Friday, April 29, 2011

We BOTH were invited!

The Clymer Museum in Ellensburg, Washington has invited both John and I to participate in their upcoming auction, exhibit and sale. We're excited for the opportunity to participate in this invitation only event. We just packed and sent a sculpture and a painting to them....

Scratching Bear - bronze

Autumn's Passing - oil - plein air study done in Tom Miner Basin

The festivities are May 20 - 21. Check it out....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bison - a new calf and a river swim

We saw our ‘first calf of the year’ yesterday evening - walking right by the Gallery! John was in the yard working away, oblivious to it all. When he finally looked up, he said the cow and calf were about 4 feet away from him. He headed inside – quickly – to tell us the big news. Luckily, I snapped a photo before they left the yard.

We were still excited by our new calf sighting, when we looked out the back windows and saw two bison bulls walking down to the river. We watched them swim across to our back yard.

If you follow the bison controversy around Yellowstone, you’ll know it was good to see them first thing this morning swimming back to the Yellowstone National Park side of the river.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center - nests & eggs

close up of painting

Today at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center I continued with my nest and egg series for Spring. My scientific subject could lend itself to looking a little ‘sterile’ in a painting, maybe leaning toward scientific illustration or photo realism – but that’s not where I want to go with it. I’m not trying to paint to look ‘just like a photo’. I want it to be an interesting painting with some educational components mixed in.

For me, an interesting painting has beautiful color harmonies with a variety of textures and shapes. It would include bold brush work with ‘juicy’ paint and maybe some palette knife painting, along with some thinner passages. (I thought I'd add a close up of the painting to illustrate that point.)

I posted a photo of my subject last week, when I first started the painting. (I included the bird species that goes with the eggs too if you’re interested.) Now, the painting enters the ‘cooling off’ period. I let it sit for a while, and then revisit it with a fresh eye to see what improvements, if any, I want to make. I had fun with it and I hope it shows.
Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center
Spring Nest and Egg series - oil painting - 20" x 16"

Our Backyard Zoo (and front yard too!)
 Here are a couple of today’s visitors…

American Kestrel (male) perched on our osprey platform
FYI - Kestrels are the smallest falcon in Yellowstone National Park
kestrel making a dive from the platform
a view out the front door of the gallery with bison grazing by

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Yellowstone Easter Eggs

A new ‘spring series’ I started this week at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center..... It seemed like a good week to paint eggs. At first, I thought I’d go to the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center and “paint some eggs for Easter”. (Of course, not the way most people paint eggs for Easter). But, when I started looking at the variety and subtle coloring of all the eggs in their collection, and then the beautiful nests too – how can you stop at just one?!  So, I’m off on a new spring series – eggs and nests of Yellowstone birds. And what a good day to kick it off!

This is a photo of my current subject. The painting is in progress. The nest with eggs belonged to a Cassin’s Finch. The two eggs below the nest (one is broken) are from a Cooper’s Hawk. The small eggs on the top right are from a Yellow-headed Blackbird. Below them are American Crow eggs. And the large egg is from an American White Pelican.
Hope you had fun this week painting eggs too. Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I’m posting this from Park City, Utah. We’re here delivering a lighting project we’ve just completed. It’s being installed in a beautiful ski home with a fabulous view of the Deer Valley below. Coordinating it with the designer and contractors, they were ready for us when we showed up and it all went down without a glitch -- which we were particularly happy about, since they were telling us how the last people to deliver had backed into the contractor’s truck!.... and about the piece that wouldn’t fit through the front door, so they had to ‘cut it down to size’. It is nice to have the experience with it all under our belt - going on 17 years now! All those years of experience certainly help.

top tier of one of the dining chandeliers being installed

top tier of the hearth room chandelier to be installed

bottom tier of the hearth room chandelier to be installed

island pendants newly installed

one of the two dining chandeliers installed
(A matching pair will hang over their large dining table.)
One of the perks of our job is seeing beautiful architecture in gorgeous settings throughout the country. We've seen a lot of very creative ideas. This was certainly one...
It's a great ski home for kids, complete with a walkway to the 'kids club house' lined with animal carvings.

A family affair - the kids know our 'delivery routine'. They really are great travelers, patient with it all and fun to have along!...

They brought their own money to buy a special toy in the "big city".
(If you know our kids, their personalities shine in this photo!)
 Now, we can breathe our sigh of relief – aaahhhhhh - and head home….through Yellowstone...always a treat! A coyote and a red fox 'posed' for me in Yellowstone on our way here. Hopefully, I’ll get some more photos on the way home to share in a later post….AND to use as painting and sculpting studies....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hockaday Museum of Art

I was juried into the Hockaday Museum of Art miniature auction and show. The Preview Party is April 29 in Kalispell, Montana. I've participated for the last few years. I send a painting to be auctioned along with a donated study/sketch to benefit the museum. I just finished this years sketch - Moose Bog - graphite, ink, charcoal and watercolor. A lot to fit into the tiny package of 4"x6"!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A peak into the Park - the roads are opening!

Stuff your eyes with wonder; live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.        - Ray Bradbury

And with that quote, I’ll take you into Yellowstone….many roads in the Park just opened up for the season, so we took our inaugural tour....

The amount of snow in some areas of the Park was much deeper than you'd expect for this time of year.

Near Sheep Eater Cliff
The thermal areas look particularly interesting outlined in snow...
Obsidian Creek

Obsidian Creek
Firehole River

A snowman topped with a bird's nest hat with bison grazing by.
Bison Jam
Back near Mammoth and Gardiner the snow if gone...and the bison and pronghorn roam....
Bison at the Gardner River
Mammoth Terraces

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Awards for both of us!

The Rocky Mountain Regional Juried Exhibit, which John and I were both juried into, was judged recently and we both won awards. John won 2nd Place for his sculpture. He entered a few pieces in the Show.....

Scouting The Valley - bronze
Cat Nap - bronze
Ancient Dance - Bronze
and I received Honorable Mention for my painting Close To Home...

Close To Home - 20" x 30" oil
The Show runs through the end of April at the Carbon Country Arts Guild in Red Lodge, Montana. http://www.http/

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center - Waxwings

Our subject of the day -
On the left is a Bohemian Waxwing and on the right is a Cedar Waxwing.
I was back at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center this week to paint a still life. I thought I'd paint one more in my 'birds in a box' series. I chose waxwings - a Bohemian and Cedar - the two varieties of waxwings that we see here in Yellowstone. Always humbling to paint these subjects from the Parks history - many have been around much longer than I have! The Cedar Waxwing was collected in the Yellowstone National Park in 1935.

With the delayed spring, it seemed like the time to paint 'a study of grays'. Truthfully, I love gray! So many people consider it 'neutral' - but as an artist, what does THAT mean? It will always lean itself toward a color. So in this painting I used greenish-grays in the box, purple-ish grays for the background, and warmer grays (leaning more toward the orange side) on the birds. Look closely and compare the 'grays', you'll see the subtle differences. Overall, a very 'neutral' painting. Their splashes of yellow add a nice color interest.

You'll notice I took 'artistic license' with the tags. In an orderly painting like this, the tags become a strong part of the composition - so their placement, size and coloring is very important to the whole. I wanted to keep the piece feeling a bit somber, orderly but visually interesting. The tags needed to stay part of the whole, not become overwhelming to the piece.

Myself, I find waxwings to be especially beautiful birds - striking with their shape, coloring and distinctive silky plumage. Seeing them side by side like this, their size difference was quite noticeable. More so than I thought from seeing them in the wild. An educational component too. It was an interesting pair for a study in grays.
Waxwings In A Box - 12" x 9" oil

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Made In Montana

“Made locally” seems to be a common catch phrase anymore. Good. I’m glad it’s catching on. After all, that ALWAYS has been our motto! It doesn’t get much more ‘made locally’ than we are. Between our 4 hands working hard here in Gardiner, and our foundry and framer near Bozeman, it’s ALL made right in this little corner of Montana.

Speaking of which...Yesterday, I was off to pick up a new frame from Toni, my framer. She lives just outside Bozeman and creates and hand-gilds frames in her home studio. She’s good – REAL good. Check out her web site to see more of her work....

It’s always a treat to go visit Toni, and you can’t beat the scenery along the way in Paradise Valley -- a good day out. (The six year old in the car with me might not have the same point of view, since he came along to go to his dentist appointment. Where we live, you never go to the ‘big city’ without combining errands.)

Framing had always been ‘an issue’ before – and believe me, I have tried all the options over the years….frame shops that chop and glue up standard moldings, large framing factories, making them ourselves, and yes, even the ready-made imports, etc. etc. The frame that surrounds the piece is so important and nothing felt like the right answer - until I found Toni.

Now, I take my paintings to her place and together we choose an appropriate moulding style, width and color for a frame to complement each piece. She has a good eye for art, so I get a critique of my work too. (An extra bonus – we artists LOVE ‘critiquers’ with a good eye!)

Then, she gets to work. It’s interesting to see the frames at the different stages… she makes the raw wood frame, then layers it with traditional clay bole, and hand-gilds them with metal gold leaf. And finally does some finishing layers to give them a wonderful mellow patina – high quality with a soft, mellow look, just how I like them! (since those descriptions are what I'm attempting in my paintings, as well.)

I look forward to the news that it’s time to pick them up. Not only do I get to see her beautiful creations, but we get to chat awhile too. She’s not just 'my framer' anymore – but she has become a dear cherished friend. So....
  • I’ve cut down on some environmental problems by not 'shipping from a far' - no packaging or trucking involved.
  • added to the local economy
  • AND built community and friendships.
 No question. THAT’S the way it should be.

Toni's frame on my 12" x 12" plein air study - Margaret's 72nd - perfect fit
(There's a good story behind this painting, that will show up in a later post....)
Toni's gold frame on Balance 24" x 36" oil
Toni's gold frame of Tree Serenade 6 1/2" x 12" oil
Toni's dark gold frame on Winter Wanderings  12" x 16" oil
Toni's gold frame on Winter Bales 9" x 9"
Toni's dark gold and weathered wood frame on Sometimes It Snows In April - study - 18" x 24" oil
And what a beautiful drive it is to Bozeman from our place – (add ‘fosters inner peace’ to that above list!) I had to include a shot I took along the way. I try never to drive through Paradise Valley without my camera, there’s always something ‘worth shooting’.

The light was beautiful peaking through the clouds and hitting the mountains.
“Made locally”….it could change the world.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Osprey nest building over the Yellowstone River

If you've been to our gallery, you may have seen our osprey nesting platform that we built and erected out the windows. Well, yesterday we had an osprey sitting in it! The first osprey we've seen back north this year. So, we thought we'd give them a little more encouragement to come back and choose our spot for their nest. John put in a few extra sticks to get them started. We certainly would have a perfect view to watch all the 'family dynamics'. Hopefully, they'll be back. Boy, would that make for some good blog posts with our 'bird's eye view' of the action!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Yellowstone Wildlife - our backyard zoo...

A lot going on in our backyard (and front yard) zoo. These are photos I took the last 2 days out our windows.
A large herd of bison moving through. 

Mule deer just waking up in the morning

A large flock of sparrows flying over the Yellowstone River.

An eagle in his 'fishing perch' in the tree over the Yellowstone River.
(He flew right by our windows - would have been a great shot, but I missed that one.)

Mountain blue birds are back! And they arrive in flocks, which is really wonderful to see.
(Hard to photograph, but wonderful to see.)

An elk coming down our walkway to the gallery.
This time of year, we'll take any visitors we can get!

He browsed the art (and the grass) at our front display windows, and is moving on....