Painting to inspire appreciation of nature

The grasses were almost eye level along the St. Johns Avenue entrance to the upper Baltimore Woods Meadow in St. Johns on s warm Saturday morning in June. Eleven students, with instructor, Ronna Fujisawa, gathered along a trail for a free plein-air watercolor painting class sponsored by the Friends of Baltimore Woods. The meadow is located a half-mile north of the St. Johns Bridge.

Map of Baltimore Woods' meadow
Map showing Baltimore Woods’ meadow, about 1/4 mile north of the St. Johns Bridge

Fujisawa, an experienced, patient and encouraging instructor in watercolor painting, is also bird and wilderness enthusiast. She has a Masters of Fine Arts Degree from the Pacific Northwest College of Art and has been teaching online and in-person nature-inspired watercolor classes to all ages since 2015. 

One demonstration illustrated how to mix colors. Another delved into how to begin with a water wash and light pigments before transitioning to darker. Students were encouraged to take an abstract approach to their artistic interpretation of the scene.

This year, high school students and staff from the Green Leaders Program at the Bird Alliance of Oregon joined in the creative exercise. Every student brought their own style to their painting and the class concluded with a “gallery display and comment session” with art displayed in the grass.

Plein-air painting class exhibits their work
Plein-air painting class students exhibits their work

More details on Fujisawa’s bird and landscape painting classes can be found on the Bird Alliance of Oregon website as well as her own website at

By Lisa Manning

students in a free watercolor class in Baltimore Woods' meadow
Students in a free watercolor class in Baltimore Woods’ meadow
Watercolor painting of Baltimore Woods' meadow in process
Watercolor painting of Baltimore Woods’ meadow in process