Marilyn Fairman is drawn to a painting location just 20 minutes from her home in large part because of the deep tranquility of the place. There’s a good reason why it’s peaceful there.

The view from the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, in Auriesville, New York

The National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, in Auriesville, New York, commemorates the death of two Jesuit missionaries who were killed by Native Americans at the spot in the 1640s. The shrine has a circular structure that can accommodate 6,000 people for Mass, but Fairman is interested in the natural views from the grounds. From several vantage spots, she can see and paint the Mohawk River Valley. “A dirt road up there has a lot of views — wherever you turn, there are things to paint,” she says. “It’s more the wilderness, the field, the sky, the sense of mood that I get there. There’s a lot of pines, and along the vista area are weeds and grasses — not landscaped, they leave all that alone, and it makes it more natural. Wildflowers come up.”

“Early Fall River View,” by Marilyn Fairman, oil on linen, 9 x 12 in.

Fairman painting at the shrine

Fairman moved to the area about seven years ago, and she’s drawn to the shrine in large part because she loves solitude. “Because of the nature of shrine, there’s a solemnity, reverence,” says the artist. “It’s very peaceful, and the light and atmosphere are interesting.”

“Silvery Morning,” by Marilyn Fairman, oil on linen, 6 x 8 in.

View of the Mohawk River from the shrine

A look at the pieces Fairman painted in that location shows that she appreciates the scene in all seasons. Fairman says access is easy, even in snow. The former chairman of the New York Plein Air Painters, a statewide organization, Fairman knows many of the best spots to paint in the Empire State, from the Adirondacks to Staten Island. And her favorite place is essentially in her neighborhood. Coincidence? Probably not.


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