Plein Air Painting is Life Imitating Art and Vice Versa

Cape Cod Life  /  July 2022 /

Writer: Mary Stanley / Photographer: Mike Crane 

From crashing waves along the shore of beautiful Coast Guard Beach, to the grassy dunes that abut Race Point Beach, to stunning hydrangea blossoms that peek out between white picket fences—these are the quintessential images that immediately come to mind when one thinks of Cape Cod. But it is this latter image that draws thousands of people to the annual Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival to celebrate the Cape’s signature flower.  The ten-day botanical event offers tours of some of the most beautiful private gardens on the Cape, from Falmouth to Provincetown, where visitors experience up close the explosion of colors that these snowball-like blossoms produce. For some, the beauty of these gardens inspires such an abundance of creativity that they yearn to bring their canvas, paints, and brushes, set up an easel, and in the middle of Mother Nature’s studio—capture the images of the gardens so that they live on in perpetuity. Such is the life of plein air artists—people who paint outdoors, seizing the beauty of the landscape in its natural light and surroundings. Such was the case for plein air artist Wendi Smith, who in 2020, was invited, along with 20 other artists to paint in some of the private gardens on the tour. After all, plein air artists are as much a part of the Cape’s landscape as the sand dunes and hydrangeas, themselves. Having these artists painting in the outdoors, as visitors passed through the garden, lent itself to the experience of the tours. For Smith and the other artists, it was nothing short of thrilling.  “We are just so lucky to be able to be out there and to paint like that in these beautiful gardens, doing what we love. It is just such a gift,” she expresses. Smith says there is a sense of camaraderie that comes from painting…

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Mary Stanley

Mary Stanley worked as the sales and marketing coordinator for Cape Cod Life Publications from 2013 to 2016, writing advertising pieces as well as feature articles for both Cape Cod HOME and Cape Cod LIFE magazines. Prior to that, she was the senior reporter for Sandwich Enterprise Newspapers. She currently works as the public relations and marketing coordinator for New England Village, Inc., a nonprofit organization supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.