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.
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.