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