The National Parks Project
Documenting through Painting, Photography and Writing

Imagine a dedicated and nationally recognized emerging artist endeavoring to take to the open road over two years with the sole vision and purpose of documenting National Park Service’s 58 diverse National Parks, spanning from Hawaii to The Everglades, through painting, photography and writing. Imagine thousands of miles logged in a specially-outfitted Jeep, a traveling art studio and self-contained home. Imagine this artist being dropped into Alaskan tundra, or gliding across the waters of Acadia National park in silent kayak, with paintbrush and easel as his most essential gear.

To imagine this is to begin to realize the scope of the undertaking which Scott W. Parker committed himself to, and brought to fruition.

From September 2002 until September of 2004, Colorado-born and Chicago-based artist Parker shuttered his studio and began his journey, which has taken him twice across the United States and back on his quest to document his selected parks.

Of the hundreds of parks overseen by the National Park Service’s system, which covers National Forest, Seashore, Historic Sites, and dozens of other designations, Parker chose to focus on portraying all 58 of the officially-designated National Parks. This undertaking allows for, in his words, “the raw and natural beauty within each of our country’s regions to be accurately represented.”

In the two years of the project, Parker completed over 180 works, some of which depict beloved and well-known parks such as Yellowstone, Glacier, Zion, the Great Smokey Mountains and Grand Teton, while others document far-flung and less-known parks, such as the outer reaches of Kenai Fjord, Alaska, the Badlands, Dry Tortugas, Petrified Forest, and Guadalupe Mountains.

In addition to working in oils, Parker worked in pastel, photography and writing, creating an in-depth documentation of each park he has visited. He meticulously selected sites off the main roads and beaten paths of each park, in order to bring viewers deep into the landscapes which each park holds.

Each work stands alone as a strong piece, but when brought together as a collection, the result is extraordinarily powerful.

Parker’s signature painting style of bold lines, strong color, and interpretative landscape is immediately recognizable to those who have followed and collected his work over his 10-year career. In particular, the art community of Chicago, where Parker based his studio after earning has BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is taking note.

Parker has built a strong and steady following, and his works have been shown in independent and group exhibitions across the country. Notable collections of his work completed prior to the National Parks Project include the Forbes Collection in New York; the Anschutz Collection in Denver; and, Booz, Allen and Hamilton in Chicago.

The integrity of the project is tied to his passionate vision of capturing the diversity of our most prized National assets. “It is my hope that these pieces will ultimately create in the audience a sense of appreciation for our American treasures, and foster a desire to learn more about these and other natural sanctuaries,” notes Parker, whose goal is to bring this collection to audiences across the country to be used as a powerful educational tool. He hopes, as well, that his project will inspire his audience to “get outside and explore.”

Parker completed the project in two years, (almost to the day!) just as he had set out to do. Fall, 2004, found Scott moving from one wilderness environment to another: New York City, where he has setup his studio.

Scott can be reached at

All images and text ©swp2002-2005 use in any media prohibited without written consent of the owner.