Posts Tagged ‘RMNP’

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



Painting a day 2016-Day 7-Elk and Aspen

March 12, 2016
Day 7

Elk and Aspen-5″x7″

Day 7-another elk from the Rockies.  I’m continuing with the quick painting (1 hour or less), alla prima style (wet into wet paint-all in one sitting).  These little daily paintings are a way for me to practice sketching, work out color and value and just make me practice on a regular basis–forcing my hand to remember how to handle the brushes and make them work for me rather than against me.

This guy was trying to herd a group of cows and calves through an aspen grove one rainy morning.  There were other bulls trying to move in on his harem and he was having a hard time keeping up with everyone.  He was trying to get his group out to one of the open meadows, where, I’m guessing it was easier to keep them grouped and away from rivals–he wasn’t succeeding.

We had no idea just how many elk there were in that aspen and pine grove until they started moving through and trying to catch up to the rest of the herd.  It was awesome chaos for a bit accompanied by cows making little whining noises for their calves, bulls bugling and other bulls answering, and the sound of branches cracking and rustling as the large mammals moved through.  It was tough to capture photos during this time because of the tree obstructions, no worries, sometimes it isn’t about having a photo to remember the exact instance-sometimes it is about taking it all in and just filing away mental notes.  It is about closing your eyes and remembering the sounds, the misting rain, and the saturated colors.  enjoy.

Painting a day 2016-Day 5-Elk in snow

March 8, 2016
Elk in snow

Elk in snow-study

Day 5 brought about a fun little study I’ve been wanting to work into a larger painting ever since I witnessed the scene.  I have a ton of reference photos both digital and film.  It is fun to dig through some of my files when having a painting block or just needing a fresh subject to spur the process.  My first trip to the mountains yielded 36 rolls of film.  It took me a month or two to develop it all…..yeah, a bit over board, I’m sure, but, I didn’t want to miss anything.  I should’ve just made the leap to digital before that trip, I could’ve paid for the camera in what it cost in film and developing…ha ha.

So thankful for digital cameras!

While camping a few years ago, in early October, in the Rocky Mountains, not long after getting out and about for the day, it started to snow.  Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE snow, especially a very wet snow like the one that was starting to fall.  There’s something magical and peaceful about snow.  It quiets everything and covers all of the dirt, trash, etc. and makes even an unappealing view, beautifully blanketed.  I love and cherish my time spent in the mountains and the falling snow added to the excitement.  We set out, hoping to capture some photographs of wildlife in the snow.  It wasn’t long before we happened along a couple of young, bull elk.  They were just 2 and 4 point bulls or as we call them, spikes and forked-horns.  They weren’t the massive and impressive bulls we saw the day before, but still, I was fascinated at how they laid there, letting the snow fall on them and build up….almost as if they were just enjoying watching the snow fall as we were.  Later, we found a small herd with several cows and calves. The calves were bucking and playing in the snow, much to the dismay of their mommas.  It seems we were all going to enjoy the day and the temporary change in weather.  The snow wasn’t supposed to last long or accumulate much at this altitude and was predicted to melt off by the next day.  It stayed gray and snowy for most of the day and my reference photos ended up being rather underexposed and a bit soft but, I thought to myself, they will still serve a purpose.  They will help me to remember the details and force me to use my artistic license and develop the painting further without relying solely on a photo.

So….day 5, is the first study from the snowy day.  I’m sure there will be others to follow.  Enjoy.

Painting a day 2016-Day 3-Sunrise on the Mountains 1

March 5, 2016


Sunrise on the mountains

Sunrise on the mountains

This is Day 3 of my painting a day challenge. I’m slowly but surely getting caught up on my blog posts so, please, bear with me. This painting is another from a camping trip to the Rockies. One of my favorite times to be outdoors is right at sunrise. The wildlife is active, the light is beautiful, and all is quiet—so peaceful.

I’ve thought about painting this larger with a small herd of elk in the foreground….I’m still toying with color, value, and design….so, this is practice. Enjoy.

Painting a day 2016-Day 2-Over the hill

March 5, 2016
Elk study

Elk study

Continuing with the “studies” theme….this little painting is based on a photo I took on a camping trip in Rocky Mountain National Park a few years ago.  the sun was just starting to rise, the morning was crisp, and we were blessed to witness a herd of elk moving through.  They were being accompanied by a handful of mule deer does and yearlings.  The mulies just kept hanging around the herd and grazing with them.  I’m not sure if they were following for safety or what, but it was humorous to watch the bull run them off half-heartedly, only to see them continue to follow the herd.

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!

“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……….