Artist John MacDonald, a full-time freelance illustrator and painter with work exhibited across the country, from the Salmagundi Club in New York to the Oil Painters of America 25th annual exhibit in Dallas, Texas, shares his favorite places to paint.
There’s simply no substitute for being on location: the visual information is infinite, the light subtle and complex and ever-changing, and the insects, gusts of wind, heat or cold, and even the occasional curious bystander all add to the depth and richness of the experience. Painting plein air is unsurpassed training for the eye, for the hand, for the mind, and for the heart.
THE HOOSIC RIVER
Under the Cole Avenue Bridge. A cement support for the bridge provides a wide, flat, and ample area for setting up to paint. Park in front of Flamingo Motors and access the location from the end of the Flamingo parking lot. It’s a bit tricky to walk down to the location; only those fit enough to carry their supplies down a steep hillside should use this path.
Near the Williamstown Landfill. Across from the entrance to the landfill is a small parking area. An easy trail leads down to the water. There are several good spots along the shoreline.
At Lower Linear Park. Most easily accessed by parking at the end of Arnold Street and walking down to the water. Several scenes of the River as well as nice views of the woods.
THE GREEN RIVER
Below the first bridge on Green River Road heading north past Green River Farm. Park at the nearby area at the bottom of the back gravel road leading to Mt. Hope Farm.
One can also paint the river from near the parking area.
There are several other pull-offs from Green River Road that provide public access to the river. All offer good spots to paint.
Linear Park in South Williamstown gives you access to the River. It involves a steep but short hike to the water.
VISTAS OF MT. GREYLOCK MOUNTAIN
The hill north of the Mt. Greylock Regional High School. Park in the school lot and walk up to the stone bench.
Sloan Road. Park off the road or at the Field Farm trailhead at the top of the hill.
From Route 7, driving north past the intersection of Route 7 and Route 43 in South Williamstown, park carefully on the wide shoulder of the road up near the High School.
The north trail at Field Farm. The trail offers wonderful views of Mt. Greylock. Field Farm also has other vistas, a pond, and meadows.
SOUTHLAWN CEMETERY IN SOUTH WILLIAMSTOWN – on the northern edge. A view northwards across fields, a stream, and distant hills is quite pretty.
SHEEP HILL AT WILLIAMSTOWN RURAL LANDS FOUNDATION offers old barns, a pond, and steep hillsides. The light on the hillside is particularly dramatic at dawn at all seasons of the year.
HOPKINS FOREST – a wooded road, buildings, and a garden.
NORTHWEST HILL ROAD – a beautiful, winding country gravel road. Park along the road with caution.
LUCE ROAD. There is a vista of Williamstown and the surrounding hills. Park with care.
TRAILHEAD AT THE END OF HOPPER ROAD. There are several trails leading up to Mt. Greylock’s peak. There is a nice vista as well as a barn and farm buildings at the beginning of the trail.
ROUTE 2 WEST TO NEW YORK STATE. There are several pull-offs along the way. One offers a nice view of a large field. Crossing the road, there is a trail that leads into the field with vistas and meadows. Also, from the top of Route 2, shortly after it enters New York, is a parking area with a nice vista towards the east.
STONE HILL AT THE CLARK ART MUSEUM. The hill behind the museum is quite picturesque. A nice vista is visible from the top of the hill.
All locations available to the public.
For more inspiration, visit John MacDonald’s website where you can also learn about workshops he offers and sign up for his very informative newsletter!