Experience nature through painting and photography at Patapsco Valley State Parks

Heather Jauquet

Seasonal park rangers introduce En Plein Air programs to visitors

Art work through Patapsco Valley State Parks' En Plein Air Arts ProgramEmma Kehrman/Used with Permission

Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more—Vincent Van Gogh

Seasonal Park Ranger, Emma Kehrman, helps nature lovers experience the outdoors in a whole new way with the En Plein Air Arts Program at Patapsco Valley State park.

The French may have coined the phrase “En plain air,” but the practice has been around for over a century when artists took their paintings outside. Kehrman takes it to another level with the En Plain Air art program by intertwining a hiking or canoeing experience with a painting lesson.

With 32 miles of river, 16,043 acres, and over 200 miles of trails, there is plenty of inspiration and opportunity to connect with nature through painting and photography at Patapsco Valley State Park.

Emma Kehrman in a canoe for the Canoe & Paint experienceEmma Kehrman/Used with Permission

The Canoe & Paint offers outdoor enthusiasts a chance to spend time on the water before participating in a painting tutorial. Or, for those that prefer to stay on dry land, Kehrman guides visitors on a hike before giving a simple paint lesson. With each hike, Kehrman likes to introduce a different section of the trail to allow participants to experience another part of the park. And for those who prefer taking pictures, a fellow park ranger leads a Hike & Photo opportunity.

“What don’t I do what I already love doing?” Emma Kehrman, Seasonal Park Ranger

When the area park manager asked Kehrman if she would like to do park programming for Patapsco, Kehrman responded, “Why don’t I do what I already love doing?” and created the Ein Plein Air arts program.

Artists tools for the art experienceEmma Kehrman/Used with Permission

Using her Fine Arts degree from Towson and her childhood Girl Scout experiences, Kehrman combines her passions by “teaching people a little bit of what I know.” Kehrman enjoys working at Patapsco Valley State Parks, where people can hike, build a sense of community, and have family gatherings.

Seasonal Park Ranger, Emma Kehrman, reminding participants that art is supposed to be fun!Emma Kehrman/Used with Permission

When hosting her painting lessons, Kehrman reminds her class that art is supposed to be fun and that bad art is better than no art at all. When she hears her participants criticize their work, Kehrman encourages them to keep working on their painting, telling them, “It’s fantastic that you did something even if it’s just for you.”

Art work from the En Plein Air ExperienceEmma Kehrman

Emma’s En Plein Air tips:

  1. Don’t go in expecting perfection. There is no such thing as perfect art. If you expect perfection, you’ll be disappointed.
  2. Use ultramarine blue. When in doubt, use ultramarine blue, the most useful color in your paint deck.
  3. Ditch the black paint. The black will desaturate and dull the colors. Use ultramarine blue. Mixing it with dark brown will keep the vibrancy but get the dark color you desire.

There are a few more opportunities to try the En Plein program before the weather gets too chilly. Interested in registering? Register online or by calling 410-461-5005

October En Plein Air opportunities

October 7, 4-6:30pm

Hike & Photo—Golden Hour Photo Hike

Hollofield Area Shelter #350

October 28, 4-6:30

Hike & Paint--Golden Hour Hike followed by paint lesson

McKeldin Area Shelter #350

En Plein Air FlyerEmma Kehrman/Used with Permission

Patapsco Valley State Park is open 9am to sunset, seven days a week all year round.

Cost: April through October

Weekdays: Maryland residents $2/vehicle; out-of-state residents $4/vehicle

Weekends and holidays: Maryland residents $3/person; out-of-state residents $5/person

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.


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