When Pam Haunschild retired in 2011 from teaching social science at Stanford, she decided to take up watercolor painting — and now she’s gone on to being an artist in residence at Lassen National Park in 2015 and, coming up this fall, at Glacier National Park.
The gig invites an artist to stay a month (housing provided), hike and take photos, teach a few classes and serve to spread understanding, enthusiasm and support for National Parks.
Haunschild lives up on the Mount Ashland access road, where silence, nature and beautiful views of Mount Shasta serve as her inspiration.
She displays her works at Art & Soul Gallery on East Main Street and calls them impressionistic and semi-abstract, but the animals, forests and mountains are still easily discernible. The originals are in the $300 to $600 range, with prints at $75 to $125.
A stunning view of pines and stars at Lassen is called “From My Sleeping Bag.” A painting inspired by a trip to Botswana surreally shows cranes flying across a giant moon with a lava-landscape.
She has shown her work all over the nation, including at the Watercolor Society of Oregon Juried Spring Show at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene.
At National Parks, she says she spends mornings painting from her sketches and photos, not plein air painting (in the open from nature), then goes out hiking and gathering inspiration after that.
The famous Hudson River school of painters in the 19th century created the tradition of heading out into the wilderness West, which few people had seen, opening up the desire of many to travel there and preserve special areas, which were soon made into National Parks, she says.
“I paint nature — emulating the effects of natural systems in producing nature’s patterns, colors and textures. I use paint and other natural materials in a way that reflects natural processes, for example, washes of paint produce rivulets and wave-like patterns like those found in the ocean. Salts, stones, and beeswax texture paint in patterns that mimic wind-blown surfaces and rocks,” she says on her website, www.pamhaunschild.com. Many of her works are shown there.
She and her husband came often to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but one week no B&B had space except for one on the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Road. That sealed the deal, she says, and they had to move to their beloved Ashland in 1999.
Several area artists have spent time in National Parks. Paula Fong of Ashland found Crater Lake a boost to creativity, as well as enriching her passion for the ecology. She went with Park researchers, monitoring the health of whitebark pine and the role of Clark’s nutcracker (a bird) in the pine’s survival.
She notes, “My scientific curiosity informed my artistic exploration of the park and the illustrations I created. This natural synthesis of art and ecology describes my approach to creativity, and the National Park residency program was the perfect source of inspiration … This residency provided the time and proximity to explore the landscape in more depth, get away from common viewpoints and to change my perspective.”
Haunschild is also slated for an Artist in Residence spot at Lake Clark National Park in Alaska, a park reachable only by airplane.
Her show, “The Birds and the Bees, Pollinator Paintings” opens at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1 at Art & Soul at 247 East Main St. Also present will be pollination experts Dr. Gabriela Chavarria and “Bee Girl” Sarah Red-Laird.
— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.