News Release

Artist in Residence, Gwen Sullivan, Will Present Two Public Programs the Week of May 21, 2018

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Date: May 18, 2018
Contact: Mesa Verde Museum Association, 970-529-4445
Contact: Cristy Brown, 970-529-4608

Painter Gwen Sullivan is Mesa Verde National Park’s Artist in Residence, from May 14 to 26. During her residency, Gwen will use a variety of painting techniques and mediums, while focusing on her new passion – making oil and watercolor paint using pigments taken from soil.

The public is invited to two free presentations to learn about this unique technique. The first will be at the Mancos Public Library on Wednesday, May 23, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. On Friday, May 25, join Gwen at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum at the park, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. These presentations are drop-in, so no reservations are needed.

Gwen is fascinated with the idea of taking pigments from the soil at a place which is special to her, making it into paint, and creating a painting of that place. Since disturbing any part of a national park is not allowed, she will use materials acquired outside of the park. During her public presentations, Gwen will demonstrate the process of removing pigment from the soil and using it to make paint. The process involves many time-consuming steps to separate the pigment from the sand or clay. Gwen will also demonstrate how to make charcoal drawing sticks using vines and a small tin for a kiln. She will have hand-outs with information about paint making and directions for making charcoal drawing sticks. 

Gwen, who resides in Gilbert, South Carolina, has served as artist-in-residence at South Carolina State Parks several times as well as Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. She paints in oils, acrylics, and watercolors and enjoys painting on different surfaces to achieve unexpected effects and textures. Her favorite painting is one she did of a dirt road on a farm that has been in her family for generations, using paint made from the soil on that road. She has started a collection of pigment colors taken from soil she collects while traveling. 

Mesa Verde National Park’s Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program provides professional artists the opportunity to become part of a long established tradition of artists creating art in our national parks. The AIR program is managed for the park by the nonprofit Mesa Verde Museum Association. Learn more at and at


Last updated: May 22, 2018

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