I spent a couple of hours in the morning painting the intriguing little island in the middle of Kunkel Lake. There was such a drop in temperature from the 90s earlier in the week that I could have used some mitts!
For most of the day I was set up outside Ouabache’s acclaimed bison exhibit although the inhabitants didn’t seem too interested in seeing what we were painting.
This fellow hung around his corner of the pasture all day, and was the subject of many photographs. Here he is showing off his good side.
My first group of painters bundled up to paint outside. I really appreciated their creative spirit to brave the cold!
This young artist drew and painted elements from the bison exhibit after attending a popular talk given by the park’s interpretive naturalist at their feeding station.
Mother and daughter artists chose similar colors here for their artwork and I spotted my first bison portrait for the day.
Art with an appreciative audience!
We had a before and after painting pair here depicting a tree with its showy fall foliage and then the beauty of its bare branches.
The watercolor crayons are easy to grip and a big hit with this young artist.
It wasn’t all about bison that day. A pair of colorful giraffes also made an appearance!
Another gorgeous landscape inspired by the natural beauty surrounding us in the state parks, and a great way to celebrate National Public Lands Day!
I love the patterns of color used by this young painter, and the intricate webs made with Micron pens that don’t run when wet.
This painter captured a great full-length sideview of the bison nearby.
Another happy bison appears in the tall grass and shade trees provided in the bison exhibit.
As the day warmed up, painting was a great way to keep all ages entertained on a Saturday afternoon!
Both earth and sky are captured perfectly by this young artist.
Sunny skies and plenty of green trees appear in this painter’s work.
And you can always embellish your signature on the back, of course!
I had a wonderful visit with these three talented artists on Saturday. Their artwork covered everything from land to trees to the galaxy and beyond! (And I see another bison.)
In honor of National Public Lands Day many visitors took advantage of the free admission on Saturday to visit their local parks and participate in fun activities.
These two cousins ham it up for the camera while creating art in the park!
Some more great artwork produced–and hey, do I see a couple of art groupies photobombing back there?
Flowers, fir trees and smiling artists. Doesn’t get any better!
Cats and dogs get equal representation in these young artists’ work. I’m impressed with the detail!
It’s always good to see another beautiful sun and rainbow!
I was honored that this group of artists used a watercolor scene of the Ohio River at Clifty Falls from my field sketchbook to inspire their unique and colorful paintings. I’m blown away by their results!
This talented family covered all the bases from strawberry still life to sunset to rainbow to landscape and enjoyed some fun family time in the process.
Fall foliage and bison were the popular painting themes that day, and this couple’s work captured both perfectly.
My final group for the day celebrated a fun family outing with artwork. I had a great time visiting with them and all the guests at Ouabache!
I was also lucky enough to visit on the same day that the fire tower re-opened after several years of renovation.
At the end of a very full and rewarding day, we all packed up and headed out, including these magnificent creatures grazing off into the sunset.
In September, Paints in the Parks traveled to Ouabache (pronounced O-ba-chee) State Park near Fort Wayne, Indiana, to help the park celebrate National Public Lands Day and the re-opening of their fire tower. Once home to the Miami tribe who lived along the banks of the Wabash River, the park was also once known as the “Greatest Wildlife Laboratory in the United States” with a game preserve program that raised pheasants, quail, raccoons and rabbits. Nowadays, one of the park’s main attractions is the bison exhibit with a healthy herd that is accessible to the public.
The area that includes the park was rapidly settled in the mid-1800s and cleared of its mature timber for farming to the point that the land became severely eroded. After being acquired and operated as the Wells County State Forest and Game Preserve in the early 1930s, the area was eventually restored with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration, programs that constructed buildings and shelters, planted a nursery and developed the game preserve. When the game-raising program was phased out, the park was renamed Ouabache and designated as a state recreation area in 1962, officially becoming a state park in 1983. As well as 25-acre Kunkel Lake, the fire tower and the bison exhibit, Ouabache offers a modern campground, tennis and basketball courts, picnic areas, playing fields and an asphalt bike trail that follows the Wabash River along the southern edge of the park.
After some very hot weather during the week, temperatures suddenly plunged on the day of our visit and I found myself having to acclimate quickly while bundled up in many layers as I painted on a beach by the lake in a stiff morning breeze. While no one was boating or fishing that morning, a few painters came down to watch me capture the little island close to the beach house. I had some great conversations about my set up, the kind of subject I choose and how I build the painting (after a rough outline with pencil or paint, I usually start with the sky).
After a couple hours of conversation and painting, I moved on to a prime spot next to the bison exhibit, where I spent the rest of the day offering my hands-on painting activity across the road from the remodeled fire tower that had just reopened that morning. All day long, visitors could scale the tower and take in the amazing 360-degree view. There was even a quiz game that the park staff sponsored in the afternoon that involved climbing the fire tower steps.
While I was hoping that at least a few of the bison would wander close enough for me to crank out a quick pastel sketch, the buffalo had other ideas. A few young males did camp out for most of the day in a corner of the enclosure farther down the path, close enough to pose for visitors’ photos while they snoozed. I managed to run down and take enough photos for a sketch at home. Needless to say, there were lots of bison that showed up in the watercolors that day, with the living subjects within view in the distance.
Despite the unseasonable cold, we interacted with 90 visitors and had 50 artists participate in the painting activity! Another very successful Paints in the Parks event with the continued support of the park staff, the Indiana DNR and the Indiana Arts Commission through the Arts in the Parks and Historic Sites grant program. I couldn’t keep spreading the create art outside message without their support and the willingness of countless park visitors to paint in the parks with me.