Editor. Note: Artist Fitz Maurice has set out to paint live at all of the US National Parks. She will be submitting her stories from the road to StuNewsLaguna from time to time. 

Fitz closes in on the sleeping dragon: Mt. Rainier
Mount Rainier erupted only 1000 years ago – a blip in time out of millions of years. Its neighboring volcanic mountain, Mount St. Helens, erupted only 35 years ago, if that speaks more loudly to you.
Since its last eruption Mount Rainier now stands 14,400 ft. high and is the icon shown on every license plate in the state of Washington. Rainier is the fiery gem in the Cascade Mountain collection. (The Cascades extend from British Columbia to Northern California.) It is rather alarming to realize that there are several active volcanic mountains in this range and then you are told that Mt. Rainier is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world!
In fact, while sitting in the impressive lodge of this National Park and viewing the public video on the big screen, I was shocked when it announced that Mt. Rainier is on the “Decade Volcano” list, and if it were to erupt again the impact would be catastrophic!
I adore being in the National Parks. My spirit soars, filling me with inspiration and a peaceful oneness with all of nature surrounding me. Yet I couldn’t help but feel mixed emotions about this Giant Mountain. Yes, you look up in total admiration – it’s a vision looming above you that is mighty, and frightfully awesome. It’s just how you would feel when looking up at a sleeping dragon! Both giants would leave you speechless and render you paralyzed when you even think about the danger and devastation they can cause the moment they decide to raise their head and spit fire.
Fitz boarding Crystal Mountain’s gondola for an eye-to-eye view 
toward Mt. Rainier
Creating this complete tour of the National Parks in a series of oil paintings is the QUEST and my goal is to capture the Ultimate Scene that defines the characteristics of each particular National Park.
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This is the finished charcoal drawing of Mt. Rainier. 
Now I am working on the oil painting. 
Why is the drawing so important that I would spend 20 hours of strict discipline focused on developing what I call the skeleton? The success of the painting depends on the expertise of the drawing. Just as our own skeletons carry our weight and mass, the drawing carries the texture and mass of the painting.
An artist all my life, the living vibration, the very breath of each Park is what I want to reveal. How I feel about each Park must be in every line of the piece from its conception.
If you look hard into this drawing you just might see the serpent’s curves as it slumbers – for now. All my feelings of awe and fear are wrapped up in this dragon metaphor: Mt. Rainier is a dragon sleeping.
FITZ Maurice has been on a quest to paint ‘live’ in every National Park in America. Now totally committed to help promote and protect the Parks, the artist is traveling by truck and trailer to each park. Hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene, and finally setting up with portable easel and oil paints, FITZ sets out to capture in paint the wonders that make each National Park a treasure to Americans and all the people of the world.