Women painting covered bridge at Plein Air Gathering in Hancock County (photo courtesy of Plein Air Gatherings)

Plein Air Gatherings in Hancock County

Head to different parks every Thursday throughout the summer and into fall for these open-air painting events open to the public that encourage artists to capture the beauty of nature.

The thick woodlands, open prairies and rippling water of the Hancock County parks system are great ways to immerse yourself in nature. A series of outdoor art events scheduled through autumn encourages artists to capture the beauty of various park locations to take home with them.

Plein Air Gatherings — referring to the French practice of painting outdoors to capture scenery — occur at a chosen park each Thursday through Nov. 16 and are open to anyone. Paint views of the Blanchard River at the Eastpoint Area on June 22, birds of the Lehman Conservation Area on July 6, or the rushing waters of the Waterfalls Area on Aug. 3.

Beginning in 2014 as an extension of program leader Sharon Hammer Baker’s nature journaling workshops, Plein Air Gatherings have evolved into a popular Hancock Park District offering that attracts both professional and amateur artists to take part.

“We would step outside if we could, but it was in the evening,” Hammer Baker says of the journaling workshops. “So, I decided that it would just be really nice to be able to go out during the day doing some- thing additional.”

Plein Air Gatherings are not just about art, but also community and connection. Aspiring artists can hone their skills by learning from one another about techniques, and the variety of Hancock Park District locations provides plenty of inspiration.

“We really enjoy taking advantage of whatever is available,” Hammer Baker says. “We have a really good park system in the sense that they have a lot of locations.” hancockparks.com