In the fall of 2006, I had the distinct honor of serving as the artist-in-residence for 11 weeks in the Badland’s National Park in South Dakota. To spend time in a national park is special; to live in one is so much more. What a treat it is to see antelope, bison, bighorn sheep, and coyotes while hiking on and off the trails in the park, as well as mule deer in the front yard each morning. So different from where I grew up or now live, green color is a rarity. Instead, sun-baked earth and cliffs and mesas of sedimentary rock in hues of tans, pinks, and ochres abound. Hidden within those multicolored layers are the deposits of ancient rivers, lakes, and oceans, and the 30-70 million year-old fossilized ancestors of the present day animals that roam in this special place. There is general agreement that the Badlands have one of the greatest deposits of mammalian fossils anywhere in the world.
Those three months also allowed me to witness the transition from summer to winter. During this time I tried to capture on canvas and paper the changing of the seasons in this unique landscape that is vast and beautiful.Removed from my usual routine, I had time to get totally immersed in my new found passion. Painting daily, I completed 20 large works in pastels. Before leaving the park, I had a show in which the rangers and park staff chose the painting they liked best; this donated painting now resides at the visitors’ center in the park. My stay was truly a memorable one and I believe the paintings capture that experience.