape I want to paint. Perhaps I will wean myself from the camera as reference for colours and just rely on it for the other details, if I choose to work up a larger painting from a plein air sketch.

“The Mount Washington experience was really inspiring. Never have I been up and outside by 6 a.m. to paint any other time. It was irresistible there. The company of other painters far more accomplished than I just makes it that much more enjoyable, and instructive, as well.

“What a truly stunning location Paradise Meadows is for artists to paint! How to decide which view is the one to settle into and bring to life on my paper was tough when every vista seems ‘paint-worthy’?”

Heather Hughson says, “I normally paint in acrylics. For the second year now, I’ve enjoyed the experience of painting ‘out amongst the scenery’ at Mount Washington; and I’ve found my love of watercolour again. The opportunity to be out at the break of dawn at such a wonderful place proved a great inspiration. I found it especially inspirational getting together with other artists who freely shared their thoughts and methods of painting. It was interesting to see so many different interpretations of the same scene.”

Nanci Cook adds, “Painting outdoors, direct from the source, is a wonderful way to see the many colours of the landscape – light changes in a heartbeat, as artists strive to catch the moment in paint. Painting together, in silence or quiet conversation, we bond by our mutual interests, challenging ourselves to reproduce the experience on canvas and paper.”

The show will hang at Sybil Andrews Cottage until the end of the year.