Being my 3rd year participating in the Plein Air Contest at the Arizona State Fair, I was fortunate to win 1st Place along with the fun time I always have there.

fun at fair

"Fun Painting Time at the Fair"
9"x12" Oil 2012


"October 2011, second year participating in the AZ State Fair Plein Air event. FUN was the word of the day, 3rd place was the award."

fun at fair2

"Fun At The Fair "
9 " X 12 " Oil 2011

On October 15th, 2010, I competed in a juried Plein Air Art Contest at the Arizona State Fair. This painting was the result of 2 1/2 hours of concentrated effort. Ended up with 1st Place was a fun "Day at the Fair".

fun at fair 1

"A Day At The Fair "
9 " X 12 " Oil 2010


During the spring of 2010, I spent a month as guest of the National Park Service, painting in the Badlands National Park of South Dakota as Artist-In-Residence. The following is a portion of finished works from my extraordinary experience, along with a few of my daily journal entries.

"From The Ranchlands Below" 15"X30" Oil/Canvas

"The Grasslands" 15"X30" Oil/Canvas

"Sage Creek Basin and Bison" 15"X30" Oil/Canvas

"Lone Cedar Near Cedar Pass" 15"X30" Oil/Canvas

"Evening Shadows With Deer" 15"X30" Oil/Canvas

"The White River" 15"X30" Oil/Canvas

"Atop Sheep Mountain Table Amongst Millet" 15"x30" Oil/Canvas

"The Color of Rain" 15"x30" Oil/Canvas

"Springtime: An Original Homestead" 15"x30" Oil/Canvas

"Whispering Peaks" 15"x30" Oil/Canvas

These were painted on location during residency.

Along Old Interior Road - Sunday Morning

Near Saddle Pass Trail after recent rain.

All the paintings were painted on location in the park on 9X12" Sourcetek Linen Canvas panels using various oil colors of Rembrandt, Dan Smith, Gamblin, and Winsor Newton.
After 3 days of continuous wind and rain....

April 23, Friday:

"Cold, Mid 40's... rain and hard wind all night, starting to break in PM...wind still busy...not much sleep. Tying to make best of the situation, I wanted to try to record colors as I saw them and how light effects the reflected value and colors between formations. However, it is so overcast most times, I need to change my original idea...Did the Loop Drive again in fog, rain and wind. Partially cleared in late PM, stopped at Cliff Shelf Trail, hiked into a large herd of Mule Deer...special moment, rain started early..."

Along Old NE Road - Sod Tables Conata to Deer Haven - Heavy Overcast/Rain

From April 20, Tuesday...

"The Meadow Larks which are everywhere, sing through the rain..."

Overlooking Valley Floor Norbeck Pass Cedar Pass - Vampire Peak

From April 20, Tuesday:

"When alone if you listen, she whispers to you. When the wind blows, she has a different voice...much louder and sometimes really wants your attention. But when it's quiet...I'm not sure what is being said but maybe I will be told. Is that you, God?"

Buffalo Gap National Grass Land At Ancient Hunters Overlook
"I am totally taken by the overwhelming dedication and perseverance of the early pioneers, ranchers, railroaders and homesteaders they displayed prior to and during the parks existence."
Yellow Mounds Below Dillion Pass
The plan is to use my experience to develop a body of work, along with 17 Plein Air paintings for show and sale later this year. Currently seeking a gallery location for assistance of this endeavor. A decent portion of the sale proceeds will be given to the Badlands Natural History Association, PO Box 47, Interior, SD 57750. For the continued preservation and interpretation of the park and grasslands.

For more information about the Homesteading of the area and the formation of the Park, I suggest the following:

"Land of the Burnt Thigh" by Edith Eudora Kohl

"Reflections of the Badlands" by Philips Hall

"A Revelation Called the Badlands" Building a National Park 1909-9039 by Jay Shuler

"Giants in the Land" A Saga of the Prarie, by O.E. Rolvaag

Available at

Presentation of Oil Painting National Park Service "Sage Creek Basin" to Julie Johndreau, Education Specialist Badlands National Park, Interior, South Dakota.

Earlier this year over 40 of us participated ina juried Plein Air event sponsored by the city of Casa Grande, AZ . Even though the judging was questionable all seemed to have a good time.

A while back, I was asked to visit a particular exclusive winery and vineyard in the Napa Valley area to do Plein Air color studies to be used for a future project. These were painted there.

"Spring Mountain District 1 & 2"
9 " X 12 " On Location, Oil


Copyright © 2017 Harold Nelson