Painting the Falls of Yellowstone

– [Announcer] Your
support helps us bring you programs you love. Go to, click on support and
become a sustaining member or an annual member. It’s easy and secure. Thank you. (peaceful music) – [Man] Truly, the water is
the lifeblood of Yellowstone. The rivers and when they
culminate at a waterfall, it’s just this magical spot
that you want to go see. – [Man] It was the roar and
the thunder of the water, and the colors that
permeated through the sun. It was almost like a prism where
you’d see all these colors. And that stuck with me. – [Man] This was a volcano. One of the greatest
volcanoes on Earth. And it spewed out
mountains of lava. And when you combine
all those precipices, those mounds of lava with
thousands of cold springs that break out naturally
within that lava, you get waterfalls, big
ones, and lots of them. – [Woman] Native cultures had
a very complex relationship with water. There’s a spiritual aspect. – [Man] Waterfalls
in Yellowstone are
significant because they represent an ecosystem,
a natural system and they are an indicator to us of the
health of the ecosystem. – [Woman] Land is, by
definition, static. But the water is
constantly flowing. It literally gives a kind of
metaphorical sense of dynamism, emotional energy. Somehow waterfalls give a
sense of that change and nuance that creates a deeper
level of meaning to a landscape painting. – [Man] I decided right
then that I wanted to be the first artist to paint these. I had the opportunity
of a lifetime. I’m Mike Poulsen and
welcome to my studio. – [Voiceover] Yellowstone
Forever is proud to support Painting the Falls
of Yellowstone. Yellowstone Forever is
the official educational and philanthropic partner of
Yellowstone National Park. Help preserve the world’s
first national park for generations to come. For more information,
visit Additional funding
provided by a grant from the Wyoming Cultural
Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State
Parks and Cultural Resources. By Rocky Mountain Power,
a division of Pacificorp. And supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, through funding from the
Wyoming state legislature. By Black Hills Energy,
improving life with energy. And by the members
of WyomingPBS. Thank you for your support. – [Narrator] Ever since
non-natives first explored the Yellowstone Plateau,
early in the 19th century, they’ve tried to bring
its indescribable wonders back to the civilized
world, with articles, with sketch pads, with
cameras, and with canvases. Now, a Wyoming painter
has embarked on a project to paint the waterfalls
of Yellowstone, including some in the back
country that are rarely seen. (peaceful music) – [Mike] I’ve been
involved in this project for six and a half years,
and I’m still amazed at the amount of material
that is out there. Most people that roll through
the park and see its features, unfortunately don’t get
to see a lot of what is offered in the back country. A lot of these waterfalls
in the back country that have been discovered
from 250 to 300 waterfalls, and then some. Let me take you through
a little walkthrough on what the process involves. It’s hiking to the location
or riding, taking horses, or whichever way we
get to the location. I like to start with
working up pencil sketches. That enables me to get
the right composition. The more things that I can
recognize when I’m there is so much easier to paint as
you become familiar with ’em. I noticed that there were
some specific points on the waterfalls here at Lost
Falls that I had to go back because I didn’t
have enough material. And so it’s good that I get a
lot of comprehensive material, live sketches, and then then
I work from a pencil sketch and do variations on that. And then I’ll work that
up and composing figures, animals in it, and then I’ll
do a work up oil sketch. This will give me
my color scheme that I wanna use at
that particular falls. And that may be dictated
by the color of the rock, the amount of vegetation is in
a particular waterfall area. All of those things to kind
of dictate my color scheme, because I want to stay fairly
truthful with these but yet bring out the best of every
waterfall because each waterfall is so different and
has a wonderful energy. – What you get
with waterfalls is a different
experience each time. It’s how close you
can get to them. If you can be at the base of
the waterfalls where you’re catching all the steam
coming off the water vapor, I mean, there’s a
lot of ions in that and they’re positively-charged
and I think you can instantly become in a good mood by being
at the base of waterfalls. – It’s hard to explain the
excitement and the energy that you have at
these waterfalls. You’re up close and often times I can feel the
spray of the water. And the beauty of each waterfall being so specific to its area, the rock formations,
the type of rock, the plants. And as I begin up
my oil sketches, I determine the
content at that point. As I work up these sketches,
everything is part of it, the floor and fauna,
everything becomes necessary. The types of plants that
you would have in this area at this time of year. I want to do specific
to the times of year that we are at the waterfalls. I also want to do
some winter waterfalls where there’s enough
volume to carry water and to create the ice formations that go along with the winter. There’s ecosystems in the
park where there’s no snow. Basically they have
their own ecosystem. The ground’s too hot, of course, for the snow to sit
on there anyway. So, when it does fall,
still there’s ferns there. You’re gonna find certain
orchids in some of these areas. (joyful music) Landscapes, I think
you can be too literal, but it’s been done before,
people have copied ’em just as they see ’em or
as they photographed them. It just depends on you as an
artist, it’s very personal. And everybody has their
own idea as to what they would like it to look like. So, what I’m gonna do here,
since I’ve just hit this with retouch varnish, I’m
gonna take out this Indian here because I’m gonna actually
gonna put a grouping here and probably add one
more figure up in here. And then I’m gonna add,
probably up in here, this is gonna be
changed a little bit. I’m gonna go back to my
original drawing only because I like the composition
and the simplicity of it. I’ll tighten these areas up here by placing the rocks
closer together, ’cause I don’t want it
too heavy in this area. If you’ll look at
this sketch here, I want to consolidate
these figures as a whole, and to make them part
of the whole scene here. I had the opportunity
of a lifetime. I just happened to be at the
Buffalo Bill Historical Center when three young men who had
co-authored a book called Yellowstone Waterfalls, and
they were giving their talk. So I decided to sit in on it. I thought it might
be interesting. I decided while I was sitting
there listening to these gentlemen talk about the
waterfalls and showing slides that are in the back
country of Yellowstone and I decided right
then that I wanted to be the first artist to paint these. – [Narrator] The Three men
working on a book about Yellowstone waterfalls were
Paul Rubinstein, Mike Stevens, and Lee Whittlesey, a historian
who has written several books about Yellowstone. – It’s a little bit of a story. We got together back in
about 1990, the three of us. We had sort of put our
heads together and decided someone needs to do
a real complete book about the waterfalls
of Yellowstone. And there were at that time
about 50 along the roadsides that were well-known
and we all figured that that was what the book would
mainly be about, those 50. And Paul said at that time, “You know, we might
get lucky and discover “as many as five
new waterfalls.” And it turned out, over
a decade of hiking, with them and with
many other people, and doing all the research
that was involved that we found 250 or so waterfalls
for the book that was finally published. And after that we’ve
added around 75 others. – [Mike] I think I was right
at the right time of my life to where I’d really
honed my style. I was confident, I am
confident in my painting. And to be able to
paint these waterfalls, it almost seems like
I’ve been honing my craft for all these years to really
get into something that now I can produce something
that I feel would be worthwhile to the entire world. (uplifting music) – There’s some high percentage
of Yellowstone visitors, I mean, it’s in the
high 90s somewhere that really don’t move out
of the developed areas. By that I mean they
don’t get off the roads. They may take a short hike
or go on the board walks, but do they really actually
step foot into the wilderness? Almost none of them do. I can go into the wilderness
and I can explore some of these places, never run into another
person out there at all, and find true wilderness
in this national park that’s visited by
four million people. I like to be there just for
the destination of finding something out in the wilderness. Or something I discover that
I didn’t know was there. And waterfalls are
often that thing. – This is a very big park. It’s two-thirds the size of
the state of Connecticut. And with the road system
only covering about 1% and the trails just a tiny bit
more, that’s a lot of space to have to try to cover
if you wanna do justice to finding these features. (melancholic music) The tallest along the
roads that was known was the 308-foot-tall Lower
Falls of the Yellowstone River. But we found one that was
in the back country that was 450-some-feet-tall. And another one that if
you added its cascades in, was taller than that. In the six, seven,
800-foot range, depending on how much
vertical you count and how much was just cascades. Cascades are nearly
vertical themselves, so that particular falls
called the Silver Cord Cascade is really very, very
tall and in my opinion, likely to have been the
waterfall that Meriwether Lewis heard of, maybe from Indians. He wrote of mythical
falls in the mountains that were 1,000-feet-tall. I suspect that Silver
Cord Cascade was the one. There aren’t many
anywhere in the Rockies that approach that height. – Yellowstone really has
this untold resource. It’s got so much area that’s
untouched, there’s no roads, there’s no trails to
them in a lot of cases. – Yellowstone is so large,
you still would have had to go searching up canyons
and over hill and dale, in great distance. We were overwhelmed
after the first summer. We knew it was big
and we wondered if
we’d live long enough. (laughs) – If you have the sense that
you’re discovering it maybe for the first time, it seems
to be a deeper experience associated with that. Years ago, quite by accident, we discovered a very special
cascade, or a waterfall that’s really so special that I call
it the Fountain of Youth. It’s because every
time I visit there, it seems to add another
year or two onto my life. That’s the secrets that I think
people are charged to keep if they really find that
very, very magical place, like the Fountain of Youth. (Mike laughs) – Yes, there are secrets
that I’ll leave behind, that I’ll keep in my journal. I’m concerned at times
because my first show is 2021 on this project and there
are a lot of paintings to do. Can I handle this? (chuckles) And having had cancer, a
very serious form of cancer, yeah, I think they’ll
creep in occasionally, but I look at it this way. I have a family to support. And I get to do something… The only thing was my
concern for my family. I think it’s something
that I’m here for. It’s something that
happened for a reason. You have this
connection with water, which is water is life and
water is part of all of us. Without it, we wouldn’t exist. And that connection has
stayed with me all my life. The energy of water and what
it means to our wellbeing, it has a vibratory essence. I was there at the right
place at the right time, and to have this opportunity
to work with waterfalls, it’s just icing on the cake. (upbeat music) After being at Union Falls, if
it wasn’t on your bucket list it definitely will be at
the top of your bucket list. You’re looking at a
300-plus-foot falls, and then it flows down to
another falls down below. Being there in the
moment, the energy, and the amount of water
because two tributaries are heading right over the
precipice of those falls. So it has sculpted
this beautiful canyon lined by moss and trees
that is, in particular, unique to that area. It flows right off
of the plateau. – [Lee] That corner of the
park is the southwest corner, it is named Cascade Corner
because it’s renowned for its great number
of waterfalls. And indeed, there were at least 25 on the maps before we started our project, and they were named and mapped. And we added fully 50
to the Cascade Corner. That is just a massively
rich area for waterfalls. – This is a preliminary
sketch of Union Falls that I wanna create for a
grand entrance to the show. This is tabled to be
ten feet by seven feet because I think it’s one
of the more fantastic falls and sculpted falls that
I’ve ever seen in my life. To show scale, you can see
here where I’ve penciled in figures here to kind
of give it scale. This is what I think is
probably the most spectacular falls in the park next to the
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. (moody music) My dad had bought a ranch
out here about 20 miles southwest of Cody, Wyoming. And we start coming out and he
told us to make sure we start saving up our money because
“you’re gonna need a horse.” And so I bought my own horse,
my saddle, a saddle blanket, and a bridle and halter
for, I think, $150. I could call Cecil,
who was our foreman, and his wife Joanne and
have ’em check on my horse and make sure that
everything was doing good. But he probably got really
tired of me bugging him. You talk about daydreaming,
when I went back east, I didn’t ever wanna leave,
my mind was out here 24/7. When I was small, probably
six/seven-years-old, my mother had a
coffee shop in Ohio and directly across the street
from the coffee shop was the Acrinord Institute which would
be my sometimes-babysitter. And often times they’d just
give me pencils and crayons, paper and tell me to
go sit down somewhere and draw something. I’ve never thought about
ever doing anything else. I never wanted to be a
fireman or a policeman, or anything else, I’ve just
wanted to be an artist. I moved here permanently
when I was 13. So I’ve been here ever since,
with the exception of a stint in the Marine Corps
and some classes at ASU before my dad was killed
in a hunting accident. Then I returned home to the
family ranch to help out. I’ve always wanted to have
this place up in the mountains. And it offers me everything
that I need as an artist. I just had an affinity
for the woods. I loved to hike and
discover the Indian culture because there were so many
things that related to the Indian culture on the ranch. There is just so much out here. And you just never tire of it. This is what I call home. (atmospheric music) – The pre-European
Indian cultures that were up in the
Yellowstone Plateau were not necessarily persons
who were just traveling through hunting buffalo,
things like that. They were staying year-round. We know that from things
that were left behind. Different obsidian
points, campsites, all types of basketry, courtage. – [Mike] I’ve tried to
think what the Indians would have done in
some of these areas. I’ve found lots of
points, scrapers, areas where the
Indians have camped. There are a lot of tipi
rings located out here. And the great thing about
this is I’ll be able to put Indians in situations at these
falls as I would envision it. Want to tell stories about
the Indians’ involvement in Yellowstone. Since they’ve been there
longer than any of us. – [Narrator] Only recently
have archeologists begun unearthing ancient evidence
of Native American presence year-round at high altitudes in the greater Yellowstone area. – The park was established
in 1872 and the idea that it was a wilderness before
that is one of the myths we’ve created, it was all these
tribes were using that area over and over and over again
in a diverse set of ways for long periods of time. You’d have had Shoshone,
Bannock, Crow, Blackfeet. A whole series of
tribes using the park. But as you go further back
in time, the tribal names and the people sort of get
a little more fuzzy, so, multiple, multiple, multiple
social groups through time have used the park. – Native Americans have
been coming to and accessing resources in the greater
Yellowstone ecosystem for more than 10,000 years. We have a number of
prehistoric archeological sites that date all the way back to
9,500 years before present. Prior to that, this area
was highly glaciated. The archeological record
showing Native American use within Yellowstone
is continuous. – The greater
Yellowstone area was used for diversity of resources
for a wide range of people for a long period of time, it
was used for food resources, for clothing
resources from hides. It was used to acquire
stone, both to make tools and to trade for other goods
that could be brought back in. Obsidian Cliff is one of the
major North American sources of obsidian and obsidian is a
key tool stone in part because it fractures so cleanly, it
produces very sharp edges. The obsidian from
Yellowstone prehistorically was connected to
continental-wide trade networks. In some ways you could sort of
think of Yellowstone as being a super Walmart of resources for hunter and gatherer peoples. Yellowstone is sort
of at the intersection of at least three traditional, what anthropologists
call culture areas. The Plains, the Great
Basin, and the Northwest. So you have the potential
for interactions of people coming from a variety
of cultural backgrounds
in that area. – You hear the term that water
is life and truly it was. A lot of the native
cultures who were moving and following game would
camp near a water source. Obviously they needed
this for staying alive, drinking, cooking,
things like that. But it’s more than just simply
for physical sustenance. There is a spiritual aspect. If you look at a lot of
rock art around the region, you have these water spirits
that are being transported from one spot to another,
through the movement of water. And you look at the rock
art of the Sheepeater and Shoshone cultures, you’ll
see these wonderful figures often referred to as ghost
water woman and they are these giant, big blocky
figures with long arms, and they were thought
to be the spirits that resided in the water. These are stories
that were passed down from many generations, and we
have persons that are still talking about these things
today as far as people from the Crow, the Shoshone,
and other cultures as well. – We’ve lost, by
excluding Native
Americans from Yellowstone a lot of the really important
traditional ecological knowledge associated
with that place. They could have told you
probably, on any given day, looked at the snow
condition and the sun and the wind direction,
where the game was and what was going to
happen with the water and all those sorts of things. (peaceful music) – So some of the first Europeans
to really see this county were fur-trappers. So they were some of the first
people to actually witness some of these great wonders
like the waterfalls. I can understand how it might
get a little embellished, how it might seem a little
bit like a tall tale that they were
known for telling. – [Mike] I can tell a
lot of stories through the early mountain
men, which will give it more of an educational benefit,
and the history of the park. – [Narrator] The earliest
stories about these geysers and hot springs and waterfalls
would not be confirmed until private and government
expeditions 60 years later culminating in Ferdinand
Hayden’s geological
survey in 1871. – Most of those early
expeditions were here a month, six weeks, they just
didn’t have time. Even with the benefit
of horses and mules, they just didn’t spend the time. The early explorers, like
many later explorers, simply couldn’t cover
the whole place. – [Narrator] But the work
of those early explorers and scientists played a critical
role in saving Yellowstone from the big dreams of
commercial developers. – [Rebecca] Nobody knew quite
what was in that mysterious Yellowstone place but if
they could create a major destination, a
tourist attraction, a national icon in a sense, they would enable their trains
to be filled with passengers and commercial
development and industry. – I believe there was an
inflection point in history when it came to deciding
what’s the fate of Yellowstone. – [Narrator] And it was
not just science but art that led the way. – Llee] Thomas Moran was
with the 1871 Hayden survey, and he painted a number
of pictures, paintings, oil paintings and watercolors, that mostly centered
around the lower falls of the Yellowstone River. – Thomas Moran was a
Philadelphia artist
who had been born in England and raised in
the Philadelphia area, and was an apprentice in the
1850s to a Philadelphia painter who was a landscapist. He got the chance to
go to the west in 1871. When the opportunity
came to travel with the Ferdinand Hayden
expedition in the spring and summer of 71, he
jumped at the chance. It would have provided him
with new subject matter that no one had
ever seen before. Spectacular western scenery
that nobody ever knew about. He would be the first to
present this to the country. – [Mike] Albert Bierstadt
was right on his heels. It became a competition
as to who could exploit the wonders of
Yellowstone quicker, and Thomas Moran did have
the upper-hand there. – [Narrator] He also
had the photographs of William Henry Jackson, who was with him on
the Hayden expedition. That gave Moran additional
images as he worked on his Yellowstone paintings
back in Philadelphia. – [Joni] He really didn’t
have that much equipment. I think he had a fairly small
paint box with watercolors. He didn’t work in
oils in the field. And some sketchbooks, and
that was pretty much all he carried, unlike
the photographers
that had to lug around hundreds of pounds of equipment. – [Mike] I wish that somebody
would have filmed Moran doing the sketches
from beginning to end, because his painting of,
of course, the falls, was the reason for
the park becoming a national park in
the first place. (melancholic music) – The Moran paintings
and William Henry
Jackson lithographs were put on display in the
Halls of Congress during the debate about whether to
establish Yellowstone
National Park. And it’s believed by many
that the spectacular images and the things that they
showed to many folks who had never been away from the East
Coast of the United States were instrumental in
convincing Congress to create Yellowstone
National Park. (peaceful music) – Moran did the 1872 enormous
seven-by-twelve-foot painting called the Grand Canyon
of the Yellowstone, which was his first great
summation of his experience in the 1871 summer expedition. He painted it in the fall and
winter after the expedition and ultimately sold it
to Congress for $10,000 in the month or so after the
park bill had been signed. It has a kind of pride
of place in his career for that reason. The painting was meant
very much to be a kind of transporting of the
place to the people. If you can’t take the
people to the mountain, you take the mountain
to the people. This was Moran taking
Yellowstone to the people. It’s clear that he was
compiling this big painting back in New York using a
whole array of sources. His own sketches, photographs
by William Henry Jackson, his own memories, and sort
of theoretical conventions about landscape painting
that required things like framing devices and a
secure foreground and a measured array of sort of spaces
that move the viewer metaphorically
into the painting. But essentially those smooth
walls come from a couple of Jackson photographs that were
taken not from Artist Point, but on top of the falls looking
back towards Artist Point. So, Moran’s painting is
a compilation of a series of viewpoints from
around the canvas, and ultimately he’s
essentially inverted the view. We’re looking at the canvas
from the other end of the canyon and he put the waterfall
in sort of the wrong place. But it all looks right. Side by side in the field,
they worked together, Moran sketching,
Jackson photographing,
and Moran knew back in his studio he would have
access to those photographs. – I think most other
artists work the same way. They’ll do their sketch,
they’ll take a picture of what they were looking at,
and that way you can work out a lot of your
problems, moving trees, or whatever you feel like you
have to do within that format. Even as we look at
another one of these, although a grander
scale of the canyon, you can see where Thomas and
Moran had used these bluffs and they were almost
like a limestone bluff that he painted white
and that he had actually moved the landscape around
and was able to convey a more beautiful
interpretation of this view. – It wasn’t because
he was a bad painter. It was because in fact he was
following the requirements that landscape process required. The construction of landscape
paintings which was to go out into the field and study nature
as carefully as possible, but then return to the studio
and compile what was called the grand impression
that was part-fact, but part-temperament and
a part-philosophical, kind of intellectual
interpretation of that place. Artists often do make
lots of alterations to the scenes as they find them. And reinterpret or alter
them in their final products. It’s a way of allowing
some space for the viewers to find their own location
within that place. His beautiful coloration
kind of heightened the effects of this
remarkable place. He created a sense of wonderment
in people’s imaginations about what this place was like
even before they ever saw it. – [Rebecca] In the painting,
Moran included a number of distinctive features. They include Moran and
William Henry Jackson working side-by-side and then
farther in the distance at the promontory
is Ferdinand Hayden, along with a Native American. Hayden gestures out
magnificently to the canyon, and the Indian, in fact,
turns his back on the canyon. The inclusion of that
figure, I think, is critical for our understanding of
the role of the government in the new ownership
of that place. The Native American is,
symbolically at least, turning his back on that scene, and the government
geologist is embracing it. – [Mike] What other
falls looks like that? That’s the one and only falls. Maybe I will paint the lower
falls later, but that’s been painted so well, and whether
I’ll paint another one, you know, I may, after I
do all these waterfalls but I for sure wanna do
it a little differently than everyone else has but I
haven’t got to that point yet. (wolves howl) – I’m a wildlife biologist
and I was here for the wolf reintroduction
that started in the mid-90s and saw the growth of
the population back to basically being fully restored. I think they represent
that wildness that we’re willing to embrace
and try to preserve as more and more of our Earth
gets settled and developed. It’s like we can still have
places where wolves are howling and the predator-prey
interactions occur, much like they did
thousands of years ago, here in Yellowstone. (wolves howl) – [Mike] And I was really
fascinated about the wolves when they were first introducing
the wolves into Yellowstone. Easily I can incorporate
all that into my project. Introducing the wolves
in the proximity like in the painting
of the Lost Falls. It was located in the same
valley behind Roosevelt Lodge, and so the wolves
have easy access to all of this territory up there. – Yellowstone National Park
represents the centerpiece of the greater Yellowstone
ecosystem which is one of the last relatively intact
ecosystems in the lower 48. It’s one of the last
places that has seen relatively little
commercial use. There was not mining,
not significant timber, not significant grazing, as
were many lands out west. The park was
established early enough that it still represents
generally what a temperate ecosystem was in North America. In an increasingly
industrialized and an increasingly
diverse nation, it is important that
the American public are able to see a place like
this, to visit a place that remains relatively
similar to the way it was 200 years ago, 500 years ago. That’s becoming increasingly
rare in America. – Some of the keys to the water
features in Yellowstone are the bedrock geology conditions,
that a lot of the streams can cut down fairly easily
through the soft bedrock. You’ve got the hot springs
boiling up, but another feature that’s relative important
to the water in Yellowstone is the amount of snow it
receives during the winter. So a lot of the streams,
a lot of the rivers, a lot of the waterfalls
are fed by spring snow melt and runoff. – I think waterfalls
can be dynamic in that they’re changing a lot
with the seasons over time, like Undine Falls behind me,
I’ll come back in the fall, and it looks a lot
different than this. In the winter it’s
shrouded in ice and snow. – Yellowstone has so many
unbelievable wonders. The geysers. Hot springs. The petrified trees. The charismatic
megafauna animal show. The wildflower show. The canyon. The huge lake. The mammoth hot springs. All of these features just
eclipsed the waterfalls. Anywhere else that didn’t
have these features, the waterfalls probably
would have been discovered and all named and
long ago found, but it was not so
in Yellowstone. – [Tobin] Waterfalls
in Yellowstone are
significant because they represent an ecosystem, a
natural system that very much has a component that our
waterways, streams, watersheds, they are an indicator to us of
the health of the ecosystem. As much of the country
grapples with drought and climate change, Yellowstone
will be a touchstone, will be a place where
we can, hopefully, see those effects,
counter those effects, and the health of our
watersheds and our waterways and streams is
critical to monitoring how climate change is
affecting this park. – [Nathan] As time goes
on, we’re concerned about the effects of climate change. Yellowstone seems to be becoming
a warmer and dryer place, which is of a concern
if we’re talking about water being the lifeblood
and getting less and less of it as
the years go on. I’m frankly quite concerned
about that kind of interaction, for the lifeblood of
the park drying up. – [Rebecca] The Caldera of
Yellowstone is an ominous presence in our lives, at least in our geological time. They say it will
some day erupt and cataclysmically alter our world. – [Mike] The next explosion
is actually 4,000 years overdue at this point. So it’s kind of an
interesting food for thought, you know, when you think of
this whole 2.2-million acres essentially on top of a volcano. – [Joni] Will artists be there? I’m no geologist, I
have no idea how large an event that might be. I have a feeling
there wouldn’t be many Americans around to see it. – My concern there
is being shut off in some way of
completing this project. Human intrusion, sure,
you worry about that. Just say that you cannot have
access to these areas now. That would be my
deepest concern. Through government intrusion,
people, landslides, or some unknown
event that may occur. I don’t think you want
it to be consuming, but you have to take
that as part of life in this world today ’cause
it is ever-changing. It’s a huge project
and to do it right, you’ve got to get to the
waterfalls with the right group and everything started
falling into place. – You’ve gotta spend
years hiking up canyons, in difficult areas. That’s where the really
good waterfalls are, and so that’s what we did, we
spent about a decade hunting, trying to find them. – I think art is a wonderful
way to convey the feelings you get from wilderness, so
I’m like a wilderness junkie and I try to get out there
as much as I possibly can. After I get back, I’m
often at a loss for words. I can describe like how
many miles I walked, or what animals, wildlife
that I saw on my trip, but I really have a hard
time telling people, my wife, my family, like
what did it mean to me to be out in the wildness for
that whole time I was gone. So I can see that, for
artists, maybe they have a way to break through that
and actually convey what it feels to them. – Waterfalls, whether they’re
massive like Yellowstone Falls or if it’s just a
little gentle spring coming out of the
side of the hill, they have a very calming
sense, but at the same time, you have this rush of noise. – [Tobin] I think the the
ultimate, the culmination of the power of water in
motion, is a waterfall. Suddenly it’s dropped off
the brink, it mixes with air, it spreads out, it’s
this sudden expansion of its whole form and being, just moving out then it
crashes down into often a big pool and kind of
forms back together again before it flows on. It’s just that ultimate
expression of power in nature. (peaceful music) – Thoreau I think said
it best when he said that “You never put your foot
in the same river twice.” It’s always a different river. And that’s a wonderful
metaphor for life, for thought, for the way in which we
visit the same place perhaps more than once, but we
are never the same people. – They could be a waterfall
that’s only a meter high to 30 meters high, it
doesn’t really matter. The sound, the visual effects, the breaking up of the
landscape into both a soundscape and a visualscape. Waterfalls tend to
focus my attention and they focus it
both on the external, but also they can sometimes
focus it internally. They’re thoughtful places. – P-H-I-L-O-C-A-L-Y. Philocaly means love of beauty. (peaceful music) That’s what I think waterfalls
are all about for people. It’s being attracted to
beauty and it just sort of gushes and flows over you. In my experience, so
who can resist that? – [Rebecca] Somehow waterfalls
give a sense of that change and nuance that creates
a deeper level of meaning to a landscape painting than
other kinds of landscapes. – [Mike] You get so
deep into these projecs that you totally forget
about the audience that has brought you
to where you are. – [Joni] I think that there’s
a movement away from some of the ideals that we had
in the 19th century that made landscapes so
important as a national symbol. The landscape is still there, it’s just not foregrounded
quite as much. And I think perhaps that
has to do with something of an ecological consciousness
that people have today, an interest in
wildlife generally and the preservation
of wildlife. – [Mike] There is
just so much material that I can sift
through and really come up with some great
ideas to introduce these waterfalls to a larger public. – [Nathan] You could be
inspired by this painting or this picture but if
it inspires to go there, even better, because
once you’re there, you really have all
your senses engaged. – Art is such a universal, I call it a universal language, that it can be conveyed
to any nationality. One painting can evoke so
many different reactions or emotions. We all wanna leave
something behind. Some of us are very
lucky just to leave kids, I mean, to have kids. And they are part
of your legacy. This project gives me
something that Moran had. Bierstadt had. They were able to use the park as part of their growth. It’s a culmination
of almost 45 years. And this is something that I
can put everything I’ve learned into this project. I think creating
something, something new, and something that comes from
my experiences and my vision, there’s no easy way
to put it other than you just fall into
what you love, and try to do as
best as you can. – [Voiceover] Yellowstone
Forever is proud to support Painting the Falls
of Yellowstone. Yellowstone Forever is
the official educational and philanthropic partner of
Yellowstone National Park. Help preserve the world’s
first national park for generations to come. For more information,
visit Additional funding
provided by a grant from the Wyoming Cultural
Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State
Parks and Cultural Resources. By Rocky Mountain Power,
a division of Pacificorp. And supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, through funding from the
Wyoming state legislature. By Black Hills Energy,
improving life with energy. And by the members
of WyomingPBS. Thank you for your support. Painting the Falls
of Yellowstone is available on DVD for $30. Order online at

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *