Chasing Impressionism

Sleeping Bear Dunes Impression

I’m merging my love of Impressionism and our National Parks with my latest 9 x 12 acrylic canvas work…Sleeping Bear Dream…

Inspired by a trip I took to Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes in 2021, I sought to capture the formidable windswept dunes and the crystal clear inland sea in this landscape painting.

Lake Michigan is one of the largest lakes of the world and I was stunned at the grandeur of the space. Having grown up near the coast of North Carolina…I’m used to the ocean and dramatic waves, but had never seen a lake so vast.

My process:

I used a mix of unbleached titatanium and raw siena to create the base layer. Acrylic paint works better when you have a base layer of Gesso and other Acrylic paint. Acrylic sticks well to other acrylics, the base layer sets the foundation.

I think worked to build layers of burnt sienna and other ruddy browns and yellows to create the sand dunes. The dunes are pristine, but have layers of driftwood, sandstone and other elements that can create some deeper color constrasts depending on the layer or type of dunes.

I did adjust the reference photo a bit, using my memory with slight imagination to create the coastline.

We had calm waters during our trip, but I studied other photos that included the rough crashing waves against a blue sky.

The painting took about three hours to paint. It was not without frustration…

One tip for any artist, you have to give yourself grace. The middle of the painting can often look terrible – muddy, undefined and you are tempted to give up – but I challenge you to keep adding layers and building out the values and colors. This is part of the process.

Also don’t be afraid to start over on certain sections if it isn’t yielding the initial vision you had. I changed the coastline a bit and am glad I did.

Painting is meant to be fun and it is okay to experiment and take your time.

I invite you to take home this seascape of Lake Michigan…Prints are available here or you can purchase the original on

A few Lake Michigan photos I took in 2021

Thanks and until next time…

Painting through the National Parks

Painting the National Parks: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen National Park – painting available on Etsy

Next stop on Painting the National Parks – Lassen Volcanic. Located in northeastern California, Lassen Volcanic is home to steaming fumaroles, ambling meadows erupting with wildflowers, crystal mountain lakes and numerous volcanoes.

Volcanic sites like Mt. St. Helens and Yellowstone National Park have always fascinated me. As a person of faith, I see it as a natural display of how even the most volatile situations an yield a resilient beauty. The geology behind parks like Lassen and Yellowstone dare us to wonder and to also recognize our human limits. Nature is a dangerous beauty – wild and to be explored, but carefully.

Lassen is on my bucket list. I hope to schedule a two week California National Parks trip once COVID has calmed a bit (Omicron go away!)

NPS has a fantastic website so you can ‘virtually’ visit Lassen safely at home. Click here to explore more about Lassen

I studied many photographs of Lassen and while I would like to paint the steamy fumaroles in the future, I wanted to focus on the picturesque Manzanita Lake on the edge of sunset.

This painting was all about layering and building out soft colors to reflect the bold sunlight and the soft reflection on the water.

I love painting mountains because the scenery is ever changing. Depending on the weather and time of day you have a completely different masterpiece of natural art. I love playing with colors and mountains have a depth and mystery that the artist in me loves to explore.

This painting and others are available on Etsy

Fall colors around Manzanita Lake
from NPS
Painting through the National Parks

Painting the National Parks: Sequoia Roots

Sequoia Roots buy on Etsy

This week I continue my art journey – painting through America’s National Parks- I decided to paint Sequoia National Park.

I planned a trip to Sequoia prior to the pandemic that was cancelled. I planned the trip over several months so while I’ve never been to Sequoia I feel as though I visited the park (at least in spirit).

I will be blogging about ‘Sequoia’ soon on my sister blog American Nomad…in the meantime check out this awesome factsheet about Sequoia – the land of Giants

Painting Sequoia was challenging because the trees are towers of ancient forests – that converse with the sky. Building perspective when the tree cannot fully fit on the canvas was difficult. I studied numerous reference photos and decided to create my painting as an ode to the forest – focusing on the reddish/brown hues and thick trunk with distant trees in the background.

I started this painting with an grounding color of unbleached titanium (one of my favorite blending colors) and raw sienna and burnt umber.

A grounding color does several things:

  1. A blank canvas (with gesso): When I first started painting I would sketch out my image with watercolor pencil then start painting the colors directly on the canvas (as they appear in my reference photo). This always was a struggle because the paint wouldn’t adhere well with the first coat to the canvas. I’d end up using lots of paint and it would be clumpy -not a great look. I tried adding more gesso, but that could make the canvas texture too thick.
    • I learned from Ginger Cook that acrylics bind well to one another, so a grounding layer helps to build your painting.

2. It also ensures that you don’t have any ‘white gaps’ underneath your painting that appears unrealistic.

From there I began to build the ‘King’ Sequoia, layer after layer – constantly looking at the lighting and values in my reference photo.

Details are important, but in my current art journey I really am looking at the values (light and dark); color quality and trying to match that and adjust as needed.

This painting took about 3 hours to complete. A common misconception new artists (or non artists) think is that just because a landscape or painting is impressionistic or more open with brushstrokes – it is simple to paint.

I actually find my landscapes with their open brushstrokes take longer than some detailed paintings just because you really lean into the layers and details of the colors and you are constantly adding small touches.

Landscape painting is like a walk through Sequoia National Park – you don’t need to rush. It is meant to slow you down and be relaxing.

Paint supplies: I use a variety of paints and brushes in my paintings depending on the subject.

I’ve said this on a previous post but you must absolutely invest in quality supplies – yes I understand the cost of supplies is a lot for a beginner – I learned the hard way you’ll spend way more if you start off with cheap supplies. Why? The paint is watered down -so you will have to use a lot more paint to get the same results – so you will run out of paint quickly.

  • The brushes are key – I found my early paintings key have stray brush hairs) and no matter how much paint I put on the brush it wouldn’t spread on the canvas.
  • I had to purchase new brushes at least twice a month – they’d die a quick death – even with good soap and water.

For new painters(and seasoned pros):

  • I really love Liquitex and Liquitex Basics
  • Jerry’s Artarama Soho Paint does well for foundational and accent colors
  • I also love Golden, Lukas, Windsor and Newton Paints, Amsterdam for day to day professional use.
  • There are lots of great brands, but just make sure you are purchasing professional paint.
  • Your local art supply store can help – or watch tutorials by Ginger Cook and The Art Sherpa who break this down in some of their tutorials.


I typically use Silver Brushes – they are may favorite because they smoothly cover the paint and I have good control with the brushes. I also like Princeton, Raphael and I use Soho (Jerry’s)

I usually purchase from Jerry’s Artarama or The Brush Guys; Dick Blick is recommended too

Helpful resources:

Art Sherpa and Ginger Cook great online videos and resources

Thanks for supporting Adele Lassiter Creative by purchasing my art on Etsy

Painting through the National Parks, Uncategorized

Painting the National Parks: Shenandoah

Check out the story behind this impression of Shenandoah National Park on my sister blog Adele Lassiter – American Nomad

I love mountains, and The Blue Ridge Mountains have a piece of my heart. I am always drawn to the vast rolling jagged hills of the Blue Ridge. One of the most stunning tracts of Appalachia is in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.

Located only 75 miles from DC, this oasis of pastoral beauty is flanked by the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont to the east. This land is steeped in history and is a place that time seems to have forgotten. Here to can hike 500 miles of trails and enjoy scenic vistas on the Skyline Drive.

I knew I wanted to paint an image inspired from my time in Shenandoah, but struggled with which image to select. I decided to paint a scene from the Stony Man trail – where the rocks appear like a shipwreck against the mountains – windswept and undaunted.

Shenandoah is known for is vast valleys, mountain passes, but the rocks again the lush landscape are my favorite scenese.

I wanted this to be a fluid painting. When you look at a Blue Ridge vista it is so sweeping details run together into a montage of color and light.

I focused on values and making the focal point of this painting the rock.

To learn more about Shenandoah National Park click here

To support my art (so I can keep painting – buying art supplies) – consider purchasing an original painting on my Etsy page.


Painting the National Parks: California Vistas

Prior to COVID-19, my mom and I were planning an action-packed 10 day trip to Yosemite and Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks. June 2020…it was our dream trip and unfortunately with the pandemic we had to cancel. Losing out on the trip is not a huge loss, given the burden COVID has caused. One thing that helped me during the pandemic has been painting and connecting with other painters virtually during lockdowns and social distancing.

Even if COVID has upset past and present travel plans, ART has a healing power and we are blessed to have the ability to watch live videos of scenic nature (YouTube has hours of scenic videos of our National Parks – enabling the homebound to enjoy the scenery from afar).

I still have my stack of Yosemite guidebooks on my shelf and hope to make the trip in 2023. The reservations are so crazy now to get in the park – we are looking to visit South Dakota this year.

While I am valleys and mountains apart from Yosemite and California’s National Parks, I can imagine myself in the wilderness, in the shadows of Sequoias and vast mountain valleys and vistas.

I’m still painting my way through California’s parks, but wanted to share my progress so far….

All art is available on Etsy

Yosemite National Park:

The tunnel view vista of the Yosemite Valley is one of the most iconic images in America. Photographers and painters from Ansel Adams to Albert Bierstadt have tried to translate the natural beauty of Yosemite into art. God’s artistry in nature is unrivaled and yet scenes from Yosemite dare us to dream and art can help us to connect with nature and creation.

Painting my version of the Yosemite Valley took four hours. The natural scenery is so sweeping you need time to scale the elements. The perspective in painting the Tunnel View is difficult.

My goal in this impression was not extreme detail, but to ensure I matched the values of the scene from from reference photo. I sought to add hints of browns and lighter tones in the rock to represent the lighter values in the reference photo.

Overall I’m satisfied with the painting and will have it on my Etsy page soon.

Yosemite, like Yellowstone (Grand Canyon of Yellowstone) is a place I will continue to paint time and again. Each day and each season offers new inspiration. I hope you enjoy this painting.

Merced River, Yosemite Valley, Albert Bierstadt (American, Solingen 1830–1902 New York), Oil on canvas, American
Albert Bierstadt painting at The MET

King’s Canyon National Park:

King’s Canyon is known as a mini-Yosemite – it is vast and beautiful with jagged peaks and the gorge of a chiseled canyon. In searching for a reference photo, I noticed the clear blue water of King’s Canyon’s back country lakes. I wanted this to be a reflection of the park.

I focused on building layers of light grey and browns for the peaks – with a dusting of snow (Titanium White and Iridescent White + Phlatho Light Blue). The lake was an emerald clear green so I used lighter blues and greens to create this scene.

To learn more about the park click here

Channel Islands:

I have always dreamed of visiting Channel Islands National Park – which is a ferry ride off the coast of Southern California.

I took my inspiration from this image of Cathedral Cove

Crystal clear water, kelp forests, sea caves, sea birds, and sea lions all may be seen from the Cathedral Cove overlook on East Anacapa.

My painting is meant to be an impression and not at detailed as the reference photo -but I wanted to work on the values of the island stone and deep impenetrable blue of the ocean.

To learn more about the park – click here

Art for sale on Etsy – by purchasing Fresh Art by Adele – you support an artist to purchase additional supplies and run her blog 🙂 Thank you

Painting through the National Parks

Painting the National Parks: Utah Canyons

Bryce Canyon Impression

I’ve continued my journey this week Painting the National Parks. I’ve continued in Utah Country focusing on Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef.

The otherworldly landscapes of Utah’s Canyon country are so vibrant and indescribable I struggled in narrowing down my compositions. I decided to be very impressionistic here – capturing the essence of the place – the vivid colors, unique topography and focusing mostly on shapes and values.

One of my biggest influences is Cezanne – who I often find leaning into (I also have a cat named Cezanne – photo at the bottom of this post), because Cezanne’s paintings use blocks of shape and impressions to capture the moment. I could paint the canyon country of Utah over an over again and constantly find new ways to pain the same scenes because the topography is so unique.

Bryce Canyon:

To learn more about the park, I recommend checking out the NPS park page

Bryce is one of my favorite parks to visit. I first traversed the amphitheater of hoodoos in college and returned years later with my mom. Every moment is every changing. The shadows of light and dark – the seasons of snow and sizzling heat.

Bryce sits atop the Colorado Plateau and is carved by erosion – wind, heat, ice, rain and God’s careful breath in time. It astounds in hues of orange, reds and yellows and burnt umber browns. As a story teller, I imagine this being a gateway to a fairytale world or how the ancient civilizations live (more on the NPS page about the interest history of the human habitation in the park).

The image I captured on canvas is a hoodoo called ‘Thor’s Hammer’ from the Norse mythology. It is one of the quintessential views of Bryce.

This painting demanded a lot of layering and detail work. Looking at the broad brush strokes this looks like a effortless impressionistic painting, but it demand several hours of layering browns, oranges, yellows and details.

One of my favorite teachers, Ginger Cook (check out her page) – always talks about layering in her tutorials and is so true. One lesson I’ve learned from painting is that the best painting (even if they look simple) are a result of time spend blending, layering and paying close attention to values.

As a painter I’m not focused so much on realism as the color values and essence of the moment. Eventually I’d love to advance enough to be a photorealist painter – but at the end of the day art is meant to be an impression and unique. My style leans into focusing on the color, shapes and values and building detail from there.

I will paint Bryce again in the future and share it with you.

Capitol Reef:

One of my favorite adventures was spending the night camping under the moonlight in Capitol Reef. One of the lesser known of Utah’s Big Five National Parks – it is just as elegant and wild as Zion.

It is a remnant of a geologic water pocket fold giving way to extraordinary landscapes from a reef like wall of rock to towering monoliths of orange and browns.

Painting a monolith isn’t as easy as you’d think with perspective so I really spent time looking at the shadows and colors and trying to emulate it. This paining has almost a montage like feel, but rock often looks that way as it comes from layers and layers of time and shifting stone.

This is a winter scene. Nothing is prettier than snow on the wild rocks of Utah.

My favorite memory of this park was seeing the Native American Petroglyphs

To learn more about Capitol Reef

You can purchase these on Etsy and I will donate 20% to the National Parks Foundation. Please spread the word

Cezanne the cat

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Painting through the National Parks, Uncategorized

Painting through the National Parks: Utah Dreaming

Arches National Park impression(above)…If you like my art you can email me or go to my Etsy page

Utah is a land of dramatic vistas, tantalizing colors and otherworldly landscapes that invite travelers to explore, relax and experience God’s artistry. Utah is home to the ‘Mighty Five’ – five stunning national parks including: Zion, Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef.

I am grateful to have visited all of Utah’s national parks multiple times. I first traversed the wild landscapes in college during a cross country road trip. My favorite memory is sleeping under the stars at Capitol Reef National Park.

My mom and I spent two weeks in Utah during a road trip in 2014. We loved camping at Zion National Park (in March) at Watchman. The campground is in the shadow of ‘The Watchman’ near the entrance of Zion Canyon. We also spent time in Bryce Canyon at Ruby’s Best Western.

When I got my job at Qualtrics – a key motivator was the ability to travel to the Utah office (I’m based in NC) periodically. I loved the fact Qualtrics included the outdoor philosophy into their business model and experience management focus.

This weekend I am enjoying a NC snow day ‘Painting through the National Parks’ focusing on Utah’s Mighty Five. I started off with impressions of heavenly Zion National Park and Arches National Park

*I will be blogging about Utah Parks in on my sister site ( – Travel Blog) in February and sharing my favorite stories and tips about Utah’s Mighty Five.*

Arches National Park:

Located just outside of Moab in eastern Utah, Arches National Park has the distinction of having the largest concentration of natural arches in the world – more than 2000.

Arches is one of my favorite places to paint because i love the bright colors – vibrant hues of oranges and sand yellows, against the cool blue to mud colored jagged La Sal Mountains. It is an otherworldly place – you imagine God hand carving the canyon and ancient peoples living in the shadow of the arches.

This is my latest painting of Arches Delicate Arch. This is a winter scene. I love the snow contrasting the orange red of the rocks.

This painting took roughly 3 hours to complete. I started with a grounding color (ultramarine+q magenta+unbleached titanium). I then built the arch layer by layer. When I paint I focus on values. As a perfectionist I used to get frustrated when paintings don’t come out exactly like the realistic picture – but I’ve learned to let that go and focus on painting what I see – even if it seems irrational. If the snow looks blue – add some blue. If you mess up it is okay! Play with the paint and learn.

A big tip I have in my painting journey is that even beginner painters need to invest in the right materials. I used to use student grade paints because they were cheaper and the colors looked good – but they are hard to paint with an you have to use an entire tube practically for one painting. Same with brushes – using a cheap brush means you brush hairs get on your paintings and will break. I now only purchase quality brushes and they last.

My favorite brushes: Silver Brushes (they last forever if you clean them and are ideal for my landscapes); Raphael – just discovered this brushes and they are great for grounding the paint (painting the background); Princeton; Jerry’s Artarama Soho brushes.

Best places to purchase: Amazon (of course); Jerry’s – great paint store; The Brush Guys

Arches National Park

Zion National Park:

Located in southwestern Utah – Zion is ‘heaven’ on earth. Words won’t convey the majesty of Zion. The canyon is glorious and mysterious – a canyon of wonder and adventure. To learn more about the park click here.

My mom and I visited Zion in March – the offseason. In the summer Zion is so crowded they have a ticketing system and limited vehicle traffic (visitors rely on shuttles). If I return it will be in the off season because it was quiet -and I could really explore the hiking trails without congestion.

The only issue of visiting in winter/early spring is it can get cold. But the dry air and bright sun keep it manageable during the day. If you are camping (we were) – just make sure to have a negative zero sleeping bag. It got down to 17 degrees and I still felt warm.

No photo description available.
My photo from our trip


Painting through the National Parks

I’m excited to blog my journey as I paint through the National Parks. I was blessed to live and work at Yellowstone National Park and have been obsessed with exploring and supporting our parks ever since.

During the pandemic I have begun to focus on my passion for art. Painting (along with creative writing and travel blogging) has been an outlet for me. I paint several times a week – working to expand my professional skills as an acrylic painter.

I decided to start sharing my art and blogging the stories behind each piece. Art is a continuum – it has a starting point, but your journey never really ends. You are always learning and growing as an artist.

The greatest joy of painting for me is when I can share my art and someone else enjoys it. The colors and composition help them dream a little and lift their mood. There is not greater feeling as an artist (writer, artist, musician) than to share your art and connect with another person through art. Art is part of the human experience.

I realized that I keep painting – only to put the art in a box and that is not moving me forward. I want to share my art and connect with other artists.

I follow excellent artists like The Art Sherpa and the talented NC painter Daisy Faith – they challenge their students/aspiring artists to paint regularly and around themes. The challenge is 30 days of painting (Acrylic April with The Art Sherpa) or Daisy’s suggestion of painting every day for sixty days around one theme that is close to my heart.

I am going to spend the next sixty days painting through America’s National Parks. I will blog (at least once a week) my art journey, sharing my art and what I learned.

This will be a crossover event as I post travel blog posts on my sister site with pro-tips for visiting the parks. (I’ve visited over 35 of our National Parks so far). This will allow me to combine my love of travel, writing and art together -hope you enjoy!

My goal is to sell enough of my art in 2022 to help pay for my supplies (canvas, paints, etc…) so I can keep painting. I want to sell the art on Etsy primarily to connect with art lovers and challenge myself to continue to improve. Support me on Etsy

I’m excited for you to join me in this Painting through the National Parks journey. It will be a adventure of painting and learning about our wonderful parks.

My first painting is a rendition of Yellowstone National Park’s Lower Falls. Located in The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River is one of the most iconic images in nature. The canyon is a kaleidoscope of color and light. An artist could spend a lifetime painting scenes the canyon – the colors and values vary depending on light and seasons – pulling hues of pinks and yellow.

Art led to Yellowstone becoming the world’s first national park – Thomas Moran’s paintings of the canyon convinced Congress to create Yellowstone.

How art saved Yellowstone—and the landscape still inspires

Learning: I have painted the canyon before, but wanted to test my boundaries in this piece. I watched an Art Sherpa tutorial to learn her techniques on painting the Lower Falls. I then applied those skills to my own creative work.

With artistic landscapes I really lean into the values of the reference photos more than being exact. The canyon is so stunning I can’t replicate – but hopefully my painting echoes the beauty of the canyon.

The key with landscape paintings is layering and patience. I used a grounding color (background base) and built layer on layer from there. This painting took 3 hours to complete.

For a real-life example of the canyon:

Like the painting? Click here to check out my Etsy page

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I invite you to paint along with me:

Whether you are new to art or a seasoned professional I recommend the following tutorial sites (free and paid)