Sunday, September 30, 2012

Full moon rising...

The full moon always grabs my attention. There's a peaceful, reflective quality to it, that I want my paintings to emanate. It's a subject I love to try to capture on canvas.... and a challenging one, too! 

After my day of plein air painting for the Yellowstone Park Foundation, I'm particularly enthralled with Old Faithful. Always changing, the colors, the steam, the moody atmosphere - I can't get enough. I find fall to be a particularly beautiful time there. So I went back last night.

This is my study from just after sun set, as the moon was rising....
12" x 12"  Oil   Plein Air study   by Shirl Ireland
A little later in the evening, I took a photo for an idea you will see me exploring more....a nocturne at Old Faithful. Like I said, I can't get enough of the moods of Old Faithful!...Stay tuned.

The wildlife of the week?....Moose.

We've seen a lot this week....
From hiking in the back country - 
We came upon a bull, cow and calf....

To on our way to a soccer game,
very close to the road....

Always interesting around here!

And we even missed one....while we were at Old Faithful, friends checking on the house told us a bull moose walked right through the meadow across the river. Darn, I really would have liked to add that photo to 'Our Yellowstone Zoo'. I'm keeping my camera charged, in case he comes back through.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I'm not sure what headline to give the incredible weekend we just had at Old Faithful....

As guest artists for Yellowstone Park Foundation's 15th anniversary event, it was a fabulous experience. A phenomenal group of people dedicated to supporting Yellowstone National Park - And a weekend at Old Faithful Inn at one of the best times of the year, plein air painting... how could it get any better?

"Our corner" at the event.
While staying at Old Faithful Inn, I planned to plein air paint and donate all of my pieces to be auctioned off as a fund raiser for the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

Saturday was my day to paint, so I was up VERY early...and the light was with me! An amazing sunrise over Old Faithful geyser started me off.  I wanted to 'paint hard for the cause' and I managed to pull off 5 plein air paintings by 5 PM! -- I think that's a record for me.
My day of plein air painting near Old Faithful...

6" x 6"   Oil    Plein Air  by Shirl Ireland
Old Faithful before the sun rise just before erupting - a steamy, cold morning.
There was still a star in the sky I had to put in (top right).
6" x 6"    Oil   Plein Air  by Shirl Ireland
Old Faithful just after sunrise with the run off and steam after the eruption.
6" x 6"   Oil   Plein Air  by Shirl Ireland
Grand Geyser in the foreground - just after erupting
6" x 6"  Oil  Plein Air  by Shirl Ireland
Old Faithful erupting in mid day
6" x 6"  Oil  Plein Air  by Shirl Ireland
Castle geyser erupting with Grand Geyser erupting in the background in mid afternoon.
It was a challenging but great day of plein air painting in the Upper Geyser Basin. That was a lot of painting for one day!

By the end of the night, all 5 wet paintings had been auctioned off. So glad I'm able to support the work they do.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Glorious autumn

I love September! The weather is amazing and the wildlife abound. And as the landscape begins to take on it's glorious fall colors, the hiking in the Park doesn't get much better.

So I've been taking my 'painting pack' into the back country for some plein air studies. Still checking out rocks and water a lot. Here, I'm looking at it from a different angle.

I chose a low vantage point for a more interesting composition.

My study in oil.

As the number of people in Gardiner decrease in September, the numbers of wildlife around here start to increase. Always an interesting time for our "Yellowstone Zoo".....
Our Yellowstone Zoo
- photos from our property taken right out our windows -

This morning there was a group of elk across the river in Yellowstone National Park. This time of year the bull elk herd the cows and calves and the bugling begins. The 'sound of September' in the mountains that I never tire of...

The bull that was doing the bugling this morning is on the right. 

These calves decided to make a 'run for it'...

check out the shadow on the far right elk

cow and calf wading into the Yellowstone River
They swam across the River to our property....


They swam right over near the River Bed ( our "glamping" guest accommodations).
And then went along their way - (after they went around front and nibbled on my flowers, of course!)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rocks & Water

I’ve been looking closely at rocks and water lately – REALLY looking. And when I do that, I paint them. Plein air painting makes me REALLY look…notice the color shifts, the hard, soft and lost edges, the planes of the rocks, the warm highlights, cool shadows, etc.  And when I notice all those subtle variations, a true appreciation soaks in.
As an artist, I want to capture that appreciation on canvas. No, I’m not trying to paint every crag, every crevice, every ripple in the water – I want the FEEL. I want the rocks to feel solid and the reflections in the water to feel transparent. When you’re working ‘plein air’, there’s not time for the minuscule details. You go for the essence....the feel.
A few of my plein air excursions, focusing on rocks and water, from this past week....
"Point of Rocks" - My photo of the scene on the Yellowstone River north of Gardiner.

My plein air study....
I really enjoyed painting the reflections in the water. If I would have painted them from the photo (above), I never would have seen all the colors in there. (Shadows in photographs appear much darker than we see them in real life.)

My photo of Beartooth Butte - a gorgeous spot above Beartooth Lake.

My plein air study....
I kayaked across the lake with my painting set up to capture this one on canvas. A challenge - both logistically and artistically!, but I had to try to paint those beautiful colors in the cliffs. 

My plein air study of the Yellowstone River at our property....right below the Gallery. This one is 'easy access' for me and a GREAT place to 'practice' rocks & water
Around here, we're not lacking for rocks and water. It's incredible the options there are within a short day trip. There will be more....

One does not make one's living as an artist;
One makes one's life as an artist.
   (adapted from a quote by Ann Zwinger)