Updated: Apr 27, 2019
Plein Air study at The Tepees in Petrified Forest National Park
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as the artist-in-residence in Petrified Forest National Park in September. There is a long history of artists using their work to spread awareness of the National Parks system. Today, many parks have an artist-in-residence program, furthering this symbiotic relationship between the parks and artists.
View from the Billings Gap trail
The program invites artists to reside in the park for two weeks, allowing artists to be inspired and create. In return, artists participate in public programming and donate a piece of work to the park.
Live Painting Demo at the Painted Desert Inn
Over the course of two weeks, I was able to explore all that Petrified Forest has to offer, photographing and painting daily.
Petrified logs on the Crystal Forest Trail
If you're wondering "what makes Petrified Forest National Park unique?" I'll start with the obvious: it contains a lot of petrified wood. Many of the "forests" contain petrified wood that stood as trees over 200 million years ago. The logs present a stunning array of colors of quartz. These fossils help scientists understand more about this time period and what this area was like at the time the trees stood.
Example of the beautiful colors of quartz in petrified wood on the Blue Forest Trail
The park is really so much more than this though. From the 50,000 acres of wilderness to the historic sites detailing human history in the area, there is so much to see and learn from this place.
Sunrise near the Painted Desert Inn, an historic Inn built on Route 66
From an artistic standpoint, I was right at home in the southwest desert landscape here. Most of my time was spent outdoors, hiking and photographing the wilderness or painting in some of my favorite locations in the park.
View overlooking the Blue Mesa Loop Trail
I will be forever grateful for the opportunity here. My hope is that my paintings will spark curiosity in others about our National Parks, Petrified Forest in particular. More than just a beautiful landscape (and it truly is a beautiful place), pieces of historical and scientific significance are preserved within the park's boundaries.
Plein Air study at The Tepees