It's another 100 degree day here. The minute I step outdoors, my glasses fog up completely...maybe that's symbolic of my life.
I'm nearly finished with my work here. I'm going to show the Superintendent and her committee my paintings on Friday morning, at which time they'll select the piece they want for the museum. Again, it's been a delight to serve here at Hot Springs National Park. However, I do wish it had not been so, well, hot. If the weather had been a little cooler, I would have painted outdoors more, which is my preference. In this case, I've been taking photographs, returning to the house to print the photos, and painting from the pictures. I really do feel like there's an extra energy in a painting when it's produced en plein aire, but it is what it is. I have produced a mixture of water landscapes and architectural pieces. Most of the real park consists of those beautiful, Victorian bathhouses. My, are they interesting ..... and old. They still contain the original locker rooms, porcelain tubs, steel showers, porcelain sitz baths and steam boxes. I think about how hot those buildings must have been in those days, with the steam of the water filling every nook and cranny, rotting the timbers. The Victorians had a higher tolerance for weather than we did...
There’s a small river running along my campground. It’s lovely and I’ve painted it twice so far. It’s one of my favorite spots in the national park. It’s full of little waterfalls, which are fun to paint in watercolors. Every afternoon, I go to the swimming hole, just below a main waterfall, and watch folks swim! It’s a delight to see the children and their parents taking part in this old fashioned activity. What fun! I confess that I’m participating as well. After a little swim, I grab my fishing pole and try a little fly fishing. The afternoons have been very enjoyable…..
It’s blazing hot in Hot Springs. So, it’s not just about hot water; it’s also about hot weather. I’m told that this near 100 degree heat is pretty typical during the summer. I can’t seem to get it right: when I was painting in France as Artist in Residence, it ended up being the rainiest June on record… and I work in watercolors! Ugh. I hope that the next time I travel or apply for a residency, I’ll find good, dependable weather that’s conducive for painting outdoors. Of course, regardless of conditions, I paint and find new ways to reach the goal….
I’ve completed four paintings this week: two for the park, and two for me. I have two more drawn, stretched and ready to go. I like to go on site and draw, recording the scene with photographs immediately. It’s too darn hot to sit outside for long. I tried to paint outdoors yesterday, and thought I’d pass out from heat stroke! So, it’s back to the studio for me.
Seeking free internet is a constant struggle. I finally went to the public library and thought that would be a breeze. I began filling out the papers to apply for a library card, so I could begin working my way through their books as well, but the process was so difficult and became intensely personal, so I finally gave up. In order to apply for a library card at the Hot Springs Library, a non resident like me must sign their life away: signature, multiple addresses and telephone numbers, references with personal phone numbers and addresses and FINALLY, my social security number. I politely refused this last request. After all, I only wanted to borrow books! They do, thankfully, have computers that non residents may use to catch up on the internet and that was sufficient for me except that when I want to update my blog, I really need to use my own computer and photographs that I’ve uploaded.
As soon as one ventures outdoors, glasses, camera lens and water bottle fog up. This glass of wine is on the picnic table in front of my little abode. Note the condensation. This is in honor of my good friends, the “Susans,” who are probably at a wonderful Virginia winery right now enjoying themselves.
So, I shall continue painting the National Park here in Hot Springs. In between sessions, I continue to seek free internet resources, the best fried chicken, the crunchiest catfish and the most delectable ribs so that body, mind and soul can remain in balance.
Chow, friends, and drink a glass for me! Happy painting!
It's been very hot here at Hot Springs National Park - nearly 100 degrees every day. Lots of folks here in the campgroounds are taking advantage of the old swimming hole here at the campground. I hope to do that myself today.
I'll be painting the lovely river and swimming hole while I'm staying here.
There's lots to paint; it's too hot to paint outdoors, however, so I'm taking photos and then going indoors to work.
Artists really do need to research a location before they paint. I like to know the culture, the history and the lay of the land before I begin working, because I’m hoping that the “feel” of the place will come through my paintings.
What an incredible gift the Department of the Interior and the administration and staff of Hot Springs National Park has provided for persons selected to be Artist in Residence. There is a lot of support from the staff; employees seem to know about the position and they’re all willing to lend a hand if needed. The AIR house is a lovely c. 1932 stone cottage, fully equipped, clean and ready to go, with a large studio and excellent lighting. I feel honored to have been selected and I hope that the work I commit to here will reflect the beauty and history of my surroundings and will be worthy of the selection process. My hope is that the Artist in Residence program continue in perpetuity and that other national parks will be able to find the funding to promote artists and their work in the parks.
Ranger Jeff Heitzman has patiently seen me through the process, from my first letter of acceptance until my arrival, answering questions and providing contacts. He graciously took me on a tour of Hot Springs National Park, providing real insight about this particular park’s history and mission.
As Jeff has said repeatedly, Hot Springs National Park is about the thermal springs: water, water, water. The park is about the water. I had misconceptions about national parks in general, believing that they were all about mountains, landscape, rivers, creeks and skies, but indeed, this national park is about the thermal springs, the Victorian era bathhouses and all the areas in between
Still, more reseasrch is needed to understand the indigenous culture of the area where I am to paint.
Today, I decided that it was essential to participate in the hot thermal baths in order to understand the nature of this national park. After all, it IS about the water, the HOT water, and the spas.
After participating in the bathing experience, I have decided that there is a Higher Power after all and H.P. may very well live in Buckstaff Bathhouse. The experience was heavenly. I have new respect for the Victorians and their belief in the healing power of the spas.
Tonite, I had to continue the cultural research: it ends with ribs, cole slaw and an extra large, thick slice of white bread at Stubby's BarBQ.
Here's the link to the Creative Challenge award I just won for this national magazine! I found out the other day. This is exciting news for me and a good way to begin an artist's residency in a national park.