Plein Air Painting Locations
Here are some good plein air locations submitted by PPSCC Members:

From Cheryl Sirois:

Francis William Park, better known as Bird Park, in East Walpole.
Parking at the white church on Rhodes Ave, Polley Lane and on Washington Street near the main gate. Porta potties. Near to exit 9 on 95 north. Park features many bridges, 2 ponds and many beautiful old trees. Also an attractive structure with a stage for outdoor concerts and plays. Paved and wooded paths. Serene, mostly used by locals.

From Loretta Shoemaker:

Green Belt, Essex, MA Beautiful long distance views of water and marshes. There are flowers, birds, old trees, scenic towns in the distance as well as creeks, all are inspiring subjects.  Plenty of shady spots to set your easel. Restroom available and within walking distance of a variety of  food and dining options.

From Meg Bandarra:

Skinner Mountain State Park, 10 Skinner State Park Rd. Hadley, MA

Beautiful view of the oxbow and Connecticut River Valley. Historic painting site where many famous artists including Thomas Cole have depicted the views. Also the site of the Summit House, a mid-19th center former hotel, turned history museum. Hike or drive to the top. Lots of parking plus there are two handicap spaces right next to the Summit House. Bathrooms are also in the Summit House, sometimes additional port-a-potties are placed on site. No painting allowed on the Summit House Porch. Trails along the top of the mountain are relatively flat. There are picnic areas but bring food and water, there is no source for either on site. Mass State park entry fee, or free with DCR Pass.

Mt. Sugarloaf, 300 Sugarloaf St. South Deerfield, MA

Fantastic Views of the Connecticut River Valley surrounded by farmland with a bridge visible on one side. Drive or Hike to the top. Accessible scenic areas. Plenty of parking. State park entry fee, or free with DCR pass. Restrooms on site.


Quabbin Reservoir, 100 Windsor Dam Rd. Belchertown, MA

This is the address for the visitors center. Check maps (or go to the visitors center) to find the best entrance gate for the area you’d like to visit. Gorgeous views of water and hills. This is the largest inland body of water in Massachusetts, formerly the site of four towns that were flooded to make this huge reservoir (one of largest in the country). You can drive through the park surrounding the reservoir, there are several scenic areas along the road and two major lookouts (Enfield is beautiful) that are accessible and have lots of parking. Since this is a drinking water supply there are lots of rules about where you can pull over and how close you can get to the water. Vast amounts of woodland hiking opportunities. Bring water, food and bug spray. Restrooms on site.


Bridge of Flowers, Downtown Shelburne Falls

Old railroad bridge, now a flower covered garden walkway that goes over the Deerfield River. Changes with the season. Do not go on a holiday or weekend, it’s too crowded to paint. No facilities but lots of business around since it’s a downtown village area. Park anywhere in the downtown area, some accessible spots too.

The intersection of South Maple Street and Moody Bridge Rd, Hadley, MA.  Grasslands, Farm Fields and Mountain Views.

Part 1: On South Maple, approaching the intersection from the South, take a left onto Moody Bridge Rd. Moody Bridge turns into a dirt road that abuts a wildlife refuge. Pretty grassland views. Despite being dirt this is a frequently traveled road so stick to the pull offs along the sides at scenic areas.

Part 2: On South Maple St, approaching the intersection from the South, take a rightonto Moody Bridge Rd. There are three or four pull offs along both sides of Moody Bridge Rd that offer views of farmed fields and distant mountains. At least two of the pull offs can fit two cars plus room for painters to setup. No facilities but there are two shopping centers (Hampshire mall) a few minutes away. And a great local ice cream place called “Flavors”.

Other Plein Air Resources:


* Michael Chesley Johnson’s blog

* Richard McDaniels’ book On Location Plein Air Painting in Pastels

* Check out issues of The Pastel Journal, The Artist’s Magazine, Plein Air Magazine, and International Artists magazine – they have had articles focusing on plein air painting.