Artists in Our National Parks

As an Artist in Residence at Capitol Reef National Park,  I organized a talk about the History of Artists and Art in our National Parks.  When chosen as a residence, one of the “give backs” is to lead a hike, give a presentation, or any number of ways to contribute to the Park.  I presented to a group of visitors some techniques for using their smart phone more successfully.  And, I made a presentation at the Fruita Campground Amphitheater in Capitol Reef, and a public presentation at Mesa Verde National Park.

Artists have contributed to the formation of our parks from the early days of the Hayden Survey in 1871, all the way up till the present day, where the Artist in Residence programs thrive in our Parks.  Thomas Moran, William Henry Jackson, Frederick Dellenbaugh, painted and photographed in the West, as did many others. Today, contemporary photographers and artists contribute to our understanding of our precious National Parks and create images that speak to the preservation and expansion of our Parks.

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Click this link for a full copy of the presentation of Art in Our National Parks.

Contemporary Art in our National Parks

Visit any National Park Service site and you’re bound to see photographers, artists, film makers, musicians, sculptors, writers, inspired and working on-site.   And many visitors use their smart phones for selfies, and bring home memories in our Parks, our Public Lands, and recreation areas.

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Many of our Parks sponsor Plein Air Invitationals and host Artists in the Parks. Capitol Reef joined the list of about 50 National Parks that offer time and support for an Artist in Residence in 2017.  I was honored to be chosen as their first AIR.

Links to contemporary art being created in our Parks

Long-time Alaskan Kim Heacox spent a part of 2012 as one of Denali’s three writers-in-residence, and donated this essay after his experience.

A 2010 residency at Devil’s Tower allowed Chavawn Kelley to experiment with photography, and later inspired her written works here

Kathy Hodge, Artist in Residence.

Here’s a link to my portfolio of Artist Residencies in our Parks.

 

Hillman and Lookout Peaks, with Wizard Island.

My first look at Crater Lake. Artist in Residence, 2015

Annie Spring-Snowmelt

Annie Spring, Crater Lake National Park. ©Kit Frost

Clouds moving over Capitol Reef National Park

Autumn Gold, Capitol Reef National Park. Between 2016 and 2017 I spent about 14 weeks at Capitol Reef. In 2016 I volunteered as an Information Ranger. And in 2017 I was honored to be chosen as the first Artist in Residence in the Park. This image was made during the golden days of autumn in Cap Reef.

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Long House, Mesa Verde National Park. ©Kit Frost, 2017 Artist in Residence

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Artist in Residence: Acadia National Park

Screenshot 2015-06-02 09.40.30

The Adventure begins

I don’t like to fly.  It’s inconvenient, stressful, boring, frustrating and leaves me feeling powerless. But, since surgery in March, hip replacement, I’ve driven 3700 miles round trip from Durango to Crater Lake National Park for my first Artist Residency.  I advise against driving long distances one month after surgery!  Even with cruise control, driving was painful, and camping even more challenging.

It’s not that I didn’t prep for the journey.  In fact, I was devoted to physical therapy after surgery.  But choosing to drive with my right hip recovering is what I call self-will to the max.  Although my surgeon (who rocks) gave me the go ahead, in retrospect I could have made a different decision.  I rested after every 75-100 miles and took 8 days to get to Oregon, and I don’t regret a minute of the trip, but learned from it.

Artist in Residence: Crater Lake National Park, May 2015

There's nothing quite like seeing the sky reflected in Crater Lake.

There’s nothing quite like seeing the sky reflected in Crater Lake.

My original plan was to drive up to Crater Lake National Park for the two week Artist in Residence program at the Park and then drive across country to my next gig at Acadia National Park.  The idea was to have my own car, with all my art and photography gear packed, my bike aboard, and camping along the way, resting when needed, really appealed to me.  But then there’s that hip replacement. As a result of a consultation with my mother, all that changed.  Yesterday I flew to Maine.

Air Travel with Camera Gear and Art Supplies

I shipped most of my art supplies, and my carry-on consisted of my camera gear and electronic equipment: macbook pro, battery chargers.  Although I have a carry-on sized for the airlines, the new procedure of checking carry-on at the plane if the overhead bins are small or full is frustrating.  I didn’t want to risk having my camera gear broken, so I stuffed my camera bag and laptop inside my rolling baggage while in the airports: Durango, Denver, Chicago, Portland, and then carried on just the camera bag and laptop, and curbside checked the empty luggage.

In years past, whenever I travelled by air with my camera gear, it wasn’t a big hassle.  I would carry on my camera gear, and check my tripod and luggage, but at $25 per bag it can add up. So I bought a new tripod, and had it shipped to Acadia, instead of adding that to my carry on. My checked luggage also had art supplies, pochade box, oil pastels, tripod head and clothing and shoes.  It was a hassle, the shipping cost me plenty, the final leg of travel was delayed for two hours, but now I am sitting in a motel in Brunswick, Maine.  And the rental car is outside of my room.  I will re-pack today, and head out to Rockport, Maine where I’ll stay with friends for a few days before driving up (down) east to Winter Harbor.

The Interpretive Ranger at Acadia may be able to lend me a bike.  That’s the one thing I was unable to stuff in my carry-on.  And I’ll be at Schoodic Institute from June 5-25 making art, hiking, biking and exploring the secrets of Acadia.  I’m thrilled, excited, honored and ready to roll.

This is what it’s all about

I’ve spent time at the Bar Harbor area of Acadia, brought students to Otter Cliffs and Thunder Hole for photography lessons, but this is the first time I will be at the Schoodic Institute with access to the Winter Harbor (said with a Maine accent) section of the Park.  I will be housed in a fully equipped, apartment at Schoodic.  I look forward to the inspiration of the land, sea, weather, and sky.

Follow along on this excellent art adventure.  I’ll post photos and time lapse videos and tell the stories as I join a long line of artists who practiced their craft in recognition and support of our National Parks.

Here’s a link to my recent series of blog posts

And some current images, created during June 2015, Artist Residency, Acadia National Park

An article about the Artist in Residence Program at Acadia.

Crater Lake: Photographing the Moods of a Landscape

Photographing the Moods of a Landscape

While here at Crater Lake National Park I’ve been blessed with a wide range of light, clouds, weather and the luxury of photographing whenever the spirit moves me (and the muse strikes). Last week, the first week of my residency, the sky was what I normally call “boring blue sky”. But my experience here is that the lake is stunning when the sky is blue, with lots of deep, clear water and the sky reflected. It was great to open my eyes to the idea of photographing a big blue lake with a big blue sky.

There's nothing quite like seeing the sky reflected in Crater Lake.

There’s nothing quite like seeing the sky reflected in Crater Lake.

I made this

I made this “sketch” with my iPhone.

As the days flew by, the weather became more interesting for me.  Artistically I am inspired by clouds and cloud shadows, cast shadows on the snow, incoming and clearing storms, and the mountain hemlock, and whitebark pine.

I enjoy incoming and clearing storms. I photographed a series of images and created a time lapse sequence too.

I enjoy incoming and clearing storms. I photographed a series of images and created a time lapse sequence too.

Each visit to the rim, I was able to capture the changing color of the lake, and the clouds pouring white over the surrounding cliffs.

Each visit to the rim of Crater Lake inspired me, as the lake and landscape was ever changing.

The cliffs surrounding Crater Lake inspired me, as the lake and landscape was ever changing.

Hillman and Lookout Peaks, with Wizard Island.

Hillman and Lookout Peaks, with Wizard Island. I was hoping to know the land forms, trees and rocks by name during this residency.

I knew there was a possibility the sun would light up below the snow and fog.

I knew there was a possibility the sun would light up below the snow and fog.

I photographed while protecting my camera lens under my umbrella during this dusting of snow.

I photographed while protecting my camera lens under my umbrella during this dusting of snow.

And throughout the two week residency, I have been created time lapse sequences of each of the compositions that inspire me.  I set up my tripod, compose, and use the intervalometer of my Nikon gear.

Honored to be chosen as one of the May 2015 Artist’s in Residence, I have been given the opportunity, time and access to photograph at Crater Lake National Park. This video is a collection of time lapse photographs put together to show the Changing Moods of Crater Lake.

In most cases, the images were created at 5 second intervals, sometimes up to 300 photos at a time.

Crater Lake: It’s Raining Cloud Shadows

It's fun to play with the panoramic mode using my iPhone.

It’s fun to play with the panoramic mode using the iPhone. But when I see these kind of clouds, I run for my Nikon gear.

The Luxury of Time

I can’t really say there is a typical day at Crater Lake National Park. The luxury of time afforded by the Artist in Residence program allows me to follow my bliss.  One morning I woke up before sunrise and did some painting, another day I began with a period of meditation, and I often have an oil painting in progress.  Primarily I start the day with a good cup of coffee.

Today, while meditating, I spied the clouds in the sky.  I knew a storm was coming in and hoped for cumulus clouds over Crater Lake.  Since I don’t know the storm and light patterns up here in Oregon, I scout photography locations many times during each day.  Typically I use my iPhone when scouting and then return to the subject with my favorite camera gear and tripod. Unless of course, the light is perfect, then I take it all seriously and get er done.

A Double Tripod Kind Of Day


As Crater Lake’s current Artist in Residence I am experiencing the luxury of daily photography adventures along the rim.

I drove up to Crater Lake three separate times today.  My first mission was to set up my wide angle lens for a time lapse.  I really enjoy cloud shadows, and time lapse image making is the perfect way for me to capture a series of images.  The first location today was fun, and the time lapse of 400 images at 5 second intervals lasted 33 minutes.  I enjoyed a little walk while the photos were being made, but I also needed to stick close as the wind was gusting at 15-20mph.  I strapped my camera bag to the tripod to weigh it down.  While the time lapse was in progress, I set up my second tripod for more image making. Double fisted, three camera, kinda day.

I’m going with the flow, I feel charged up, inspired, and blessed to be gifted with this residency.

Crater Lake: When the Water Speaks

When I drive an overpass, I often get out and scout what's under it.  In this case, it is Annie Spring.  Two hours later, it was "in the can". ©Kit Frost

When I drive an overpass, I often get out and scout what’s under it. In this case, it is Annie Spring. Two hours later, it was “in the can”. ©Kit Frost


Art Making in Crater Lake National Park

One of my missions while in residence at Crater Lake is to photograph the Lake while chasing the light.  My accommodations are three miles from the rim of the caldera.  So it’s easy to drive up there every few hours to see the color of the light, reflections and to talk to the park visitors.  I brought my bike for a daily workout and to access the park without the windshield in my way. But the healing process on my new hip is slower than I hoped, so I’ll be gentle.

What are the voices of the flowing water telling me.

What is the silence of the local stream telling me?

Today, as I stepped back away from the Lake, I explored a few of the creeks in the park, I connected with a beautiful stream adjacent to the Goodbye Creek.  After scouting, I plan to photograph at that location in morning or late afternoon light.  I prefer very little light on creek falls, as contrast can be a real challenge. It’s not impossible to photograph, but when faced with bright light of water against the darkness of the stream it helps to use a graduated neutral density filter in the field and underexpose.  Later, using Lightroom, I adjust the dark shadows to reveal their texture and beauty.  In this case, I am exposing for the highlights of the water and “developing” for the shadows.

Annie Spring

Annie Spring leads to one of the biggest creeks in the Park, Annie Creek, flowing along Highway 62 and the entrance to the Park. It’s very seductive to hear the creek and to follow it’s flow along the pullouts on the road.

“Take only photographs, leave only footprints”


Annie Spring is a trailhead leading up to the Pacific Crest Trail. I will hike up to the PCT before I leave.  Cheryl Strayed’s book, and movie “Wild” is about her thru hike of the PCT and I’ve hiked a bit of it in Lassen Volcano National Park and want to add a bit of my own footprints to it.

Stay tuned.