Artist Alice Leese in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park



Artist Alice Leese discusses her second National Parks Arts Foundation residency in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Alice has also been a NPAF artist-in-residence in Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida, and at Fort Union National Monument in New Mexico. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean. You can also listen to her interview about her first experience on Spreaker.


“Painting on site is a way to let the viewer feel what it is like to be in a certain spot. I’m not painting a specific area but what it feels like to be there.”— Alice Leese, NPAF Artist in Residence

Alice, raised on the ranch which has been in her family for 100 years, says that the solitude and rhythm of this particular landscape is essential to how she approaches her art: “Living out here has also given me a frame of reference for time and patience, some days we are horseback from sunup to sundown, ranches here are large and pastures are sometimes 15 square miles, it takes some patience to not rush the cattle, they go at their pace and we just follow when we are rounding-up or working them.” She says that the ranch is very remote, and even requires the occasional climb on a windmill to grab spotty cellphone reception. Though she loves being a managing partner at their ranch, she often doesn’t get the focused time to paint, so being able to focus for a solid month on her art is an amazing opportunity. In addition to her full-time job, she is also completing an M.F.A.

She usually paints plein air, sketching in watercolors, then taking that sketch and any other resources gathered on site, and executing a finished work in the studio most of the time, in oil. Painting on location in oil lets her capture a certain feeling, a way of seeing that has sometimes prismatic qualities. “Painting outdoors in oil, a slow drying medium, lets the artist get to mood and details, or lets the artist capture quickly the essence of an area. Don’t remember who said it but painting on site is a way to let the viewer feel what it is like to be in a certain spot. I’m not painting a specific area but what it feels like to be there.”

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park showcases the results of at least 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution in the Hawaiian Islands. Created to preserve the natural setting of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, the park is also a refuge for the island’s native plants and animals and a link to its human past.

The Artist in Residence program is sponsored by the National Parks Arts Foundation. The National Parks Arts Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the promotion of the National Parks of the U.S. through creating dynamic opportunities for artworks that are based in our natural and historic heritage. All NPAF programs are made possible through the philanthropic support of donors ranging from corporate sponsors, small business, art patrons and citizen supporters of the parks. Learn more at

National Parks Arts Foundation


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