Claude Monet had the Seine River and Van Gogh the countryside in Arles, France.
Both artists would likely be envious of the majestic views and landscapes available to “plein air” painters in Burlington County Parks, which have become popular destinations for artists across the region.
Since Historic Smithville Park has become a favorite location for painters, the Burlington County Parks staff have installed easels in some of the most popular spots around the Eastampton park for residents and visiting artists to use.
“This new initiative is a great way for residents to enjoy our parks, while still maintaining social distancing during the pandemic,” said Freeholder Director Felicia Hopson. “Our parks staff has done a great job adjusting this past year to assure the safety of visitors in our parks. We hope residents take advantage of using these new easels, and also share their artwork that they created with the County.”
The easels were installed at these three locations in Smithville Park:
“These locations have scenery that any landscape painters would be thrilled to capture,” Hopson said. “And this is just at Smithville. There are plenty of other majestic views to be found at our other County parks so we’ll be looking to build on this and install more easels in those locations.”
In addition to the easels, County Parks has started a Plein Air, On Location Series with artist, Michael Anthony. In this virtual series, participants can sit alongside local plein air painter Michael Anthony as he reveals his process on location. The demo will focus on a specific topic at each location and show you an overview of the artist’s procedure.
Michael Anthony is a New Jersey born artist from the Burlington County area. Trained as an illustrator at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Mr. Anthony has transitioned to fine artwork, primarily landscapes. While seeing many artists around the world paint the outwardly beautiful locations in other countries, Anthony is attracted to the less noticed local destinations that many of us take for granted.
“Burlington County spans from the Delaware River all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and we have some of the most beautiful and varied landscapes imaginable, including the Rancocas Creek, cornfields and barns, Arney’s Mount and the wonderful Pinelands,” said Freeholder Linda Hynes, the board’s liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation. “We would encourage any seasoned or aspiring artist to take a look around here. The next masterpiece is waiting for you.”
The new easels in the park joined another new initiative this year, the Music in The Parks Series. The Music in the Parks Series, which concluded last month, featured local, talented musicians performing 90-minute sets in the parks.
Throughout the ongoing pandemic, the Parks system has continued to host socially distanced events this year, including drive-in movies, sunset yoga classes at the Agricultural Center, country line dancing, trivia nights, and the Agricultural Center’s online cooking classes through their Facebook page @burlcoagcenter.
Additionally, a final Holiday Farmers Market will be held Saturday, December 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Agricultural Center. Both markets will feature live music, fresh baked goods, local produce, fresh cut flowers and holiday themed crafts and artwork.
“We encourage residents to check out the programs offered in our parks and get out and enjoy these programs with their families,” concluded Hynes.
Photos: Freeholder Director Felicia Hopson works on a painting at Smithville Park with Chrystal Walker, artist and supervisor of visual and performing arts at Willingboro Public Schools.