Plein Air Painting Pennsylvania

 Pennsylvania is State #24 in my Quest to Paint the 50 States.


In October 2017 – I had a brief couple of days to paint in Pennsylvania.  The visit was much too short and we spent a lot of time in the car.  As a result I only got two actual paintings done but did get to visit the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, at the end of the trip before flying back to California.

My traveling friend, Eunice Van der Linden, and I had spent 3 days in Upstate New York and painted in Niagara and the Fingerlakes District before driving south into Pennsylvania.  The drive from Seneca Falls to Lancaster in the Amish Country of Pennsylvania took us over 6 hours – the weather was rainy on and off and we encountered a lot of road construction and traffic the further South we got.

Amish Country - Lancaster, Pennsylvania

We stayed at the Lancaster Country Inn, which sounds way nicer than it was.  It is motel set back from an extremely busy commercial street.  I could hear cars and trucks all night long.  The Country Inn does have a pub and restaurant right across the parking lot so that was convenient.  Having driven all day we were tired and didn’t want to get back into the car in search of our evening meal.  The food was OK, but more importantly, we asked the young waitress about places to go to paint around here.  She turned out to be an art student and was thrilled to help us.  She said we should go to Strasburg and Gap nearby.  These two villages are in the very heart of Amish country and would afford us good opportunities to paint the Pennsylvania Dutch farms and scenes


The next morning we got up early and were thankful that the weather looked reasonable.  No rain at least – a bit windy with lots of layers of interesting clouds that came and went all day long.  We headed out to Strausburg per the recommendation of our waitress.  It turned out to be a good suggestion! Lots of farms, Amish carriages coming and going, draft horses, a covered bridge and mill house.  We did our first painting in the picnic area of the group of small shops at 226 Gap Road, Strasburg, Pa. 17579.  This is a good spot because it has public restrooms, a restaurant and a slight elevation with interesting farms and things to paint on all sides including a number of old railway carriages and boxcars on an old track next to a train enthusiast shop.  Both Eunice and I painted the same scene from this spot – here are both our paintings.  Mine is the first one you see - Eunice's painting is next.  Always so interesting to see how individual each artist's work is!


As we painted lots of Amish horse drawn carriages came and went.  A visitor to our easels was a woman who owns a horse equipment shop nearby.  She told us she used to be Amish.  She doesn’t have a TV or internet at home but does belong to the modern world in her business life.  Her horse equipment business caters to a lot of the Amish for their tack needs.  Here is her website in case you are interested! Her name is Whitney Hanford.

After our morning painting we had lunch at the Grilled Sandwich shop a few steps away.  We again asked our wait person where to go to paint in the afternoon.  She told us about a Mill Bridge not far away.  Open to the public and perfect for our purposes but also off the main road.  Here is a photo of the entrance to the Mill Bridge site. 


Restrooms are available at this spot and one could easily paint there all day.  Eunice painted a herd of Belgium draft horses – and I painted the covered bridge and distant farm buildings.  Our two paintings are below.


After painting we drove to the Susquahana River on side roads to see if we wanted to do one more painting there.  By the time we arrived the light was fading fast so decided against it. 



We took the train from the Philadelphia Airport right into downtown – a 35 minute ride.  Super easy way to go into the city without traffic nightmares.  The train was clean and well attended with helpful and friendly conductors.   We got off at the Jefferson Station.  Right outside the station we found a city tour bus and decided to take it.  You can get on and off the bus as you wish, making it a great way to see the city for a minimal expense.  We got off at The Barnes Museum in the center of the city.  They have a world class collection of French Impressionist paintings that we wanted to see.  A wonderful place that is very much worth visiting.  Philadelphia is a beautiful and interesting city to visit.  Ben Franklin laid out the city on the model of Paris.  Excellent choice!    We didn’t paint in the city – too much to carry and not enough time for even a fraction of what we wanted to do.   


In Summary, the painting portion of my visit to Pennsylvania was way too short.  Make a note to NOT cover as many miles  on future trips!  




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