Painting the Falls of Yellowstone

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(peaceful music) – [Man] Truly, the water isthe lifeblood of Yellowstone.

The rivers and when theyculminate at a waterfall, it's just this magical spotthat you want to go see.

– [Man] It was the roar andthe thunder of the water, and the colors thatpermeated through the sun.

It was almost like a prism whereyou'd see all these colors.

And that stuck with me.

– [Man] This was a volcano.

One of the greatestvolcanoes on Earth.

And it spewed outmountains of lava.

And when you combineall those precipices, those mounds of lava withthousands of cold springs that break out naturallywithin that lava, you get waterfalls, bigones, and lots of them.

– [Woman] Native cultures hada very complex relationship with water.

There's a spiritual aspect.

– [Man] Waterfallsin Yellowstone aresignificant because they represent an ecosystem, a natural system and they are an indicator to us of thehealth of the ecosystem.

– [Woman] Land is, bydefinition, static.

But the water isconstantly flowing.

It literally gives a kind ofmetaphorical sense of dynamism, emotional energy.

Somehow waterfalls give asense of that change and nuance that creates a deeperlevel of meaning to a landscape painting.

– [Man] I decided rightthen that I wanted to be the first artist to paint these.

I had the opportunityof a lifetime.

I'm Mike Poulsen andwelcome to my studio.

– [Voiceover] YellowstoneForever is proud to support Painting the Fallsof Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Forever isthe official educational and philanthropic partner ofYellowstone National Park.

Help preserve the world'sfirst national park for generations to come.

For more information, visit yellowstone.


Additional fundingprovided by a grant from the Wyoming CulturalTrust Fund, a program of the Department of StateParks 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 theWyoming state legislature.

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And by the membersof WyomingPBS.

Thank you for your support.

– [Narrator] Ever sincenon-natives first explored the Yellowstone Plateau, early in the 19th century, they've tried to bringits indescribable wonders back to the civilizedworld, with articles, with sketch pads, withcameras, and with canvases.

Now, a Wyoming painterhas embarked on a project to paint the waterfallsof Yellowstone, including some in the backcountry that are rarely seen.

(peaceful music) – [Mike] I've beeninvolved in this project for six and a half years, and I'm still amazed at the amount of materialthat is out there.

Most people that roll throughthe park and see its features, unfortunately don't getto see a lot of what is offered in the back country.

A lot of these waterfallsin the back country that have been discoveredfrom 250 to 300 waterfalls, and then some.

Let me take you througha little walkthrough on what the process involves.

It's hiking to the locationor riding, taking horses, or whichever way weget to the location.

I like to start withworking up pencil sketches.

That enables me to getthe right composition.

The more things that I canrecognize when I'm there is so much easier to paint asyou become familiar with 'em.

I noticed that there weresome specific points on the waterfalls here at LostFalls that I had to go back because I didn'thave enough material.

And so it's good that I get alot of comprehensive material, live sketches, and then thenI work from a pencil sketch and do variations on that.

And then I'll work thatup and composing figures, animals in it, and then I'lldo a work up oil sketch.

This will give memy color scheme that I wanna use atthat particular falls.

And that may be dictatedby the color of the rock, the amount of vegetation is ina particular waterfall area.

All of those things to kindof dictate my color scheme, because I want to stay fairlytruthful with these but yet bring out the best of everywaterfall because each waterfall is so different andhas a wonderful energy.

– What you getwith waterfalls is a differentexperience each time.

It's how close youcan get to them.

If you can be at the base ofthe waterfalls where you're catching all the steamcoming off the water vapor, I mean, there's alot of ions in that and they're positively-chargedand I think you can instantly become in a good mood by beingat the base of waterfalls.

– It's hard to explain theexcitement and the energy that you have atthese waterfalls.

You're up close and often times I can feel thespray 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 upmy oil sketches, I determine thecontent 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 thatyou would have in this area at this time of year.

I want to do specificto the times of year that we are at the waterfalls.

I also want to dosome winter waterfalls where there's enoughvolume to carry water and to create the ice formations that go along with the winter.

There's ecosystems in thepark where there's no snow.

Basically they havetheir own ecosystem.

The ground's too hot, of course, for the snow to siton there anyway.

So, when it does fall, still there's ferns there.

You're gonna find certainorchids in some of these areas.

(joyful music) Landscapes, I thinkyou can be too literal, but it's been done before, people have copied 'em just as they see 'em oras they photographed them.

It just depends on you as anartist, it's very personal.

And everybody has theirown 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'mgonna take out this Indian here because I'm gonna actuallygonna put a grouping here and probably add onemore figure up in here.

And then I'm gonna add, probably up in here, this is gonna bechanged a little bit.

I'm gonna go back to myoriginal drawing only because I like the compositionand the simplicity of it.

I'll tighten these areas up here by placing the rockscloser together, 'cause I don't want ittoo heavy in this area.

If you'll look atthis sketch here, I want to consolidatethese figures as a whole, and to make them partof the whole scene here.

I had the opportunityof a lifetime.

I just happened to be at theBuffalo Bill Historical Center when three young men who hadco-authored a book called Yellowstone Waterfalls, andthey were giving their talk.

So I decided to sit in on it.

I thought it mightbe interesting.

I decided while I was sittingthere listening to these gentlemen talk about thewaterfalls and showing slides that are in the backcountry of Yellowstone and I decided rightthen that I wanted to be the first artist to paint these.

– [Narrator] The Three menworking on a book about Yellowstone waterfalls werePaul Rubinstein, Mike Stevens, and Lee Whittlesey, a historianwho has written several books about Yellowstone.

– It's a little bit of a story.

We got together back inabout 1990, the three of us.

We had sort of put ourheads together and decided someone needs to doa real complete book about the waterfallsof Yellowstone.

And there were at that timeabout 50 along the roadsides that were well-knownand we all figured that that was what the book wouldmainly be about, those 50.

And Paul said at that time, “You know, we mightget lucky and discover “as many as fivenew waterfalls.

” And it turned out, overa decade of hiking, with them and withmany other people, and doing all the researchthat was involved that we found 250 or so waterfallsfor the book that was finally published.

And after that we'veadded around 75 others.

– [Mike] I think I was rightat the right time of my life to where I'd reallyhoned my style.

I was confident, I amconfident in my painting.

And to be able topaint these waterfalls, it almost seems likeI've been honing my craft for all these years to reallyget into something that now I can produce somethingthat I feel would be worthwhile to the entire world.

(uplifting music) – There's some high percentageof Yellowstone visitors, I mean, it's in thehigh 90s somewhere that really don't move outof the developed areas.

By that I mean theydon't get off the roads.

They may take a short hikeor go on the board walks, but do they really actuallystep foot into the wilderness? Almost none of them do.

I can go into the wildernessand I can explore some of these places, never run into anotherperson out there at all, and find true wildernessin this national park that's visited byfour million people.

I like to be there just forthe destination of finding something out in the wilderness.

Or something I discover thatI didn't know was there.

And waterfalls areoften that thing.

– This is a very big park.

It's two-thirds the size ofthe state of Connecticut.

And with the road systemonly covering about 1% and the trails just a tiny bitmore, that's a lot of space to have to try to coverif you wanna do justice to finding these features.

(melancholic music) The tallest along theroads that was known was the 308-foot-tall LowerFalls of the Yellowstone River.

But we found one that wasin the back country that was 450-some-feet-tall.

And another one that ifyou added its cascades in, was taller than that.

In the six, seven, 800-foot range, depending on how muchvertical you count and how much was just cascades.

Cascades are nearlyvertical themselves, so that particular fallscalled the Silver Cord Cascade is really very, verytall and in my opinion, likely to have been thewaterfall that Meriwether Lewis heard of, maybe from Indians.

He wrote of mythicalfalls in the mountains that were 1, 000-feet-tall.

I suspect that SilverCord Cascade was the one.

There aren't manyanywhere in the Rockies that approach that height.

– Yellowstone really hasthis untold resource.

It's got so much area that'suntouched, there's no roads, there's no trails tothem in a lot of cases.

– Yellowstone is so large, you still would have had to go searching up canyonsand over hill and dale, in great distance.

We were overwhelmedafter the first summer.

We knew it was bigand we wondered ifwe'd live long enough.

(laughs) – If you have the sense thatyou're discovering it maybe for the first time, it seemsto be a deeper experience associated with that.

Years ago, quite by accident, we discovered a very specialcascade, or a waterfall that's really so special that I callit the Fountain of Youth.

It's because everytime I visit there, it seems to add anotheryear or two onto my life.

That's the secrets that I thinkpeople are charged to keep if they really find thatvery, very magical place, like the Fountain of Youth.

(Mike laughs) – Yes, there are secretsthat I'll leave behind, that I'll keep in my journal.

I'm concerned at timesbecause my first show is 2021 on this project and thereare a lot of paintings to do.

Can I handle this? (chuckles) And having had cancer, avery serious form of cancer, yeah, I think they'llcreep 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 myconcern for my family.

I think it's somethingthat I'm here for.

It's something thathappened for a reason.

You have thisconnection with water, which is water is life andwater is part of all of us.

Without it, we wouldn't exist.

And that connection hasstayed with me all my life.

The energy of water and whatit means to our wellbeing, it has a vibratory essence.

I was there at the rightplace at the right time, and to have this opportunityto work with waterfalls, it's just icing on the cake.

(upbeat music) After being at Union Falls, ifit wasn't on your bucket list it definitely will be atthe top of your bucket list.

You're looking at a300-plus-foot falls, and then it flows down toanother falls down below.

Being there in themoment, the energy, and the amount of waterbecause two tributaries are heading right over theprecipice of those falls.

So it has sculptedthis beautiful canyon lined by moss and treesthat is, in particular, unique to that area.

It flows right offof the plateau.

– [Lee] That corner of thepark is the southwest corner, it is named Cascade Cornerbecause it's renowned for its great numberof 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 50to the Cascade Corner.

That is just a massivelyrich area for waterfalls.

– This is a preliminarysketch of Union Falls that I wanna create for agrand entrance to the show.

This is tabled to beten feet by seven feet because I think it's oneof the more fantastic falls and sculpted falls thatI've ever seen in my life.

To show scale, you can seehere where I've penciled in figures here to kindof give it scale.

This is what I think isprobably the most spectacular falls in the park next to theGrand Canyon of Yellowstone.

(moody music) My dad had bought a ranchout here about 20 miles southwest of Cody, Wyoming.

And we start coming out and hetold 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 halterfor, I think, $150.

I could call Cecil, who was our foreman, and his wife Joanne andhave 'em check on my horse and make sure thateverything was doing good.

But he probably got reallytired 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, probablysix/seven-years-old, my mother had acoffee shop in Ohio and directly across the streetfrom the coffee shop was the Acrinord Institute which wouldbe my sometimes-babysitter.

And often times they'd justgive me pencils and crayons, paper and tell me togo sit down somewhere and draw something.

I've never thought aboutever doing anything else.

I never wanted to be afireman or a policeman, or anything else, I've justwanted to be an artist.

I moved here permanentlywhen I was 13.

So I've been here ever since, with the exception of a stint in the Marine Corpsand some classes at ASU before my dad was killedin a hunting accident.

Then I returned home to thefamily ranch to help out.

I've always wanted to havethis place up in the mountains.

And it offers me everythingthat I need as an artist.

I just had an affinityfor the woods.

I loved to hike anddiscover the Indian culture because there were so manythings 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-EuropeanIndian cultures that were up in theYellowstone Plateau were not necessarily personswho were just traveling through hunting buffalo, things like that.

They were staying year-round.

We know that from thingsthat were left behind.

Different obsidianpoints, campsites, all types of basketry, courtage.

– [Mike] I've tried tothink what the Indians would have done insome of these areas.

I've found lots ofpoints, scrapers, areas where theIndians have camped.

There are a lot of tipirings located out here.

And the great thing aboutthis is I'll be able to put Indians in situations at thesefalls as I would envision it.

Want to tell stories aboutthe Indians' involvement in Yellowstone.

Since they've been therelonger than any of us.

– [Narrator] Only recentlyhave archeologists begun unearthing ancient evidenceof Native American presence year-round at high altitudes in the greater Yellowstone area.

– The park was establishedin 1872 and the idea that it was a wilderness beforethat is one of the myths we've created, it was all thesetribes were using that area over and over and over againin a diverse set of ways for long periods of time.

You'd have had Shoshone, Bannock, Crow, Blackfeet.

A whole series oftribes using the park.

But as you go further backin time, the tribal names and the people sort of geta little more fuzzy, so, multiple, multiple, multiplesocial groups through time have used the park.

– Native Americans havebeen coming to and accessing resources in the greaterYellowstone ecosystem for more than 10, 000 years.

We have a number ofprehistoric archeological sites that date all the way back to9, 500 years before present.

Prior to that, this areawas highly glaciated.

The archeological recordshowing Native American use within Yellowstoneis continuous.

– The greaterYellowstone area was used for diversity of resourcesfor a wide range of people for a long period of time, itwas used for food resources, for clothingresources from hides.

It was used to acquirestone, both to make tools and to trade for other goodsthat could be brought back in.

Obsidian Cliff is one of themajor North American sources of obsidian and obsidian is akey tool stone in part because it fractures so cleanly, itproduces very sharp edges.

The obsidian fromYellowstone prehistorically was connected tocontinental-wide trade networks.

In some ways you could sort ofthink of Yellowstone as being a super Walmart of resources for hunter and gatherer peoples.

Yellowstone is sortof at the intersection of at least three traditional, what anthropologistscall culture areas.

The Plains, the GreatBasin, and the Northwest.

So you have the potentialfor interactions of people coming from a varietyof cultural backgroundsin that area.

– You hear the term that wateris life and truly it was.

A lot of the nativecultures who were moving and following game wouldcamp near a water source.

Obviously they neededthis for staying alive, drinking, cooking, things like that.

But it's more than just simplyfor physical sustenance.

There is a spiritual aspect.

If you look at a lot ofrock art around the region, you have these water spiritsthat are being transported from one spot to another, through the movement of water.

And you look at the rockart of the Sheepeater and Shoshone cultures, you'llsee these wonderful figures often referred to as ghostwater woman and they are these giant, big blockyfigures with long arms, and they were thoughtto be the spirits that resided in the water.

These are storiesthat were passed down from many generations, and wehave persons that are still talking about these thingstoday as far as people from the Crow, the Shoshone, and other cultures as well.

– We've lost, byexcluding NativeAmericans from Yellowstone a lot of the really importanttraditional ecological knowledge associatedwith that place.

They could have told youprobably, on any given day, looked at the snowcondition and the sun and the wind direction, where the game was and what was going tohappen with the water and all those sorts of things.

(peaceful music) – So some of the first Europeansto really see this county were fur-trappers.

So they were some of the firstpeople to actually witness some of these great wonderslike the waterfalls.

I can understand how it mightget a little embellished, how it might seem a littlebit like a tall tale that they wereknown for telling.

– [Mike] I can tell alot of stories through the early mountainmen, which will give it more of an educational benefit, and the history of the park.

– [Narrator] The earlieststories about these geysers and hot springs and waterfallswould not be confirmed until private and governmentexpeditions 60 years later culminating in FerdinandHayden's geologicalsurvey in 1871.

– Most of those earlyexpeditions were here a month, six weeks, they justdidn't have time.

Even with the benefitof horses and mules, they just didn't spend the time.

The early explorers, likemany later explorers, simply couldn't coverthe whole place.

– [Narrator] But the workof those early explorers and scientists played a criticalrole in saving Yellowstone from the big dreams ofcommercial developers.

– [Rebecca] Nobody knew quitewhat was in that mysterious Yellowstone place but ifthey could create a major destination, atourist attraction, a national icon in a sense, they would enable their trainsto be filled with passengers and commercialdevelopment and industry.

– I believe there was aninflection point in history when it came to decidingwhat's the fate of Yellowstone.

– [Narrator] And it wasnot just science but art that led the way.

– Llee] Thomas Moran waswith the 1871 Hayden survey, and he painted a numberof pictures, paintings, oil paintings and watercolors, that mostly centeredaround the lower falls of the Yellowstone River.

– Thomas Moran was aPhiladelphia artistwho had been born in England and raised inthe Philadelphia area, and was an apprentice in the1850s to a Philadelphia painter who was a landscapist.

He got the chance togo to the west in 1871.

When the opportunitycame to travel with the Ferdinand Haydenexpedition in the spring and summer of 71, hejumped at the chance.

It would have provided himwith new subject matter that no one hadever seen before.

Spectacular western scenerythat nobody ever knew about.

He would be the first topresent this to the country.

– [Mike] Albert Bierstadtwas right on his heels.

It became a competitionas to who could exploit the wonders ofYellowstone quicker, and Thomas Moran did havethe upper-hand there.

– [Narrator] He alsohad the photographs of William Henry Jackson, who was with him onthe Hayden expedition.

That gave Moran additionalimages as he worked on his Yellowstone paintingsback in Philadelphia.

– [Joni] He really didn'thave that much equipment.

I think he had a fairly smallpaint box with watercolors.

He didn't work inoils in the field.

And some sketchbooks, andthat was pretty much all he carried, unlikethe photographersthat had to lug around hundreds of pounds of equipment.

– [Mike] I wish that somebodywould have filmed Moran doing the sketchesfrom beginning to end, because his painting of, of course, the falls, was the reason forthe park becoming a national park inthe first place.

(melancholic music) – The Moran paintingsand William HenryJackson lithographs were put on display in theHalls of Congress during the debate about whether toestablish YellowstoneNational Park.

And it's believed by manythat the spectacular images and the things that theyshowed to many folks who had never been away from the EastCoast of the United States were instrumental inconvincing Congress to create YellowstoneNational Park.

(peaceful music) – Moran did the 1872 enormousseven-by-twelve-foot painting called the Grand Canyonof the Yellowstone, which was his first greatsummation of his experience in the 1871 summer expedition.

He painted it in the fall andwinter after the expedition and ultimately sold itto Congress for $10, 000 in the month or so after thepark bill had been signed.

It has a kind of prideof place in his career for that reason.

The painting was meantvery much to be a kind of transporting of theplace to the people.

If you can't take thepeople to the mountain, you take the mountainto the people.

This was Moran takingYellowstone to the people.

It's clear that he wascompiling this big painting back in New York using awhole array of sources.

His own sketches, photographsby William Henry Jackson, his own memories, and sortof theoretical conventions about landscape paintingthat required things like framing devices and asecure foreground and a measured array of sort of spacesthat move the viewer metaphoricallyinto the painting.

But essentially those smoothwalls come from a couple of Jackson photographs that weretaken not from Artist Point, but on top of the falls lookingback towards Artist Point.

So, Moran's painting isa compilation of a series of viewpoints fromaround the canvas, and ultimately he'sessentially inverted the view.

We're looking at the canvasfrom the other end of the canyon and he put the waterfallin 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 haveaccess to those photographs.

– I think most otherartists 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 yourproblems, moving trees, or whatever you feel like youhave to do within that format.

Even as we look atanother one of these, although a granderscale of the canyon, you can see where Thomas andMoran had used these bluffs and they were almostlike a limestone bluff that he painted whiteand that he had actually moved the landscape aroundand was able to convey a more beautifulinterpretation of this view.

– It wasn't becausehe was a bad painter.

It was because in fact he wasfollowing the requirements that landscape process required.

The construction of landscapepaintings which was to go out into the field and study natureas carefully as possible, but then return to the studioand compile what was called the grand impressionthat was part-fact, but part-temperament anda part-philosophical, kind of intellectualinterpretation of that place.

Artists often do makelots of alterations to the scenes as they find them.

And reinterpret or alterthem in their final products.

It's a way of allowingsome space for the viewers to find their own locationwithin that place.

His beautiful colorationkind of heightened the effects of thisremarkable place.

He created a sense of wondermentin people's imaginations about what this place was likeeven before they ever saw it.

– [Rebecca] In the painting, Moran included a number of distinctive features.

They include Moran andWilliam Henry Jackson working side-by-side and thenfarther in the distance at the promontoryis Ferdinand Hayden, along with a Native American.

Hayden gestures outmagnificently to the canyon, and the Indian, in fact, turns his back on the canyon.

The inclusion of thatfigure, I think, is critical for our understanding ofthe role of the government in the new ownershipof that place.

The Native American is, symbolically at least, turning his back on that scene, and the governmentgeologist is embracing it.

– [Mike] What otherfalls looks like that? That's the one and only falls.

Maybe I will paint the lowerfalls later, but that's been painted so well, and whetherI'll paint another one, you know, I may, after Ido all these waterfalls but I for sure wanna doit a little differently than everyone else has but Ihaven't got to that point yet.

(wolves howl) – I'm a wildlife biologistand I was here for the wolf reintroductionthat started in the mid-90s and saw the growth ofthe population back to basically being fully restored.

I think they representthat wildness that we're willing to embraceand try to preserve as more and more of our Earthgets settled and developed.

It's like we can still haveplaces where wolves are howling and the predator-preyinteractions occur, much like they didthousands of years ago, here in Yellowstone.

(wolves howl) – [Mike] And I was reallyfascinated about the wolves when they were first introducingthe wolves into Yellowstone.

Easily I can incorporateall that into my project.

Introducing the wolvesin the proximity like in the paintingof the Lost Falls.

It was located in the samevalley behind Roosevelt Lodge, and so the wolveshave easy access to all of this territory up there.

– Yellowstone National Parkrepresents the centerpiece of the greater Yellowstoneecosystem which is one of the last relatively intactecosystems in the lower 48.

It's one of the lastplaces that has seen relatively littlecommercial use.

There was not mining, not significant timber, not significant grazing, aswere many lands out west.

The park wasestablished early enough that it still representsgenerally what a temperate ecosystem was in North America.

In an increasinglyindustrialized and an increasinglydiverse nation, it is important thatthe American public are able to see a place likethis, to visit a place that remains relativelysimilar to the way it was 200 years ago, 500 years ago.

That's becoming increasinglyrare in America.

– Some of the keys to the waterfeatures in Yellowstone are the bedrock geology conditions, that a lot of the streams can cut down fairly easilythrough the soft bedrock.

You've got the hot springsboiling up, but another feature that's relative importantto the water in Yellowstone is the amount of snow itreceives during the winter.

So a lot of the streams, a lot of the rivers, a lot of the waterfallsare fed by spring snow melt and runoff.

– I think waterfallscan be dynamic in that they're changing a lotwith the seasons over time, like Undine Falls behind me, I'll come back in the fall, and it looks a lotdifferent than this.

In the winter it'sshrouded in ice and snow.

– Yellowstone has so manyunbelievable wonders.

The geysers.

Hot springs.

The petrified trees.

The charismaticmegafauna animal show.

The wildflower show.

The canyon.

The huge lake.

The mammoth hot springs.

All of these features justeclipsed the waterfalls.

Anywhere else that didn'thave these features, the waterfalls probablywould have been discovered and all named andlong ago found, but it was not soin Yellowstone.

– [Tobin] Waterfallsin Yellowstone aresignificant because they represent an ecosystem, anatural system that very much has a component that ourwaterways, streams, watersheds, they are an indicator to us ofthe health of the ecosystem.

As much of the countrygrapples with drought and climate change, Yellowstonewill be a touchstone, will be a place wherewe can, hopefully, see those effects, counter those effects, and the health of ourwatersheds and our waterways and streams iscritical to monitoring how climate change isaffecting this park.

– [Nathan] As time goeson, we're concerned about the effects of climate change.

Yellowstone seems to be becominga warmer and dryer place, which is of a concernif we're talking about water being the lifebloodand getting less and less of it asthe years go on.

I'm frankly quite concernedabout that kind of interaction, for the lifeblood ofthe park drying up.

– [Rebecca] The Caldera ofYellowstone is an ominous presence in our lives, at least in our geological time.

They say it willsome day erupt and cataclysmically alter our world.

– [Mike] The next explosionis actually 4, 000 years overdue at this point.

So it's kind of aninteresting food for thought, you know, when you think ofthis whole 2.

2-million acres essentially on top of a volcano.

– [Joni] Will artists be there? I'm no geologist, Ihave no idea how large an event that might be.

I have a feelingthere wouldn't be many Americans around to see it.

– My concern thereis being shut off in some way ofcompleting this project.

Human intrusion, sure, you worry about that.

Just say that you cannot haveaccess to these areas now.

That would be mydeepest concern.

Through government intrusion, people, landslides, or some unknownevent that may occur.

I don't think you wantit to be consuming, but you have to takethat as part of life in this world today 'causeit is ever-changing.

It's a huge projectand to do it right, you've got to get to thewaterfalls with the right group and everything startedfalling into place.

– You've gotta spendyears hiking up canyons, in difficult areas.

That's where the reallygood waterfalls are, and so that's what we did, wespent about a decade hunting, trying to find them.

– I think art is a wonderfulway to convey the feelings you get from wilderness, soI'm like a wilderness junkie and I try to get out thereas much as I possibly can.

After I get back, I'moften at a loss for words.

I can describe like howmany miles I walked, or what animals, wildlifethat I saw on my trip, but I really have a hardtime telling people, my wife, my family, likewhat did it mean to me to be out in the wildness forthat whole time I was gone.

So I can see that, forartists, maybe they have a way to break through thatand actually convey what it feels to them.

– Waterfalls, whether they'remassive like Yellowstone Falls or if it's just alittle gentle spring coming out of theside of the hill, they have a very calmingsense, but at the same time, you have this rush of noise.

– [Tobin] I think the theultimate, the culmination of the power of water inmotion, is a waterfall.

Suddenly it's dropped offthe brink, it mixes with air, it spreads out, it'sthis sudden expansion of its whole form and being, just moving out then itcrashes down into often a big pool and kind offorms back together again before it flows on.

It's just that ultimateexpression of power in nature.

(peaceful music) – Thoreau I think saidit best when he said that “You never put your footin the same river twice.

” It's always a different river.

And that's a wonderfulmetaphor for life, for thought, for the way in which wevisit the same place perhaps more than once, but weare never the same people.

– They could be a waterfallthat's only a meter high to 30 meters high, itdoesn't really matter.

The sound, the visual effects, the breaking up of thelandscape into both a soundscape and a visualscape.

Waterfalls tend tofocus my attention and they focus itboth on the external, but also they can sometimesfocus 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 waterfallsare all about for people.

It's being attracted tobeauty and it just sort of gushes and flows over you.

In my experience, sowho can resist that? – [Rebecca] Somehow waterfallsgive a sense of that change and nuance that createsa deeper level of meaning to a landscape painting thanother kinds of landscapes.

– [Mike] You get sodeep into these projecs that you totally forgetabout the audience that has brought youto where you are.

– [Joni] I think that there'sa movement away from some of the ideals that we hadin the 19th century that made landscapes soimportant as a national symbol.

The landscape is still there, it's just not foregroundedquite as much.

And I think perhaps thathas to do with something of an ecological consciousnessthat people have today, an interest inwildlife generally and the preservationof wildlife.

– [Mike] There isjust so much material that I can siftthrough and really come up with some greatideas to introduce these waterfalls to a larger public.

– [Nathan] You could beinspired by this painting or this picture but ifit inspires to go there, even better, becauseonce you're there, you really have allyour senses engaged.

– Art is such a universal, I call it a universal language, that it can be conveyedto any nationality.

One painting can evoke somany different reactions or emotions.

We all wanna leavesomething behind.

Some of us are verylucky just to leave kids, I mean, to have kids.

And they are partof your legacy.

This project gives mesomething that Moran had.

Bierstadt had.

They were able to use the park as part of their growth.

It's a culminationof almost 45 years.

And this is something that Ican put everything I've learned into this project.

I think creatingsomething, something new, and something that comes frommy experiences and my vision, there's no easy wayto put it other than you just fall intowhat you love, and try to do asbest as you can.

– [Voiceover] YellowstoneForever is proud to support Painting the Fallsof Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Forever isthe official educational and philanthropic partner ofYellowstone National Park.

Help preserve the world'sfirst national park for generations to come.

For more information, visit yellowstone.


Additional fundingprovided by a grant from the Wyoming CulturalTrust Fund, a program of the Department of StateParks 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 theWyoming state legislature.

By Black Hills Energy, improving life with energy.

And by the membersof WyomingPBS.

Thank you for your support.

Painting the Fallsof Yellowstone is available on DVD for $30.

Order online atshop.




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