Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yellowstone Introduction

I’m back! I haven’t lost interest in posting, but I have been away from the internet. For the past seven weeks I have mostly been in Yellowstone and chose to disconnect and totally focus on actually being there. This is a quick introduction for a whole series of postings which will probably take as long to get posted as it took to gather the material.

For several springs Dale and I spend half of April and most of May in Yellowstone. Initially we went in May and camped, but then we found a little place to rent during the off season and are able to go even earlier. When we arrive, winter is just letting go and only one half of one campground is open. When we leave, the wild flowers are starting to bloom, the aspen are just leafing out, and visitors are beginning to arrive in earnest.

Some might think we are in a rut. Year after year we look forward to getting back to Yellowstone, and day after day we get up early and eat peanut butter on toast and hard boiled eggs as we drive into the park. The goal is to get up at 5, but dreary skies may keep us in bed a little longer. A day of snow or rain is usually welcome. There is never enough time for editing photos, painting, laundry, etc. This year we had two really warm days the first week. We were in a funk. Warm already! Silly me bought a pair of sandals and never needed them after that. In fact it took until the very last day before I was comfortable without at least two shirts and I about wore out my jacket. My face and hands are wonderfully tanned, and everything else is lily white.

While in the park we watch, we photograph, we wander and we watch some more. I also paint/sketch and write. Most people drive a lot of miles every day, but we tend to stay put more than anyone I know.

Most of the art in the following postings was at least started in the car (too cold to work outside for virtually all of the trip). On bad weather days I use my laptop to work from the photos we just took, or finish up pieces I started in the car.

I found way more time for art than I have in years past … and the more I painted, the more I wanted to do. Part of the joy of the art is finding a new technique that fits me. Shortly before we left for Yellowstone I bought a fountain pen to sketch with. The fountain pen has a little thicker nib than my dip pens and pigma pens and so forces me sketch more loosely. It also has a wonderful characteristic in that with just a little water added after the pen lines are drawn, I can get soft grey values …. Or I can add color instead of water. Most, but not all of the sketches will be done with this pen. Both sketches in this post are done with the pen.

Living with a fountain pen and changing altitude every day poses a problem. Pens love to bleed when one goes higher. The Yellowstone firetower observer even told me he has to open his toothpaste tube before going to his tower on Mt. Washburn. I solved my pen problem by making a little medicine bag to hang around my neck. With the nib always in an upright position when we were driving, I didn’t have any pen problems …. Only with my bottle of ink which I forgot to store in an upright position! Yuck!


  1. I am a new follower and love your blog! I am so excited to see you have a new post - I kept looking for a new entry from you. Glad to know you were at Yellowstone and I look forward to what is ahead for us.

  2. I like the image of you with your medicine/pen bag around your neck! The fountain pen looks like a great tool for you! I, too, look forward to seeing more!

  3. Oh oh oh! I love your life! ;o) So happy that I can tag along on your beautiful blog and share your nature adventures vicariously through your lovely artwork and descriptive writing. Welcome back.

  4. Okay, ow I need to get me a pen.

    Love hearing about your days in Yellowstone.

  5. I think I need to tag along next time you go to Yellowstone. Seven weeks with no internet? Sounds like Heaven. It was so nice hearing of your trip, and the challenges an artists faces at high altitudes.

  6. I am just delighted to have found your blog through your receiving an award. You certainly deserve the award. I will be following along on this journey. Cheers.