Posts Tagged ‘mule deer’

Painting a day 2016-Day 13 Mulie Study #2

March 19, 2016

5″x7″ oil on canvas



“I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path and I will leave a trail.”Muriel Strode


Painting a day 2016-Day 12-Sunlight and Sage-study

March 15, 2016
Day 12 painting a day

Sunlight and Sage study 7″x5″

I decided to continue working with the mule deer reference photos because; a.)I have so much of it and haven’t really painted much from it yet, and b.)the doe paintings seem to be really flowing.  It is good to be challenged but it is also good to have a balance between the process and progress and feel like you come out on top once in awhile.

While camping, we usually leave camp before daylight so that we can be out and about right at daybreak.  There are two huge reasons for that, the light is great at that time and that’s when the wildlife really get to moving.  Plus, the crowds and traffic are low at that time–so, there you go, there are three reasons!  That saying, “the early bird gets the worm”….very true.  When camping and hiking at a well visited park like Rocky, the best shots are those that take you away from the crowds.  Those that take you off of the beaten path and out of the tent and on the trail bright and early.  Sometimes it is those unexpected shots that you’re just blessed with being at the right place at the right time.  Sometimes it’s when weather is moving in and everyone else gets out of the rain, mist, wind or snow but you stick it out just a little bit longer.  And then sometimes it happens when you just set up in the woods, sit quietly, wait and watch.

This little painting was based on some reference material gathered in a big stand of pine that was beautifully lit by warm, filtered light.  We weren’t sure where we were headed that morning and just decided to head towards the Bear Lake area and stop when we’d decided the light was right and where wildlife movement seemed promising.  As we were headed down the road, I spotted a couple of does and several little ones moving through the forest, just off the road.  We pulled up to the next vehicle pull off and parked.  We decided to hike back down the mountain a bit, down into the pines on the opposite side of the road, find a quiet, spot on some boulders with tree trunks somewhat breaking up our silhouettes and just wait.  We figured if we just waited patiently–we might get some good shots once they crossed the road and moved into the sunlit gaps within the forest–and if not, hey, it was a beautiful morning, the air was just warming up, and the smell of pine and fresh air was strong–it just didn’t get any better than this.

Well, that’s what we thought….  Except that the icing on the cake was that our gamble paid off and I snapped several beautifully lit shots of the does and little ones as they browsed on the grasses and shrubs growing in the openings.  We sat there and just watched them wander about, until they finally moved on through the valley.  We got up and quietly walked back to the road, moving on, in search of our next peaceful moment.

Painting a day 2016-Day 11-Mulie Study 1

March 14, 2016

Mulie+Study+1For today’s painting, I started out with the intent of painting a mulie buck that we’d spotted, lying in the tall grass while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I was excited about the subject and have thought about eventually doing a larger painting of it, so, now’s the time to do a little study and practice, right?  Right.  Well, no matter what I did, the painting was just not coming along.  I wiped parts of it out twice and finally wiped the whole canvas down and decided to move on to another subject.  This doe, on the other hand, almost painted herself.

So, today was a lesson in knowing when to persevere and when to save that subject for another day–it’s all learning!

“Every struggle arises for a reason for experience or a lesson. A great journey is never easy, and no dose of adversity along the way is ever a waste of time if you learn and grow from it.”  ~M. Lim



No Scrub-Day 27

February 28, 2015
5"x7" oil on canvas panel

5″x7″ oil on canvas panel

Day 27 of my painting a day project–one more day to finalize the project and to end the month of February.  This guy was spotted on one of our hikes in the Rockies a few years ago.  He was walking among the scrub and sage brush….he was definitely no scrub!  He had a nice set of antlers and bulk to match.  He had recently finished shedding the velvet from his antlers because there were still a few bits hanging from them.  He was a beaut and even better, he didn’t seem to mind our presence so, I got some fantastic reference material for later paintings/drawings.

Here’s the link to this painting on the Daily Paintworks Gallery, thanks for looking:

Antlered–Day 26

February 28, 2015


5"x7" oil on canvas panel

5″x7″ oil on canvas panel

Day 26 of the painting a day project.  I was fascinated by the patterns, highlights, and shadows of the antlers on this guy so, the crop is a bit different than I would normally do when painting this type of subject.  If I had set out with the intent of painting a mule deer value study, I definitely wouldn’t have cut off the nose/muzzle and would’ve probably shown more of the body.  I didn’t want to get too “fussy” with the antler detail but, I did want to get those contrasts that show the form and curve of the antlers.  This was a fun but challenging painting–subject I will definitely like to explore larger!

Here’s the link to this painting in the Daily Paintworks Gallery, thanks for looking!

Mule Deer–Day 19

February 22, 2015
5"x7" oil on canvas panel

5″x7″ oil on canvas panel

Keep close to Nature’s heart….and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.  Wash your spirit clean. ~John Muir

The subject of this painting was one of the many mule deer we encountered in the Rockies during one of our “break aways” to the mountains.  This doe was spotted on Deer Mountain, one of our favorite places to hike to see mule deer or black-tailed deer and elk.  This is also the first mountain I ever summited via a hike, around 6 miles round trip and tricky climb for some of us height challenged/short-legged hikers.

Be still and watch nature watch you–that’s the rule for viewing the deer on Deer Mountain.  We’ve had deer actually come to us to view us out of curiousity–pretty cool moments.

Here’s the link to this painting on the Daily Paintworks Gallery, thanks for looking:

“Did you hear that??”

April 13, 2012
mule deer

The culprits....

I’ve decided to start a “trip journal” of sorts.  I’ve not been painting lately since I’ve been working with my horses of an evening.  With work, horses, and housework….not much time for painting.  I have been doing a bit of sketching lately….maybe I’ll share some of those eventually but, for now, I decided to share some of our “adventures”.  I’ve been working on a scrapbook (between doing everything above….and no, I don’t sleep much…LOL.) from our last vacation and I’ve been jotting down stories for that.  I thought maybe everyone else would get a chuckle or at the least a smile out of some of them.  Being creative is sometimes about the journey not necessarily the finished piece that results.  Enjoy 🙂

Did you hear that???

“Seriously, I think I hear something outside….and it’s chewing!”

That’s what I woke up to one early morning while it was still dark outside.  The moon was up so I could see shadows of something on the walls of the tent and I could hear something moving outside the tent and heard chewing noises.  Chewing noises!!??!!  I looked over at the hub and he was still asleep.  I laid there, just waiting for something to hit the tent, rip it open, pull us out of our sleeping bag, maul us… imagination went wild!  I just knew there was a bear in camp!  I waited and listened with my “super” hearing for quite some time and nothing happened.  I couldn’t stand it anymore and finally pulled my head inside of my sleeping bag and tried to doze off again.  I mean, if you can’t see it, it can’t see you, right??  I awoke just as it was getting light enough to see outside and then peaked out the tent window but didn’t see anything.  RJ finally woke up and I started asking him about it.  He said he heard it too but he was tired and figured if it was going to get us… would’ve done it already so, he just rolled over and went back to sleep!  Thanks for making me feel safe, dear hub!!  We both decided to get up, get our boots on and investigate……we saw tracks through camp but didn’t see any critters………until we looked over the little hill that separated us from another campsite…..and there they were……….four mule deer bucks!  Ok, I can rest a little bit easier now……until the herd of elk moves through camp the next night……….

Feb 23, 2012 “Low Water Crossing”

February 25, 2012
Day 23

Low Water Crossing

Painting A Day

Day 23

“Low Water Crossing”

Our first trip to the Rockies, I met a retired contractor who had taken up photography as a second career.  Bill made regular trips to the Rockies and was gracious enough to sorta take me under his wing for the weekend, allowing me to try out his Canon zoom lens, tell us where to find various wildlife in the park, and share stories of some of his adventures there.  He mentioned then, that the Mule deer population still was rather small and that the few deer that were seen, didn’t seem very big.  We had also noticed that most of the Mulies we saw were also wearing ear tags.  Fast forward a few years to last year’s trip… literally seemed like there were Mule deer everywhere in the park!  Either we were very lucky or they have definitely made an excellent comeback!

Upon their arrival in the early 1860s, the first Estes park area settlers found moderately abundant numbers of mule deer. The growing population of newcomers, predators, and the often harsh elements took huge numbers of the animals. By 1895, according to one report, very few mule deer were seen in the Estes Park region, and “I heard of none in the foothills of Boulder and Larimer counties in 1906.”

Mule deer became so scarce throughout Colorado that in 1913, a statewide hunting ban was put in effect. Dedication of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915 and the subsequent removal of most predators resulted in a dramatic increase in the mule deer population. In 1930 an estimated 2,500 roamed the park.

Today several hundred mulies reside in Rocky Mountain National Park. The park’s population is believed to be stable or increasing.

Mule deer play an important role in the wildlife food chain. They are the primary prey of mountain lions. Mule deer also can be taken by coyotes and bobcats. Unfortunately several also fall victim each year to a mechanized predator, the automobile. “  –Courtesy of Rocky Mountain National Park (

Feb 11, 2012 Home Sweet Home

February 11, 2012
Day 11

Home Sweet Home

Painting a Day Project

Day 11

Home Sweet Home

Top 10 list of things I learned while tenting it in RMNP

1. Hearing chewing noises outside your tent in the wee hours of the morning is not always bad…..and can be something other than a bear.

2. Hiking 3 miles with a swollen, sprained ankle is do-able….not fun, but do-able.

3. If you’re going to be startled in the dim, morning light, it is probably better to be scared by a snowshoe hare as you’re coming out of the vaulted toilet……..not on the way in.

4. When you get the feeling that someone is watching you…..look around, it is probably true, someone or better….something is staring at you!

5. My hub can snore louder than any bear!  ….and can probably be grumpier when elbowed and told to roll over.

6. It is a weird feeling to be hiking and come across bones of elk or mule deer and then walk a few more steps and see fairly fresh bear scat……..I doubt the two are connected……right???

7. Campbell’s soup becomes gourmet when cooked in the can over a campfire.

8. 40 degrees is a heat wave…..when you’re dressed for another 20 degree night.

9.  True love is when your hub tells you he loves you……and right after that he adds, “even though you stink and need a shower”.

10.  No matter how old he is, my hub still likes to play in the water, find cool rocks (often naming them or telling me what they look like), and using sticks to play in the campfire.

“Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill. Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains.”  –John Muir