The Completed Quest

 

Paints in the Parks’ final event for 2019 took place on a beautiful Saturday in October at Mounds State Park near Anderson, Indiana. Known for its prehistoric earthworks and the Bronnenberg House built by one of the area’s first European settlers, the park also offers plenty of trails, beautiful views of the White River and an excellent Nature Center where our last painting activity and art show were offered in the spacious community room.

Twenty-five paintings either finished on site as plein air or touched up in the studio were on display along with a brief description of each state park, the date visited and a photo of the scene that was painted. A flyer from every park was also provided with maps of the trails. The art exhibit encompassed all four years of Indiana’s  Arts in the Parks grant projects beginning in 2016 to celebrate the state’s bicentennial anniversary and the state parks’ centennial anniversary.

Visitors were also encouraged to try out the water brushes and other watercolor supplies provided to create art in the park one more time. Sixty participants created their own artwork on small watercolor blocks to take home as souvenirs of their visit. It was great to see old friends and participants from previous park visits as well as new faces stop by to join the painting activity and check out the artwork.

All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better finale to our four-year Arts in the Parks grant project and our quest to paint in all the marvelous state parks in Indiana. Paints in the Parks thanks the staff at Mounds and the entire Indiana Department of Natural Resources for their support over the years. This project was made possible by funding from the Indiana Arts Commission and the state of Indiana. And special thanks to all the new friends and artists we’ve met over the years. May all of you continue to create art in nature.

While this is the conclusion to our four-year project with the Indiana Arts in Parks program, Paints in the Parks will continue with our mission to creatively connect folks of all ages and experience to nature through art. We’ve recently moved and look forward to painting (and encouraging others) in the many parks and wildlife reserves in the rolling hills of southern Indiana, also home to a rich history in the traditions of arts, crafts and plein air painting.

We wish our readers a happy 2020 and hope that you will continue to follow us in our artistic adventures on this website and our Facebook page Paints in the Parks!

Bucolic Brown County

Paints in the Parks’ last park visit to complete our 4-year project (before the art exhibit in October) took place on a busy Saturday during Labor Day weekend in Brown County State Park. Established in 1929 as the largest park in the state, Brown County is located in the rolling hills of southern Indiana near the university town of Bloomington. During the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps restored the cleared slopes of the park with plantings of black locust, black walnut and other trees to help stop erosion while building many of the existing buildings, shelters, roads and lookout tower.

Brown County is famous for its vistas that overlook miles of wooded hills, especially during peak foliage season in the fall.  That is where I set up in the morning across from Weed Patch Hill to capture still-green leaves on the last day of August. The overcast day brought a hint of autumn chill on the breeze as I worked with my oil paints and talked to visitors who stopped by on foot or by car on this busy holiday weekend. With its 70 miles of bridle trails, 20 miles of hiking trails and 27 miles of mountain biking paths, this park has plenty to keep you busy. You can also stay at their large campground, rustic cabins or the Abe Martin Lodge after your busy day of activities.

After finishing my  8″ x 10″  oil painting (I’m getting faster after four years!) in good time, we headed down the road to the Nature Center where a nature fair was underway full of informative exhibits and fun activities for the whole family. We were lucky enough to set up our painting activity next to the DNR table with a display of butterflies and milkweed seeds to plant. Its proximity also offered excellent subject matter to paint in addition to the wildflower garden nearby still in full bloom.

We had a tremendous turnout that day with 66 children and grownups participating in our painting activity, rivaling the attendance at O’Bannon Woods State Park on a Labor Day weekend two years ago. You could find artists everywhere including the Nature Center’s outdoor benches by the overlook, the porch floor and in the gravel path! Even a brief rain shower couldn’t deter visitors from trying out the water brushes and art supplies. We were really happy with our Art in the Park program’s outreach on the final park visit, and the smiles on visitors’ faces made the ambitious schedule and 23 painting activities all worthwhile.

In the afternoon I spent a couple of relaxing hours at the Hesitation Point overlook working with a pastel on Ampersand board. The gritty texture grabs the chalk pastels nicely for more intense colors in the waning daylight. Many stopped by to talk about my painting and show me their artwork. It was a delightful and fitting way to wrap up my Arts in the Parks visits.

But we aren’t finished yet! Stay tuned for highlights from Paints in the Parks’ art exhibit and painting activity held in October at Mounds State Park in Anderson, Indiana. Until then, happy creating in whatever way you enjoy.

Shining Waters at Shakamak

Paints in the Parks spent one of the most gorgeous days of the summer at Shakamak State Park in August. Created in the late 1920s from land donated by three Indiana Counties south of Terre Haute, Shakamak owes its name to the Native Americans who aided Tecumseh in his famous efforts against the U.S. and offers three manmade lakes totaling more than 400 acres. Recreational opportunities found at the park include fishing, boating, camping and hiking as well as swimming at the impressive aquatic center serving the needs of the farming community for miles around.

I spent the morning painting what I called “the dock to nowhere” on Lake Shakamak which is a remnant from diving towers that were used for swimming competitions and Olympic trials by celebrities such as Esther Williams and Johnny Weismuller. All that’s left now is an enigmatic section of dock that underscored my plein air scene. While enjoying a pleasant spot in the shade cast by a nearby grove of trees, I visited with early-rising campers who stopped by during their morning walks to check out what I was doing.

For the afternoon I moved to the spacious brick and timber pool shelter, one of many structures built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. I set up my painting activity on tables overlooking the busy aquatic center, and spent the rest of the day having some great conversations with families who stopped in to try out the water brushes and other art supplies. Many were taking a break from swimming to cool off in the shelter in their swim suits, appropriate attire for watercolors!

While Shakamak is off the beaten path, we highly recommend a trip to this beautiful park with its aquatic history and gleaming lakes. The park’s aquatic center, modern campground, family cabins, abundant wildlife and miles of trails are definitely worth a trip to the west central side of the state.