A Common Passion

A Common Passion

Painters MaryEllen Hackett and Nikki Frumkin 

We’re proud that Nikki Frumkin and MaryEllen Hackett met through She Explores. Nikki is a watercolor painter who lives in Washington and is known on social media as @drawntohighplaces. She has an affinity for starry night skies and cascading mountain-scapes. MaryEllen is a painter and a park ranger known for her compellingly delicate plein air landscapes. She’s based out of the California Sierra.  They’re both passionate about painting outdoors and raising awareness for the beautiful places they recreate and create.

Two years ago, Nikki and MaryEllen began collaborating on a series inspired by public land and the particular landscapes that draw them in. Even though they live in different parts of the country, they’ve imparted their individual perspectives onto each piece as they traded them by mail.

MaryEllen describes the experience:

Through collaboration, I give up a little bit of myself, but also see new possibilities. The end result is not known to me, and as I mail the groundwork away to an artist who reminds me of myself, in subject and lifestyle, I wonder how far the end result will be from what I would have done. Our styles are very different, but I get the feeling Nikki loves her landscapes the way I do mine, and for that reason sending her the volcanic foregrounds I painted while living at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is exciting.

Hawai’i Volcanoes (MaryEllen painted the base and Nikki completed)

The images she sent me, a pen and ink of Mount Rainier and a starry sky, had me thinking of places I love, weather elements I look forward to, in the same way she looks forward to seeing Pacific Northwest mountains rise on the horizon. For me it was a favorite pattern of clouds, one rarely seen at elevation, that I know from life on the east coast.

Mount Rainier and the cloud pattern

Yosemite to me is Rainier to her.


Mount Rainier

When staring at the stars I could see the silhouette of Yosemite Valley against them. Yosemite to me is Rainier to her.

Yosemite Valley

When I received a peak at the volcanoes I sent her way I was astounded at where she took them. At first I thought “I am erased,” but then saw the overlay, how she worked with my original painting. Now I see us in equal parts. The goal was never to meld into a style outside our own, but to work with another distinct style to create cohesion. 

Hawai’i Volcanoes

Through collaboration, I give up a little bit of myself, but also see new possibilities.


Paintings by MaryEllen Hackett and Nikki Frumkin.

MaryEllen and Nikki are in the process of deciding which nonprofits to donate future proceeds from these art pieces. You can follow along with MaryEllen at @hereandfarther and via her portfolio site. You can find Nikki at @drawntohighplaces and through her portfolio site.


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