Saturday, June 22, 2013

Keep your eyes to the sky...

by Shirl Ireland     SOLD
This weekends full moon will be the closest one of the year...often termed "supermoon". So it'll appear as the biggest and brightest we'll see all year. Sunday is technically when the moon is closest to us, but to the naked eye the days on either side appear large and full as well.

I'll be 'trolling' with my paints - Hoping conditions will be right for a gorgeous moonrise to capture on canvas.

Be sure to keep your eyes to the sky around sunset....

In all the bustle of life
Find a moment for yourself
Step outside
Look up at the sky
And thank the moon and stars for their glory
It's a beautiful little universe
And we are lucky to live here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Blacktail metaphor

My easel this morning high on blacktail plateau.
This isn't my favorite view in Yellowstone to paint, nor was the light awesome this morning and the colors weren't particularly glorious. But I always learn something from the plein air painting experience. I know it's good for me to do - helps me grow as a painter.
So I put in the effort. I hiked to the top of the hill and I stood there painting, doing what I needed to do. Not anticipating a 'masterpiece' from my efforts. And standing there painting, soaking it in and listening to Yellowstone waking up, I found myself 'settle in'.... At that moment, it WAS my favorite place to be.
And with me and metaphors, it translates into a good motto for life....
Sometimes it's about where you are in life.
Not what you accomplish.
Today - enjoy where you are.
On my way out - I was keeping my eyes out for bears, since there have been many sightings in the 'petrified tree area' not far from where I was painting.
I spotted this black bear....
Then I saw a cub with her climbing the nearby tree....
higher and higher and higher...
Looks like he's doing what he needs to do today too and enjoying where he is.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A chase at our "Zoo"

Our Yellowstone Zoo
- photos from our property -

Just minutes ago, we saw a pronghorn mother with her new fawn running.
Then, we saw something running behind them.
A coyote.

The coyote in the back chasing the pronghorn.
Here, the pronghorn mother got between the fawn and coyote.
The fawn is in front, out of the photo.
The chase went back and forth in the field, sprinting at top speed.

The pronghorn fawn at top speed with all feet off the ground.
The pronghorn mother would try to cut the coyote off and get between the coyote and her fawn. By the last pass we could see the coyote was loosing ground, but hadn't given up.

The coyote panting but still chasing the pronghorn.

We'll be keeping an eye out that way tonight for the pronghorn fawn. I know it's the 'circle of life', but particularly from my mother's perspective, it's still hard for me to watch.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The hazards of plein air painting in Yellowstone

Plein air painting can be tricky enough with the wind, temperature extremes and fast changing light - but add to it all the wildlife in Yellowstone National Park and it becomes a "very unique adventure"!

I had a great plan this morning for Lamar Valley. Up really early to be sure I could get there and set my easel up before the first morning light. I brought along a long horizontal canvas just for this particular scene. A view I know well.

Gorgeous morning. You could already see that the light was going to be glorious. This was going to be good!

I lugged my gear out, a bit of a distance from my car and perched on a spot overlooking the Lamar River. The wind was calm, the temperature was fine, and the wolves were howling in the distance as I began painting....aahhhh...

THEN....hordes of bison descended...
with LOTS of new bison calves.


... and they were all headed my way.

Bison coming directly up the path where I was perched. Didn't seem like a good idea to hold my ground. They're BIG and can be particularly ornery with calves in tow. And anyway, I was totally out numbered! The 25 yard rule is a good one. Enter Plan B.

So after packing up QUICKLY and hiking WAY out around to get back to my car, I headed further into Lamar Valley. Just amazing numbers of bison out there in Lamar this morning.

Plan B became "pick a spot, any spot, where the bison aren't. And QUICK since the light is changing."

Flexibility is definitely a good quality to possess as a plein air painter. The more you paint out and handle all the factors that are thrown at you, the better you become dealing with the 'alternatives'. It's part of it. And especially in Yellowstone with the added factor of A LOT of wild animals roaming free.

But having the privilege to paint in this fabulous landscape among all this wildlife is a big reason I'm here. Always an adventure...and that's what I love about it!

I found another beautiful spot. (Not hard to do in Lamar Valley.) This one was out of the path of the bison throngs. So I settled into that long horizontal canvas with a new and different compositional plan - changed direction and painted away. Enjoying the first morning light and warmth on my back.

Not the original plan but a great "Plan B plein air painting excursion" just the same.

My plein air painting study this morning -
from my Plan B vantage point, sans bison.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A painting I will go...

 -  Plein air painting in Yellowstone National Park -
photos from this morning's commute....

clouds over Swan Lake Flats

elk in velvet

swan on South Twin Lake

"A day at the office" -
My easel with my plein air study at the edge of South Twin Lake in Yellowstone.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lilacs In Bloom

The lilacs here have been amazing this year - absolutely glorious! I had to do a quick plein air study this morning before they fade away for another year....
Lilacs In Bloom   6" x 6"  plein air  oil

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What a great way to start the day!

My blank canvas in front of Blacktail Ponds in Yellowstone National Park -
just before the sun came up.
A little frosty in there - about 25 degrees,
which makes for gorgeous 'fog' at this time of day.
The interesting colors at dawn are so fleeting - but oh so much fun to try and 'catch'! A great place to start the day and one of the best spots to hear a cacophony of bird sounds in the morning too.

If you're looking to see elk in velvet, there were a bunch here today - but real early, before there was enough light to photograph.

Our Yellowstone Zoo
- photos from our property -
The pronghorn twins we've been watching out our windows are learning to "romp"... Looks like they're about old enough to move on.
Pronghorn antelope fawns, at just 7 to 10 days old, are able to out run anything in the Park! The fastest land animal in North America....second in the world to the cheetah.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Plans change...but it's SPRING in Yellowstone!

Well we were supposed to be heading to Oklahoma City for the Prix de West annual art events - it's the 40th Anniversary. A great art exhibition.

And our friend Clyde Aspevig has two paintings in the Show this year. For the pixelated versions, click here. I've seen them both in person, and they are absolutely gorgeous. Look closely at Lightning Dance....WOW, he's good!

BUT if you've been following the news, you know Oklahoma City doesn't sound like the best place to head with the family right now. So we're staying put.

After all, this time is so wonderful here in Yellowstone - it's hard to drag ourselves away. New life is everywhere... Spring in Yellowstone is a fabulous time!

With the long days, I love plein air painting at sunrise in the Park. This morning I was up on Swan Lake Flats before the sun came up. Glorious - the sandhill cranes were calling as I painted. What a way to start the day!

Lately on Swan Lake Flats, there's been a lot of grizzly sightings. (We had a National Geographic film crew staying here that got great night footage of grizzlies up there last be released in September.) On my way out, I came across one. I had packed up my easel and was in my car, so the experience wasn't TOO up close and personal.

This morning's grizzly - interesting colors in the early morning light.
And right here at home wildlife abounds too....

Our Yellowstone Zoo
- today's photos from our property -

We've had pronghorn twins 'stashed' for the day right out our windows....

'Mom' visits periodically - but not NEAR as often as you'd think.

When 'Mom's' around they get up, stretch those long legs and play.

Most of the day they stay curled up, not moving, hidden in one spot...
waiting for 'Mom" to return. They really are hard to see among the sage and grasses.


A kestrel was hanging around today....
Beautiful coloring on this male kestrel, perched outside our window.
We're often asked, "What's the best time to visit Yellowstone?"

Right now, it feels like the answer is SPRING - but then the summer wildflowers will come and then the gorgeous fall landscape with the wildlife in 'peak photographic condition' but then of course there's winter when you can have it all to yourself and cross country ski in solitude through such pristine country you can only imagine....ahhhhh.........

But right now, it's SPRING - glorious Spring....