She calls it the “Quest.” Local artist Fitz Maurice is on a mission to paint in every one of the country’s 59 national parks and capture the essence of each on canvas. She started in March 2012—committing to the venture full time on May 1, 2015—and so far, she’s painted more than 20.
“The whole reason I set out … to capture the national parks is because they’re such a phenomenal inspiration,” she says, noting that her paintings are on exhibition at Woods Cove Art Gallery, as well as Main Beach Fine Art. “I will ride horses, I will hike miles, I have kayaked my way there. … Whatever it takes, I’ll get there.”
A Laguna Beach resident for more than 25 years, Fitz has shown at museums, galleries and special exhibitions around the world, winning the Jackson Pollock-Lee Krasner New York award from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation in 2001. Until recently, she worked out of a space at Laguna Canyon Artists’ Studios. “Now my studio is the parks,” she quips.
To date, Fitz has visited Mount Rainier, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon national parks, among others. This year, she wants to travel to Alaska, which contains eight national parks, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, founded in 1916. She’s seeking corporate sponsorship to help defray the costs.
The message in her paintings is to enjoy nature. “Drink your coffee outside, have lunch outside, get your kids to play outside,” Fitz says. “It’s important. People aren’t outside anymore, and there are so many gorgeous places to be. If you really embrace nature, it is so satisfying that you lose that constant nagging hunger to buy more stuff.”
Lydia Delgado loves to paint flowers, trees, landscapes and wild vegetation. Her inspiration comes from morning walks in Laguna Canyon and other local areas, yet she also draws heavily from her imagination.
“I like to think about things I’ve seen, and whatever comes to my mind, I just paint it,” says the longtime Laguna resident and Sawdust Art Festival exhibitor. “Sometimes it’s from memory. Other times, in the middle of the night, I see the painting—flashes of it—and then I just [have] to get up and do it.”
A former Avon divisional sales manager, Lydia moved to Laguna Beach in 1984 and started taking classes at the Laguna Beach School of Art, now the Laguna College of Art & Design. She maintained a studio at Laguna Canyon Artists’ Studios for four years before opening her own gallery on South Coast Highway in May 2015. In addition to showcasing her work, she hopes Delgado Gallery becomes a community space for other artists and those interested in art and nature. Currently, she hosts Laguna Outreach for Community Arts meetings and teaches private classes there.
A Sawdust artist since 1987, Lydia achieved a rare festival trifecta last summer when her watercolor of a eucalyptus tree called “Whisper” graced the cover of the Sawdust directory and was also featured on an official T-shirt and poster. While she downplays that achievement, she emphasizes the importance of preserving our natural environment and incorporating that emphasis into her work. “I’ve been trying to paint more of the succulent pieces to really show the beauty of the succulent and drought-tolerant plants,” Lydia says. “I’m going to be doing more big pieces to really introduce people. There are some more exotic orchids [in my work] and things we don’t know how long they’re going to be around.”
Written by Richard Chang