Friday, December 18, 2009

Lighting and painting in a Montana residence...

We just finished a lighting project for a new Montana residence. We designed and created these one of a kind pieces for their particular space and needs... they really fit in perfectly. It's great seeing the pieces we made in their 'new home', looking like that's exactly where they belong. They are just starting to collect art for the home now and chose Autumn Hillside to hang in the master suite... It's really a beautiful home - we're proud to have our work included and always hope our efforts add to our clients enjoyment and appreciation of their surroundings. Everyone should get to experience the feel of a home with hand made pieces throughout and art work - so lacking in our society today. (I'll save that tangent for another day...)And yes, we are very lucky to have such a wonderful 'job'!

The wolves are here....

Scouting the Valley - wolf pair in bronze by John Stacy
The wolf pair has made it into bronze! Two pairs were created.... one with a black patina and one with a brown finish - a client has taken #1 (the black patina was the first set to be made) and the other with the brown patina we have here in our gallery to see in person.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Wolves Are Coming!

I was at the foundry recently and had the opportunity to watch them pour the 'liquid bronze' for John's wolf sculpture - an amazing process to turn a sculpture into bronze via the lost wax method....

The patina is being done this week. Watch for photos of the finished pieces here soon!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Painting Classes

Last night we had a fun painting class at the Gallery. Our topic of the evening was COLOR - one of my favorites! To illustrate some of the basic principles, I whipped up some blue and orange Jell-O for us to paint. I cut it into LOTS of cubes, so everyone could have their own plate of colors and shapes. A good exercise to illustrate complementary AND warm and cool colors. We also looked at the relative warmness and coolness of EACH color. Even though many people think of blue as a cool color and orange as a warm color - it's relative. There are warmer and cooler blues - so we looked for those varieties in our Jell-O. Where the colors overlapped, since Jell-O is translucent, you could really see a change in the temperatures and colors. VERY interesting and fun to paint! This session we're focusing on color and design, but I can't stop myself - next week I'm also going to be talking about VALUES. It's just too important of a concept to not bring up!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

We just returned from a trip to upper Wisconsin to deliver a large group of our lighting we had designed and created for a client's guest cabin. Years ago, we created the lighting for their second home on this property. So it was great to return! Wonderful clients in a beautiful spot - you can't beat it. Above are some images of their guest cabin after the lighting was installed. It was a really enjoyable trip. The weather was perfect for traveling and we fit in a stop at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts where we viewed their current exhibit - Masterpieces from the Louvre - We also stopped at the Museum of Russian Art and 'indulged' ourselves - There was a one man show of an artist from the area, Jeffrey Larson, that was a treat to see too - ... Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Let the painting begin....

I'm teaching a panting class this fall here at the Gallery in Gardiner. We had our first class Monday evening. The focus of the class will be composition and color. Particularly... what makes a good design (along with what doesn't!) and mixing your colors using complements to grey the colors down (opposites on the color wheel), We started working mostly with the complementary colors of red and green (apples were our subject) using a limited palette - only cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow light, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and white. So everyone had to mix ALL their greens. ALWAYS a good exercise. It went really well - lots of creative energy packed into the room. I sent home directions for making color charts with everyone for homework. So much to learn, so little time!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A new studio painting....

Life Springs Eternal by Shirl Ireland oil on linen 24" x 30"
This area of Yellowstone (Upper Terraces) is just 5 miles from home, so I paint there often. It's a beautiful, almost surreal landscape. The colors, shapes and textures are great painting inspiration! I've been there many mornings plein air painting, often before the sun rises. It's my favorite time to be there. This particular morning was a gem. The reflected colors at dawn were absolutely amazing!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Plein Air in Yellowstone Park....

I went into the Park today and 'painted like a wild woman'! Dunraven Pass has closed and more roads will be closing soon, so the taste of painting in some of the more remote areas of the Park is particularly sweet right now. They will be inaccessible until Spring. The end is near. So I savor these adventures. And it's always an adventure, painting outside at this time of year in the Park. The weather can change in minutes... and it did! I saw beautiful fall weather to blustery winter weather. Today I painted under cloudy skies, sunny skies AND was snowed on. I painted Yellowstone Lake, while a herd of bison roamed the shore. I painted in Hayden Valley while an eagle soared overhead and I painted in heavy snow in the area of the Ice Lake trail. It was a good day!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

On to become bronze....

Scouting The Valley - wolf pair in clay

This is a sculpture of a wolf pair John has been working on for quite some time. It has been tweaked, changed, adjusted many times - but it is finally ready to be 'set in bronze'. That's a big step, since you really want to be sure it's EXACTLY as you'd like it. There's no changing it once it's bronzed - and it will last much longer than we will, so it's important to be a really great piece! And it is... if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A new table lamp

North Country Table Lamp

Many years ago we created a pair of table lamps for a client in Maine. Recently he contacted us about making another lamp for him. It is such a treat to create another piece for a 'repeat customer' - knowing they have enjoyed our work all these years and want more - what a compliment!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A fun adventure...

Like I've said, I'm not just a fair weather painter - I actually LIKE the messy days! So when it snowed in Bozeman this week, a friend and I headed to the mountains above, where there was even MORE snow... Hyalite Canyon. We 'cheated' and brought firewood, tea and soup... "cushy" plein air painting. We had a ball!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cody landscape

Thought I'd add a photo of the Cody area landscape.... quite a change from the Teton landscape where we were the previous weekend. Both Cody (to the east) and the Tetons (to the south) are about a 3 hour (awe-inspiring!) drive from Gardiner. Certainly beautiful - and VERY diverse - day trips.

Buffalo Bill Historical Center

We took a quick trip to Cody, WY to visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and Museum along with some related art events during the town's annual 'Rendezvous Royale'. But the hands down highlight was the Whitney Museum (which is part of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center). Last winter they did MAJOR renovations on the building and WOW what an improvement! I can't say enough good things. We were very impressed - and thoroughly enjoyed the art. The large Moran painting of Yellowstone Falls is a must see...AMAZING! The Rungius paintings are phenomenal and I also really enjoyed all the Remington studies. They have an absolutely wonderful collection there. I highly recommend a trip to take it all in!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Studio Tour

If you're passing by our Studio and Gallery today - stop in! We're here from 10 am - 4 pm, as part of the Park County wide Studio Tour. It's been organized through the Danforth Gallery in Livingston Montana. You can get more information, including all the participating artists at

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A busy September

It's been a busy month and a REALLY busy week around here. So busy it's hard to find the time to post. So I'll do a bit of a catch up - 2 for 1...
I finished my copy of the 1887 Stewart Yellowstone Falls painting. I made the painting different dimensions, so it's not an 'exact' copy, but it was a lot of fun to try to paint his painting and I feel like I learned some things too. I'll be doing more! I've been re-reading Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne and he believes an artist should create a large collection of copied paintings as a great learning tool - I'd have to agree!
This past weekend we also also headed down to Jackson Hole to catch a bit of the Fall Arts events going on in September. So much art to see, so little time! There is certainly a lot of eye candy between here and there - both in the landscape and the art. You can't have a bad time! Even though we've seen the Tetons many many times, they are always stunning and gorgeous in a different way. Since I've also been copying some Moran paintings, I thought a photo of 'his' mountain in the Tetons is only appropriate. This photo is of Mt. Moran at sunrise. No matter how many times you see these mountains, you can't get tired of the view....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center collection

This morning I got to 'sit with' a painting by James Everett Stewart from 1887 of the Lower Falls in Yellowstone, at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center. I've been doing a few reproductions of some of the paintings in their collection. Doing copies is a great learning tool for an artist. There's no better way to get 'in the head' of another painter.... especially deceased ones! I've done a couple Moran watercolors and this morning I worked on this larger oil painting by Stewart. I'll post my 'results' after I finish it up.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


We saw Bob Landis' newest movie Clash last night. It was an early preview of the film that will be showing on PBS Nature in a few months. He's a wildlife cinematographer and a Gardiner resident. He films in the Park just about everyday. So he has some amazing footage! This film is about bears and wolves and how they coexist in Yellowstone. Some of the footage we had seen 'live' in Yellowstone while he was filming it. Very interesting to see it now edited and 'up on the screen'. It really it phenomenal what we see here in our 'backyard'. How fortunate we are to live in such a wild and wonderful place - and in such an interesting community of people!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yellowstone Lake weekend

We paddled out with some friends to Peale Island. A very remote spot of the Lake with lots of wildlife....cutthroat trout, loons, cranes, eagles, owl, deer, elk bugling. We watched a spectacular electrical storm that split a tree about 20 feet from us(!!) and saw a beautiful rainbow. I painted a few plein air studies. It was a WONDERFUL weekend on Yellowstone Lake.... certainly an amazing, wild place!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Aahhh, summer....

Sheep Mountain 9"x12" Plein air Oil
Summer plein air season was great this year! In June, July and August I paint outside just about everyday - sometimes even more than one painting. It's fun to 'look up' at the end of the summer and see the results. I have A LOT of studies. Some will turn into larger studio paintings over the winter. I'll put up some images of other plein air paintings over the next few weeks, as I wind it down. Since I'm not a 'fair weather' plein air painter, I'll continue to paint throughout the year - but not at such a 'frenzied' pace!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Yellowstone BioBlitz

Friends of ours have helped to organize a Yellowstone BioBlitz - which is today and tomorrow. Should be very interesting. The public event will be Saturday from noon to 3pm in front of the Mammoth Visitors Center where they'll display some of their findings. Check out the article in the Billings Gazette Newspaper...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trail To The Summit 13"x15" Oil

After The Downpour 10"x20" Oil

Earlier this month I participated in Plein Air On The Yellowstone, a painting event sponsored by the Livingston Center for Art and Culture. These are a couple paintings I completed during the week that will also be on display during the Art Walk this Friday night Aug. 28th through Sept. 5th.
Trail To The Summit is a scene just a couple miles up the road from us. I always look at this view, intrigued by the patterns and shapes. I painted it in the early morning with soft light.
After The Downpour was more of a 'hard won' painting. I was with some friends in Livingston Park painting, when a storm came through. Large hail made us run for cover! But after it was all over the puddles HAD to be painted!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Food and art

The current show at the Livingston Center for Art and Culture is Whet Your Appetite - their 'food' show. I have several paintings in the Show. I 'mix it up' and paint many subjects other than my usual landscapes and wildlife. Keeps it interesting and keeps me learning. The reception is this Friday evening Aug. 28th during the Livingston Art Walk. Should be a good time with good food - both on the wall and on the table! Stop by if you're in the area. It's on Main Street in Livingston Montana ( Here's a preview of my 'food paintings'....

The Pits 6"x8" Oil

A Slice Of Life 6"x8" Oil

Valentine's Day 12"x9" Oil

Afternoon Tea 9"x12" Oil

Mom's Cookbook 12"x16" Oil

Monday, August 24, 2009

Northwest Rendezvous Show

Over the weekend we attended the 31st annual Northwest Rendezvous Show in Helena, Montana. We saw some really nice work by a great group of artists. Saturday morning was the paint out, auction and brunch which we really enjoyed. It's held at the Sieben Ranch - a beautiful setting for the event. It makes for a good 'art fix' weekend. You can check it out at

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Plein Air Painting Season

Morning Glory by Shirl Ireland 6"x12" Plein Air Oil
Summer to me is plein air painting time. (Well, I paint outside year round, but this is CERTAINLY the season when it's most comfortable!) So in the summer, I just about wear myself out trying to 'fit it all in'. You'll find me outside painting every morning at dawn. (Friends have heard my mantra - "Sleep is for sissies".) Living at the edge of Yellowstone, there isn't a better way to start the day than a painting at sunrise. This is one of my pieces from a morning this summer that is now in the collection of First Interstate Bank in Livingston, Montana.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

AMAZING otter sighting

A couple days ago we watched a family of seven otters in Yellowstone - swimming, playing and catching cut throat trout. The best viewing I've ever had of otters in the wild. Even though they move A LOT and FAST, I was lucky enough to get some great photos. Now, this morning, right from the gallery windows, we watched 2 otters playing in the Yellowstone River. So, after this mornings sighting, I was inspired to head to the Yellowstone Research Center, where I painted a study of a mounted otter in their collection.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Good to get away - good to be back!

A plein air painting I did of Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington

Ahhh, it's good to go on vacation. And REALLY good to return home... when you live in paradise!We got the traveling bug out of our system for the summer. So now, we're settling in and enjoying home.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Large Custom Chandelier

We just finished creating this large custom chandelier for a client in Wisconsin. The piece measures about 70" wide x 40" high. Sorry to see it go - it looked great in our Gallery!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Plein air painting

Photo credit goes to Carol Guzman... We were out yesterday plein air painting with the Crazy Mountain Artists in the Shields Valley. Beautiful day to be out there. The perfect temperature, no wind or bugs, and great friends to paint with - it doesn't get any better than that for a plein air painter!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Twin pronghorns born... right out the Gallery window!

Today, we watched twin pronghorns being born from the Gallery window! I happened to notice a pronghorn across the river lying down. Thought I'd take a closer look - and sure enough she gave birth to twin pronghorns. We watched them wobble for their first steps and try to nurse. That took a few tries! Within the hour, they were getting pretty steady on their feet. Incredible to think that in just 2 weeks, they will be able to outrun most predators. Spring in Yellowstone is a really wonderful season. I love seeing all the 'new arrivals'. And seeing them THAT new (and right out the Gallery window!) is particularly awesome. I love where we live!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Birds are amazing creatures!

The bird life I've seen around Yellowstone has been incredible lately. Here are some photos I've taken this week to prove it...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lighting Commissions

Saranac Dining Chandelier
Saranac Dining Chandelier - side view

Acorn Sconce

A sampling of some lighting commissions we recently completed - Each was created specifically for a particular client's space and needs. Currently, we have a five foot diameter chandelier just completed, that we're crating and freighting soon. Check back - I'm hoping to get a good photo of it to post.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Action on the osprey platform

We had action at the osprey platform yesterday. But not what you'd think.... A couple days ago we had 5 osprey circling overhead, and we've seen many catching fish in the Yellowstone River from the Gallery, but no takers to nest on the platform as of yet. However, we have been watching a kestrel pair around here and yesterday John saw them mating on the osprey platform! You get a good view of the platform from John's workshop and he was there working when he spotted the kestrels out the window. You really should never be without a camera around here!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Plein air painting adventures this morning

I couldn't help myself... as I went into Yellowstone this morning before dawn to plein air paint, I HAD to hike back to the spot where we saw the owl pair nesting. There's a painting there somewhere. So I thought I'd do a study to try to 'find it'. An owl was there guarding their nest - sat there the entire time. I've never been watched over by an owl before while I was painting, that I know of that is! Osprey circled above, Canada geese honked, an elk ran by and a herd of mule deer watched me for a minute. On my hike out, I came across a small bison herd with a trio of calves playing. It was a beautiful hike. Everyone should get to start their day like that!