Image Credit: Fern I. Coppedge, The Road to Lumberville (also known as The Edge of the Village), 1938, oil on canvas, H. 18.125 x W. 20.125 inches, James A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of Ruth Purcell Conn and William R. Conn.

Pennsylvania Impressionist artist Fern Coppedge was one painter who went outdoors in all types of weather to create her work. Snow scenes such as The Road to Lumberville were Coppedge’s favorite subject.

Coppedge did not travel far to create this painting because her first home was in Lumberville, the town featured here. Lumberville is a small village on the eastern side of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Situated along the Delaware River, it is known for rolling hills and lush green landscapes. Coppedge lived here between 1920 and 1929. Because she loved snowy landscapes, local residents often saw her striding through the snow, wrapped in a bearskin coat with her sketching materials slung over her shoulder, seeking the perfect scene to paint. One critic quipped that if she had been “born a man, she undoubtedly would have manned a trawler and sailed the Arctic Ocean.”

Coppedge composed her paintings carefully, stating, “I may erase most of my sketch, but after I have it the way I want it in charcoal, then I work over the entire canvas with a large brush. I use thin paint in trying to get the right value- [I] test different spots to see whether the scene should be painted rich or pale. Then I proceed with the actual painting using paint right from the tube. I hold the brush as arm’s length and paint from the spine. That gives relaxation.”

You can see more work by Fern Coppedge in the current exhibition, Impressionism to Modernism: The Lenfest Collection of American Art, on view through March 1, 2020.

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