What a view

DSCN1596

When my husband and I first moved to the Berkshires from California in 2001, some people would ask us in disbelief, “Why would you want to live here?” Granted there are parts of the Berkshires that are not that pretty and it has a fair amount of people who live in poverty and don’t go beyond a mile from where they live, but only if they did just get on bus or go for a walk in less than a mile from anyplace you live in the Berkshires you can see such amazing scenery.  I painted one of my favorite views which is on the way to a quaint town called Stockbridge, about a twenty minute drive from my house.  The field is a sea of cornstalk stubble and the three pines remind me of some in California.  The sky had a beautiful purple streak across it that day and the hills were a majestic purple. Funny enough, this view reminds me of another reason we love to live here.  The property is close by High Lawn Farm, a farm http://www.highlawnfarm.com that raises Jersey cows and doesn’t give the cows hormones or antibiotics. The farm has been in continuous operation since the 1800s. The milk from these Jersey cows is amazing and it naturally contains more calcium and protein than other milks. We have enjoyed this milk for the entire time we have lived here and my children have grown up drinking it.  The milk is only available here and over the years it has become available in other places in Massachusetts.  You can be sure High Lawn Farm milk will be a part of our Thanksgiving dinner.  Scenery and farms are just two of the many reasons we love to live here and thankful that we call the Berkshires home.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Advertisements

DSCN1574

Fall has been just spectacular in the Berkshires. In the leaf-peeping industry, bus tours to the New England area always try to come during the two traditional peak weeks (second and third week in October), when most of the trees have turned their vibrant colors and the trees are still full with leaves.   This year, the entire month of October was peak viewing!  The moderate temperatures kept the leaves in the yellow-orange color spectrum with an occasional fire red tree tossed in for a surprise.  Week after week, the leaves refused to fall off and I kept on taking picture after picture of beautiful trees.  I selected a variety of leaves for my art class to use when we did leaf rubbings with crayons and then the children filled each leaf in with watercolors.  My son collected (ok I collected most of them!) over ten black and rust brown woolie bears for a school project, created a habitat, and faithfully fed them apples and dandelion leaves and soaked white cotton balls with water so that they could drink. In this spirit of fall, I created my second treasure box from a recycled cigar box.  I kept it simple at first with a golden orange maple leaf on the top with a dark brown border.  If you look closely, you will see a woolie bear on the front right of the box.  Inside, I continued the fall colors with four more leaves in a pile. I imagine someone using this treasure box to keep those mementos that help us remember the passing of the seasons.

DSCN1577

Field of Goldenrod

DSCN1378

I have been out bicycling more this fall now that my children are back in school and as I bike around the Berkshires I have noticed that the goldenrod seems more bountiful than other years; or perhaps I just wasn’t looking! Everywhere there are large fields of this yellow native flower.  I was looking for the perfect goldenrod scene to take a picture and to paint from the photo.  I wasn’t finding quite what I had in mind and the days were going by quickly.  Then while I was driving past the local Pittsfield airport, tucked between a row of trees, I noticed a dirt road that I had not seen before.  The entrance to the dirt road was closed with a big metal farm gate, however I parked my car and walked closer. The view was beautiful; a huge field of goldenrod with blue spruce trees sprinkled in between.  The dirt road curved to the right and the sky! What a blue, blue sky with these amazing billowing clouds all tilted upward as they were saluting!  Another great day in the Berkshires. See more painted scenes of the Berkshires at http://www.mjnicole.com!

Monarch butterfly treasure box

Monarch butterfly treasure box

Two summers ago we spent a wonderful week in the Adirondack Mountains at Fourth Lake http://www.viistadirondacks.com. Besides keeping busy with swimming, tubing, fishing and boating, my youngest sister Jeanette created a treasure hunt for her nieces and nephew. They all had fun following the clues to the final treasure box. My sister had purchased four different cigar boxes at antique shops and my mom painted an Adirondack scene on each one. Inside the treasure boxes the kids found special items including a teddy bear the size of a quarter! My children still keep their treasure boxes on the top of their desks and they will always remember their Adirondack treasure hunt.
Inspired by these boxes, I recently ran across a cigar box at an antique shop and decided to put my artistic skills to use creating a treasure box. I selected a Monarch butterfly to adorn the top because not only are they a beautiful butterfly with their vibrant orange color, but it seems like they keep on popping up – I just saw a cluster of wooden Monarch butterflies in the window display at Anthropology http://www.anthropologie.com in NYC this weekend. While creating this treasure box I incorporated the original cigar box label as the background for the butterfly, and I mimicked the bold white dots on the Monarch’s wings on two black designs that wrap around the box. What treasure can you imagine being stored in this treasure box? It is my latest addition to http://www.mjnicole.com