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Loren Herold’s life story reads like the plot of a modern day, charming tale. A city girl moves to the countryside, embraces the surrounding natural landscape and wildlife, all while rediscovering hidden talents that prove to be rewarding and prosperous.

Owner of The Stablehouse guest rental and Herold Farms in Alto Pass along with her husband, Keith, Herold moved to Southern Illinois a little over twelve years ago after retiring from her career as a landscape architect in Los Angeles. Weary of the hustle and bustle of life in L.A., Herold decided that Southern Illinois would suit her very well in retirement.

After a few trips to visit her sister, who was living in Carbondale at the time, Herold and her husband took the plunge and bought the piece of property they now call home.

“We wanted to move somewhere not so intense with people and traffic,” shared Herold.

Polar opposite to the intensely populated city Herold moved away from, the 75-acre farm in Alto Pass has inspired Herold to portray the rural landscapes and outdoor life in her work as a painter. Spending much of her time maintaining the property and tending to the farm, Herold has also had the opportunity to renew her interest in creating art. Although she took painting classes as a child and into early adulthood, Herold did not revisit the hobby until she moved to Southern Illinois.

“I painted all the way through school but didn’t paint again until we moved here. Then someone told me about Ellen Spalt’s painting classes in Cobden,” remembered Herold.

After experimenting with watercolor, acrylic and gouache in the classes she attended, Herold found she likes oil the best, which is her preferred medium now. The artist says she almost always paints in her twice-weekly classes with Spalt, instead of at home, and she has enjoyed success at the exhibitions at which she has displayed her paintings. Herold has had two shows at Alto Vineyards, one at the Carbondale Public Library, and was part of Spalt’s show of her students’ work at The Varsity Center Art Gallery.

“I like to paint more impressionistic, but my paintings end up being realistic looking. There’s a fantasy aspect to some of them, too, like with the archangels. I’ll combine the image of a landscape with other ideas,” said Herold.

With subject matter ranging from the pastures and gardens of her farm to English sheep and beagles, Herold’s paintings are reminiscent of the Naturalist movement of the 19th century. The depiction of everyday life and ordinary subjects is not a new concept in the art world, but Herold’s paintings have a particular beauty to them, with soft colors and peaceful scenes of farm life. The clear, blue skies and vast countryside dotted with livestock, barns and forest lands that are depicted in her paintings allow for a momentary, peaceful escape for the viewer. Tranquility abounds in the slice-of-life works which are the result of a lifelong hobby resurrected in Herold’s retirement, where the pastoral scenery is her muse.

A drive up the curved, tree-lined entry road to the Stablehouse and farm leads to an idyllic scene and one can easily see the beauty Herold looks upon for inspiration. In the springtime, irises bloom heavily along the property. A rose garden path brightens the already sunny days with bright fuchsia blooms, while other landscaped areas on the property are brimming with wildflowers and sunflowers. Lush, green pastures sprawl out to where woodlands skirt the property.

The Herold farm, which is currently home to eight chickens, three cats, and one dog, was on the New York Garden Conservancy garden tour in 2012 and will soon be part of the Conservation Reserve Program of Illinois. The ten-year contract, which will provide habitats for quail and other wildlife, will also help with soil and water quality and erosion.

The Stablehouse guest rental is a well-appointed cabin that boasts a full kitchen, room for six guests, and a breathtaking view off the back patio. Visitors to the Stablehouse come to enjoy the numerous activities that Southern Illinois has to offer. Regular patrons enjoy bringing their horses to ride the equestrian trails, while others come to hunt, hike, tour the wine trail, or attend weddings and reunions. Herold enjoys the new connections she makes with visitors from all walks of life.

“It really varies but we get so many repeat people and a lot of them have become friends,” said Herold.

A welcome addition to the culture and countryside of Southern Illinois, Herold’s move from California to Illinois has proven beneficial to not only the land and wildlife of Alto Pass and the surrounding area, but also to lovers of art.

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