Sunday, May 29, 2011

Waxwings are here!

Cedar Waxwing  by Shirl Ireland
6" x 4" oil on linen
Postcards From The Park series - $125 unframed
Inspiration for this painting came from a photo I took (posted below).

Yesterday, the cedar waxwings came through. Waxwings are almost always seen in flocks. Since berries are a favorite food, they descend on our cherry tree. That gave me a chance to snap some photos. Beautiful birds - makes a great "postcard".
We're having a VERY unusually COLD and WET Memorial weekend. It's snowing in Yellowstone right now! But it's not stopping the 'die hards' from getting on the river here in Gardiner.... 
white water rafters
I'm not sure WHAT this one is - it's a new one this year to me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

You can't beat original art...

6" x 4" oil on linen by Shirl Ireland
part of my "Postcards From The Park" series
Not enough people live with original art. I’ve been asked many times if I do prints. I should. But I don’t. I prefer original art any day...the paint textures, the way it catches the light and captures the hand and spirit of the artist. I know, you say, doesn’t everyone prefer original art, but it’s a cost thing. Prints are cheap – you can make LOTS of them FAST. You can’t say that about original art. I see that as our goal with too much of society these days – lots fast. Bigger topic. Don’t’ go there.

So… my ‘experiment’ this summer is Postcards from the Park – small original oils 4” x 6” unframed – standard size that could be framed inexpensively. I chose ‘photo size’ to keep ready made framing options plentiful. You’ve seen some of my Postcards previewed in earlier blogs. This week I put them together into a display at the Gallery.
I wanted to keep the prices as low as possible - $125 - to try to fill that ‘print niche’ – without doing prints!  I can’t say I never will do prints in the future. I always circle that questions, but I’m still dragging my feet on it this year – trying to find another answer that feels good to me. My first “Postcard” went to a new home yesterday, so we’re off to a good start spreading original art into the world! (I like to keep my aspirations high.)
Our Yellowstone Zoo...right out our windows....
Our newest edition in the Yellowstone Zoo – this one is actually on our property – just below the gallery. A new elk calf was born! And just like with the pronghorn, the mother ‘stashes’ the new born for MANY more hours than you’d expect. The new calf lays there, where he/she was left, hardly moving at all, not making a sound. (As a working mother, I can say I really wish human babies came with some of those characteristics! Sure would have helped my schedule, not to mention my sanity, in those early days.)
That’s our current attraction out our windows. Like I said in my last post – It’s hard to believe we can get anything done around here – other than just sit and watch wildlife that passes by! (Notice the time of this post – THAT’S how we get things done!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Got 'em!

6" x 6" oil on linen by Shirl Ireland

6" x 6" oil on linen by Shirl Ireland
A couple more additions to my "Yellowstone Squared" project.

Our Yellowstone Zoo - right out our windows....

It's amazing we can get anything else done around here, other than just watching the wildlife action out the windows! Luckily, I had my camera in hand while we were watching pronghorn across the river in Yellowstone. I was taking some shots of them, when John saw an Osprey dive out the corner of his eye. I've been trying to get some good shots of an osprey holding a fish. Hard to do - they fish a lot on this section of the river, so we get to see it fairly often but it's FAST action. This was one of my better efforts. He flew right by us holding his new 'catch of the day'. (John's thinking it would be a great sculpture, so you may see some clay studies of it soon.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Yellowstone Squared

6" x 6" oil on linen by Shirl Ireland - near Beaver Ponds Trail / Mammoth in Yellowstone National Park

6" x 6"  oil on linen by Shirl Ireland - Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park
I like projects - well, most of the time. But I've come to realize over the years that we are 'project people'. It's that inner self-motivation button that doesn't seem to turn off. I've learned to just go with it. So I've thought of a summer project for myself..."Yellowstone Squared". I'll be painting 6" square studies of Yellowstone National Park - from geysers, to bison, to thermal areas to birds and wildflowers, etc. etc.

Yellowstone is such an amazing place - part of Yellowstone's beauty lies in the sheer scope and diversity over the Park. The variety is astounding - unlike any other National Park. You can't capture that in one painting. So I'm going to try to capture it in 'snippets' then compile my snippets into one big Yellowstone statement! One painting can't say it all - but 49 could! So throughout the summer and early fall, I'll add to the collection of square paintings, while I shoot for 49 total. Stay tuned and watch the collection grow.

Our Yellowstone Zoo - right out the back windows....

Pronghorn family update -
All is well! We spotted both fawns with their mother right over the ridge that the coyote crested.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A rough morning for a mother pronghorn

Shortly after sunrise this morning, I looked out our window to check on the pronghorn fawns across the river. I saw the mother standing just over a ridge, and I could see the heads of two fawns nursing as they peaked above the ridge. Ah, they made another night. And the weather looks beautiful this morning, so they should finally get to feel a warm sunny day. I went about my morning routine - But remember that coyote we had seen in the vicinity? Within an hour, the scene had changed dramatically....
The chase went over that ridge where I had seen the fawns just an hour earlier. We'll keep you posted....

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Woo Hoo $5,000.00!!

Stephens Creek Barn  by Shirl Ireland   6 1/2" x 12"    Oil on linen
I created a painting of the new Stephens Creek Barn in Yellowstone National Park as a donation to the Yellowstone Park Foundation. It was a bit more complicated than my usual Yellowstone paintings, since this area is 'authorized personnel only'. I had to be escorted in through the gate.

Some background… The Yellowstone Park Foundation is the official fundraising partner for Yellowstone National Park. They support MANY good causes in the Park from building this brand new, badly needed barn to house animals and equipment to purchasing the chairs and tables I use at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center to funding the new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center. Their scope really is ‘far and wide’ in Yellowstone. To see how much they contribute to the Park….

Anyway, I thoroughly appreciate all their efforts and thought it was the least I could do to help support their work.

To ‘christen’ the barn, they had a barn dance where they auctioned off my painting last night… I’m THRILLED to say it went for $5,000.00! – money I know that will be put to good use through the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

Our Yellowstone Zoo - The Birth of Twin Pronghorns, continued....
The mother pronghorn stays away from her twins to decrease the likelihood of predators finding them- since they're so darn helpless at the moment. She returns only to feed and clean them. It was a cold and wet night and we had seen a coyote roaming in the vicinity. It was good to see the mother show up this morning and both twins get up to nurse...all was well.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Birth of Twin Pronghorns

An absolutely amazing day! Not everyone gets to watch right out their windows as twin pronghorns (often called antelope) are born in Yellowstone National Park. WOW! As I weed through all the photos I took (there are A LOT!), I'll post more if I find some good ones. But it was such an incredible event, that I wanted to get a post up quickly. So here are a few of the highlights from the photos I took in the Gallery today....

The birth of a pronghorn.

The pronghorn mother cleaning off her new fawn.


Within just hours after birth, the fawns are up and walking. Their coloring makes it very hard to spot them. If you look closely, you'll see both fawns trailing their mother in this photo.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Postcards From The Park

Yellowstone Geyser  by Shirl Ireland
6" x 4"   oil
So I've got my Postcards From The Park idea off and running - small studies from Yellowstone National Park painted in oil....thought I'd kick it off with a bang... Geysers are good for that! Watch for more to come....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dear deer

Deer study   by Shirl Ireland    oil on linen   6" x 6"
What inspried me to paint this study?....the way the light caught that left eye!
I liked the play of warm and cool, light and dark in that small package.

Oh, the bad wrap mule deer take around here! It reminds me of a children’s book I read to my kids – the gist of it is…. If there was only one dandelion here on Earth, what good care we’d take of it – how special we’d treat it knowing it’s the ONLY one. But when there are LOTS of them, oh how we can complain and miss out on appreciating their special qualities.
Mule deer fall into this latter category - especially here at the edge of Yellowstone. And I’m writing this, after I put my brand new beautifully blooming flower pot out front of the gallery yesterday morning – to bring in my newly grazed pot of greens last night! They did leave the roots, so hopefully it’ll grow back before the summer’s over.  
Any way –  I enjoy living AMONG the wildlife here in Gardiner. It’s definitely not a separate existence in this town – we co-habitate. I like that. Yes, even when they eat my flowers. Like other co-habitating, it’s not all perfect. There is give and take.
I’ve never had the feeling that I’m in charge here – truthfully, it feels more to me like I’m living in their spot. So I try to be respectful. After all, the wildlife do not need us what so ever. They can live just fine without any help from us – actually, they’d probably prefer that. But humans on the other hand….Well, we best not go down that side road. I’ll stick to the art and education route...
I enjoy painting wildlife – always have. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of wildlife portraits. I enjoy them – really getting to know the animals anatomy and what makes them ‘read’ as that particular animal. Drawing is key. It's good practice. So you’ll be seeing more ‘wildlife portraits’ from me – along with random tidbits of info and some photos I've taken....

A female mule deer on our property. They can move their oversized ears independently.

The most easily identified difference between a mule deer and a white tail deer - the smaller black tipped tail of the mule deer.

Antler growth begins in the spring. Antlers are a true bone, covered with "velvet," a soft, skin-like tissue that carries nourishment and calcium for the rapidly growing antlers.

A close up showing the 'velvet' antler.

 After the antler growth is completed, the blood-supplying velvet is no longer needed and begins to fall or get rubbed off. This leaves the antlers shiny and hard.

A male mule deer in the fall - making himself at home in our driveway.