The first thing you notice about the lavender fields are the bees.
Their buzzing heralds a season of intoxicating scent, of spectacular shades of purple as far as the eye can see — and something else.
The bees aren’t the only ones descending on Oregon’s lavender fields. Painters from all across the Northwest pack their easels and set up studio in the countryside, spending their days capturing the bold and sublime elements of a summertime field in all its purple glory.
This is the Oregon Lavender Paint Out, part of the yearly statewide lavender festival.
“It’s a great way to go out and enjoy painting with other artists,” painter Peggie Mojé said.
The Oregon Lavender Association organizes farm tours and other events from Portland to Medford, Hood River to Bend. The Paint Out gives landscape painters an opportunity to spend time on farms and lands not otherwise available to them.
“It gives you access to something you can’t usually see,” painter Jennifer Diehl said. “I thought, ‘OK, I’ll take advantage of that.’ I went out and fell in love with the festival immediately.”
After two weeks of painting, the work gets its own exhibition at the Willamette Valley Lavender Festival’s Plein Air Art Show at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg.
The painters are already anticipating this summer’s blooming season.
“There’s just this connection to the earth when you’re outside painting. It’s great!” said Brenda Boylan. “And of course, we walk away feeling like we’ve gotten some aromatherapy going on too!”