"What we get out of it is that public awareness of us as an art form ourselves," she said, citing the idyllic gardens, trees that have won championships, and varied species of birds that make the arboretum a magnet for birders. "What we want is that exposure that says, 'This is not your grandmother's Cylburn."
Bennett is not quite your grandmother's idea of an artist. She divides her time between plein air, live event and portrait painting.
She was up until 1 a.m. Aug. 25, painting a wedding party at the Woodholme Country Club in Pikesville.
Late that morning, she was back at Cylburn Arboretum, sitting in a shady spot near Cylburn Mansion and finishing a 14-by-14-inch plein air painting of her children at Cylburn that she had been working on since May.
"I started this when the trees were blooming," she said.
Getting to know Cylburn
She pondered the inherent difference between plein air and live-event painting.
"Being an artist is very solitary," she said. "I like being around people. I wouldn't want to do it all the time."
She glanced around occasionally for inspiration as she painted.
"This is nice, too," she said.
Bennett said one of the biggest perks of being the artist-in-residence at Cylburn is the opportunity to bond with the arboretum and its imposing mansion, which was built in 1863 as the private estate of Quaker businessman Jesse Tyson.
"I like getting to know Cylburn pretty well," she said. "It's a big place."
She was paid $950 for one of her Cylburn paintings and donated half of the money to the Cylburn Arboretum Association, she said.
After her year as artist-in-residence ends, Bennett hopes to expand her palette.
"I was thinking next year I would focus on Sherwood Gardens," she said.