All my work is about journeys.

Tony Foster

Visit

Take a break from regular life and experience beautiful art and inspiring journeys.

HOURS & ADMISSION

Admission is free. Regular hours are:

Monday – Friday, 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday & Sunday, 12 – 5 pm*

*Closed Saturday, September 30th, for a private event.

Guided tours are available by appointment. Contact Mattias Lanas at mattias@thefoster.org or call 650.209.7181.

Have questions? See our Visitor FAQ.

Parking & Directions

The Foster is located at 940 Commercial Street in Palo Alto, near the corner of E. Charleston and San Antonio Road. Street parking is generally available, but you may also park in the lot behind the building.

Click on the map below for directions.

Be Inspired by a Journey

Our mission is to share artist-explorer Tony Foster’s powerful watercolor journeys to inspire reflection, discussion, and education about art, wilderness, and the natural world.

Our exhibitions are open to the public and available for loan to museums and other public venues.

About Us

About Us

The Foster is a quiet, contemplative place in which to experience beautiful art and inspiring journeys. It houses the permanent collection of the Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation, which is dedicated to uniting, preserving, and exhibiting Tony Foster’s watercolor journeys to inspire reflection, discussion, and education about art, wilderness, and the natural world.

Admission is free. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 12 – 5 PM. Appointments for guided tours can be made by contacting Mattias Lanas at mattias@thefoster.org or 650.209.7181.

The Foster also serves as a venue for art, wilderness, and educational programs and events. Contact us for more information.

“The space is … perfectly created for art that so strongly, yet so gently, invites the viewer to moments of restful meditation.”      –Karen Olsen, artist

Tony Foster

Tony Foster

 

Born in Lincolnshire, England, artist-explorer Tony Foster finds inspiration in the wild places of the world, which he paints en plein air. Since 1982, he has undertaken a variety of watercolor “journeys”—painting projects based on a philosophical or environmental theme—that often involve multiple expeditions over many years. His subjects range from mountains, rivers, rainforests, deserts, coral reefs and Arctic icebergs to such iconic natural areas as the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest.

Hiking, rafting, kayaking or canoeing to find the perfect painting site, then camping outdoors for weeks at a time to make his paintings, Foster frequently faces challenging weather and difficult conditions. His paintings, complete with diary excerpts and “souvenirs,” document his experiences in wilderness and his commitment to its preservation.

Staff & Advisors

Staff & Advisors

The Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation was established in 2013 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

FOUNDER

Jane Woodward

STAFF

Heidi Hackford, Director of Communications & Operations

Mattias Lanas, Program and Guest Services Manager

Kaitlin Nelson, Guest Services Coordinator

Kristin Poole, Artistic Director

Dan Saal, Design Director

Staff bios.

ADVISORS

James K. Ballinger, Director Emeritus of the Phoenix Art Museum

Graham W. J. Beal, Director Emeritus of the Detroit Institute of Arts

Michael Engl, Philanthropist, collector, and patron of the Georgia O’Keeffe museum

Peter M. Fairbanks, Owner of the Montgomery Gallery

Peter H. Hassrick, Director Emeritus of the Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum

Karen Kienzle, Director of the Palo Alto Art Center

Duncan Robinson,Director Emeritus of the Fitzwilliam Museum and former Chair of the Henry Moore Foundation

Gail Severn, Owner of the Gail Severn Gallery

Annie and Bill Vanderbilt, Wilderness Educators and Adventurers

Current Journey Exhibitions

The Foster is currently showing two complete watercolor journeys. A third exhibition showcases representative paintings, travel photographs, quotes and stories from past journeys. Click on a button below to view more information about each exhibition.

EXHIBITIONS

Exploring Beauty: Watercolour Diaries from the Wild

JOURNEY DETAILS: 51 paintings from sites all over the world

 

Tony Foster’s latest journey spans the globe with painting sites nominated by leading scientists, explorers, writers, and environmentalists as “the most beautiful places in the world.”

View All 51 Paintings

Download a PDF of the exhibition catalogue or click the button to purchase the book.

Buy Now

Sacred Places: Watercolour Diaries from the American Southwest

JOURNEY DETAILS: 34 paintings | Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico

 

 

Tony Foster traveled to the Four Corners region to paint landscapes deemed sacred by Native Americans, Catholics, Mormons and New Age practitioners.

View All 34 Paintings

Download a PDF of the softcover exhibition catalogue. Or, click the button to purchase the softcover exhibition catalogue or the award-winning hardcover catalogue.

BUY NOW

See what's inside

Wilderness Journeys: The Art of Tony Foster

JOURNEY DETAILS: 17 Artworks from past journeys

This exhibition showcases paintings from each of Tony Foster’s fourteen watercolor journeys completed between 1982 and 2009. Travel photographs and stories illustrate Foster’s unique experiences. Artworks from his early career as a pop artist are also included.

Past Journey Exhibitions

Tony Foster’s past exhibitions include fourteen watercolor journeys completed between 1982 and 2009. After showing in a variety of locations, the journeys were broken up and the individual paintings sold. Sacred Places and Exploring Beauty, the 15th and 16th journeys, were purchased in their entirety by the Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation to keep them intact and available to the public. Some of Tony Foster’s work can also be viewed in the collections of a number of public institutions.

Journeys

Journeys

 

Tony Foster’s Wilderness Journeys, 1982–2015

The map at right shows painting locations for all of the sixteen journeys described below.

 

1982

Travels without a Donkey in the Cévennes retraces the steps of Robert Louis Stevenson on his travels through the French Pyrenees as documented in his book Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879).

 

1984

Thoreau’s Country: Walks and Canoe Journeys in New England tracks Foster as he follows the path of one of his “philosophical heroes,” Henry David Thoreau, painting in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

 

1986–87

John Muir’s High Sierra helped to rekindle interest in John Muir through Foster’s great appreciation for America’s national parks. The exhibition became instrumental in the formation of the John Muir Trust in Scotland.

 

1988–89

Exploring the Grand Canyon chronicles Foster’s travels through the Grand Canyon as he hiked most of its four hundred miles of trails to paint its magnificent views and complex geology.

 

1990–94

Arid Lands: Watercolour Diaries of Journeys across Deserts highlights the often unappreciated beauty of the deserts of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico.

 

1991–93

Rainforest Diaries: Watercolours from Costa Rica explores the lush wilderness of untouched cloud forests. The journey challenged Foster with mud, rain, insects, and the intricacies of painting green on green.

 

1993–94

Wilderness Journeys: Watercolour Diaries of the Idaho Rockies explores the distinctive characteristics of each of the parallel ranges that make up the Rocky Mountains in Idaho.

 

1996–97

Ice and Fire: Watercolour Diaries of Volcano Journeys showcases Foster’s travels to Montserrat, Hawaii, the Andes, the Cascades, and California, as he paints active volcanoes and icy mountains.

 

1998–99

After Lewis and Clark: Explorer Artists and the American West examines a changing landscape as Foster retraces the footsteps of Lewis and Clark in Montana, Idaho, and Washington, seeking to paint wild places along the route.

 

 

1998–2002

WaterMarks: Watercolour Diaries from Swamps to Icebergs explores water in all its forms, including Arctic icebergs, Yellowstone geysers, the swamps of Georgia and Florida, and the waterfalls of Guyana.

 

2002

The Whole Salmon features a painting for each day of Foster’s 415-mile rafting trip down Idaho’s beautiful Salmon River, from its source to its confluence.

 

2006

Rocky Days documents a series of short hiking trips in the Idaho Rockies, capturing the region’s abundant natural beauty.

 

2004–7

Searching for a Bigger Subject: Watercolour Diaries from Everest and the Grand Canyon looks at two of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders: Mount Everest and the Grand Canyon. Foster drew on all his mental and physical resources as well as his artistic skill to document these iconic landmarks. He endured great adversity to become the only person ever to paint all three sides of Everest.

 

 

2009

Secret Sites is Foster’s highly personal tribute to the friendships that sustain him on his journeys. Each of the ten works features a favorite secret site of his Idaho supporters. Maps of the locations remain sealed inside the frames.

 

2010–12

Sacred Places: Watercolour Diaries from the American Southwest documents Foster’s research and travel to the Four Corners region of the American Southwest as he painted landscapes deemed sacred by Native Americans, Catholics, New Age practitioners, and Mormons.

 

2007–16

Exploring Beauty: Watercolour Diaries from the Wild captures the beauty and wonder of often inaccessible and endangered places across the globe as nominated by some of the world’s leading scientists, explorers, writers, environmentalists, and mountaineers.

Journey Exhibitions

Journey Exhibitions

2016-present

Exploring Beauty: Watercolour Diaries from the Wild

Royal Watercolour Society, Bankside Gallery, London

Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, England

The Foster, Palo Alto, CA (ongoing)

2012–present

Sacred Places: Watercolour Diaries from the American Southwest

Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff

The Foster, Palo Alto, CA (ongoing)

2009

Secret Sites

Gail Severn Gallery, Ketchum, ID

2008-09

Searching for a Bigger Subject: Watercolour Diaries from Everest and the Grand Canyon

Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, England

Royal Watercolour Society, Bankside Gallery, London

Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

Gerald Peters Gallery, Dallas

Gerald Peters Gallery, NY

Phoenix Art Museum, AZ

2006

Rocky Days

Gail Severn Gallery, Ketchum, ID

2003-05

WaterMarks: Watercolour Diaries from Swamps to Icebergs

Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, England

James Graham & Sons, New York

Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA

National Wildlife Museum, Jackson Hole, WY

2003-04

The Whole Salmon: A Multidisciplinary Commission Project (group exhibition)

Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Ketchum, ID

2000-01

After Lewis and Clark: Explorer Artists and the American West (group exhibition)

Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Ketchum, ID

Boise Art Museum, ID

1998-99

Ice and Fire: Watercolour Diaries of Volcano Journeys

Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, England

Harewood House, Yorkshire, England

Royal Geographical Society, London

Meyerson + Nowinski, Seattle, WA

Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1995-96

Arid Lands: Watercolour Diaries of Journeys Across Deserts

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England

Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Channing Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM

Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities, Ketchum, ID

 

1995

Wilderness Journeys: Watercolour Diaries of the Idaho Rockies

Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities, Ketchum, ID

1992-93

Rainforest Diaries: Watercolours from Costa Rica

Bruton Gallery, Bath, England

Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, England

Harewood House, Yorkshire, England

Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1990

Exploring the Grand Canyon

Plymouth Arts Center, England

Newlyn Orion Art Gallery, Penzance, England

Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1987-89

John Muir’s High Sierra: A Watercolour Diary

City of Edinburgh Art Centre Scotland

Ecology Centre, London

Museum of Art, Olin Center, Lewiston, ME

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA

Francesca Anderson Gallery, Boston, MA

National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

1985-86

Thoreau’s Country: Walks and Canoe Journeys in New England

Royal Watercolour Society, Bankside Gallery, London

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT

Francesca Anderson Gallery, Boston, MA

Concord Museum, MA

Thorne Sagendorph Art Gallery, Keene, NH

1985

Travels without a Donkey in the Cevennes (with James Ravilious)

Curwen Gallery London

MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling University

Glasgow Art Centre

French Cultural Institute, Edinburgh

 

See additional solo and group exhibitions on Tony Foster’s website.

Public Collections

Public Collections

Tony Foster’s artwork can be seen in a number of public collections and private institutions. Visit their websites or contact them to plan a visit.

  • Autry Center for Western Art, Los Angeles, California
  • Denver Art Museum, Colorado
  • Falmouth Museum and Art Gallery, England
  • Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
  • Natural Resources Defense Council, San Francisco office (contact to arrange a visit)
  • Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, Nevada
  • Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona
  • Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (hospital), England
  • Stanford University, Y2E2 faculty lounge, California (private)
  • Thorne Sagendorph Art Gallery, Keene State College, Keene, New Hampshire
  • Yosemite National Park, California

Now showing!

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West at the Whitney Western Art Museum in Cody, Wyoming, is currently showing Tony Foster’s painting of Imperial Geyser in their exhibition Inspiring Sites: Yellowstone Through Artists’ Eyes (through 2017).

Courtesy of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Explore

Explore videos, links and other resources to learn more about Tony Foster and his watercolor journeys.

Exhibition Resources

Exhibition Resources

 

Exploring Beauty

Take an audio tour of the exhibition.

View excerpts from a film by Bruno Peyronnet of Tony Foster painting Mount Blanc.

Download a PDF of the exhibition catalogue.

 

Curators: see exhibition details and our FAQ.

 

Sacred Places

Take an audio tour of the exhibition.

Watch videos about Tony Foster’s concept for Sacred Places, his process, and the extreme conditions he faces painting on site.

Download a PDF of the softcover exhibition catalogue.

 

Curators: see exhibition details and our FAQ.

The Artist

The Artist

Tony Foster’s paintings on wilderness themes, and their accompanying souvenirs and journals, document one man’s deeply felt experience and resonate with a fundamental human need to connect with the earth.

Foster devotes considerable time to selecting his subjects, traveling to them, and painting en plein air from a tiny paint box. Sometimes, he must hike or raft for days or weeks to get to the perfect site, and he lives there for months at a time. Geographic and weather conditions are often challenging. Engaging with his wilderness subjects on their terms, Foster becomes deeply embedded in the environment in which his paintings are created. He captures all aspects of the beauty and grandeur of the natural world in paintings that range from small studies to some of the largest works that anyone has ever achieved on site—the largest up to 4ft x 7 ft.

Foster conveys the full experience of living and working on site and draws the viewer into his paintings by including “souvenirs”, usually mounted within the frame. These can take many forms, including natural and found objects, cultural artifacts, maps, and studies, written notes and diary extracts. They reflect his close observation of a particular natural area over a period of time and often carry profound symbolic meaning.

See highlights of Tony Foster’s life and career.

Watch videos to learn more about Tony Foster.

See images of Tony Foster at Work on site.

Visit Tony’s website to see awards and career highlights.

Click the cover of the book to browse through Tony Foster’s watercolor journeys or

BUY NOW

Videos

Videos

 

Explore videos of Tony Foster discussing his career, his process, and the challenges he faces painting in wilderness on The Foster’s YouTube channel.

 

Featured Video

In 2012, Eliocom, a French film production company, invited Tony Foster and three other artists to paint in the Alps for a 60-minute documentary. Foster chose a location with a dramatic view of Mont Blanc and spent a week working on-site. “Artistes d’en Haut” aired on French TV in November of 2012. (Film courtesy of Bruno Peyronnet.)

 

Press

Press

Throughout his long career, Tony Foster’s wilderness journeys have been featured in a number of newspapers and magazines. Below are some of the most recent.

 

Selected Articles

This Trip Needs No Ticket: Journey Through Art at the Foster, Palo Alto Pulse, October 12, 2016

The Wilderness in Watercolour: How Art Inspires Awareness in the Digital Age, Medium.com, June 22, 2016

Exploring Beauty: Watercolour Diaries from the Wild, Geographical Magazine, June 10, 2016

Wild Watercolours, Artists & Illustrators Magazine, June 2016

Two New Galleries Present Fascinating Shows, San Jose Mercury News, Mar. 23, 2016

Wild At Art, The Art Newspaper, Mar. 14, 2016

Watercolor Wilderness, Palo Alto Weekly, Mar. 10, 2016

 

NewsletterS

Read past issues of The Foster’s newsletter, The Journey.

Press Images

To download an image sheet, click here.

Use the links below to view sample images available to the press. Click the Request button for access to view and download high resolution versions of these and additional images.

View All 51 Paintings from Exploring Beauty: Watercolour Diaries from the Wild.

See sample images of Tony Foster at Work painting on site.

See sample images of Tony Foster's Studio in Tywardreath, Cornwall.

Click the button below to request high resolution images.

REQUEST

Join

Thank you for your interest in The Foster! There are many ways to become involved.

CONNECT

Sign up on our e-mailing list to learn about events and programs, receive invitations for exhibition openings and to meet the artist, and keep up with news about Tony Foster’s latest wilderness journey.

HOST

Art can be a catalyst for connecting a community. Our space at 940 Commercial Street in Palo Alto may be available for your event. Contact us!

BORROW

Art must be seen in person to experience its full impact. We want as many people as possible to be able to see and experience Tony Foster’s artistic vision and aim to help support the costs of mounting an exhibition of his work for museums, galleries, and institutions. If you are an arts professional interested in hosting an exhibition, please get in touch and we’ll see how we can help. 

DONATE

We welcome your support of our mission to inspire reflection, discussion, and education about art, wilderness and the natural world. The participation of Tony Foster’s collectors and travel companions as well as interested financial partners is critical to our long-term success. Let us know if you have a Foster painting or memorabilia to donate.

The Foster is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; contributions are tax-deductible. Checks can be made out to “Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation” and mailed to 940 Commercial Street, Palo Alto, California 94303. OR…

Make a secure donation below. A letter of acknowledgement will be emailed to you.