Art + Heart: Paint the Parks!

Adore putting brush to canvas in some of California's most spectacular settings? You can help the park you love.

EASEL, BRUSH, CANVAS, MOUNTAIN: Many visitors to our national and state parks arrive with a way to capture all the majesty they encounter. Maybe that's a camera around their neck, or a sketchbook in their bag, or a few watercolors, and brushes, to lend a spectacular sunset or copse of trees the colorful love they deserve.

If you love to paint nature, where do your paintings go? Perhaps you give them to grateful friends, or sell them to excited fans, or keep your favorites in your home. You can, via the Paint the Parks! program, do a little something else: Sell them, yes, but with the vow to donate 10% of the sale to "non-profit Park Associations" as well as an foundations or programs that benefit protected lands. 

PLEIN AIR OR STUDIO: If the idea of packing up your gear for a day of brush strokes under the sky isn't exactly your thing, and you prefer to work from memory, or photos, in your own studio, that's a-okay, too. There are a few guidelines, like only painting "places you have actually visited," the better to recall the full-flavored experience of standing before a redwood or Half Dome or a sea cave at Channel Islands National Park. Founder Karin H. Leonard, who grew up "wandering the fields" of her grandparents' farm in Germany, shares links to artists' web sites on the Paint the Parks! homepage, as well as announcements on paintings sold. Consider this a triply nice thing to do for nature, for people, and for you. You gain the enjoyment of painting, the person who buys your piece will love it for always, and the park foundation or organization of your choice receives a portion of the sale. Ready to wield a brush and recall that amazing day you spent at Pinnacles or the Salton Sea? Get painting, then, nature friend.

Pictured: China cove at Pt. Lobos State Reserve by Karin H. Leonard 

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