Where the wild things are. That’s what gets my creative spark going, places that are pristine enough to support communtites of life that don’t walk around on two legs. Places where you can feel humbled and unimportant.
And I’m lucky enough to be able to create work in these environments. The National Park Service has a deep connection with artists; many of our parks would not exist without the images brought back from expeditions to Yellowstone or Yosemite. Parks and Wild Lands have found a great way to honor this legacy with artist in residence programs, which allow selected artists focused time to create in a wilderness setting. As an artist who runs a business, this time spent away from the office and distractions is extremely important to my work. I have been honored to be chosen for residencies at Baxter State Park in 2010, Acadia National Park in 2012, and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve in Alaska in 2015. Each of these places holds a deep connection for me- Acadia and Schoodic Point was my retreat from the joys of adolescence, Baxter State Park was the first place I learned to work plein air- the challenge of painting the landscape outside in real time, and Glacier Bay is where I proposed to my wife Linda 22 years ago, during a kayak trip up the bay. I do not believe it is coincidence that these are the places I’ve connected with artistically, and I keep being drawn (literally) back. The combination of art and science is essential to my work as well. In Acadia and Glacier Bay I was able to work with researchers studying the effects of our changing climate on wildlife populations, everything from migrating birds to humpback whales. A residency in 2017 brought me to Hog Island Audubon Camp, home of Project Puffin. There I was able to connect with ornithologists working with Maine’s seabird population, especially its most charismatic member, the Atlantic puffin.
In the summer of 2019 I will be headed to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for a residency on the arctic plain studying breeding birds. I am so fortunate to have been selected for these amazing opportunities to help advocate for the places and creatures I love.
Public lands and wildlife are inspirations for everyone, let’s keep working to keep them protected.