Monday, May 27, 2013

A Holiday post

As an artist 'Holidays' generally don't mean much here. Art is 'my life', not just 'my work'. So yes, I still got up before dawn and headed into Yellowstone to paint this morning. But that will be for another post....

Since it's a Holiday, I thought I'd get off the subject of Art and post about how our greenhouse is growing. I had mentioned in an earlier post this year, that we were building a greenhouse. Thought this could be a good time to follow up on that subject.

A special Holiday post.
A good one to kick off summer....
Our first red tomato ripening in our greenhouse.

Can you see the red tomato in there?
The greenhouse is already getting 'pretty bushy'!
We're pretty excited about our new greenhouse so far. In Montana, to have a red tomato (and a Brandywine heirloom at that!) on Memorial Day is a reason to celebrate!
We have many more green tomatoes and lots of other veggies and herbs started.

A butternut squash in the greenhouse.
A watermelon

I had to mix in some flowers just for the fun of it.

Happy Memorial Day!
Hope it's the start of a fabulous summer for you.

And of course, if you have plans to visit Yellowstone this summer - give us a call. We'd love to have you stop by - and hopefully share some of our ripe tomatoes!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A birth at "the zoo"

Our Yellowstone Zoo
- photos from our property -

Exciting news!! This morning we welcomed a new elk calf - born right out our windows. The first one we've seen this year...



Within just a few hours, he/she was trying to 'trot'.
- That's certainly more than I can say about my kids! :)
To learn more about elk in Yellowstone.....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


We've got the Show hung.
Painting - Sculpture - Lighting - Photography
Please join us tomorrow.
Wednesday May 15, 2013
Noon to 9 pm
Elk River Art
in Gardiner, MT

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Painting sunrise in Yellowstone

I'm a 'hard core' plein air painter. I paint outside year round in Yellowstone. But this time of year is when I pick up the pace!

The days are getting long now, and the temps are getting much more reasonable....which can make the whole experience a lot more successful and enjoyable.

Sunrise is my absolute favorite time to paint in the Park. However, that wasn't always the case....

It started out as necessity. As a mother of very small children it was the only time during daylight hours that I could 'sneak out' without them missing me. I could be back before they wanted their breakfast.

B.C. (Before Children), I was NOT a morning person. Not even close. But motherhood has a lot of unexpected twists and turns (to say the least!), so I adjusted my schedule to meet my children's needs.

It was that or nothing - and I knew I had to fit in painting.

And like so much I've found with motherhood - once I stepped in and left the chip on my shoulder behind - I realized the 'sacrifice' wasn't so bad. There were rewards too. I enjoyed my morning routine....

Well, I actually grew to love it....I mean ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT.  It has remained my chosen time of day, even as the kids get older. Still a good time to 'sneak out' before the day derails my plans.

Yes, I get to start each day painting sunrise in Yellowstone National Park. How lucky I am.

So I was into the Lower Falls Lookout yesterday morning as the sun was coming up...

 and I headed into Willow Flats to paint the sunrise today.

I took this photo when the dawn colors were just beginning their show.
(Wish I could have added the bird sounds in here too!)
The Willow Flats area catches my eye in so many different lights and in every season. Today the soft colors and shapes were just gorgeous.

My easel with my plein air study of Willow Flats
And another added bonus this time of year?.... Bison calves.

The beginning of the 'Spring babies' in Yellowstone... It doesn't get much cuter...

Bison cows and calves in Mammoth this morning.

So to all mother's out there who have made changes in their lives to meet their children's needs (and I think that would cover us all!) ....

Happy Mother's Day

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Show & Reception - May 15, 2013

Wednesday May 15, 2013 
Noon to 9 PM
at Elk River Art
Gardiner, MT
36" x 24" oil 
by Shirl Ireland
We'll be opening our doors
for a one day art show and reception.
John and I will have new work in the Gallery
"Yellowstone Views"
- painting, sculpture and lighting -
photographer Steve Horan will be presenting 
"People of Yellowstone"
 in our NEW studio
Hope you can join us.
Our Yellowstone Zoo
- photos from our property -
Okay, I'm cheating on this one - but I thought you'd like to see it.
This photo  I took last night, just a couple miles away from our property.
A black wolf in the Gardiner canyon

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Elk #10 & solving painting problems...

If you are a Yellowstone Groupie, you knew Elk #10 - (and, yes, I am a Yellowstone Groupie).

Elk #10 was a large male elk estimated at 16 to 18 years old. A 'colorful character' associated with many stories in the Gardiner and Mammoth area over the years. Even a star of a BBC film.

We identified him by his ear tag - yep, that's Elk #10 again. One of our neighbors. Stories were told, sightings were passed around, antics were joked about.

He died recently. And just like other "neighbors", there's a sadness with their passing.

When his ear tag showed up at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center to be cataloged as part of their permanent collection, I knew I had to paint it...not for the artifact itself, but for the memories and stories attached.

A flat plastic tag - not much to it. do you paint THAT?
What a good example to talk about some basic painting principles! It's not always about the 'flashy subject' - the majestic mountains or glorious sky. 
How do you 'make a painting' when your subject is just a flat plastic tag?....
Composition is definitely a BIG part of making this painting work. I considered the options....
By offsetting the tag in a vertical format, it created an interesting variety of negative shapes. ('Negative shapes' are the shapes around the tag.) 
Visual interest - I'd need the painted surface to be particularly appealing, since the object itself was not. I didn't want it to be 'photographic'. Loose but readable. Show the paint itself and therefore part of the process of painting. THAT can be interesting. 
A palette knife fit the bill - it can add texture and an organic quality to the painted surface. So I dropped the brushes in favor of a palette knife on this one.
I've heard it said that "painting is just a series of problem solving". I had a handful of problems to solve today, but I certainly enjoyed the challenge!
Ode to Number Ten  by Shirl Ireland
To see a photo of elk #10 with his ear tag and learn more, click here.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I'm IN!

The 17th Annual National Juried Fine Art Exhibition 
and Sale

The jurying committee just notified me of my acceptance! Two of  my plein air pieces will be included in the Exhibition this year in Denver, Colorado...
Morning Patterns by Shirl Ireland
12" x 12"   plein air    oil

Home Away From Home  by Shirl Ireland
15" x 15"   plein air   oil

The opening reception is August 10th at the Abend Gallery in Denver, Colorado. I'll keep you posted as more details surface.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Action at the nest....

Our Yellowstone Zoo
- photos from our property -

Today, we had an osprey with a mate stop by our nesting platform -
exciting news around here!

osprey on our nesting platform
Could you imagine if they decided to nest here?? Oh, the photos I could get!
Shortly after the osprey took off, two kestrels tried it on for size.

kestrel pair on the osprey nesting platform
We've seen the male kestrel around lately, but this is our first sighting of the female. (The female is the one sitting at the bottom.)
close up of the female
We have a kestrel nesting box, not too far away, so hopefully they will be able to work it out.
And while we're on the subject...
Hawks In A Box   by Shirl Ireland
12" x 16" oil
I painted Hawks In A Box at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center. They're sharp shinned hawks cataloged in their collection - found near Mammoth and Old Faithful.