It's a family tradition

by Brenda McClain
Callie Sterling photos

Carolyn Baker, artist-in-residence with Littleton Park’s Art on the Green, thinks Plein-Air painting allows her to be with family while seeing all of God’s creation; it’s one of her unspeakable joys. That’s a lot to behold for just another Saturday morning in Faulkner County for the Baker Family matriarch.

Plein-Air Painting is French, meaning “in the open air,” and is used to describe painting outdoors. For Nina Baker, Art on the Green’s owner, painting outdoors has been a life-long passion. Nina Ruth Croft grew up on a farm in Yellville (Marion County).

Today, Nina’s Plein-Air painting is mostly done at Pisgah, the sheep farm she owns with her husband, Baker Eye Institute’s Dr. David Baker. Pisgah is Hebrew, biblical for the mountains.

“The sheep farm for us is a gift from God, combining tranquility, Biblical lessons from the sheep, endless Plein-Air painting opportunities and physical exercise,” said Nina. “My first memory is from watching my parents with sheep and having a lifetime interest in painting and studying sheep. The farm has been a surprise.”

The youngest of three girls, Nina’s sister is Parilee Croft. As artist-in-residence with Art on the Green, Parilee can be found most days painting in the classroom section of the gallery. “Pisgah is open-air painting at its best,” she said. “Getting together with family in a beautiful, relaxing atmosphere, and when we are all together, seeing our different perspectives on the same view is very interesting.”

Both Nina and Parilee credit their grade school art teacher, Jo Rowell from the Yellville-Summit School District, with teaching them the basic principles of painting.

Nina’s niece and Carolyn’s granddaughter, Hannah Baker, is an art student at the University of Arkansas.

“I’m so blessed to have women in my family who I can look up to as artists and in multiple other ways,” Hannah said. “They’re always there to teach me and encourage me in my art.

“Painting to music with Mimi (Carolyn) is one of my earliest memories as a child. I’ll always cherish my time being able to paint out on the farm with them.”

Outside in the cool, crisp air with family doing what one loves — is there anything better? Stop by Art on the Green to see for yourself just how beautiful life is at Pisgah.