All my work is about journeys.

Tony Foster

News & Events

 TEACHER OUTREACH

We are reaching out to educators to encourage them to tour The Foster. Contact us to receive a packet with catalogues, bookmarks, and a voucher for a $50 gift card to Accent Arts or REI.

NEW EXTENDED HOURS!

The Foster is now open Monday through Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM, and Saturday & Sunday, 12 – 5 PM.

Appointments for guided tours can be made here.

OPEN MEMORIAL DAY!

Be Inspired by a Journey

We unite the watercolor journeys of artist-explorer Tony Foster in powerful exhibitions that inspire people to connect with wilderness. These exhibitions are open to the public and available for loan to museums and other public venues.

About Us

About Us

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

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

D. 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

 

FOUNDER

Jane Woodward

STAFF

Heidi Hackford, Director of Communications & Operations

Mattias Lanas, Program and Guest Services Manager

Kristin Poole, Artistic Director

Dan Saal, Design Director

Staff biographies

Mission

Mission

Mission Statement

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

Our Vision

We believe that art provides an opportunity to see the world from a new perspective and that Tony Foster’s art is uniquely suited to inspire and educate. In becoming the central archive for Tony Foster’s work, we will preserve it for posterity and place it in art historical context and in dialogue with contemporary life.

Tony Foster engages with his wilderness sites at the most basic and intimate human level—by traveling across and into his subjects by foot, kayak, or canoe, camping on site and painting through all kinds of weather. He takes the time to deeply observe and live in a place and to convey his experience through the painstaking work of his paintbrush, by collecting souvenirs and in keeping a journal. His journeys are quests for understanding and meaning of place.

We believe that exploring a complete watercolor journey provides an opportunity for people to experience for themselves the creative and affirming power of the natural environment. To reach the broadest possible audience, we loan traveling exhibitions of wilderness journeys to art and natural history museums and educational and environmental organizations. We hope they may be inspired to borrow the journeys to exhibit at their own institutions.

The Foster

The Foster

The Foster is a quiet, contemplative place in which to take a break from regular life and 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.

We welcome members of the public Monday through Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 12 – 5 PM. Appointments for guided tours can be made online. Admission is free.

 

The Foster also serves as a community venue for art, wilderness, and educational programs and events. Contact us if you are interested in hosting an event here.

Meet an Artist-Explorer

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. His process is compelling and his work unique.

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

 

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.

Purchase the book: BUY NOW

Journeys

Finding inspiration in the wild places of the world.

Journeys

Tony Foster was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1946. Since 1982, he has pursued themes with a strong philosophical and environmental rationale. His commitment to documenting wilderness areas around the globe raises awareness about the need for their protection. Foster’s “journeys” — projects which can take up to ten years to complete, involve multiple trips, and comprise between ten and fifty paintings — have ranged from mountains and canyons to glaciers, deserts, water, volcanoes, rainforests, and such iconic natural places as the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest.

 

 

Tony Foster’s Wilderness Journeys, 1982–2015

 

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.

 

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.

 

2006

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

 

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.

 

Read more about the journeys here.

Sites

Painting and camping in remote areas.

Sites

Foster devotes considerable time to selecting his subjects, traveling to them, and painting en plein air. 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.

Places

Collecting objects and experiences.

Places

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.

Experience a Journey

We believe that viewing a watercolor journey in its entirety provides powerful inspiration. The paintings suggest intriguing connections with other artworks, artifacts and collections, and they appeal to a broad audience. Imagine how you might use them to share your own interpretation and vision.

Click the circles below to learn more about the exhibitions and view the paintings.

EXHIBITIONS

Exploring Beauty: Watercolour Diaries from the Wild

JOURNEY DETAILS: 51 paintings from sites all over the world including France, Borneo, the Cayman Islands, Cornwall and more!

Tony Foster immerses himself in wild landscapes across the globe to convey the beauty and wonder of these often inaccessible and endangered places. Over the past decade he invited some of the world’s leading scientists, explorers, writers, environmentalists, and mountaineers to nominate the most beautiful wild place they had ever seen. These included:

  • Sir David Attenborough, world-renowned naturalist and broadcaster
  • Dr. Winslow Briggs, Director Emeritus of the Carnegie Institute of Plant Biology, Stanford University
  • Maria Teresa Ruiz, Professor of Astronomy, Universidad de Chile
  • Professor Stephen Sparks, volcanologist and winner of the Vetlesen Prize
  • Click here for more information about the luminaries.

Foster traveled to each designated area to see if he could share the inspiration of the nominator. The paintings document his experiences on site from the remote jungles of Borneo to desert sands in Chile.

View All 51 Paintings

 

If you are interested in hosting this exhibition, see exhibition details and contact us.

Take an audio tour of the exhibition. (Designed for mobile phones.)

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

nOW ON VIEW!

Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation | Palo Alto, California

 PAST VENUES

Royal Cornwall Museum | Truro, Cornwall | July – November 2016

Bankside Gallery | London, England | June 2016

Exploring Beauty will be available for travel in 2020.

CATALOGUE

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

Buy Now

 

Sacred Places: Watercolour Diaries from the American Southwest

JOURNEY DETAILS: Thirty-four paintings | From sites in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico

Traveling throughout the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States between 2009 and 2012, Tony Foster documented the beauty of the natural landscape and his experiences of the area’s rich blend of cultures and faiths. The region is the spiritual homeland of the Navajo, Ute, Havasupai, Paiute, Pueblo, Hopi, and Zuni people, and followers of the Catholic and Mormon faiths and New Age adherents also made their marks. Sacred Places honors these sites and serves as a powerful appeal for their protection.

If you are interested in hosting this exhibition, see exhibition details and contact us.

View All 34 Paintings

 

Take an audio tour of the exhibition. (Designed for mobile phones.)

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

Read an article about Sacred Places from its 2013 opening at the Museum of Northern Arizona.

Now On View!

Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation | Palo Alto, California

PREVIOUS VENUES

Gerald Peters Gallery | Santa Fe, New Mexico

Museum of Northern Arizona | Flagstaff, Arizona

Sacred Places is available to travel in 2020.

CATALOGUE

Download a PDF of the softcover exhibition catalogue.

Click the button below to purchase the softcover exhibition catalogue or the award-winning hardcover catalogue—a portfolio containing art prints, essays, diary extracts, maps, postcards and more—that recreates the experience of traveling with Tony Foster on a journey of discovery.

BUY NOW

See what's inside

Since 1982, Tony Foster has undertaken sixteen watercolor “journeys”—painting projects based on a wilderness theme—that often involve multiple expeditions and take years to complete. 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.

This exhibition showcases representative paintings, travel photographs, quotes and stories that span Foster’s long career.

NOW ON VIEW!

Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation | Palo Alto, California

 

To see images of past watercolor journeys, visit Tony Foster’s website.

Visit

The Foster is a quiet, contemplative place in which to 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 major holidays.
OPEN MEMORIAL DAY!
*PLEASE NOTE: The Foster will be closing at 3pm on Saturday, July 8th, for a private event. 

 

Guided tours of approximately 60 minutes are available by appointment. Click the button below to schedule a TOUR.

 

 

Contact Mattias Lanas at mattias@thefoster.org or call 650.209.7181 if the available times do not work for you.

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.

Contact Us / Donate

BORROW
If you are an arts professional interested in hosting an exhibition…

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. Please get in touch and we’ll see how we can help. 

HOST
If you’d like to host an event at our venue…

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

DONATE/VOLUNTEER
If you’d like to donate or volunteer…

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 or if you would like to volunteer.

Make a secure donation below. The Foster is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; contributions are tax-deductible.

Fields marked with an * are required

Press

Press Releases

Exploring Beauty Opens in Palo Alto, CA, March 4, 2017

Exploring Beauty Opens in Cornwall July 15, 2016

Exploring Beauty Opens in the UK May 16, 2016

Launch of the Foundation Feb. 27, 2016

News and Articles

A Calling for the Wild, Resurgence & Ecologist, Issue 299, Nov/Dec. 2016 (link to purchase issue)

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

Forget Twitter: For Serious Explorers the Notebook is Still King, The Scotsman, September 28, 2016

I’m a Geographer: Tony Foster, Geographical Magazine, August 2016

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

Tony Foster included in exhibition Summer Job: Learning with the Permanent Collection at the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery at Keene State College, New Hampshire, June 17-July 24, 2016

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

Tony Foster in the Wilderness, Artists & Illustrators website, June 9, 2016

Read Opening Remarks for Exploring Beauty: Watercolour Diaries from the Wild, Bankside Gallery, June 9, 2016

Wild Watercolours, Artists & Illustrators Magazine, June 2016

An Evening with the Artist Tony Foster (for Artists & Illustrators readers), June 14, 2016, 6-8 pm

Inspiration from the Wild, Cornish Times, 29 May 2016

Artists and the Environment, Harper’s Bazaar Art China, May 2016 (in Chinese)

Sacred Places catalogue wins gold medal for “Best Regional Non-Fiction Book (West/Mountain Region),” Independent Publisher Book Awards, Apr. 7, 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

Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation featured in Scope (China), “Art Cities: San Francisco,” Feb/Mar. 2016

Tywardreath artist Tony Foster sees foundation donated to his name launched in California, Cornish Guardian, Feb. 24, 2016

Archive

Tony Foster Show at MNA Reveals His Process, Arizona Daily Sun, June 16, 2013

Artists in the Backcountry: Tony Foster, Expeditionary Art blog, June 16, 2009

Art as an Adventure, Sun Valley Magazine, July 31, 2008

Where This Artist Goes, Danger Often Follows, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 18, 2008

Rainforest Man, The Independent, Feb. 22, 1993

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.

See sample Installation Images of paintings on view at the Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation in Palo Alto, California.

Click the button below to request high resolution images.

REQUEST

Video

Watch videos of Tony Foster at work, his unique process, and the extreme conditions he often faces painting on site.