fire island

Fire Island Artist-in-Residence by Bethann Wilson

I am about to embark on my first artist residency!  I leave Monday.

"Light House" from my Scotland series, oil on canvas 2012 sold

"Light House" from my Scotland series, oil on canvas 2012 sold

The Fire Island National Seashore Artist-in-Residence Program honors the longstanding tradition of art in the national parks and on Fire Island by facilitating artists to create relevant place- and story-based work that brings a broader understanding of the unique elements that comprise Fire Island. The goals of this program are to provide creative and educational opportunities for artists of all disciplines to explore the qualities of the natural environment, culture, and/or history of Fire Island, and to support the mission of the NPS to promote the conservation and preservation of the park.
— National Park Service Website
Image Courtesy

Image Courtesy

The residency will be from September 1 - September 15.  My focus will be on painting to capture and interpret the changing weather and the affect it has on the landscape.  I'm so excited for this opportunity to focus on this next phase of art-making.  Two weeks of uninterrupted studio time at this point in my life I feel like I can accomplish a LOT.  I am hoping to have lots of new work to share upon completion of the residency.  I am also hoping to have time to write about the experience to be able to share that with anyone else considering doing something like this.  From talking to other folks in the artistic community, at least in Baltimore, a lot of individuals don't even know that these opportunities exist!

More information about the Artist-in-Residence Program at Fire Island National Seashore can be found at

Check back here for updates!

Artist-in-Residence Applications Mailed by Bethann Wilson

Did you know that the National Park Service has an Artist-in-Residence program?  Neither did I until I was researching residency opportunities recently.  With my recent #postcardsfromtheenchantments project I thought that an outdoorsy retreat where I can focus on creating art and spiritual renewal could do me and my art some good.  I love to travel.  I love to travel with my husband and family.  However, on these types of trips, time dedicated to making art is usually minimal as I'm typically the only painter in the group and there are so many places to go and things to see and sometimes it feels weird to pull back and set up an easel somewhere for a few hours.  It would be a tremendous opportunity to be able to slow down and take the time to really focus on being immersed in my art and allowing the landscape, nature, and culture of a specific location to wash over me and just see where that takes me in my work without distractions.

I submitted two applications/proposals from what residencies I found fit my criteria.  They had to be relatively short, no more than two weeks so I would need a minimal amount of shifts covered at the place that I tend bar and to not have to be away from Night Owl Gallery for too long.  They would need to be relatively close to Baltimore so that I could travel with minimal expenses.  They need to provide housing free-of-charge.  The deadline must not have already passed for 2018.  They need to be able to accommodate painters.  So once I sorted through the various residencies I narrowed it down to my top two that fit my needs.

The first one that I applied to was Catoctin Mountain Park which is near Thurmont, MD, not terribly far from Baltimore.  My husband and I have spent some time there and I know that I could definitely find inspiration there.  The park has a rich history and because it is part of the Catoctin Mountain ridge-range there are some pretty beautiful vistas and interesting rock formations.  My husband took me to Cat Rock around the time that he proposed and I have very fond memories of that place and knowing that he was "the one".

The second residency that I applied to was Fire Island National Seashore.  Another place with a very rich history and culture, one of the reasons that I chose to apply to this residency was because of the proximity to my hometown- I think I may be able to send for my mom for reinforcements if I need extra supplies or anything like that and also plan a visit with the family either before or after the residency.  I'd also really like to reconnect with the Long Island artistic community and think that this prospect could help bridge that gap.

I am really excited about both of these residencies and took in to consideration that if by some long shot I happened to be picked for both that they don't overlap.  Cross your fingers for me!