Thursday, September 24, 2015

Labor Day in Glacier National Park

Chasing the Sun: Glacier National Park
Labor Day 2015

Montana's landscape holds beauty that any attempt to describe can't possibly do it justice.  The mountains are breathtaking but the prairies can be just as awe inspiring.  The way the light plays off the wide range of colors and textures captures my full attention.  Logan Pass had been closed in the days before taking this day trip.  There had been rain on the plains and snow in the mountains and the clouds still hung low.  With camera bags, water bottles, and snacks packed up, we took to the road.  We dressed for autumn but probably should have added another layer or two.  A winter coat would have been a great idea once we hit the top of the pass.  We were in and out of the car quickly, not intending to hike, so we were only a little chilled along the way.

On the road between Browning and East Glacier, I was so taken with the changing landscape and sky.  There's a bit of blue sky but the clouds are heavy yet.  This just cries out, "paint me!"  I probably will.  Our two kids (teens) were not very excited about spending the day on the road but they had their electronics along.  At this point, I'm hoping for the least complaining possible.  The bad attitudes seemed to be held off that day.  I always pack more stuff than necessary even on days like this.  I had very little leg room but it was my own fault.  I really didn't care; camera in hand, I was distracted with the landscape around us.

As we cross the bridge high above the river, this is the view to the north.  Just wow!   As I saw the train moving along the tracks, I had to try an attempt even with the vehicle in motion.  It's always a gamble with the end result.  I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out so well.  

[Happy purring kitten crawling on my lap, nibbling at my hands on the keyboard.  I think she's saying she'd rather have playtime or cuddle time.  She's doing her best to distract me.  She doesn't comprehend blog post deadlines.  Funny Lucy Lu!]

The first stop was Apgar Village on Lake McDonald.  The cloudy skies made it a challenge to capture very well.  I'm always seeking more reference photos here.  It's my favorite place in this national park.  I have more favorite views from the west side of the lake.

On our second stop inside Glacier National Park, I was noticing the lighting still wasn't ideal.  This view would be so much better with blue sky.  For an art reference photo, it will work nicely to a point.  There really isn't a strong light source.  It's pretty flat.  It give information about the parts of the composition but a light source and more defined shadows would be a huge improvement.

While taking these photos, I was looking up at the sky around us, studying the "holes" in the cloud cover.  I was trying to decide if it would be worth waiting longer to have a chance at more sunlight.  Do I wait?  Should we move on?  Will there be more sunlight for other photos up ahead?

Before moving on, I zoomed in on a these five views.  The first shows the blue of the water caused by algae.  Then I zoomed in closer for several more shots in the area.  I did alter these some to adjust them because of the overcast sky.

This is a view I am planning to paint at some point.  I've been gathering reference photos over the years.  It's such a tranquil perspective.  While here, I would guess I took at least 15 photos of this and the surrounding area.  I zoom in on specific areas to help with added details while painting.  As we were pulling away, there was a photographer waiting in the parking area.  He was patiently waiting for the sun to come through the clouds.  We joked with him that he was "getting" the sun.  I wanted to wait as well, but I knew we needed to keep moving.

This would be so much more dynamic with some blue sky, sunlight, and more distinct shadows.  But here we are, it's what it is.  I still enjoy it and could use it for an art reference.  

We are driving on the Going-To-The-Sun Road toward Logan Pass and there are few chances to pull off for a better view.  My camera was being put to work now!  Judging the roadside and trees, I click away hoping to not have a tree in the middle of the viewfinder.  The sun is beginning to show signs of breaking through the clouds.  I can see bits of blue sky appearing.

About this time, as my husband driver is slowing for me, I'm shooting away like crazy to get as many shots as possible.  Without realizing it, we've slowed down another driver behind us.  That driver used his horn to communicate his annoyance.  "Really?  These views and you're in a hurry?"  That was my thought.  The sun is breaking through and lighting up the tree tops on the mountainsides.  The sunlight's rays so defined.  My husband drives quite fast all the time, EXCEPT in national parks.  He wants to enjoy the views and he's not rushed at all.  We are a great combination.  

Ooh! Ooh!  It's the sun!  We found the sun!  I know I sound ridiculous but that's exactly what it felt like.  The sky was changing constantly as we traveled the road.  I couldn't take my eyes off the views.  The sunlight brings out the vivid greens in ribbons that bend with the curve of the slope. 

These are just spectacular views and I'm taken with the fact that I get to see them.  This happens every day.  I try to imagine what it would be like to see this everyday.  The clouds move and the sun comes through to spotlight creation.  The light brings out details that captivate those who will pause.

We approach Logan Pass Visitor Center and I observe other people dressed for winter.  Oh.  We didn't dress for winter.  We brave the cold and the snow anyway.  We can do this.

Inside the visitor center, this quote is posted on the wall.  I relate with these words.  I cannot begin to do justice to these views with words or photographs or paintings.  The views are just too amazing.

As we continued along the road toward St. Mary's, it occurred to me that we seemed to be chasing the sun.  We were excitedly pursuing sunlit views and glimpses of blue sky.  I am still in awe of the sun and clouds effects on the view of the valleys.  The varying pattern of dark next to light green is just yummy!  I know it's not food but yeah, it's food for the eyes.

The sunlight makes the difference.  Without the sun lighting up the landscape, it's flat and lifeless.  It's a beautiful view, sunlight or not, but just not the same.  It's really hard to add that in as I paint, second guessing how to plan the shadows.  I just know seeing the shadows makes painting a better experience.

Here is how the wildfires have changed the landscape this year.  This is the area drawing nearer to St. Mary's.  It's sad but intriguing all at once.  It's not ruined.  It's different.  Though it may not be ideal, it's still alive.  What we see may not appear to be alive but time will show its recovery.  The process is slow but so incredible to follow...this is one area I'll continue to photograph to show it's regrowth.

As we drove from St. Mary's toward East Glacier at the day's end, this traveler's Winnebago gave us interesting food for thought.  My own sentimental mind thought this suited our day and lives perfectly.  Off in the distance there are areas previously burnt in years past.  The regrowth is bright green and something good is on its way.

Our final stop in this day's journey before the drive home...Serrano's.  East Glacier has this little gem, Mexican cuisine so delicious that you'll need to get your name on the waiting list.  We waited about 30 minutes for a table and ate on the back patio.  It was a little cool but temporary walls were up on the patio aided by a patio heater.  We caved on letting the kids have technology at the table.  We seldom do this.  It almost felt like a date for just the two of us.  A little quieter and we could visit while we just enjoyed the end of the day.

During one of our first stops of the day, my loving guy shot these photos of me.  You can probably see how I was eating up every moment, sunshine or not.  It was a day full of taking in as much as possible because the seasons are changing.  The weather is changing quickly and soon all this will be like a different world.  The days grow shorter, the leaves change and fall, and the landscape is all new again.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to record these views and share them with the world.  It's all too good to keep to myself.  I'm sure there's somebody that would relish it all as well or better.  

This has been quite the wild ride, I'm telling you!  I'm not just talking about my own adventures in art and taking care of my family at the same time.  That has been a most exciting undertaking to be sure.  We had a rhythm that worked for us and felt pretty comfortable.  My decision to explore art as a possible career venture has thrown us all for a bit of a loop.  Now that we are starting our back-to-school rhythm, my work days in the studio are struggling to be productive.  There are appointments and interruptions that take me from art goals.  Though my progress continues, the amount of multi-tasking is tiring.

I'm learning so many new things at one time;
that only adds to feeling like I'm moving forward at the pace of a snail on Benadryl!

There are so many other unrelated commitments that I don't really want to give up.  I think my biggest weakness is that I can feel overwhelmed and not reach the goals I've set.  Do I expect a lot of myself?  Oh, yes.  Taking life too seriously can be my downfall.  

In the beginning, much research of online advice recommends longer posts for better search engine optimization (SEO).  I'm learning so much daily.  It seemed really hard to build longer posts at first.  Now, I'm trying to keep the post lengths from being too long.  I'm not sure what to share or how to say it...I guess that comes with experience and time.  I'll be trying to give a few short posts both for reader convenience and mine, too.  Now that the school year has begun, I'm finding I have to choose to write a post or paint.  Managing it all is a learning process.  We'll see where it goes!

In the meantime, here's a teaser on what I'm putting together for a post in the near future.  My sister is very curious about the magic eraser method I mentioned on Facebook.  I'm just learning how this can be effective so don't mean to sound like a pro here.  It's an experiment that I tried on a painting recently.

So for now, I'm heading back to get going on paintings for the remainder of my morning.  That river's not going to paint itself!  If there's a technique you'd heard about but never tried...let me know, maybe it could turn into another blog post.  Maybe creative little videos will be added eventually.

Until next time,


because she must make art.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fresh Cherries Watercolor Painting on Etsy

These fresh, juicy cherries are a new addition to my Etsy shop ChristySheelerArtist today.
My neighbor has several fruit trees and this is one of them.  While we visit in the yard, she takes me around on a tour of her plants and trees.  We talk all the details of when they were planted and how much they've grown since last year.  Some plants and trees come from local nurseries, but many come from family members and friends.  She takes the dogs (ours included) out into the country to run and sometimes she digs up plants on those days.

It doesn't surprise my neighbors to see me out with my camera on a regular basis.  I observe the lilacs and coerce my husband to get the ladder out to see the tallest sunflowers.  I think it must be a complement that someone else admires what's growing enough to be excitedly snapping photographs.  I hope it is, but if not, I'm grateful they tolerate me and my obsession for more great photo references.

After reviewing the many photos I took that fall, this one just seemed to beg for the paintbrush.  This watercolor painting is my way of describing the way the cherries hang from the branch on delicate stems.  I enjoyed mixing the colors of paint for textures on the branch and the leaves reaching out to be seen.  The light and shadow are contrasted to make it all pop off the paper.  There are blues and violets in the shadow areas.  I used some controlled scrubbing to accent the highlights on the cherries.  The background is loose and soft.

This painting would be a lovely accent or focal point to display in a kitchen or dining room.  I package it with an ivory double mat and cellophane sleeve.  It would easily be placed in a purchased frame and a black or brown frame would set it off nicely.

My regular weekly post will be added on Thursday,
so stop back and see me again!


Because she must make art.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Nature's Water Therapy

Have you ever needed to get away for few days?

At the end of July, our two teens were gone for a week.  We had a weekend to get away by ourselves.  We went camping.  I know, you're saying, "really, again?"  It's what summer in Montana is made for...there's no other way to explain it.  The beautiful blue skies and the landscape is just too irresistible.  We packed up the basics we would need and headed for the mountains.  It's under an hour's drive and we have our little home-away-from-home parked and settled.  We had a great time sharing one another's undivided attention.  There wasn't a set schedule and we ate when we were hungry.  It was so freeing to not be thinking about a regular mealtime schedule.  We ate our favorite junk food.  We didn't have to be a good example of healthy eating!  It was a nice vacation from the typical camping trip for our family of four.  We missed our kids while they were gone for that ten days but the break relaxed us a great amount.  The weather that weekend brought high temperatures and I noticed that many flowers were done blooming.  The vegetation was changing, preparing for late summer turning to become autumn.  There were signs that the local area was dry, which would in turn result in a great number of wildfires.  

While we were out taking the dog for a walk, I had my camera but it late morning which meant the sun was high.  The lighting was not best for photography.  Everything had a tendency to be washed out and had less contrast.  The longer shadows of morning and evening really add to composition.  I ought to make myself get out earlier and sacrifice sleep for my art.  I wished that I'd been out early in the morning but sleeping in late was such a welcome option.  I didn't really view this weekend outing the same as others.  I had been pushing so hard at home in the studio and felt the need for some time off.  My main focus was on enjoying a relaxing time with my husband.  Photography for art references wasn't the main goal that it had been on previous camping trips.  

This area runs along the road and is a series of beaver dams.  The colors were a little washed out, especially in the sky but I used a few Picasa filters for improvement.  When I have a photo I'm not

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Summer's Brief Beauties in the Garden

September is here and soon we will kiss summer goodbye again.  It's Wednesday afternoon and I am so wiped out from a morning at the dentist...but I can't bear to see a week go by without a new post here.  I had figured to push hard and spend the afternoon getting caught up on work in the studio.  After two and a half hours in the chair, coming home with a numb mouth...thoughts of potato soup were in my head.  So thankful for my dear husband and his potato soup today.  He made it on our rainy Labor Day weekend.  I spent several hours comfy with a good book and a warm lap blanket.  Next, I just felt an urge for a nap and didn't fight it.  A wonderful time of quiet, hoping that Lucy, my feline assistant was behaving herself but not caring enough to not fall off to sleep. (Insert photo of hot potato soup and good book here.)  I have been so pleased with my ongoing weekly posts, with no lapses in holding to this challenge I've given myself.  It would be sad to let it go so whatever this post becomes by the end, I didn't give up.  Hang in there with me and we'll see how this goes.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mount Oberlin, a Waterfall, and a Sketch

It's time to be realistic here.  
I feel like I chickened more than one way.  

Have you ever felt that way?  Gosh, that's how I have been feeling and I'm needing to re-train my brain.

I've had the best experience over these summer months.

It felt completely different than before, like I could make some real progress.  Sometime during the second week of August, the Indian Paintbrush paintings were complete.  Those three paintings brought my summer total to nine paintings in less than three months.  It wasn't easy but nothing worth doing ever is, right?  The time had come to clean up and start again.

The great amount of progress I had made during the summer months must have gone to my head.  Or the heat or both?

I say this because I was really feeling ambitious.  Maybe too ambitious?  Okay, my point is this...there's this breath taking view in Glacier National Park that I have wanted to paint for many years.  Each time we drive over the road, known as Going To The Sun, which leads to Logan Pass Visitor's Center, it draws me to take it in the great expanses and massive peaks.  From what I can gather, I believe the peak in this favorite view is Mount Oberlin.  Correct me in the comments if I'm wrong, please.

Off to the right is a small parking area with boardwalk and the mountain goats often graze here.  There are very few parking areas on the Going To The Sun Road and during the peak season, it's really hard to score a parking space.  I took these photos quite a few years ago and it's been on my list of someday paintings.  If it was possible,

I would park myself at the base of this waterfall 
and just soak it up for the whole day.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Etsy Adventure Begins!

I took the leap and ChristySheelerArtist Etsy shop is Live!

Yeah, so this is the scared, excited, giddy, oh-my-goodness, I'm really doing this face.
Well, no.  I took this last week while taking more attractive selfies for artist bio purposes.  This does reflect my emotional state today though.  It's a little bit unnerving to go through all the set up steps knowing I'm probably just getting started.  I'm a bit of a perfectionist and hate making mistakes.  I overthink things way too much.  (My dear husband would nod his head now.)  It was time to quit talking and do it already!  That's the kind of self-talk going on in my head lately.  

At this point, I've got nine listings posted but will continue adding more,
including the shooting stars paintings and the Indian paintbrush paintings as well.  

In the studio, I am working on several sketches on tracing paper.  I am working from photographs both printed and on the tablet.   It's my goal to complete about five or six sketches to be transferred to watercolor paper by the end of the week.  These are all separate subjects, mainly related in that they were all taken locally.  Local views is the theme.  I've been taking photos as I work to share in next two weeks' posts.  This week I plan to share about another sketch I've completed and the story that goes with it.

The art studio is changing daily and it's a joy to be here during the day.  A little instrumental music on Pandora going on in the back ground now.  After many days of smoke filled skies with the terrible fire season...and a few days just not myself with concern for people I know in the areas evacuated...the sun is shining today.
We continue to pray for rain, the safety of firefighters, those evacuated, livestock and structures.  

I am so excited to share the news about the Etsy shop finally being a reality.

Here's the LINK, go take a look!

I'm so glad you wandered over my way today!  Thanks for stopping in
and feel free to leave me a greeting/comment below.
Take care and I'll be back Thursday.