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

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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: Time Lapse at the Lake

Crater Lake: A Time Lapse.  

This video was created by photographing 300 digital images with a Nikon D5300.  The camera was set to record one image every nine seconds.  I choose the interval based on watching the subject, in this case the clouds, move across the sky.

I enjoy time lapse photography as it allows me to set up my camera and then enjoy the view, talk to visitors on the rim at Crater Lake and other locations.

The Process

  1. Set up a sweet location for photography
  2. Focus
  3. Choose the proper shutter speed and aperture, consider depth of field
  4. Set camera to manual
  5. Shut off auto everything
  6. Set up Intervalometer, it helps to have a minimum of 200 images for a good time lapse
  7. Upload to Lightroom
  8. Edit and export images as jpegs – I photograph RAW files (Nikon NEF)
  9. Place images in a timeline in iMovie
  10. Set duration of each photo to .1 or .2 seconds
  11. Add transitions, titles and audio
  12. Export .mov and share

Crater Lake National Park Artist in Residence

Map of Crater Lake National Park

Map of Crater Lake National Park

The Application Process

I spent the last two years applying to the National Parks Artist in Residence Programs.  The application processes are thorough and the competition is intense. Most of the residencies last two to six weeks, and are designed to give established artists an opportunity to concentrate on a portfolio of images with little interruptions and a break from daily life, and to “give back” to the Parks through a public event each week.

google image of Oregon's Crater Lake.  Image courtesy of forcechange.com

Google image of Oregon’s Crater Lake. Image courtesy of forcechange.com

The selection as an Artist In Residence at Crater Lake National Park is one of the big thrills of my life. I have photographed along the Umpqua and Rogue Rivers in Oregon, exploring waterfalls and lush forests, but to be given a solid two weeks to work in and around the Park is a real treat.  I will also escort visitors on a walk to demonstrate seeing and recording water, flows and movement. And will present a slide show of my inspiration and techniques.

It’s important to get thick-skinned with when applying for exhibitions and residencies and as an artist, over the years, I certainly have learned not to take a “rejection” personally. There is a lot involved in a jury choosing one artist over another, and since many of us applying are established artists, it’s important to be a good fit, whether at a gallery or residency.

Travel to Oregon

The Crater Lake residency is coming up fast. The application was submitted in February, and I heard from the Education Coordinator in March. I’m scheduled to leave Durango on about April 19, drive west to Lake Powell and the Paria Canyons, and spend a few days in Zion National Park too. I scheduled the Zion Trip before I was offered the Crater Lake Residency so although it is along my route to Oregon, if I feel a “push” I may skip it. I love the drive up Hwy. 395 in California, so I will set up my route to follow the Eastern Sierras and take about 5 days to get from Zion to Oregon. I’m due at Crater Lake on May 1st and will be there for two weeks of a residency followed by a week of play, art, play, photography, play.  I hope to “pick the brains” of the Rangers to get the scoop on their favorite hikes and viewpoints.

It’s the journey, not the destination

In planning for a road trip, one of the first things I do is look at a map and explore some possible routes and see how much mileage I want to drive each day when towing my Saturn travel trailer, versus driving my jeep.  I usually only want to tow about 250 miles a day and so I set up a compass on a map to see how far I can comfortably drive.  It looks like a doable pace for this trip is to take about five days to get to Oregon from Zion.

This journey will take me through some of the most beautiful places in the West from Durango to Lake Powell from Lake Powell to Zion perhaps an overnight at Valley of fire State Park then drive the Eastern Sierras.  I follow Wheeling It blog and Nina and Paul love the Alabama hills and I’d like to spend the night or two there.  This trip is a mix of going with the flow a bit as well as a destination drive.

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I really have a blast when planning my adventures and road trips. I can choose to tow my Sunline travel trailer up to Oregon and I may choose to leave it there. That option gives me a reason to go back to Oregon in the fall to go get it. (Do I really need a reason!)

The thing is that when I leave Crater Lake National Park I have about 15 days to drive East because my next Artist Residency is in Acadia national Park in Maine in June. I don’t treasure towing on the freeways across the country, as I tend to “white knuckle” passing 18 wheelers. I am leaning towards safely storing my trailer.

Ask for help

At this time I’m recruiting some friends to meet me along the way and caravan for a few days or travel for a few days taking turns driving. I had hip replacement surgery on March 25 and gave myself a month to recover, and I’m devoted to the PT involved in being flexible and being able to drive.  But 4,000 miles across the country from Crater Lake to Acadia is a long drive. I think I can do it in about 15 days. I need to be in Acadia by June 5 and, frankly, the road trip from Oregon to someplace beautiful Idaho to an overnight at the Grand Tetons and then on to someplace beautiful South Dakota is pretty enticing to me.

I set up a rough map on Google with ideas for exploration and a bit of pedal to the metal driving too. In some ways I’m tempted to take my camper all the way across the country but I’m really thinking that it’s best for me to just load up my sweet ride (Jeep Grand Cherokee) and go ahead and make some time. My comfortable towing speed is about 58 mph and I can do 75mph in my jeep.

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I’d love to hear about some of your favorite spots to spend the night, especially eastward from Wyoming.

What Inspires Me

I have been planning, dreaming and scheming about this time in my life for many years. In July, I retired from a sweet job working as a graphic artist for a corporation, and I’m a retired teacher.  When I moved out West from New Jersey in 1995, I built a terrific, fun, business, teaching photography and darkroom skills; private and group lessons.  My career spanned the last twenty years and continues to fulfill me.  I take folks on photo adventures all around the Southwest and teach them how to properly use their digital cameras and develop their vision.

I am driven, and at this point I am teaching a few hours a week, privately, and teaching Photo Workshops about 5 times a year (this fall I am leading a group of Road Scholars around the Southwest).  I am learning to paint with oils and love to set up my pochade in the field and have fun.  I find that my life, although very balanced, is sometimes so full that I treasure the Artist Residencies in order to devote long periods of time in beautiful places to make art.  It’s amazing to me that the National Parks’ Service understands the need for art in the Parks and gives artists the gift of time and access.

Next applications: Joshua Tree National Park, Zion National Park, Denali

Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park

Crater Lake National Park

General Information about Artist Residencies in our National Parks

Wheeling It, Great travel RV blog

Monument Valley Photo Workshop: Participant Photos

As a student of Kit Frost’s 2014 Monument Valley Workshop, I was very impressed with the entire experience. Having been an amateur photographer for over 40 years, I had never attended a photography workshop and had yet to explore the Utah Southwest. Kit was an extremely capable teacher / mentor and has a unique way of connecting with individual students to help instill their own unique way of seeing the world and capturing their vision within their own photographs.

Aside from her technical knowledge and her ability to capture amazing images, Kit was able to help me “feel” the geography and connect with the natural world in which we were situated. Her personable style and excellent communication skills then helped me to capture imagery that was forming in my mind. 

Click on the thumbnails to see larger images, and to comment.

While I have always felt I was a reasonably accomplished photographer, Kit taught me to see with light and “paint” my compositions with light and shadow in a way that elevated the final images to a level I had only hoped to achieve.

Friends and family have been astounded with the quality and composition of the images I made at the workshop and I am so very pleased with what I gained over the four days. I am looking at local scenes and geography much differently now. “Chasing the Light” has become much more than a catch-phrase, it has become a way of interpreting what I am seeing in everyday life and imagining how those scenes can be captured within the camera. Thank you Kit for opening my eyes to the light. My photography will never be the same.    Tom Fulton, 2014

 

Lessons Learned

We returned recently from our 2014 Monument Valley Photo Workshop.  And wow, the photo opportunities were awesome.  Although the spring winds in Utah and Arizona were sometimes epic, we explored locations to teach the participants composition, right place-right time, cloud shadows as subject, avoiding the “cliche” in a well-photographed environment too.

Our locations included multiple views of the San Juan River as it flowed through the canyons of Utah.  We made photographs using wide-angle lenses to capture the expansiveness of the Goosenecks of the San Juan, ate lunch at river level at the Sand Island Recreation Area, and photographed the big views from up on Muley Point to see the next level of the canyons and the tiny river cutting through.

iPhoneography, we hiked down from the Goosenecks overlook to get a better vantage point. ©Kit Frost

iPhoneography, we hiked down from the Goosenecks overlook to get a better vantage point. ©Kit Frost

We photographed with our iPhones, Smartphones, DSLR’s, and Point and Shoot Cameras.  And uploaded images to Instagram.

A mix of moments from our workshop.  Monument Valley

A mix of moments from our workshop. Monument Valley

Lesson: Find an interesting foreground. Lead the viewer through the frame.

Lesson: Find an interesting foreground. Lead the viewer through the frame. ©Kit Frost

Create a framing of positive and negative space to make a new image of a classic subject. ©Kit Frost

Lesson: Create a framing of positive and negative space to make a new image of a classic subject. ©Kit Frost

 

Monument Valley has been the backdrop of many movies, from Stagecoach to Thelma and Louise.  It takes some imagination to create images that are “different”.  We were blessed with clouds (and blown by winds) so we could use the sky in our images too.

Working with what is presented to us is very important in Workshop Photography.  We cannot control the subject or the sky or the wind or the crowds.  We CAN work with these elements to create images that are unique.

Keep coming back, as we will add more images as the participants submit them for this blog.

 

Use shadows to create positive and negative space in the big scene.  See if you can find a shape that matches the distant scene. ©Kit Frost

Lesson: Use shadows to create positive and negative space in the big scene. See if you can find a shape that matches the distant scene. ©Kit Frost

And just in case you think I’m kidding about the Epic winds.  John Ford’s Point was so windy, that we dared not take our DSLR’s out of the car.  Here’s a link to our You Tube video. And another short clip Here.

 

Artist in Residence at our National Park

How to Apply for Artist Residencies in our National Parks

Late January and early February were quite busy.  I applied for eight Artist Residencies in our National Parks.  Each application was challenging to write, demanding of my time and a huge commitment, requiring a thorough examination of my portfolio for the “right” kind of images to send.  Most of the applications require a 1-2 page statement of intent, a small sampling of  4-8 images, letters of recommendations, and curriculum vitae.  And all applications include a proposal for the project I plan to complete during the residency. Most residencies offer an opportunity to devote 2-4 weeks’ time in a cabin or other rustic accommodations.  All offer a considerable chunk of time to make art. All require a public presentation each week of the residency, few offer a stipend, except for nominal travel, many require comfort in wild places.

The biggest challenge in the application process was to select a small sampling of images that speak to each park’s specific need. Some, like Crater Lake in Oregon, asked for projects that focused on Climate Change; many parks have a set of specific goals that the committee would like addressed in the application.

I chose to apply to the following parks as I would LOVE to spent time in each of them, increase both my time lapse and still image portfolios and since I love teaching, I submitted plans for “walks in the parks” to share with visitors my vision, techniques and suggestions for digital photography.

Part of the research involved googling each park and reviewing the artists chosen for previous residencies. It’s best to google the parks you’d like to visit.

North Cascades ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Glacier National Park ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Great Basin National Park ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Isle Royale National Park ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Acadia National Park  ………Chosen for 2015, June
Crater Lake National Park ………Chosen for 2015, May
Petrified Forest  ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Sleeping Bear Dunes  ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Great Smoky Mountains  ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Zion National Park ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015, Application pending 2016
Joshua Tree National Park  ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015

Results, so far

As you can see, just like submitting art for exhibition, it helps to get thick skinned and to keep plugging away at the applications.

Crater Lake National Park, Chosen as one of the Artists in Residence, May 2015
Here’s a sampling of the images and video clips I made while in Residence.

Acadia National Park, Chose as one of the Artists in Residence, June 2015, wow, was that some cross-country travel.  Oregon to Maine.  Here’s the portfolio I posted of my time in Acadia.  And some time lapse instruction on my blog.

Inspiration

I decided to research the Photographers and Artists who have been chosen in the past or are currently in our National Parks as Artists in Residence.

Rick Braveheart, Native American Fine Art Photographer (blog with link to his website too) Rick is currently At Zion National Park, writing a weekly blog about his residency.

Many of the artists, painters, who participate in Plein Air competitions in our National Parks also have experience as Artists’ in Residence.

Grand Canyon Celebration of Art
Grand Staircase, Escalante Canyons Arts Festival
Zion Plein Air Arts Invitational

Other Links for Arts in Our Parks, please let me know if you have a special event you like to attend or a Park you’ve applied to as Artist in Residence.