Utah’s national parks are seeing a rise in tourists. Last year, Arches National Park hosted over 1.5 million visitors. The trend may be due to the scenic views which have been inspiring artists since its founding in 1929.
Hikers, explorers and artists seem to be drawn to Utah’s national parks. Anthony Lott is no exception. He first started exploring and creating art inspired by southern Utah’s landscapes as a child. Now he serves as the community artist for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Natural Bridges and Hovenweep National Monuments.
“I think that the parks become a way for people to kind of keep track of their lives almost," Lott said. "I can think back to when I was a kid and my own visits to different national parks and now that I’m going there with my family and watching them experience those places, they become like these ways of staying in touch with ourselves.”
Lott works both informally and formally with the community to create art. Later this year he will be hosting painting workshops where he will explore painting landscapes as opposed to painting people.
“Painting people is a little bit more," he said. "You have to be a little bit more precise because we’re good at looking at people. And so if something's in the wrong place, you can tell. So with a landscape you have more flexibility. I think that the work can be a little bit more relaxing.”
Lott believes that creating and being outside is something that comes naturally for many people.
“They say it’s so good for us, that it’s just healthy for us to be out in the outdoors," he said. "So maybe that’s just our default. Maybe it’s inspiring cause that’s where we are supposed to be.”
Lott said many of the community members tell him that they used to do art but feel like they have lost their ability to create good art.
“I think it’s great for us to go outside and explore and we find things out about ourselves, you know, while we’re finding things out about the natural world," he said. "I think that for people who are interested in art, I would encourage them to spend as much time doing that as they can and to forget the idea particularly to forget worrying about whether or not they’re good at what they’re doing. But if it gives them pleasure, then they should do that.”