Saguaro National Park, December 28, 2015

photo: don seymour


From a plaque at the entrance to Kings Canyon National Park...

We need wilderness preserved- as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds- because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it. It is good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it can bring briefly, as vacation and rest, into our insane lives. It is important to us when we are old because it is there- important, that is, simply as an idea.

We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means for reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.

-Wallace Stegner, Wilderness Idea




My original intent for this journal was to present, in real time, reports of my painting trips and the work developed from these experiences. Logistics, schedules, the demands of teaching and painting, (as well as being a "digital immigrant") meant this didn't happen quite as planned. Now, 50 parks and 57 months into the project, during the 100th anniversary year of the National Park Service, I will be posting more frequently highlights, insights and images from my travels. I welcome your responses and comments.                   




Painting in the Saguaro 

On December 28, 2015 I returned to Saguaro National Park and painted in my 50th park. Part of a Christmas family outing, while some hiked on the Hugh Norris Trail, my brother-in-law, Don Seymour, and I photographed and painted the late light slanting into the La Bajada Wash. 

I fell in love with the Sonoran Desert on a biology field study trip to Baja California in November 1973. We camped with the coyotes in the Tucson Mountain County Park bordering Saguaro National Park, visited naturalist writer Joseph Wood Krutch's home (Desert Year, Voice of the Desert, The Forgotten Peninsula) and were introduced to the wonders of the desert at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. I learned that far that from being empty and desolate, the Sonoran is teeming with life - strange and beautiful forms of flora and fauna drenched in unforgettable light. I was deeply touched. 25 years later my family and I moved to Tucson and I have been painting the desert ever since.

Here are two Saguaro National Park paintings from 2009, prequels to the 58 in 58 painting project. 

In the Saguaro, study  8 x 6" oil on panel

The field study became part of a larger painting.

In the Saguaro   36 x 48"   oil on canvas

Looking south through the saguaro forest from the Tucson Mountains. That distinctive blue bump in the distance is Baboquivari, the monumental mountain sacred to the Tohono O'Odham.


The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit.

-Joseph Wood Krutch 


5% for the National Parks 

Painting Denali at Eielson     August 7, 2015     photo: Charlie Palanza

#GivingTuesday is a good day to let you know that at the end of 2016, the 100th anniversary year of the National Parks Service, in gratitude for my experiences in the National Parks and in support of continuing opportunities for everyone to have their own National Park moments, I will be donating 5% of all painting sales from the 58 in 58 painting project to the National Parks Foundation, official charitable partner of the NPS.

To learn about purchasing work and available paintings please contact me : 


Donate directly to the National Park Foundation @

Other organizations preserving wild lands and supporting the National Parks:

National Parks Conservation Association   The Wilderness Society


Thank you!




First and latest

Canyonlands and Lassen Volcanic


The first painting of the project 

Morning, Needles, Canyonlands


March 18, 2011



The afternoon before we had hiked into the Needles with friends.

After camping that night in our car, at sunrise, with my wife asleep in the back,

I drove out to find a painting spot. 

I painted the light warming the red rocks. The clouds behind the Needles were violet grey.

Jane woke in time to take a few photos.


*see the larger work from this field study in into a large place-1 



The most recent painting

Sulphur Works, Lassen Volcanic


November 12, 2015



I walked into the park on the road from Kohm Yah-mah-nee Lodge at the South entrance.

The road was closed for the winter, but happily for me, it had been plowed one lane wide for a couple of miles.

I was completely alone until 2pm. No cars and 7 people all day.

Silence, except for hissing and bubbling hot springs and wind in the red pines.


At the Sulphur Works, the heat and steam had melted the snow revealing the ochres and siennas of the earth,

a beautiful contrast to the blues and whites of the snow. 


*this painting has been added to field studies 2








From July 31 to August 21, I will be attempting to paint in the eight National Parks in Alaska.

Please refer back to this page for posts from this adventure.