By SUZIE HARRISON ~ Suzie’s ARTiculation ~ Stunewslaguna.com ~5/30/17
Whether capturing the vibrantly rich colors of the screaming orange and yellow ocher pinnacles capped with fresh scintillating snow in Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park, or the formidable regal and glorious presence of Mount Rainier National Park, using red and blue purples to honor its noble presence, FITZ Maurice’s National Park Paintings series takes the viewer to these parks, bestowing awe-inspiring wonder with such enduring affect.
FITZ’s story, in her own words
“It started in the year 2002, the year I moved to New Mexico, where I had an enormous connection with the wild, raw spirit of New Mexico. It was very unexpected. And then the next thing I know, I am living 7000 feet up, alone, on top of a mountain. Where there’s four seasons, including full on winter and snow.
I didn’t have a cell phone. I didn’t have television. I didn’t have Internet. And for three years, I painted and got very deeply rooted in nature.
When I was out there, [I realized] New Mexico had phenomenal national parks. One was only 10 minutes from my mountaintop, El Morro National Park, and I painted that. Then I visited friends in Zion and captured Zion National Park.
It’s the most natural subject matter for any creative spirit is to be immersed in the monumental beauty that is indicative of our national parks. You get really deep into peace and serenity.
And the more I enjoyed being in the national parks, all of a sudden; I had painted six or seven of them. I went, wow, I am painting the national parks. It was just a continuation of where my soul was leading me to.”
“My goal is to reveal the wonders and the essence that are really individual personalities of each park. And look what’s happening, each one of my paintings is very different than the others, which reflects how different the parks are when you’re in them.
I spend weeks in each park. The first thing I do is hike or swim, kayak or horseback ride, or at Mount Rainier I took the tram up to really discover the ultimate point of view that’s going to show the viewer, YAH, I want to go there. Oh, that’s what Crater Lake is about, or the redwoods, I have to go there and look up at the tallest trees in the world. The reason I titled my National Redwood Park painting, “Idyllic,” is that you feel like a child walking around in a storybook.
I am a landscape artist, yes. I paint out in the national parks in plein air, and I get the whole painting up, the whole composition, and the sense of color. What I am really going for is to highlight the energy, the personality of the park, and then I like to bring it back to the studio and put all the finishing paint strokes, little magic brushstrokes that will pull the whole painting together, and I sign it.
One of the things that is really challenging is that these paintings are 12’ x 16” or 16” x 12,” so I can manage them while I am hiking around, climbing up mountain tops, getting to tops of buttes, carrying my portable easel, and paints, and this panel canvas. So they have to be manageable to go with me and come back.
It’s a challenge to capture the whole Grand Canyon in 12 inches. It’s a challenge to to capture Crater Lake. How do you get that whole lake into 12 inches to give the viewer that impact that it’s a massive lake that radiates and vibrates with color depending on the time of year? It’s a mirror of color, a prism of color. It’s like being in a sacred place the minute you’re there. The whole captivating feeling of being there is how the lake reflects sky, and the sky and the lake are one.”
Photo provided by the artist
“Sleeping Dragon,” Mount Rainier National Park, Wash.” / Oil Painting / 12” x 16”
“A photograph can’t show the emotions, passion, secrets and mysteries that are all tucked into each one of my park paintings.
So after pursuing the National Parks for five years now, I realize what a great gift it is to have all the National Parks available to us. And all of us can go there, photograph, paint, write, and wake up in joy and remember who we are in the inside again. It’s right outside in your reach. Just find a way to be there and find the oneness of all, and that’s the joy of life.”
Now in 2017, I am going to be flying to the parks that are further away. So it’s the next half of the Quest is to go out and reach and capture the far away parks and bring them back. I am going to Hawaii later this month to paint two national parks, Haleakala National Park in Maui and Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.
So from the mountains to the lakes to the valleys, I go and they cast their spells on me, and I paint them. I am loving the whole Quest. It’s fantastic.”
“Bristlecone Pine,” Great Basin National Park, Nevada” / Oil Painting / 12” x 16”
In turn, FITZ’s National Park Paintings series casts a spell on the viewer that’s unbelievably mesmerizing. That’s the magic of FITZ.
FITZ’s National Park Paintings series will be on exhibit at the Hockaday Museum in Kalispell, Montana, June and July 2018.
For now, you can get absorbed in her incredible National Park Paintings series at www.nationalparkpaintings.com.
Until next time…so many powerful National Park paintings, so little time!