The last two weeks of April were quite colorful!
Having been invited to plein-air paint during a tulip festival at a local farm, I had my gear ready to go once the doors opened. I was happy to know the way, as there’s nothing worse than the frustration of getting lost with your GPS. Does that only happen to me?
This opportunity to paint presented itself during the winter, when someone from the farm contacted me about my paintings from the fall sunflower festival. They liked them and wanted to know if I’d be interested in coming back for tulips. (It didn’t take much for me to say yes.) I had heard about the tulips last year from a couple of artist friends and how magnificent they were but I had no concept of the degree.
That first visit walking up to the entrance and seeing the color slowly unfold before my eyes seeped into my soul igniting my senses with amazement. Slowly, taking in row upon row of color felt equivalent to standing in a rainbow or a candy story and not knowing where to go or look first. I had to take a moment and let what was before me settle in because I didn’t know where to begin to plant myself. If I had been born with more arms and eyes I would have painted everything.
Wonderful orchestrated avenues were created with grassy green paths in between and little scenic spots to take a rest, eat a snack or decide where to look next. The owners of the farm had their tulip pollinator on site to talk to people about the process of planting the millions of bulbs they do for this exhibit. I hope to catch him next year to learn more. The range of colors in the fields ran from fushias to pastel powdery pinks into reds and then yellows, and oranges. The whole spectrum was right there including deep violets and soft purples. I really think you could categorize this as installation art because you can’t help but appreciate the amount of work that went into creating this display. It truly is a work of art.
For Holland Ridge Farms in Cream Ridge, NJ this was the second annual Tulip Festival. It was so well organized in my view. As an artist, weekends were off due to the crowds and if you arrived on a weekday much past 9 you might have trouble finding a place to park close enough that toting your gear would be manageable. Even then I think it would be worth it! The people were so very pleasant, the atmosphere welcoming to children and families. It is a real local treasure.
As for the painting – this painting captures the essence of my excitement. The combination of simple structures and farm life against the intense rainbow of color was a story that had to be told. The backdrop of barns and the tent with the rows of flowers leading back into the landscape said so much about the experience that day about natures power to draw you in. The tulips themselves were breathtaking in variety with versions that mirrored roses and peonies in their petal formations. If I had any regrets in the short time there it would be not taking more pictures. That will have to wait until next year.
The season wrapped up a bit early due to some significant rain. There’s not much you can do about the weather and the shortened season makes me appreciate the time I had even more!