Sunday, August 28, 2011

You haven't missed it - yet.

It's the final hours of Studio Tour weekend. If you didn't get to stop by, I thought I'd post some photos of our Gallery today for your 'virtual tour'...or come by QUICK!

If you did make it in person - thank you so much for joining in and supporting the Arts in Montana. We appreciate it!
Our gallery this weekend showcasing our furniture, lighting, sculpture and painting. We designed and built the building too. Yes, it was all made with our 4 hands (John's and Shirl's).
We also have smaller items like notecards, my Beauty Of Yellowstone book, bookmarks, small lamps, etc. out on the buffet. For browsing (the old-fashioned way) we have our portfolio for you to page through.... a selection of photos from our past commissions over the last 16 or so years.
If you're taking the virtual tour, browse our web site -  Elk River Art .

Also here on the buffet, you can sign our guest book -  if you're taking the 'virtual tour', send me an email at

My Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center wall of paintings. All still life artifacts are part of their collection and part of the vast and varied history of Yellowstone. A fascinating way to experience Yellowstone in a different way!  

And the view out the window of the Gallery of Yellowstone National Park over the Yellowstone River isn't bad either.

This photo I didn't take today - but the above photo I took of the gallery interior didn't show the view out the window. So I thought I'd add a 'view photo' so you get the full experience.

Hope you enjoyed your gallery tour - whether it was in person or virtual. 

Friday, August 26, 2011


A reminder that the Livingston Art Walk is TONIGHT from 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm. John and I will have work in 2 places on Main Street in Livingston Montana.....

You can see our work at the Danforth Gallery where they're hosting the opening reception for Studio Tour weekend that we're participating in this Saturday and Sunday.

I'll also have work at the Livingston Art Center. Plein Air On The Yellowstone - Wet Paint Exhibit will be their featured exhibition during the Art Walk. I was awarded 1st Place and Purchase Award (!!), so stop by and see the Show in person.

We'll be traveling between the 2 Shows - luckily, Livingston is a small town - so you'll be able to catch up with us somewhere on Main Street in Livingston, Montana tonight!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yellowstone Squared

Oh, I've been having fun with my Yellowstone Squared project this week. Some computer issues (that have been resolved!) kept me from posting them as I went. So here's a quick catch up on some of my painting spots from the week....

My easel set up at Lower Falls Lookout
 I timed this one perfect. I got there before the sun came up and painted frantically as it just hit the top of the falls. Gorgeous colors there! By the time the light was to the bottom of the falls, I was done.

Lower Falls Lookout  6" x 6"  plein air  oil  by Shirl Ireland

Confluence - Soda Butte and Lamar  6" x 6"  plein air  oil  by Shirl Ireland

I painted this from an overlook up a VERY steep hill - feels even steeper when I'm lugging my easel up it. But, man, it was worth it! Cranes were calling and bison were grunting....
A large bison herd was wandering through.... Great sound effects while I was painting!
  One of the grand geysers of Yellowstone. It's hour long eruption has several phases. A spot I love to be at, as the sun comes up....

Great Fountain Geyser  6" x 6"  plein air  oil  by Shirl Ireland

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Straight from the horses mouth

My subject in the collection of the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center....

Any ideas???

A few more hints...

Have you guessed it yet??

A horse dentistry kit!

I have it blocked in and should have the finished painting done in the next week or two. I'll post my results so you will be able to say you've seen a horse dentistry kit painted in oils...just in case anyone ever asks.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I won 1st Place!...

AND the Purchase Award!!

The juror was Howard Friedland - a signature member of Oil Painters Of America and also a board member of Oil Painters of America. I respect him as a painter, so I was THRILLED that my piece was awarded 1st Place - and won an additional award to boot!
Hope On The Horizon  9" x 9"  Plein Air  Oil  by Shirl Ireland  -  SOLD
This is the piece that won 1st Place at the Plein Air On The Yellowstone event sponsored by the Livingston Center for Art and Culture. It was painted one VERY early morning this week, at the southern end of Paradise Valley.

Old Livingston  9" x 9"  Plein Air  Oil  by Shirl Ireland
This was a really fun (and challenging!) piece to plein air paint. I loved the colors and the light on the buildings. I was actually turning around to go back and paint a scene I had just driven by, when this one 'stopped me in my tracks'. I've said it before - I do like painting architecture and really enjoy the drawing component of it - so this was a real joy! LOTS of perspective and angles to get right, along with the shadows and light. I know....boy do I know how to have fun.
Breakfast In Cooke  6" x 6"  Plein Air  Oil  by Shirl Ireland
A little piece I did over by the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Park - yes, that's in Park County Montana too. (It's a BIG county.)
Kohlrabi On Stage  10" x 10"  Plein Air  Oil  by Shirl Ireland
This is a different piece to be part of a plein air event - you usually don't expect vegetables! But, you know, I do like to keep you on your toes.

As part of Plein Air On The Yellowstone, a Quick Draw was planned at the Livingston Farmer's Market. So off I went in search of a 'spur of the moment' painting - these kohlrabi caught my eye immediately. And the bandstand stage in the middle of the Park was the perfect backdrop for them. (I made the newspaper - the Livingston Enterprise - painting it!)

When I first started painting, it looked like rain. I thought it would be interesting to paint them wet with water drips. But as 'the Livingston weather turns', the wind kicked up for a moment and then the clouds shifted and the sun came out. So my painting changed from Kohlrabi In The Rain to Kohlrabi On Stage.

The Plein Air On The Yellowstone exhibit is particularly interesting to view in person. All the artists are given the same assignment at the beginning of the week...paint outside in Park County and return at the end of the week with 3 wet paintings. Oh, what a variety that assignment brings! The exhibit has been extended through the beginning of September. They wanted to have the pieces hung for the Livingston Art Walk at the end of this month. If you have a chance to stop by, please do!

The Livingston Art Walk is Friday evening August 26. I'll have these pieces exhibited at the Livingston Center and John and I will both have pieces exhibited at the Danforth Gallery in Livingston that night as well. Art Walks in Livingston always get a big crowd and are lots of fun, so plan to 'come on out' if you can.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Show is tonight!

I've been painting all week for Plein Air On The Yellowstone, organized by the Livingston Center for Art and Culture. The wet paintings will be hung later today and the Reception is tonight from 5:30 - 9 PM, on Main Street at the Livingston Center for Art and Culture in Livingston Montana. Hope to see you there....

P.S. If you can't make the Show, I'll be posting my paintings from the week here this weekend.

Monday, August 8, 2011

More than meets the eye...

Sometimes decisions aren't made for purely artistic reasons around here. Really. This morning, we needed more sand to make cement for a stone project we have going at the house. We get it by the pick up truck load in Livingston - which is at the northern end of Paradise Valley from us - in Park County.

Soooo....guess where I chose to paint this morning?? Yes! Paradise Valley or Livingston. But I got lucky. The sunrise was phenomenal. I won't give away which spot I chose to paint at (until this weekend) - but here are some of my choices I had this morning....

The AMAZING sunrise this morning. Look at that light on the clouds!

Backlit trees - I like the shapes they create against the sky and distant mountains.

Morning colors over the Yellowstone River. Good shape possibilities with the contrast of lights and darks.

A calm horizontal scene with beautifully subtle colors and shapes.

I know - but from a strictly shapes, lighting and colors perspective - this one looks fun. A very interesting composition. Great variety in the positive and negative shapes.

Wonderful light, interesting colors and a good drawing challenge. A "Livingston" statement.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Oh, the places I go - in Park County, MT

Plein Air On The Yellowstone has begun. It's an annual week long plein air painting event that I've participated in for the last couple years, organized by the Livingston Center for Art and Culture. Throughout the week, participating artists paint outside 'en plein air' in Park County Montana. At the end of the week, we all frame and exhibit up to 3 of our (wet) paintings. It's a lot of fun and draws a good crowd for the Reception & Show, which is Friday August 12th from 5:30 PM - 9 PM at the Livingston Center on Main Street in Livingston, Montana.

Since Friday August 12th is supposed to be the 'unveiling' of our work, I thought it would be interesting to NOT post my paintings here until AFTER the Reception. But, I'll post some photos of 'the places I go' and you can guess which would make the best paintings. Don't hesitate to let me know which spots you choose - it may help me to decide on 'the final three' that make the cut!

Park County is a VERY big and VERY beautiful county with a lot to choose from - Wilsall, to Livingston, to Gardiner and onto Cooke City. Here are some photos from my ramblings the last couple days throughout Park County Montana...

Looking south down Paradise Valley over the Yellowstone River

Near the northeastern edge of Yellowstone National Park at Warm Creek

A Cafe in Silver Gate Montana
(sometimes the scenes that catch my eye need some 'editing', but the bones are good)

Sunrise on Electric Peak
Hope you can make it to the Livingston Center for Art and Culture on Friday August 12th for the 'unveiling'. The exhibit will be hung through Saturday August 13th (11 AM - 5 PM). If you can't make either of those days, I'll post the results here after the fact.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rusty Old Bucket

Army Bucket  by Shirl Ireland  6" x 6"  oil
artifact in the collection of the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center
Beginning in 1883, for more than 30 years, the U.S. Army had a presence in Yellowstone National Park. (If you'd like to learn more, click here.) This bucket was found by the Astor Creek Cabin by a Park ranger. The cabin was burned in 1970.

I love to show the variety in the collection of the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center. This bucket certainly shows that not all are 'pristine artifacts' there. Rich with history, the artifacts are far reaching in dates as well as categories. To drive home that point...wait until you see next weeks subject - (to be continued).

Hayden Valley Sunrise  by Shirl Ireland
6" x 6"  plein air oil
While I'm at it, I'm going to add the 'plein air landscape of the day' - Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park. This is where I was painting at sunrise this morning.

Sunrise and fog paintings are tricky. Mix the two together and it's definitely a challenge. The colors, values and shapes are changing every moment. You just have to pick one and go for it - quickly!

I chose a moment when the sun was just rising and created a slight shadow from the fog on the river. (Remember, I love those subtle color changes. Notice the warm to cool shifts.)

Painting at sunrise is certainly a time when it helps to have some plein air painting experience under your belt. This is probably one of the fastest Yellowstone Squared paintings I've done so far. The moment was fleeting. In no time, the fog had totally covered the valley and I couldn't see a thing.

Thought I'd 'pile it on' today, because tomorrow - "Let the Show begin"....stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mount Washburn - where the wildflowers are

An absolutely amazing spot to paint - This morning, the wind was calm, the temperature was comfortable, and the views were spectacular over the fog filled valley. The top of Mt. Washburn is at 10,243 ft. - I wasn't at the peak painting, but I could still see the Tetons that are 50 miles away! (They are to the right of the scene I painted.)

Looking out from my easel....

Mount Washburn Views   6" x 6"   Plein Air   Oil   by Shirl Ireland

AND looking down at my feet....
The area around Mt. Washburn is one of my favorite spots for wildflowers. There's a wide variety blooming right now.
If I could only get my garden to look so good! 

For a breathtaking fireweed display - check out the views around Antelope Creek (near the road from Tower to Mt. Washburn). It's FILLED with fireweed.

Fireweed - from the Evening-Primrose family

But, hurry - it will be going, going gone soon.....

Monday, August 1, 2011

Firehole Lake

There are moments in Yellowstone that photos cannot capture. This morning was one - the essence, the feeling, the sound of the cranes calling through the mist. Ansel Adams said it well....
When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.
When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
 - Ansel Adams