Long Live the Explorer

The last two centuries, in particular, witnessed the final great explorations of the surface of the planet by scientists, geographers, and surveyors. In those pre-photography days, and for a while after, artists were an integral part of any expedition. Often these artists were also trained naturalists, or even doctors, performing double-duty as members of the team. Artists could render what words could not, and the men who funded these expeditions understood that the public responded with great interest to the expeditionary plein air sketches and the large studio paintings created from them.

Golden Gate, Yellowstone National Park by Thomas Moran, 1893, oil on canvas.
Golden Gate, Yellowstone National Park by Thomas Moran, 1893, oil on canvas.

Although their goal may have been to drive interest in opening lands for development, in some cases that goal was undermined by an unforeseen public reaction. It is an undisputed reality that the paintings of Thomas Moran from the Hayden Geologic Survey are in large part responsible for the establishment by President Grant of the first National Park, Yellowstone. The works of Albert Bierstadt helped to further similar movements in establishing National Parks in the Rocky Mountains and Yosemite.

Western Kansas by Albert Bierstadt, 1875, oil on canvas.
Western Kansas by Albert Bierstadt, 1875, oil on canvas.

Is there any place today for the artist-explorer? While there may not be new lands to truly "discover," there are plenty of remote and unfamiliar landscapes for artists to explore. The objective remains the same: art can transform our concept of place. Artists like Tony Foster and Maria Coryell-Martin are modern-day versions of those well-known explorers of old. They seek out the exotic and unusual, sometimes severe, environments to document in their work. Many of these hard-to-reach places are rapidly disappearing due to climate change. This is where Ms. Coryell-Martin's efforts and focus lie. She often works in the arctic environment and believes that her sketches and paintings help to preserve the spirit of those places and the wildlife which lives in them.

Be sure to join us on The Artist's Road for more interesting and informative articles such as: The Power of the Sketchbook, Part II: Expeditionary Art. In it we do our own survey of the contributions and work of some of the great explorer-artists of the past. 

–John & Ann




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John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

About John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

John Hulsey and his wife, Ann Trusty created the website, The Artist's Road - Painting the World's Beautiful Places.  The Artist's Road inspires with practical art tips and painting techniques for the traveling artist, video painting tutorials and demonstrations, workshop resources, artist profiles and interviews and remarkable painting locations.  The Artist's Road is an artist community for oil, watercolor and pastel artists.  Articles cover intriguing art travel experiences artists have had while painting the world's beautiful places. "I believe I must speak through my art, for the preservation of Nature and the natural landscape from which I take my inspiration and living." John Hulsey is an accomplished artist, author and teacher who has been working professionally for over thirty years. In addition to producing new work for exhibition and teaching workshops, Mr. Hulsey continues to write educational articles about painting for national art magazines, including Watercolor magazine and American Artist Magazine. He has been selected as a "Master Painter of the United States" by International Artist Magazine where his work was previously chosen to be included in the top ten of their international landscape painting competition. He was awarded residencies at Yosemite, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. "I strive in my art to celebrate the mysteries of Nature - the fleeting light on the landscape, the unimaginable diversity of creatures, the beauty of each leaf and flower." Ann Trusty  is an accomplished third generation artist whose work embodies the natural world and is created through direct observation and translation of her subjects into her paintings. She has found inspiration in the dancing light across the water of the Hudson River (where she had a studio for ten years), as well as the big sky and waving tall grasses of the open plains of the Midwest (her current home). Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, France and Turkey in both museum and gallery exhibitions, and has been reviewed favorably by the New York Times.