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Painting farm animals

Old Lyme — Looking intently at their paintings Sunday morning, three generations of women sat on small metal stools and painted the farm animals that surrounded them on the grounds of Florence Griswold Museum.

Amanda Kolb of East Hampton was with her 9-year-old daughter, Madison Connors, and her mother, Deborah Trout-Kolb, of West Hartford.

Kolb said her daughter, painting Shasta the donkey, was going to submit her painting into a contest at the Berlin Fair next weekend.

"I am obsessed with animals and my favorite thing to do is paint," said Connors.

The young artist was partaking in a tradition that dates back decades to the early 1900s, when the museum's namesake, Florence Griswold, housed artists from big cities in the summer and would rent farm animals for them to paint.

"We're passing on the tradition for families now to also partake in," said Emily Clarke, marketing associate at the museum. Free of charge, the museum provided art supplies and paint clothes to whoever wanted to paint the animals.

Clarke added that having Joan Greene, owner of Wounded Eagle Farm in Canterbury, as a part-time employee at the museum's visitor center made the partnership all the more convenient.

Greene, accompanied by her son Matthew Marshall, said this was their fourth or fifth year providing the farm animals for the event.

"Farming is a very hard job and typically behind the scenes," said Marshall. "It feels good to come out and educate people on farming in general especially since it's a rich part of Connecticut history."

Marshall said this year the farm provided a collection of different heritage breeds of animals.

"Some of them endangered or getting there, they are typically breeds that colonial Englanders had," he said.

This year they included a Hereford Short Horn heifer, a miniature Sicilian Donkey, Dwarf Nigerian goats, Pilgrim Geese, a Black Australorp chicken, a Barred Rock chicken and Delaine Merino sheep.

Marshall said the family started the farm in 1999 as a "therapuetic endeavor" for his father, Ray "Wounded Eagle" Greene, a Vietnam war veteran. Even after his death in 2014, the family continues to honor his legacy, naming the farm after his Native American name and expanding to where in addition to the animals it keeps as pets, it sells pastured beef, farm-raised pork and fresh eggs.

Christine Cohen of Madison was with her husband and three daughters at the event. They sat on a blanket and painted, two of their daughters painting in adult-sized button-up shirts the museum provided, covering their whole bodies.

Cohen said she loved the outdoor event and planned to continue the day at the museum, viewing the galleries and eating at the cafe.

"The idea is novel," Cohen said about farm animal painting. "Even if you don't have kids, it's fun."


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