Image“Moonlight Over Lake McDonald”  Pastel  2000  Glacier National Park

I wondered how I might recognize the United States National Park Service on its 97th birthday today, an organization that has meant so much to me and many generations. Saying thanks seems best with a few pictures and thoughts from my times as an artist in residence; times which represent unforgettable and cherished experiences.

I remember while making the “moonlight” image above, bats flew around me on the porch of my residency home.  That two weeks was really special. I saw grizzlies and a host of other birds and creatures I had only seen in pictures.Image“St. Mary’s Lake – Early Evening”    Pastel   2000  Glacier National Park

On the drive back from Waterton Lakes, I stopped to view St. Mary’s. Just at that moment, the sun broke through the clouds. Just enough time for a quick sketch. It was wondrous. I enjoyed the diminutive Goose Island against a backdrop of the large glacier cut mountains.

Image“Cypress Knees”  Oil on Paper  2004  Everglades National Park

A crow was my “friend” while I sat at the cypress knees. I put friend in quotations because he managed to steal some of my art supplies temporarily. The only way I got them back was by “trading” a granola bar.  I took the photo below of him. He landed on my car as soon as I parked and stayed with me the full three hours I worked.  I think of this unexpected encounter with great fondness even though he used his intelligence for thievery.


And a thanks to the Everglades National Park staff who helped me with a dog rescue, “Rosie” and Park Ranger Paul and his wife who adopted her.  Maybe crazy but I still keep these photos posted by my desk. I wish I could have taken her home but I lived in an apartment at the time and could not have dogs. I know she has a good home in Vermont though.  She was a faithful companion to me while I painted as you can see. Image

Rosie took me out into the Everglades at night, which I would not have done because I did fear some of its nocturnal creatures, but dogs need bathroom time out…and I became glad they do. I made this drawing from memory recalling the magic of the dark.

Image “Everglades Evening”  Pastel 2004  Everglades National Park

Image“Long House Passageway”   Acrylic on Wood  2007  Mesa Verde National Park
It was a privilege to spend some time alone painting in the cliff dwellings at Long House in Mesa Verde. I had dreamed of visiting since I was in third grade, when I made a diorama of this place.
Image“Black Widow”  Watercolor and pencil  2007  Mesa Verde National Park
A visit to Mesa Verde would not be complete without having a black widow in your living quarters. It was my first time viewing one. She impressed me then…in a frightening sort of way. I took the opportunity to record her even though I have to admit I was uncomfortable with her presence. The ends of her legs seemed particularly pointed and threatening.
“Pseudo Scorpion Sketches”  Colored Pencil  2012  Great Basin National Park
The black widow seemed like a good lead in to my memorable experience of seeing the pseudo scorpions in Lehman Caves. They were not frightening however. Quite the opposite – fascinating in fact in their movement. It does help that they cannot hurt you and are quite tiny.
ImageThis photo certainly is not impressive but it represents a field I spent a couple nights in listening to elk bugling. It had been my dream to hear this sound in person for quite some time so it was really special.  Plus PBR tastes better in the wild.   🙂
Below is a sketch of an elk I had made at Rocky Mountain National Park a couple years before, since it was challenging to see the Great Basin elk from a distance.  Image“Elk Study”  Watercolor and pencil   2010  Rocky Mountain National Park
To 97 more years and beyond of protecting and caring for the landscapes that make the United States unique!
(As always, I appreciate your respect. The above images are copyrighted. Please ask for permission to reproduce.  Thank you – Kristin.)

2 thoughts on “Gratitude to the U. S. National Park Service – Happy 97th!

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