Today’s Front Page News – STORIES FROM THE WOODS XI – Fitz captures Mt. Rainier as a Sleeping Dragon


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 captures Mt. Rainier as a Sleeping Dragon

Could this be the Jewel in the Crown of the National Park Paintings series? Purple is regal and this oil painting is boldly red purple and blue purple, in honor of the mighty Mt. Rainier. After 20 hours of drawing and over a month of painting – finally this oil painting is finished.

Why did it take so long? Each year, ten thousand people set out to climb Mt. Rainier to its summit, and only half succeed. I feel like I climbed Mt. Rainier because of the months of disciplined work and determination to capture in detail each canyon and peak.

First, I must create a masterfully painted piece of this National Park because it is the icon of the state of Washington. When I realized that mountain climbers and glacier lovers “know” their glaciers, I decided to honor them by rendering each glacier as accurately as I could.

My overall goal was to paint Mt. Rainier’s portrait as well as portray its essence.

I am always being shown – discovering, confirming and painting the oneness of all. Amazingly I continue to be shown that every human being and every living thing in the universe is one under God and His initials are engraved in every chromosome!

It was also the first time I painted glaciers. Those strange “living” bodies of ice and rock have names: they are recognizable and are moving. So they are “alive,” right?

On top of all of that, I needed to present my analogy of the Dragon and Mt. Rainier, and this analogy is literally in the painting! It was scary for me when I saw and so easily painted this dragon into the mountain. It was all there, all the lines – I did not have to impose it.

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“Sleeping Dragon, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington” –  Oil Painting

Look into this painting – can you see the dragon?

Mt. Rainier is a giant mountain and is as fiery as a dragon because it is an active strato-volcano. In fact, it is the most dangerous active volcano in the world, and it’s right here in the Cascade Mountain Range of Washington. Standing over 14,000 ft. high, it is massive like a giant. Giants like dragons and Mt. Rainier are beautiful in an awesome way. Yet, frightening the more you know about their volatile side.

Then I had to address the conflicting emotions I felt about Mt. Rainier. It stirs in me many deep emotions. I know it is dangerous and just sleeping like a dragon that could raise its fiery head and cause catastrophic disaster on countless lives, homes, wildlife and landscapes. Yet, I feel great compassion for this mighty mountain and how quickly it is actively dying. The glaciers running down its face are tearing down its structure by carrying off its minerals with every sliding tear.

Standing down in the glacier river bed, and looking up at this dragon mountain I wrote,

“This Dragon Mountain – veiled behind its woven clouds – hopes we will forget its fiery breath.”

Having said all of that, what of the Dragon? What of Mt. Rainier? It is sad to watch a giant die! That is what is happening.

While standing at the top of Glacier Vista Trail I felt I was looking Mt. Rainier eye to eye, when suddenly I heard a crack like thunder. What I had heard was the glacier cracking! What is happening is that the glaciers are retreating one meter every 10 days due to record extreme heat waves throughout the Northwest. Combine this with Washington’s last two years reporting the lowest amount of precipitation in recorded history and you have a dying mountain.

The 24 glaciers on Mt. Rainier are pouring their guts out down rivers. Glacial rivers are milky in color and are filled with the rock and debris they drag down the mountain.

Ranger Scott, from the stunning Paradise Visitor Center in Mt. Rainier National Park, examined the daily monitored glacier report, and confirmed that I had indeed heard the Nisqually Glacier crack. He also agreed that the analogy of Mt. Rainier to a dragon was a good one: both are dangerous, but one hopes they will exist in peace.

All of this lives in this oil painting. I invite you look long and deeply into it, contemplating all the ingredients. How do you feel about this mountain – this painting?

I am excited to have finished this painting – and am exhausted from the daily exertion- it is as if I climbed up hill for months – to complete this giant!

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