NICOLE HASEK | JEFFERSON HERALD Chad Elliott performing original music at Deal’s Orchard last fall.

Paint the Park: Chad Elliott touring Iowa parks with music and art


Singer, songwriter and artist Chad Elliott will bring his guitar and easel with him to state and local parks throughout Iowa this summer.

Once Elliott finds a spot with a view he wants to paint, he’ll spend two to three hours painting the public space with viewers welcome to watch. Once he is finished, he’ll follow with a two hour musical performance.

“It’s a lot of nature inspired stuff,” Elliott said. “I’ve written, throughout the years, a lot of river songs and nature songs, so I lean on those.”

Elliott currently has about 10 parks interested in hiring him, with three parks confirmed and are setting dates. He started his park search exclusively looking for Iowa locations, but hopes surrounding states will be interested as well.

To find the perfect spot within the park, Elliott does what he learned through his college art classes: squinting. He said if he can still see the “beautiful composition” of the landscape even while squinting, he knows he has found the place.

“That’s what I’m looking forward to the most, finding those little magical spots in each of those parks that some people might know about, some people might not, and that’ll be the best part,” Elliott said.

For years, Elliott said he has been searching for a way to combine his passions for music and art, and this was finally found when he opened his studio in Jefferson. 

“It’s kind of one of those things where you’re going to use as many gifts as you’re given and finding a way to do that is always beneficial,” Elliott said.

The idea for this series started when the Weary Ramblers, Elliott’s folk duo group with Kathryn Fox, was asked to perform at Ledges State Park’s 100th anniversary in September. Elliott said after planning this, he decided he wanted to do a performance series that included more parks.

Elliott traveled to different national parks to paint landscapes during the pandemic, including the Badlands and the Grand Canyon, and wants to celebrate Iowa parks the same way.

At the end of this series, Elliott hopes to have enough paintings to create an art book with each piece. 

“I don’t know if it’s going to be a possibility, but hopefully it will inspire songs,” Elliott said. “If I get a book and some songs with it, it’ll be the really full package, so that’s the ultimate goal.”

Elliott can be booked by contacting

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