Winning While Not Winning

Back in September I applied for an artist’s residency at Big Bend National Park, an opportunity to live and work for a month in one of our largest and most remote wilderness areas, right on the Mexican border (image above.)

As I worked on the application, I gained a new understanding of why I paint the way I do:

My painting is both objective and reverent observation, a deep, active appreciation of the natural world.  My aim is to inspire others to look more deeply and develop a more profound appreciation for our world.


I wrote quite a bit about why painting on the Border would be important to me, and I’ll explore that in a later post.

I didn’t get selected for the residency. When I got the email I was mildly surprised, as if I really believed I would. In the email from the National Parks Art Foundation was a personal note that I was one of the finalists. Which felt really good.

Last year’s Artist in Residence at Big Bend was painter Dawn Waters Baker. I fell in love with her work instantly. I feel it beautifully captures what I had imagined creating at Big Bend.

Please go look at Dawn’s beautiful paintings and leave her comments if you can.

Dawn talks about ‘the emotional landscape’ –  not what is there but how we experience it, what we feel. That really comes through in her luminous paintings. They are filled with awe and a deep respect for the space. And she called the final show Reverence.

I’ve never been one who takes rejection particularly well. But this was a whole other experience. I got to know myself better by applying. I looked forward to bigger, more spacious paintings and the magic of a desert landscape. I enjoyed dreaming about how I would fulfill the residency requirements. And then I fell in love with Dawn’s paintings.

I feel complete, or pau as my Hawaiian healer friend Carol Burbank would say. It’s all good.

5 thoughts on “Winning While Not Winning

  1. Josephine Withers October 10, 2016 — 10:18 pm

    Very inspiring post and visuals, dear friend.
    Sounds like you have a friend in the grants office. Ask her what you can do to WIN next time. And if you need recommendations from a leading scholar in the field, I’m your gal.

  2. Hi! I’m Jo, I’m an artist, writer, traveller, wild westerner ( and renaissance soul. I’ve just recovered from thirty years of depression and anxiety and I’m rebuilding my creative lifestyle and blogging about it in my new blog Creating My Odyssey.

    I’m finding a lot of inspiration and encouragement from other creative lifestyle bloggers, so wondered if you’d like to have a look at mine. Thankyou.

    Jo UK

  3. Your work is lovely and I truly believe your dream will come true! Thank you for your graciousness, kindness and support. blessings to your further work!

  4. It sounds as if you are learning tenacity along with sharing your breathtaking artwork, Patrise…and then I am sure you will have the next opportunity realized! I love how you describe Dawn’s work. It’s how I would describe yours!

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