The Grand View of Fall Foliage in Western MA

10 Vistas for Leaf Peeping

The best leaf peeping excursions are ones that not only happen during a countryside drive or a solitary hike in the woods, but up high with a view! Once you know when the foliage will peak, make a trip to a nearby vista for a view that has inspired artists and poets for centuries.

In addition to bountiful harvests, autumn brings with a dramatic change in the color scheme of the local landscape. Leaf peeping is a favorite activity of folks from out of state – and for good reason! Make time to get outside as a family this fall and explore the brilliant red, orange, and yellow that the woods have to offer. The best leaf peeping excursions are ones that include not only woods walking but a view from a high place. We recommend… Read the rest of this entry »

Community-Based Resources: Plein Air Painting in the Autumn

Plein Air Painting

En plein air is a French expression meaning “in the open air.” It’s used in English to describe a painting style that occurs outdoors. Made possible historically by the manufacturing of paint into tubes, artists no longer had to mix their paints in the studio from chemical compounds, freeing them to travel outdoors for inspiration. When participating in plein air painting, artists become fully engaged with the fall landscape through perspective, composition and, most importantly, color! Watercolors are the most portable and easiest to clean up, but plein air painting can be done in any medium – oil paint, acrylic, pastels, etc. – and by any age.  Read the rest of this entry »

Art History: Summit of Mt. Holyoke

Thomas Cole, The Oxbow, 1836

Really want to entrench yourself in local art history?  Then paint at the summit of Mt. Holyoke!  The mountain (not the college!) is the site of Thomas Cole’s 1836 painting “View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm” (commonly known as “The Oxbow”).  This painting depicts the Connecticut River Valley and highlights Cole’s interest in depicting two parts of the American landscape: pastoral farmland and wild forest.

For full lesson, visit www.khanacademy.org.

View an interactive image of the painting at www.explorethomascole.org.  (Can you see where the artist inserted an image of himself painting en plein air in the painting?)

Science of Autumn Leaves

Science of Autumn Leaves

Crisp fall days are a great time for outdoor hands-on science! Using fall-harvested crops and the natural phenomena of autumn as inspiration, families can explore everything from weather prediction to animal tracks. These engaging outdoor science projects can be enjoyed by scientists of all ages, and require few materials – the learning inspired by each project will come naturally thanks to participants’ curiosity and ability to observe! Learn what color leaves different trees produce in the autumn and learn to read your landscape.

As foliage begins to shed its summer green, explorations of leaves and trees become especially engaging. Using leaves found on trees right in a backyard, families can practice leaf and tree identification. Read the rest of this entry »

Think About This: Fall Foliage and a Sense of Place

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