Every year the South Carolina State Parks Service hosts the Artist-In-Residence program. This program provides artists with the opportunity to gain inspiration from the natural and cultural resources of the South Carolina State Parks. In return for a week-long stay at a state park cabin, each artist produces an original piece of artwork that is presented to the park. This competitive program attracts outstanding artists from all over the state and beyond. Out of nearly 100 applicants, meet the 19 artists that were chosen for the 2023 Artist-in-Residence program.  *The Artist-in-Residence program application is released in the fall of each year. Subscribe to our newsletter or follow our FacebookInstagram or Twitter accounts for updates on when the 2024 application opens. 

For more information about the program, visit our Artist-in-Residence page.

Emily Combs - Myrtle Beach State Park

Meet Emily Combs! When she was a young child, her father was in the Air Force and her family moved around a lot. Today, she calls Springfield, Ohio, home.  Emily studied art at Ohio State University and frequently works with wood. She enjoys traveling, hiking, and camping and is inspired by these experiences.

I’m inspired by the experiences I have while traveling. I want my art to inspire the viewer to slow down and take the time to fully experience the natural world around them. Stop and watch a sunset. Take awe in a sunrise over the mountains or the moon reflected in the water. There is beauty all around us. 

Emily received First Place in Fine Craft at the 2022 Westerville Arts Festival and was named the People's Choice Award winner at the 2022 Kettering Art on the Commons. 


Ben Compton - Table Rock State Park

Ben Compton grew up and lives in Lexington, South Carolina with his wife, Suzanne. He began painting in high school and has always been an artist at heart. Ben studied architecture at Clemson University, which included a curriculum of sketching, drawing, painting, photography, and sculpture. As he prepared for his retirement from architecture, he began studying oil painting again. "My philosophy is not to retire from something but rather to something," he said. Ben uses acrylics to create "whimsical butterfly yard art" but his favorite medium, method, and subjects are oil in plein air of landscapes. He also creates still life, portraits, and abstract interpretations as he travels across the United States and abroad. We asked Ben what inspires him:

C. S. Lewis described life on earth as “the shadowlands” stating: “All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of [heaven]……. tantalizing glimpses….” That is why I try to think of the wonders of this earth as tantalizing glimpses or reflections of what awaits. My
purpose in painting is to acknowledge God in all that I paint, as I paint, as the paintings themselves reflect memories of people and places. Thinking of C. S. Lewis’ comments, I call my work REFLECTIONS of a JOURNEY.

He started his art business, Ben Compton Art, in 2006. When he isn't painting, Ben enjoys spending time with family and friends, church, and traveling. 

FacebookInstagram - Website

Michael Gambrell - Poinsett State Park

Michael Gambrell is a native of Greenville and currently lives in the upstate. Michael has an Associates in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Greenville Tech but has found a career in photography. He began his business Shining Star Studios in 2013. Other than photography, he also enjoys programming.

Facebook - Website

Dave Gombka - Givhans Ferry State Park

Dave Gombka grew up in New Jersey before moving to South Carolina in 2005. He has recently retired after a career in Talent Acquisition and Human Resources. Dave has been married for 33 years to his wife, Deborah. They have two adult children and two grandchildren. Dave enjoys creating art with video and photography and mostly focuses on landscapes and nature. 

I am inspired by the changing light and weather.  Light and weather are constantly on the move and a scene may change from one minute to the next. And living on the coast, water plays a big part in my work.   As a kid, my Dad was a freelance photographer during the summers, and we had a darkroom in the basement.  Ever since I can remember I’ve been around cameras and had an interest in creating images, although life got busy raising kids, they are now grown and I am fortunate to have the time to focus on being outdoors with my camera.

Dave won the Margerie and Joe Ross Merit Award for Fine Art Novice Photography at the 2022 South Carolina State Fair and has been published in various calendars and magazines. Other than art, Dave enjoys camping and road trips. He is working on his Ultimate Outsider journey and enjoys frequently visiting his local state parks: Myrtle Beach and Huntington Beach. 

FacebookInstagramWebsite - YouTube

Jose Green - Barnwell State Park

Jose Green grew up in western North Carolina before moving to Charleston, South Carolina, where he worked for 10 years as a police officer. After a severe back injury, he had to medically retire from law enforcement.  

When I had a severe back injury, I was forced to medically retire from law enforcement. The blessing came when I started painting a lot and realized how much I enjoy it. My life had to be redirected and I use reclaimed wood to paint. My business called “The Reclaimed Artist” spoke to both me as the artist and my artwork.

After their children were born, Jose and his wife moved to Greenville to be closer to his parents. Now he is a full time dad and artist! Jose attended the Art Institute of Atlanta. He does acrylic painting on reclaimed wood and wood cutouts with reclaimed wood. He is inspired most by nature, landscapes, and animals. Jose and his family enjoy visiting Hunting Island, Paris Mountain, and Table Rock state parks. 

FacebookInstagram - Website

Cynthia Hailes - Chester State Park

Cynthia Hailes grew up in Greenwood and currently lives in Logan, Utah. She studied art at Utah State University and graduated with a BFA in Illustration and a MFA in Sculpture.  She taught Figurative Sculpture at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco for 14 years, Sculpture at Utah State University for 2 years, and Drawing at Brigham Young University-Idaho for 10 years, in addition to many painting and sculpture workshops.  She has sold her works in galleries across the United States, received various awards, and has created several public art works. Cindy works with a variety of mediums including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and glass mosaic. She also enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling. 

FacebookInstagramOnline Store - Gallery

Greg Hammond - Hickory Knob State Resort Park

A South Carolina native, Greg Hammond is familiar with South Carolina and everything it offers. Greg was born and raised in Greenville and now lives in the upstate with his wife. They have five adult children and two granddaughters. He attended the University of South Carolina to earn a bachelors degree and is now a retired mortgage banker. After retiring, Greg bought a camera and became a serious photographer by learning through classes, articles, books, clubs, and tutorials. He is inspired by nature and enjoys photographing all aspects of it. Aside from photography, Greg enjoys spending time with his family, especially his granddaughters, and volunteering. His two favorite organizations are Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity. Although he is no longer able to physically build homes, he enjoys donating a framed photograph to each new homeowner and hopes to inspire them to explore state parks. 

Jonathan Jackson – Lake Hartwell State Park

Jonathan Jackson is a Charleston local who is a photographer and tour guide. He grew up in Charleston, attended the College of Charleston, and has been published in the Charleston City Paper, Charleston Salt and Iron, and Along Southern Roads. Jonathan started his business 9 years ago, where he does photography and private tours. He also does HDR, drone, and long exposure. Jonathan says his art is inspired by nature, architecture, and the desire to create happy memories. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Elizabeth, their dog, Rosie, and cat, Toasty. One of Jonathan’s favorite South Carolina State Parks is Devils Fork and he looks forward to having his residency at Lake Hartwell State Park.

Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - Website

Jan Lane - Devils Fork State Park

Jan Lane grew up in rural Ohio and now lives in Lexington, South Carolina, with her husband.  Her art career was put on hold while homeschooling her children and caring for her mother, however, creating has always been a passion for Jan which manifested itself in many areas in her life over the years. Whether designing and producing crafts, costumes, school projects, Sunday School displays, or Missions Conference decorations, she was able to satisfy this strong desire to create. Now, however, she fulfills that need at her easel either on location or in her studio and continues to be amazed at how a few strokes of paint can bring an object to life. Her paintings are inspired by the many beautiful places that she has traveled and by her love of nature, each giving a sense to the viewer that they are witnessing the scenes for themselves. Through classes, workshops, and coaching, Jan is constantly striving to learn new skills and is enjoying the challenge.

Facebook - Website

David Mebane - Edisto Beach State Park

David Mebane is an Atlanta, Georgia native. He received a BBA from Georgia State University and now works in operations at a financial institution. David says that the beauty of nature inspires him. "I try to create realistic drawings that you can step into and feel the calmness of that memory," he says. His favorite mediums are colored pencils and ink.

My favorite medium is colored pencils and ink.
I love to create drawings of the parks my wife, Sam, and I have visited using reference photos we both take. I also like the challenge of portraits. My style is photo realism and I work on a smaller scale since colored pencils involve so much delicate layering of color.

David says his favorite park is Edisto Beach State Park, and he is excited to create drawings for them. David and his wife stayed in a cabin at Table Rock State Park for their honeymoon and have been hooked on state parks since then. He would love to visit them all at some point, he says. Check out some of this drawing at the links below! 


Christopher Neal - Devils Fork State Park

Christopher Neal lives in Florence, South Carolina with his wife and three sons. He is a photographer that specializes in nightscapes and mentions that his images really come alive when printed on metal. Christopher is inspired by sharing the beauty of the night sky with others. He has won and placed in several photography competitions in North and South Carolina. In 2022, he placed third nationally in the Share the Experience competition by the National Parks Foundation. Christopher and his family have visited several South Carolina State Parks and look forward to visiting Devils Fork State Park. 


Steven Nisbet - Dreher Island State Park

Currently residing in Port Royal, South Carolina, Steven Nisbet is looking forward to his time as Artist-in-Residence at Santee State Park. Steve spent his childhood in Australia and New Zealand, which led him to a life-long love for the natural world and admiration for nature.

Steven was looking for a hobby in 2009 and picked up some art supplies. He is primarily a self-taught artist but has some family with an artistic background; his grandfather had oil paintings on display in the national museum of New Zealand. He quickly learned that he did not enjoy oil painting as his grandfather had, instead he gravitated toward watercolors. He signed up for a few classes at local and online outlets, but found trial, error and practice are the best teachers. Steve has since added gouache, ink, color pencils and pastels to his arsenal.

Steven has participated in many juried Fine Art shows in the region. He was also selected to display in both the South Carolina and Georgia Watercolor Society year-end shows.


Patrick O'Brien - Santee State Park

Patrick O'Brien grew up in Washington D.C. and now lives in Charleston, South Carolina.. He attended the University of Alabama but studied photography as an assistant to former National Geographic photographer Steve Uzzell. Patrick has now been a photographer for 25 years. He creates landscape, lifestyle and adventure based photography for a number of clients in South Carolina and across the United States. He received recognition as the Charleston Magazine Photo of the Year in 2020. Patrick is inspired by natural beauty as well as the adventure and energy of finding the perfect location at the perfect time. Besides photography, he enjoys mountain biking and kayaking. Patrick, his wife, and their daughter also love exploring South Carolina, looking for shells, and building sand castles at the beach. 


Douglas Piper - Cheraw State Park

Kristin Rahn – Colleton State Park

Kristin Rahn worked in software product management before retiring in 2021. She grew up just outside of Augusta in Evans, Georgia and now lives in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. Kristin holds an undergraduate degree in math and computer science from Clemson University and a masters in statistics from North Carolina State University. She wanted to test out photography as a new hobby and bought her first DSLR in 2018. She quickly grew to love photographing birds, wildlife, and the outdoors with her dog as her assistant. Kristin has been published in Wildlife in North Carolina magazine, placed as a semifinalist in showcases by the North American Nature Photography Association and The Nature Conservancy, is the featured artist in the Ocean Isle Beach Town Hall, is a regular exhibitor for the Coastal Carolina Museum. She also recently began her own photography business. Her other hobbies include fossil hunting, cooking, reading, watching pelicans and dolphins, and walking the beach with her boxer. Kristin looks forward to visiting several state parks during her residency at Colleton State Park.


Alex Salmon - Oconee State Park

Alex Salmon grew up along the South Carolina coast before moving to Columbia, where he now lives with his wife, Blair, and children, Edward and Shields. Alex attend the University of South Carolina and owned an insurance company. His art was inspired by his children.  

After Edward was born, I fell in love with creating composition and the idea that a single picture can tell a masterful story. My family and I love to be outside and especially love our many SC State Park adventures! We have 10 more parks to become #UltimateOutsiders! I take my camera on every one of these adventures and love documenting our time together.

Alex and his family began their Ultimate Outsider journey in 2018. He says it is hard to pick a favorite park, but he is drawn to the parks in the mountains and is pleased to be placed at Oconee State Park for his residency. Alex unofficially started his own business in 2015, called Salmon Photo and Video, and made it his full-time career in 2021 after selling his insurance agency. Check out some of his photos and videos at the links below! 


David Schuppert- Givhans Ferry State Park

Growing up in the town of Skippack, Pennsylvania, David Schuppert developed a love for the outdoors and art at a young age. After graduating high school in 1965, David attended a four year commercial and fine arts program at the School of Art & Design in Philadelphia. After art school, he joined the Marine Corps and served in Vietnam. One of his drawings is even in the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia. Following his time in the Marine Corps, David opened an art studio in Pennsylvania and began a career in illustration. His favorite subject is natural science illustration and he has enjoyed producing artwork for various publications, including textbooks, children's books, displays and magazines. David has had various pieces accepted into the annual exhibitions of the Guild of National Science Illustrators in Washington and the Focus on Nature exhibition at the New York State Museum. Over the years has also worked in screen printing, sign painting, murals and custom graphics. In 2016, he retired from a large publishing firm but he still does freelance illustration. 

David now focuses on landscape and wildlife painting primarily in acrylic and pastel. His work has been accepted into both national and international exhibitions and he has won numerous awards both as an illustrator and painter. David and his wife, Patti, currently reside in West Columbia, SC and he is honored to be participating in the AIR program at Givhans Ferry State Park. 


Susan Stansell - Dreher Island State Park

Susan Stansell is a native of Pickens County, South Carolina. She creates all kinds of art but specializes in glass mosaics. Susan says that nature and experiences are what inspires her art. During the 40th South Carolina Juried Arts Competition, Susan placed 3rd and received the Peoples Choice Award. Other than creating art, she enjoys gardening and sightseeing. 


Lynne and Howard Trotter - Barnwell State Park

Lynne and Howard grew up in Gadsden, Alabama and have lived in Georgia and South Carolina before retiring in Lexington, South Carolina. Howard retired from manufacturing as a plant manager and Lynne as a social worker. They have two adult children and two grandchildren. Together, Howard and Lynne make up Trotter Arts. The duo enjoys creating different types of art but they primarily focus on photography. 

Lynne's love for photography and fabrics pushed us in the direction of dye-sublimation printing on satin fabric. We desired a finish that could be gallery wrapped without the glare of glass. After experimentation, we found a material and process that produces bright, deep color transitions with a light sheen and no glare. The gallery wrapped final product can be displayed with or without additional framing. We hand stretch and mount each piece in our home studio to ensure the level of quality that we expect. Many of our customers tell us that our products are unique and that they love the quality, vibrancy, and crispness of the satin prints. The Satin Print has a unique look, between a printed canvas and a print on metal, certainly most appreciated when viewed in person.

Lynne and Howard are frequent flyers in state parks and have many familiar scenes in their portfolio.