Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So much to see....

I'm always excited to see moose. I love painting them - VERY unique looking creatures! So my morning painting excursion was a success before I even set up my easel.

I watched the moose meander through the field for a bit....

Then, back to scouting out a plein air subject. When the colors in this scene caught my eye near Elk Creek, I jumped on it - and set up quickly....
What captivated my artistic senses (other than the glorious color combinations, of course) was the organizing of the scene. There's a lot going on and I wanted to find a pleasing pattern for the shapes, including all those foreground logs!

A BIG difference between plein air painting and studio painting is the luxury of time. If I was doing this as a studio painting, I would 'fuss' for a LONG time over that log pattern before I would put it down in paint. But with plein air, there's no time for that. It's definitely more of an 'instinctive reaction' than a thought out process. Here are my 'reactionary' results...
On my way back, I came across a crowd at Blacktail Ponds. In the distance was a wolf...

While I was snapping my wolf photo, this Uinta Ground Squirrel was posing for me under the bushes at my feet....

There were more further out in the field, in great morning light...
Talk about interesting creatures. Uinta Ground Squirrels spend most of their life hibernating. They won't be 'above ground' much longer - the mature males will be going into hibernation in mid-July or so and the females will follow around the end of July. The young ground squirrels will disappear into burrows by mid-August. There's a short window of opportunity to take photos of them!

Later in the morning, I was off to the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center to paint a piece from the archives. They have a robin nest with an egg in their collection. Seemed appropriate, since I had been watching the robin nest on our gallery porch. Why not one more for my nest and eggs series. Since the subject was simple, I wanted to try an intriguing composition.
Robin Nest With Egg   by Shirl Ireland  10" x 8"
from the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center archives

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Clay to Bronze

John has a new sculpture on its way to becoming bronze. It's a fascinating process, "the lost wax method" - taking the clay and 'turning it into bronze'. Oh, if it was only that easy. The entire process is on my list for a later 'educational' post. For now, we'll start off with a photo of the clay model....(don't miss the rabbit tucked in at the bottom)...
Spring Loaded   by John Stacy  -  clay
Some photos from the current wave of wildflowers in Yellowstone....

Our Yellowstone Zoo ...

The new robins on the gallery porch have left the nest. Startling how fast they grow. They ventured out into the trees today and are on their way....
You're now safe from the wrath of mother robin when visiting us - so stop by sometime this summer.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yesterday I was on a detour, but today I hit a dead end….

The Lamar River is running at the highest water level ever recorded. Another record event in Yellowstone this year. Last night, it washed out the road!
Click here to see Yellowstone Park's press release about the wash out.
So I went to the ‘end of the road’ and painted the view of the Lamar River this morning...
Lamar River High Water  6" x 6"  plein air  oil  by Shirl Ireland

This is why I paint plein air - look at my photo from this spot..... a photo just can't capture those colors and the wide angle lens distorts the perception of the distant mountains. But you get the idea....

A few sights along the way…..

deer in velvet

sandhill cranes at their nest

bison calf

The big Yellowstone news of the day headlined what I thought I'd be blogging about...
Last night, we went to an art opening for Tim Shinabarger in Bozeman, Montana at Tierney Fine Art. Tim spends most of his creative time sculpting, although he also paints too. It was a nice showing of his bronze work. John often sees his pieces 'in the works', since they both use the same foundry, so it's good to see the finished pieces on display. Check it out if you're in the neighborhood.... click here for a link to Tierney Fine Art.

Friday, June 24, 2011

On a detour at Artists' Paint Pots...

I usually try to predict a bit when I plein air paint…where I should paint for the current weather conditions, how the light will change over the next couple hours, the angle of the sun and how it will affect the scene, etc. etc. It goes with my personality - I like a plan.

Since I paint often in the Park, my knowledge to predict Yellowstone has increased. But sometimes in Yellowstone, there is NO predicting.

This morning, I decided to head to Artists' Paint Pots. After all, I HAVE to include that spot in my Yellowstone Squared project – if nothing more than to honor the name! So off I went.

It was a little foggy in the Park – perfect. I love painting thermal areas with some ‘added mystery’. So I continued to Artists’ Paint Pots, with just a couple quick stops to watch a grizzly foraging and take some sunrise photos…just 'the usually morning stuff' in Yellowstone (!!)....

I made it to the parking area when the sun was just peeking over the mountains. Great. Exactly what I wanted – the low angle of the sun just starting to pierce the fog over the Paint Pots. All was right on schedule.

It’s a short walk ‘into the pots’. I walked around to find my best paintable angle on the scene. One particular spot caught my eye. The first light was illuminating the distant mountains. That would be fleeting at best. But I liked the current light and shadow shapes in the background, and along with the Paint Pots in the foreground, I thought it could make an interesting square I set up QUIICKLY.
But at sunrise, on a foggy morning, standing in the middle of a thermal area with boiling water just a few yards from me, it gets unpredictable. Just as I had my easel set up, the fog shifted and those mountains were gone. Actually, the entire distance was gone!
But I find part of being a plein air painter is adaptability for what comes your way. (I try to take this lesson into my life as well!). So adjust I did.

Instead of a mountain scene, it became a fog scene. But I do love painting fog – always have. The subtle color shifts are amazing and trying to get it down on the canvas quickly is a good challenge. So even with my change of plans, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Another good lesson for life that I try to keep in mind…."A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour".

Artists' Paint Pots  6" x 6"  plein air  oil  by Shirl Ireland

Just as I was packing up, the fog lifted. And so it goes – that’s how the ball bounces on plein air painting in Yellowstone! Made for some great shots on my way out though….
As I headed home, I came across a pair of herons in the morning light….
Then, my camera battery died, right at the exact moment one of the herons took off. Oh, it would have been a beautiful photo! The one that got away.

Since the theme for my day, seemed to be ‘on a detour’, it was only fitting that TODAY was the first morning that the back road from Mammoth to Gardiner was opened. I love taking that detour. So I headed down the ‘road less traveled’. However, I couldn’t take photos of the great wildflower display since my camera battery was dead. But, I’ll be back!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Morning on Blacktail Ponds in Yellowstone National Park

It was gorgeous out at Blacktail Ponds in Yellowstone this morning. VERY interesting light and VERY fleeting. A good challenge for a plein air painter to capture. I was trying to get down those beautiful color harmonies, fast! While I was painting furiously, there was a lot of action going on around me. It was hard to fit it all in this morning...
Blacktail Light   6" x 6"  plein air  oil  by Shirl Ireland
a rainbow at sunrise

an elk chased into the pond by a wolf
This is a coyote. I missed the wolf shot. Too busy painting!

a bison herd with many new calves

wild geranium

On my way home, I came around a bend and this black bear was standing in the middle of the road. By the time I grabbed my camera, he had started to wander off. Too bad, I had a perfect view of him - a gorgeous big black bear in great light looking my way.


Our Yellowstone Zoo -
photos taken right out our windows...
A robin's nest - yes, even Yellowstone has robins. I took this photo out the front door. The nest is on the far end of our gallery porch. So if you stop by in the near future, be prepared to duck from the wrath of mother robin!