Trespass, oil on canvas, curio cabinet, 48 x 144 inches
I spent a day recently with my friend, photographer extraordinaire Walter Colley. He shot beautiful copy shots of some of my artifact work from last years show. It was great to have it out of storage and get my juices flowing in that direction again. It will have to wait awhile yet, as I have a gallery show and two festivals in May, and several festivals over the summer. But I'm perking on them again- it's primarily a mental game after all.
Lamar Valley Erratics, oil on canvas, 48 x 144 inches.

Settling in.

This is always the toughest stretch of my working life. Getting back to the habit and structure of working, of labor. Oh sure, art is about inspiration, muses, fun.... all the stereotypical things that art is about. But it's mostly about work. Showing up, every day. After the disruption of the show season, just settling back into regular habits is tough enough, but this year I have the added distraction of an upcoming show at SUNY Geneseo. I plan to try and get my landscape work to unify in a new direction. Well, not so much new, as a fuller manifestation of the ideas that have been drumming around in my head, slowly evolving towards what I hope is a bigger, more unified idea, expressing the relationship we have, or maybe had, with the land. The land we live in, on, around. Home.

That may not sound like much, but it's making my head hurt. Most all the things I have been interested in over my life to date seem to be coming together. Now I want to see if I can make something more from them. And I'm feeling the pressure of that desire.

So what to do? I went fishing yesterday. Skunked, but a great day spey casting, getting to know a river that I am not too familiar with. Cold drizzle most of the day. Perfect

Just to cool out. Now back to work.

To get me focused, a little glimpse into a diary of sorts. Yellowstone sketchbooks from the summer.

Hell Roaring Overlook

Lamar Valley in Morning Haze

Lamar Valley Eratics

Slough Creek Eratic

View from Mt. Washburn

Of Bears and Buffalo

So this year I get into Yellowstone, find a campsite, and head out for a bit of evening sightseeing. Before long, I'm in the Lamar Valley, surrounded by buffalo. As the herd moved closer to the road, a constant rumbling - somewhere between a burp and a roar- reverberates through them all. Mothers to calves, bulls to cows, bulls to one another. As they neared the road, I climbed out the window onto the roof of the Jug. Buffalo everywhere.

I spent a few days drawing, hiking and exploring. Trying to get a handle on this new idea of landscape painting I am thinking about. For years I have avoided working from or with photographs. I've promised people, Give me a photograph to work from, I'll give you a bad painting.

But now I am faced with the need for more information, and I don't have the time to spend drawing all the things I would like to include. Seems that photography will be necessary.

I hope I have learned enough to avoid the tyranny of all the detail

Tundra Grizzly, bronze, edition of 35

I love all the wildlife there, but would it be Yellowstone without the bears? The night I camped at Pebble Creek campground, a grizzly chomped on a guy's hand after it tried to push his way into the man's tent, at another campground just down the road, outside the park. The bear eventually left when the man's calls for help alerted others. Investigators said the man had done everything right- kept a clean camp, didn't have any food in his tent. Who knows what that bear was thinking. I have to admit, I slept better not finding out about it til I had gone.

On my way out I watched a big grizzly on an elk carcass. From a looooooooong ways away. From inside the Jug. The carcass was black with rot, and the bear laid on top of it, burying his head in for another mouthful. Beautiful, mesmerizing, terrifying - all the things I love about wilderness, though seeing from the road in a National Park can hardly be considered wilderness.

Finally, as I approached the bridge over the Yellowstone River, traffic was stopped. Apparently the river was too high for a black bear to swim, and as it waited on the shoulder of the road, rangers stopped traffic and cleared the bridge. And the bear crossed. Obviously anxious - from the traffic, the spectators, being stared at?

Who knows what that bear was thinking.


Here's the center console of the Jug on the way to Yellowstone. Everything necessary for a good road trip, but a little company. The Tick has been with me since I first hit the road about 5 1/2 years ago - a gift from the kids when they were young. While an inspiration, he's not much of a talker.

So, maps, good reading, my Yellowstone sketchbook (with the red binding), second b/w sketchbook with my favorite mechanical pencil, ibuprofen, some flies from my favorite fly shop - High Country Flies in Jackson- tunes/books on my Ipod, a little self-promo
material, expense envelope - and the kicker - bear spray. Wanting or needing the spray is a sign your in the right kind of place.