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Artist Setting Out To "Paint the National Parks"


Heather Burton and her son, Conner, are embarking on a grand tour of the national parks so she can paint landscapes both to add to her portfolio and to showcase the parks. Photo courtesy of Heather Burton.

Following in the footsteps, and brushstrokes, of Frederick Church, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran, a New York-based painter plans to spend the next few months exploring the National Park System and "painting the national parks."

Heather Burton, who has a robust portfolio of European landscapes, horses and horse racing, still lifes and portraits, loves travel and found easy inspiration to head into the parks.

"This trip has been inspired by a few things ... 19th-century landscape painters that traveled to these beautiful places before they were national parks, before there were roads.... John Muir is an inspiration, Ken Burns' documentary on the parks, and a trip across the country I took when I moved from California to New York last year," she tells the Traveler. "Also, it's perfect timing for my 9-year-old to experience the parks. He's a wildlife nut, and still likes hanging out with his mom."

Ms. Burton and her son have an impressive list of parks they intend to visit:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Glacier National Park
Olympic National Park

North Cascades National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Redwoods National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park

Yosemite National Park

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (including a planned climb of Mount Whitney)

Joshua Tree National Park

Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks

Dinosaur National Monument

Rocky Mountain National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches national parks

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Saguaro National Park

On a blog dedicated to this great adventure, Ms. Burton fuerther explains her motivation:

In this time when National Parks may be on the chopping block, I think Ken Burns' documentary about these phenomenal places should be required viewing for the decision makers. If you haven't seen it, check it out, it's on Netflix streaming right now.

Conner and I are not missing our opportunity to see these magnificent places firsthand... I would like to do my part to share their beauty through my paintbrush and my ever curious 9-year-old can't wait to be deliciously filthy exploring the nooks and crannies of each park while hopefully spotting a magnitude of wildlife along the way. 

Once winter arrives, the artist will sit down to tackle some large-scale paintings of the parks.

"When winter hits, I want to stop and paint some large scale paintings of some of the parks in the fashion of artists such as Frederick Church and Albert Bierstadt," she said.

When her paintings are finished, she hopes to sell them through a gallery in San Francisco that has showed some of her other works, through her website, "and possibly through other galleries I plan to approach."

So if you're out in the parks in the coming months, and see a painter with her easel and 9-year-old son, say "Hi!" to Heather.

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We are looking forward to seeing Heather and Conner when they get to Western Washington.  They'll stay at our "camp" on Hammersley Inlet for a few days while exploring Olympic and Mt Rainier parks.

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