Posts Tagged ‘Rocky mountain National Park’

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.

“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……….

“Curious Coyote”

March 15, 2012
oil painting by Veronica Brown

Curious Coyote

“Curious Coyote”

10”x10” oil on gallery wrapped canvas.

This piece will be offered at the Faith and Outdoors event in Sullivan, MO on March 24.  Come out and show your support and possibly take home a piece of my artwork.

Coyotes are naturally very curious animals.  They’ve been known to “stare down” humans.  I don’t think this is meant to be a sign of aggression or intimidation, I think it is simply a moment of trying to figure you out.  They want to know what you are and what you’re doing.  As I travel and study wildlife more while gathering photographic reference material for my artwork, I notice more and more, wild animals that simply “watch you back”.  I have tons of photos of this behavior…..mule deer, elk, various birds, whitetail deer, coyotes….and even a black bear, sitting around watching traffic.

I feel I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to get outdoors and wander and to view the wildlife in their natural area.  I instantly feel at peace and relaxed when out there.  As John Muir said, “Wilderness is not only a haven for native plants and animals but it is also a refuge from society. It’s a place to go to hear the wind and little else, see the stars and the galaxies, smell the pine trees, feel the cold water, touch the sky and the ground at the same time, listen to coyotes, eat the fresh snow, walk across the desert sands, and realize why it’s good to go outside of the city and the suburbs. Fortunately, there is wilderness just outside the limits of the cities and the suburbs in most of the United States, especially in the West.”

Oh how right John was…..wilderness can be found just outside the limits of the cities or burbs….but it can also sometimes be found within the limits.  As we encroach upon the wildlife habitats, they have to adapt to smaller areas or move into ours.  It seems like there are constant news stories about wild animals being a “nuisance” in cities.  Coyotes prowling through back yards looking for table scraps or trash and in some cases preying on small, house dogs and cats.  Towns paying money to try and relocate or curb whitetail deer populations that are getting out of hand and causing property damage and vehicle accidents.  And then there are the more recent spottings of larger game moving through such as the recent sightings of black bears throughout Missouri and the confirmed sightings of mountain lions in populated areas such as Chesterfield just a year ago.  What can we expect as the wilderness areas dwindle?  We do have parks and preserves set up but these animals do not know of boundaries.


Feb. 28, 2012 “Colorado Rain”

March 7, 2012
Day 28

Colorado Rain

“Colorado Rain”

Painting a Day Project

Day 28

“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.”

~Stella Adler

I’m a creative brain, I must create.  It is my enjoyment, my challenge, my therapy.  ……and I need a lot of that last one lately!

I find that I’m most inspired when I’m outside wandering the fields, mountains, or woods.  I find myself staring at the trees, sky, wildlife, rocks, etc. and imagining how I would paint it….seeing the shapes, seeing the colors, ultimately–seeing my brush strokes.  I think getting outside and doing research is as important as developing your drawing skills, learning to use your tools, or learning stroke work.  Doing this type of research helps you to learn color, value, and shape from THE ultimate artist–God.  I think getting outdoors not only helps you to truly see but helps to refresh the mind, body, and soul—and who doesn’t need that from time to time??

Feb. 27, 2012 “Wiley”

March 3, 2012
Day 27


Painting a Day Project – Day 27


“Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and numbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.”  –Hamlin Garland

Our last trip to RMNP proved to be a great time to see coyotes.  We’ve always been lucky enough to see one or two while there and always heard them of an evening while camped in Moraine Park, however the sightings were usually quick and a fair distance away.  This last trip, however, we were blessed to see 3 or 4 different “dogs” and had the opportunity to see how they behave in their natural environment without knowing we were watching.

We saw a mother and young one yip and howl to each other from across the valley and finally run across Sheep Meadows to reunite.  They jumped around and played before heading back across the meadow.

We were also lucky enough to come upon a young one hunting one morning.  We watched, photographed, and recorded it for over an hour in one of the meadows.  We had him all to ourselves—a couple of people came by while we were watching him, but they didn’t see what we saw.  A coyote’s fur blends so well with the grasses and brush most people (and probably most prey) never know they were there.  We watched him stick his nose in the grasses then raise his head and listen, then next thing you’d know, he’d hunker down and leap through the air, pouncing on whatever he was after….if he was lucky.  If he wasn’t, he’d stick his nose back in the grasses, with his butt up in the air, tail up and wagging until he’d catch the scent of another possibility.  So much fun to watch!  We did finally see him become successful.  Not sure what he caught, all we could see was him taking a break, with his head up and crunching on something.  The winds finally changed and he caught our scent.  He looked straight up at us and then turned and started walking away.  Every so often he would turn and look at us again, I guess to make sure we weren’t following.  Maybe he had a “honey hole” of a hunting spot he was headed to and didn’t want us to find it!

There was also one particular night when the coyotes were very active in Moraine Park.  The moon was almost full, the wind was still, and we’d just settled down to bed in our tent when the first one started to howl.  It was soon joined by others and soon, it was a coyote concert.  They seemed to be moving closer and closer and then they kind of quieted down.  Just as I was dozing off, the encore performance started.  I jerked awake, just as a car alarm started going off…..yes, a car alarm.  They were so close and loud that they startled someone else in the campground and caused them to hit their car alarm button on their keychain or the coyotes themselves actually set the alarm off, not sure which.  Regardless, the car alarm started going off and the hub and I just rolled over and started laughing.  What else can you do??  Whoever owned the car finally got the alarm shut off and the coyotes moved along.  We rolled over and stared at the stars through the tent roof for a while and finally dozed off again.


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 (