DERRY — It's all about taking in the scenery, breathing fresh air and putting down colorful settings on canvas.
Area artists spend time recently at the Robert Frost Farm, part of a "plein air" or open air, gathering to soak in some of the famed poet's inspiration at his Derry homestead.
Frost and his family called the Derry farm home for about a decade while the poet taught English at nearby Pinkerton Academy.
The outdoor painting session was also part of an effort to bring more public arts to Derry.
Derry artist Sharon Allen put out a call to members of New Hampshire Plein Air, a group Allen spearheaded back in 2004 and now a way to bring artists from all over together for an often impromptu chance at painting some natural landscapes and settings.
Her call to the Frost Farm brought a handful of painters taking up space surrounding the farm and barn.
The plein air group has grown.
"We started with about 11 people and today's count is about 357," Allen said. "You always have somebody to paint with."
Allen perched her artist supplies and canvas on one side of the picturesque Frost farmhouse and barn. Making the decision as to where to land to start the painting process is often a challenge, she added. In the Frost case, Allen decided to focus on some of the home and barn's unique angles from a side field.
"I like the angles of the eaves," she said.
Allen has visited the farm several times over the years to paint its bucolic pastures and woods. Seeing sites steeped in history around the region is always a popular location.
"A lot of members really like the historic sites," Allen said.
And what makes a perfect day for a plein air painting outing? Allen said there are several factors that make a day go well.
"I like 70 to 75 degrees with a light breeze to keep the bugs away," she said. "And it depends on what medium you are using. If it rains, it will poke holes in oils. For pastels, a humid day is not good, pastels would be crumbling."
Once the artists set up their spot surrounded by supplies, the open air time begins. Allen said it's often a very quiet time as artists work on their schedules and don't often say much to each other.
But it's also a good time to get together and see other plein air members' work.
Joanne Dallaire of Hooksett stood a bit away from where Allen was working, focusing on another scene and direction at the farm.
She said being outside is always a great way to be inspired.
"The fresh air is a big part," she said. "It's relaxing, you kind of forget everything here."
Derry's Economic Development Coordinator Beverly Donovan said using the Frost Farm as an artistic location is perfect as the property is scenic and offers many ways to appreciate the famed poet and his local legacy.
"The farm is important because, as a state park, it not only offers insight into the man and poetry that is Robert Frost, but also into the way life was in Derry during Frost's residence here," Donovan said. "The hiking trails and the fields are so different with each season, and are a natural landscape for plein air artists to capture."
Maureen Hsu of Manchester was putting her Frost inspiration down in oils. It was her first time being at the Derry farm.
"I'd love to be out here a hundred more times," Hsu said. "It reminds me of an Andrew Wyeth painting. I just walked around and this little tree with the moss on it spoke to me. And even if I don't produce anything today, it's so beautiful out here."