Baltimore-born artist Dunston trained in scientific and preparatory medicine illustration in college. But when the Denver resident discovered en plein air painting—the full-on French Impressionist kind—it was an epiphany. “I didn’t know it was a thing people actually did,” she says. She built her own mobile setup and started to take it on hikes, leaving the four walls of her studio behind. 

But it wasn’t until a trip to Lodged Out, an off-the-grid retreat in Leavenworth, Washington, that her style and voice came together: As a black woman, she realized that people of color are underrepresented in the outdoors. Whether she’s illustrating herself as the subject or making sure that her hand is represented in a photo of her paintings, she’s injecting her distinctiveness into the work she creates. “I want to showcase myself and the people like me who spend time on trails,” she says. “We are a reflection of nature, and nature is a reflection of us.” 

Follow Dunston on Instagram here.

This article first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of The Voice. Read the complete issue here.

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