While in Yellowstone, I had the amazing opportunity to take a watercolor sketchbook class up in Lamar Valley. This was a free perk of being a park ranger, and it was one of my favorite experiences of the whole summer. In the height of August, when we were nearly seeing 12,000 people through the visitor center every day, I got to run away to the Lamar Buffalo Ranch and spend three days sketching landscapes.
I’d always been a little terrified of watercolors. They just seemed really uncontrollable. But our
instructor, Suzie Garner (you can find her on Twitter @suzie_garner), helped me embrace their
looseness and unpredictability. Now I’m totally in love with the freshness of watercolors, and how easy it is to throw down my paints and projects mid-stroke and pick it all back up a few hours later (this is immensely helpful when there’s some crisis with the kids).
I started bringing my little sketchbook with me all over Yellowstone, even backpacking in the Tetons and along Shoshone Lake. Sitting and painting the landscape is so immersive, and looking back at my sketches plants me right back in that experience. When I look at my favorite sketch below, I remember exactly how still the lake was that morning, how we heard elk bugling across the water, and how the steam curled up from the geyser basin. Gah! An all-inclusive memory.
Emily B. Martin
Author and Illustrator