Outdoor Painter/ Plein Air Magazine (NATIONAL)
Visiting All National Parks, “To Preserve and Protect”
Fitz Maurice made it personal. Many people love our national parks, but she is visiting all 59, because she wants to make sure she is doing all she can to keep them in people’s hearts and minds.
“TRANSEPT Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona,” by Fitz Maurice, oil, 12 x 16 in.
Maurice started her mission three years ago, but she felt her progress was too slow. So on May 1, she escalated. Now the Laguna Beach painter is on the road nonstop until she visits them all.
Maurice encountered snow in May at Bryce Canyon National Park this year.
The hardest part? Saying goodbye to home. “The tribe never likes it when one leaves the tribe and goes on a journey,” says Maurice, explaining that her friends and family were sad to see her go. “It’s hard to push off and leave home. I had to close the home studio and leave all the comforts and all I know. It takes courage to do that. My family and friends, and collectors, were all excited and supportive of the quest. They realized that when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. But I don’t know when I’ll be back. I don’t know how long it will take.”
Maurice taking in the beauty of our national parks
Maurice has a nest egg, and she will undoubtedly sell pieces along the way, but she hopes to attract a sponsorship from a company or two. “I’m still doing this quest on my own nickel,” she says. “The expense for gas is a big deal. I hope some eco-conscious sports equipment company or something similar would like to support or sponsor me. It would make sense.”
“TWILIGHT Shenandoah National Park, Virginia,” by Fitz Maurice, oil, 12 x 16 in.
She says she was motivated to paint all 59 national parks by both their beauty and their eternally vulnerable status. “The parks tend to be under siege all the time by individuals with their own designs on how they can capitalize on the resources there,” says Maurice. “There are always developers wanting to do something on park land, and politicians ready to disarm the protections in place. Right now there are two bills in the Senate that would put national parks at risk. I hope to keep the parks in the forefront of everyone’s mind, and remind them that these places are irreplaceable. Open spaces are disappearing all the time.” She sees herself as part of a tradition, one that has artists informing national leaders about the importance of wild spaces. “It’s the artists who sound the alarm and get the general public and the leaders to understand the concerns of the moment. That goes back to John Muir, and Theodore Roosevelt,” Maurice says. “We can give the wakeup call and get people to urge their leaders to gather people with means to support and protect beautiful places like national parks.”
“IMAGINE Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming,” by Fitz Maurice, oil, 12 x 16 in.
Maurice has visited Bryce Canyon, and next on her list are Canyonlands and Arches national parks. She says she is already feeling like she’s the healthiest she’s looked and felt since, well, ever. Dozens of people have heard about her journey and e-mailed encouragement, saying they plan to live vicariously through her in the coming months. Maurice will be blogging about her trip on her website.
Maurice went on horseback during an outing in Bryce Canyon earlier this month.
“It’s quite a journey, but I love being in the parks and it’s all working out,” says the artist. “So many do want to set out and do something similar, but untying all the knots and breaking the chains is a lot to accomplish, while remaining confident that what you are going to accomplish is worth doing enough to leave all that. But this is one of the greatest quests I’ve been on. I’m so passionate about doing everything I can to preserve and protect national parks.”