Almanack Contributor Sandra Hildreth

Sandra Hildreth

Sandra Hildreth, who writes regularly about Adirondack arts and culture, grew up in rural Wisconsin and is a retired high school art teacher. She lives in Saranac Lake where she was spends much of her time hiking, paddling, skiing, and painting.

Today, Sandy can often be found outdoors Plein air painting - working directly from nature, and is an exhibiting member of the Adirondack Artists' Guild in Saranac Lake. She is also active in Saranac Lake ArtWorks.

Sandy’s work can be seen on her website sandrahildreth.com.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Paul Smith’s VIC Paint-Out Planned

Painting of Heron Marsh by Sandra HildrethSaranac Lake ArtWorks has announced their 4th Annual “Paint-Out” at the Paul Smith’s VIC has been set to run from September 1st to 8th, 2018. Like the Adirondack Plein Air Festival, which just concluded, the “Paint-Out” focuses on painting the Adirondack environment, which includes people and buildings and activities and wildlife as well as the landscape itself.

The Paul Smith’s College VIC (Visitor Interpretive Center) is located about a mile north of the college campus on Route 30. The building houses two gallery spaces, an interpretive display about the Adirondacks, classrooms, offices, and a small gift shop. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Adirondack Plein Air Festival Marking 10 Years

St Regis with Heron Marsh by Jacqueline AltmanWho organizes a major event, without ever having taken part in a similar one? An artist would…. we create new things on a blank canvas all the time! I heard about something called Plein Air Festivals over 10 years ago and one day had a brainstorm. It seemed that if you had a scenic location, you could set the dates, invite a bunch of artists, give them a couple days to paint and then hold an exhibit. So without ever having participated in one, I organized the first Adirondack Plein Air Fesitval in Saranac Lake in August 2009.

Why hold a Plein Air Festival? To share the great beauty of the Adirondack environment with new people. Artists who may never have painted in this area, as well as local residents and visitors who may never have considered buying a work of art. A painting of a place you know, or have visited on vacation might be appealing. Or the fact that you could actually watch an artist as they worked, outdoors, on location, and then purchase that very painting! » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Azure Mountain’s Fire Tower Centennial

azure mountain The first time I went up Azure Mountain, it was because I’d read about it in a trail guide – it was only a mile hike so I thought it would be pretty easy. The trail started out very gradually, passing a small clearing with an old stone fire place and a picnic table. (I would later learn that’s where the fire observer’s cabin was located.) But after that, the trail became steep. Only a few switchbacks, then practically straight up the mountain – a 900+ foot elevation gain in a pretty short distance. On one stretch there were even a couple of bare poles, leaning at rakish angles, with insulators on the top. (They once held the telephone wire that went up to the fire tower). » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Sandra Hildreth: Painting the Eclipse

Whiteface during the Eclipse of 2017I painted the eclipse of August 21, 2017. No, not a solid black background with an orange disk with a bite taken out of it. I went out to a favorite painting location and I painted the effects of the eclipse on the Adirondack landscape!

It was kind of a crazy idea, but I figured a 60% reduction of the amount of light coming from the sun should have some kind of an optical impact on the world around us. I considered several options and then went to the Harrietstown Cemetery hill, on Route 86, where there is an unobstructed view looking east towards Whiteface, Moose and McKenzie Mountains. They are always bathed in light during the afternoon, so I figured the reduction of light would effect the colors and values. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sandra Hildreth: Adirondack ‘Art For A Cause’ Events

Camp Building on Eagle Island You’ve probably been to fund-raising events where artwork has been donated. This is a tradition that many artists feel is an important way to show their support for an organization or cause. Sometimes art is also used as a publicity tool, with pieces created specifically for a purpose or cause. Many historians have credited Frederick Church, and other 19th century artists, with helping promote the creation of the National Park system, through their paintings of places like Yellowstone and Yosemite. Hudson River School painters shared with the world the beauty of the Adirondack and Catskill regions.

AdkAction just hosted the first Keeseville Plein Air Festival, to draw attention to the historic community, the beautiful Ausable River, and flourishing area farms, and to raise funds for a downtown revitalization project. It was very successful.

This August, during the 2017 Adirondack Plein Air Festival (August 14-19), there is a new cause that we will be drawing attention to through art. The Friends of Eagle Island, who now own the beautiful and historic camp on Eagle Island, in Upper Saranac Lake, have big dreams and a huge renovation/restoration task ahead of them. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Art Exhibit Sheds Light on Logging Operations

Painting: Dawn Loading by Kathleen KolbThere is an exhibit in the Heron Gallery at the Paul Smith’s College VIC that everyone should go see. It is a collection of oil and watercolor paintings, poetry and written narrative that has great merit. This show would command respect no matter where it is exhibited, but it is especially relevant here in the Adirondacks, as it was in Vermont, it’s state of origin.

I’m primarily a landscape painter and one could say I choose to paint wilderness landscapes that are “pretty”. That’s not aways why I actually chose something as my subject matter, but it probably comes across that way. I don’t often paint anything that’s man-made or unattractive. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sandy Hildreth: Upcoming Adirondack Art Events

A Convergence of Pastel - postcard George Van HookRemember playing with chalk on the sidewalk? Well, if you want to see the very opposite of that, head over to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts for a wonderful show of pastel paintings. “A Convergence of Pastel”, featuring the works of a dozen nationally recognized artists, will only be on display until September 18. Local artists featured are Diane Leifheit, Linda Sweeney, Joyce Hanson and Ingrid Van Slyke.

It is everything but soft, fuzzy chalk drawings. There are impeccably detailed still life arrangements, exquisite portraits, landscapes of soft subtle colors as well as brilliant flashes of color, abstracts, florals, more figurative paintings, and plein air work. Having never used pastels myself, that is “real” pastels – pure pigment shaped into chalk-like sticks, I really don’t know how they work. I don’t know how the artists keep from smudging them, or how they blow off the accumulated dust. How they keep straight which color is which when they don’t have any labels or wrappers like our old-fashioned Crayola crayons did. I’d like to know how they get crisp, straight edges and even how they might erase or fix a mistake. I will likely stick to my paint brushes, as I do know how to use them. But this is a show that is well worth going to see – it will change forever your impressions of what can be done with pastels when you see the work of master artists. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Adirondack Plein Air Festival: Nocturnes And Quick-Draws

Painting of an artist, by Patricia Bellerose, of OntarioThe 8th annual Adirondack Plein Air Festival begins on Aug 15 and not only is it a bunch of artists painting outdoors, but it has “nocturnes” and “quick draws” too! Almost 70 artists from all over the US, Quebec and Ontario, will converge on the village of Saranac Lake in order to paint the beauty of the Adirondack region, much like the Hudson River School painters of the mid 1800’s.

In the 8 years of the Festival, those artists have probably equaled, if not surpassed, the number of paintings created during the 50 years the Hudson River School was popular. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sandy Hildreth: The Story Of A Four-Day Painting

barnumbrook-day1 by SandyI’ve often thought about writing down the story of how a painting develops and I just had the perfect opportunity to do that last weekend. Three solid days of clear blue skies, sunshine, rising temperatures and no bugs! A plein air “paint-out” had been organized at the Paul Smith’s College VIC and I was one of seven artists who participated. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

10 Simple Rules About Looking At Art

looking at gallaryI sometimes wonder if there is a little natural fear of going into an art gallery. People sometimes live in a community all their lives and never go look at the art that may be created by their neighbors. Is there apprehension that you might not understand what you see, or know what is going on or say something wrong? I’m going to see if I can dispel that fear.

Here are 10 simple rules about looking at art that will make it an easy, enjoyable experience. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sandy Hildreth: The Anguish of March

patterson_globalwarmingMarch is normally the time of year, at least here in the North Country, when we suffer anguish over which season we wish it would be. I go through it every year, part of me wishing for spring and the other part holding out for more snow. I know there are people out there like me who still wish we had more opportunities for cross-country skiing. There is nothing sweeter (except maybe maple syrup) than a spring ski on a warm March day, with fresh powder, bright sun, and brilliant blue skies. Tree tops pinkish orange with buds ready to burst into new growth.

But this year without a winter is even worse! I feel so cheated. My friend, artist Valerie Patterson, communicates how I feel perfectly in her watercolor painting, “Global Warming”.  A lot of us who live here do so because we embrace and enjoy outdoor recreation in all seasons of the year. I’m sure no reminders are needed about how sparse our snow was and how warm the temperatures averaged. My Adirondack Artists Guild colleague Burdette Parks announced the ice went out on Middle Saranac on St Patrick’s Day this year – the earliest he and his wife, Fran Yardley, can remember. They reported the water stayed open much later this winter as well. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Adirondack Regional Art Trail Launched

adirondack regional art trailThere’s a new long distance trail taking shape in the Adirondacks, only it is taking many shapes. There is no set mileage and no final destination. And you better do it by car! This is the new Adirondack Regional Art Trail and you can find it online here.

I got the idea while driving from Northville to Saranac Lake a couple of years ago, thinking first about a Northville-Placid Art Trail, like the hiking trail, but soon realizing there are so many wonderful artists and craftspeople in all the corners of the Adirondack North Country region, that we couldn’t possibly just have a single trail. It would look more like a spider web of trails! How would people ever find out about it and use it? » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Holiday Arts Opportunities Around Saranac Lake

holidays-pinkhouseWe artists take great pride in producing new work for the holiday season, believing (perhaps naively) that people will want to give art to their loved ones! It’s actually not a bad idea. Works of art are genuinely unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that can bring enjoyment every day of the year – forever. A chance to give someone something they’ve never had and that no one else in the world will ever have. It can be a child’s tempera painting, something totally hand-made, or a professional piece of art.

Many communities in our region have small galleries and shops that feature locally produced art. Since I happen to live in Saranac Lake, I will describe what we have to offer, but my advice is to seek out what’s available in your own communities. Shop small. Shop local. Remember, the money spent at locally owned businesses mostly stays in the community, helping keep the regional economy alive. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

A ‘Paint-Out’ In Paul Smiths This Weekend

VIC-paint-out09-15-1I never tire of plein air painting! A couple of weeks ago we completed the very successful 7th Adirondack Plein Air Festival in the Saranac Lake area. Fifty-five artists from all over the east coast and Canada came to paint our Adirondack views.

Several thousand dollars in prizes were awarded and 86 people brought new paintings home with them. Now we are having an informal, local “Paint-Out” at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC). » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Adirondack Plein Air Festival Getting Underway

kirklarsenThe 3rd week of August artists assemble in Saranac Lake for the Adirondack Plein Air Festival.  This year, from August 18 to 22, fifty painters from all over the east coast and Canada are taking part.  Registration opened online March 1 and filled in less than 48 hours, as both new and repeat artists were eager to attend. In order to keep the annual Show & Sale at manageable numbers, it was decided to limit participation to 50. » Continue Reading.