Monday, December 31, 2012

Skiing in Yellowstone

It’s a Holiday week….kids are on vacation from school and my daughter’s birthday is mixed in there too. Usually, a lot of ‘family time’ happens during the last week or so of the year. For us, that means getting outside to ski....
And skiing in Yellowstone is fabulous. The weather has been grand, the snow has been perfect and wildlife sightings have been above and beyond.
a great grey owl hunting for food

On this ski outing, I didn't 'lug my good camera set up' - so the photos could have been MUCH better. I learned my lesson and it was along on our next outings...

Three bull elk dozing.

Three bison browsing.
Interesting to watch bison 'dig for food' with their massive heads swinging back and forth to shovel the snow out of the way.
Skiing along we saw signs (scat) of a we came around a corner, a bull moose - right off the ski trail.
As we watched, we realized he was missing an antler. Looked like it may have been broken off.
Here, he's walking up the ski trail.
Then crossing over for some 'willow browsing' on the other side.

I was certainly glad I lugged my camera this time!
Some gorgeous light on the mountains on our way out.
Fun was had by all.... even the newest skier in the family.
From us to you....
Happy New Year!
Hope you're enjoying moments with your family and friends this time of year too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bighorn Sheep

It's a great time of year to see bighorn sheep. Yesterday, we were going to a Nutcracker ballet performance. We didn't get far before we came across a herd. Luckily, I had my camera....

You never know what you'll see around here!

More about bighorn sheep.....
Bighorn sheep have horns not antlers. They grow throughout their lives and are not shed like antlers. An adult Rocky Mountain bighorn ram (male) weighs between 160 and 250 pounds...occasionally exceeding 300 pounds. The ewes (females) typically weigh 115 - 200 pounds.

There's some interesting history in Yellowstone regarding the bighorn sheep. To read more, click here.

Friday, December 14, 2012


No.... No Friday night art walk....A meteor shower!! Supposed to be at it's peak late tonight, but I even saw a lot this morning.

In all the bustle of the holidays,
find a moment for yourself.
Step outside (dress warm now),
Look up at the sky,
And thank the stars for their glory.
It is a beautiful little universe,
And we are fortunate to live here.
The entry to our Gallery - right after it snowed.
(For Gardiner, that's a lot of snow!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reading my thoughts....

They're red all over....

This is a block in for a painting of a sunrise at Old Faithful that I started today. I did a lot of plein air painting in the Old Faithful area this year and have a new appreciation for it all. I was lucky enough to hit some GORGEOUS times there to paint - moonrise, sunrise, sunset, huge eruptions - it was spectacular. So now I'm starting some larger studio paintings from all that inspiration. And this is how I begin.

I chose to start this one with a red block in, for the glorious sunrise colors I plan to use later. I don't always start with a red underpainting. Actually, I go with the theory - that there isn't a theory! I like to tackle each painting as a unique work - no formulas, please. But I thought you may find it interesting to see 'what's under there' - how I started this one off.

Right now, I don't have much down. But this is my 'thought process' in action. Here is where my thinking takes place....
Where will my lightest lights be?
Where will I place my darkest darks?
What are the major shapes within the painting?
How will the shapes be placed and relate to each other?
What feeling needs to dominate the painting and how am I going to do that?
Do I see any 'problem areas'?
Should I use an underpainting and what color?

In my mind, all those answers and more are in there. But it might be hard to read for anyone else.

I'll keep you posted as the painting progresses. And as I begin the others I have planned. It's my favorite time of year for studio painting. So I'm hoping to be at the easel a lot.

My visitor today - passing by my studio windows while I was at the easel....
Our Yellowstone Zoo

I saw him coming, so I grabbed my camera just as he was landing in the juniper tree.

He stayed in the tree for awhile looking for fish in the Yellowstone River...

And then went on his way ...

One of my favorite things about our property, is getting to watch birds from ABOVE over the river.

Happy 12 -12 -12!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lunch time visitor to our Yellowstone Zoo

It was a winter wonderland here today. It snowed this morning and was just tapering off around lunch time as we sat down to eat. When we looked out the windows, we saw we had a visitor. 
A coyote!
Easy to spot in the fresh snow. This is a great time of year to see coyotes. Their winter coat against the snow is particularly beautiful - and shows off their coloring well.

I love the coloring of the coyote with the muted colors of the bushes peeking out. A painting inspiration for sure!
And while we're on the subject of coloring. I took a photo of the Yellowstone River as the sun was just beginning to come out. It was gorgeous....
Who says water is blue? Lots of painting inspiration out our windows today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Come on in!

The garland has been swagged 
and our wagon wheel wreath is hung...

We've been decorating this week and we're just about ready for the
Gardiner Christmas Stroll...

Thursday November 29th from 5 pm - 8 pm.

A fun event in Gardiner that lots of people come out for. Our doors will be open with treats and refreshments on the table. Stop by and get in the spirit of the season.
If you can't make the festivities of the Christmas Stroll, we'll be here
Friday November 30th from 10am - 1 pm
and Saturday December 1 from 4 pm - 6 pm.
Hope to see you at the Gallery.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lessons from the Masters...

Carol Guzman, a very good friend and artist, gave a talk this week in Bozeman...Sowing the Seeds of Art. So I was there. She is a wealth of art knowledge and I listen closely to what she has to say.

Carol has studied art most of her life and has been to most of the great museums. She has seen A LOT of fabulous art. In my office hangs a postcard from her trip to Russia to see the Levitan exhibit. Lucky girl. So she's seen many of the Masters work up close and personal. She knows "the good stuff".

Along with her art talk, she presented a slide show with many photos from recent museum trips. I picked out a couple of my favorites to point out here. I think it's important that more people see "the good stuff"... it trains our eye and our taste for beauty in this world.

Click the title links below and look closely at the way the paint is handled in these two paintings - absolutely beautiful!...

Cecilia Beaux - Man With The Cat, Henry Sturgis Drinker 1898
Pay close attention to the cat. Amazing - you certainly get the feel of the cat relaxed on his lap, but not one "hair" has been painted.

Abbott Henderson Thayer - Roses 1890
Pay close attention to the vase. The highlight is made up of bold abstract brush strokes - but boy does it work against those soft roses.

So with that inspiration, I set off to the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center. In honor of Thanksgiving, I painted a fork, spoon and knife from the Yellowstone Park Hotels - used about 100 years ago.

My subjects....

My oil study....

I wanted to set off the beautiful colors in the spoon and other highlights, so I chose to make the background a light violet. (At the Research Center, objects are generally placed on archival foam, which isn't always my favorite choice for a painting background.)

 Yellowstone Park Hotel Silverware   12" x 12"  oil

Now let's look closely at how I handled the paint...

I tried to create interest in the painted surface - loose juicy paint against thin softer passages. But from farther away, I want it all to 'come together'.

You can do a lot of research on line these days. But it's still not the same as seeing them in person. Train your eye and your sense of beauty. Keep the museums busy and study the Master's paintings.....They certainly give us something to strive for!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My painting buddy

Doesn't say much - but a great painting subject....

This week my "painting buddy" at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center was a Sandhill Crane from 1931.

Usually, the crane is on display at the Fishing Bridge Museum by Yellowstone Lake. But, like the eagle I painted recently, also has been brought back to the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center for some cleaning over the off season.

A wonderful opportunity to study a Sandhill crane up close and personal. I learn a lot from seeing birds and wildlife close up (and very still!) at the Research Center. Details that I'd certainly miss from a photo in the field, I get a chance to study. Beaks and feet on birds are particularly interesting to see up close.This week I was focusing on the head....

While the Sandhill Crane is here at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center, I'm planning to do a lifesize portrait of the crane. These studies are leading up to that large canvas.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How could I forget??...

The swans.....and cygnets, too!
There were many on our day trip through the Park. But I put the photos in my 'percolating pile' and forgot to post them with my last blog.

I know there's a painting in there somewhere, I just have to find it...
After all, painting white, (without using pure white of course!), it one of my favorites.


Yellowstone Pics

Gardiner is the only year round entrance to Yellowstone National Park. I love living at the entrance where we can drive into Yellowstone year round - I certainly take advantage of that privilege!

All other roadways into the Park (except Gardiner to Mammoth to Cooke City which stays opened year round) have recently closed for the season, as usual.

It's always a treat to take one last 'pass through' to the areas that will be closed - the wildlife are out and the roads are quiet. So we did that the other day - and I took along my camera....Enjoy...
Coyotes were the wildlife sightings of the day... We saw 5 total - in their gorgeous 'new winter coats'.
Mammoth Terraces - amazing how quickly they change. (opened year round)
Mammoth Terraces - I hadn't walked by this area all summer, and what a change I saw! Really interesting colors and formations right now.
Elk lounging on the Terraces. (And there were A LOT more elk roaming through the town of Mammoth.)
Blue Grouse out walking along the road.
View of the Falls from Artist's Point
We had the view of the Falls all to ourselves.
Except for this badger I spotted tucked behind the trees at the Falls.
Always fun to watch coyotes hunting in the snow.... Got 'em in 'mid-leap'!
Swan Lake under Electric Peak.
We're 'just over the hill'. Our property has a great view of Electric Peak from the 'other side'.
The moon over Swan Lake Flats at sunset.
And of course, another coyote!
The roads to these destinations are now officially closed for the season (except for the Mammoth Terraces). BUT, you could always take the snow coach or a guided snowmobile trip once the snow flies. We'll leave that great adventure for another blog....