Fernwood Botanical Garden in Niles, Michigan.
Fernwood is a lovely place with both formal and informal garden areas, a cafe, and a gift shop. There are miles of paths that wind down and around the river, creeks, ravines, prairies, buildings, etc. I knew I'd find a good place to paint so I packed my painting bag and braved myself up to paint outside and maybe with an audience.
I took an hour to wander around and look and then decided that I'd go to the platform in the middle of the tall grass prairie and paint there where the light was interesting, things were blooming and the features were challenging. Challenges are good. I lucked out in that no one else was there and I was able to do my first plein air painting sans audience. Whew.
The thing about prairies is that there's not a lot of structure to paint. It's a field - and with the breeze and intermittent clouds it was like painting a moving target. I had to choose my view carefully and emphasize what structure was there so the painting would at least make sense, then observe carefully and just go for it.
And I did it! Yay! It's not a great painting by any measure, but I did it, outside, in the breeze and sun and clouds, in an hour and a half, in less than ideal circumstances. And it was such an interesting experience, that I will likely do it again. There's a paint-out at T C Steele property in Brown County in September. I think I need to go do that one.