In July, I went to Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, for an art retreat. You can register for all kinds of workshops there. The one I took is called “R&R Retreat”, and you can do anything you want. I painted en plein air.
The weather started out perfectly for outdoor painting. Refreshingly mild mornings, followed by hot and humid afternoons. On my first morning, I painted Long Pond Lake. I’ve painted the left and right sides of this lake a few times in the past. This is the first full, wide view I’ve done:
That same afternoon, I painted one of the entrances to the Omega Garden:
I liked those roses so much that I returned the next morning to paint a close-up of them:
On some afternoons, I simply swam in Long Lake, took a walk, or painted water lilies up at the meditation sanctuary. One morning, I drove up to Olana (approx. 30 minutes north of Rhinebeck) and painted one of the vistas of the Hudson River Valley. See my previous blog post about that experience: Painting an Olana Overlook.
Center for Sustainable Living
Many years ago, I came to Omega to attend their first Water of Life Conference. It was during that conference that Eco-Machine™ designer, John Todd, spoke about his energy-efficient, self-sustaining waste water treatment process. In 2005, Omega began construction on the Center for Sustainable Living, an education center and natural water reclamation facility that contains the Eco-Machine™. Along with many other curious people, I went on a tour of the facility. It was very impressive to see how the water is cleaned by mimicking systems in the natural world. If you ever visit Omega, I highly recommend taking the tour of America’s first green building to receive both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certification: http://eomega.org/omega-in-action/key-initiatives/omega-center-for-sustainable-living
Mary’s Farm Revisited
During my last visit to Omega (2010), I hiked down the road with all of my supplies to paint Mary’s Farm. I enjoyed meeting Mary so much that I went there again. I had a few ideas in my head about what I would paint, but I couldn’t find anyone when I arrived. I hesitated about walking on her land without her knowledge, so I set up outside of her fence to face a soft curve in the road. Mary did emerge after I was settled into my spot, and we had another nice chat. She assured me that I was welcome on her farm anytime. And, she brought me an ice-cold bottled water to keep me hydrated, just like the first time I met her!
The first image is the rough beginning of what I painted that afternoon; the second is the finished painting:
When It Rains
The last couple of days of my retreat were quite rainy and cold. I couldn’t paint outside, so I hung out in the Omega Cafe. When painting indoors, I am ever mindful of the pastel dust, which must be knocked off of the surface by going outside. I was able to finish a few paintings I had started at Kripalu (western Mass.) nearly a year ago. Below, I show the rough beginning and the final painting after it:
My week at Omega was very relaxing, rejuvenating, and rewarding! Painting is mostly a solitary, meditative experience for me. Nonetheless, I met lots of interesting people, many taking the “R&R Retreat” like me. Great conversations took place at mealtime, where scrumptious vegetarian food was prepared using local, organic ingredients. I always enjoy the “vibe” at Omega, with its emphasis on sustainability, openness, and authenticity. It’s a definite bonus that Omega is tucked away in a quiet, wooded area in the heart of the beautiful Hudson River Valley.