Category Archives: The Rocky Mountains

Colorado Memories

With my husband’s work schedule too tight to go to my beloved Colorado this summer, I’ve been reminiscing by looking at pictures from our wonderful trip last year.  We took our two Nieces with us knowing that since they are both now in college, they soon will become too busy to join us.  It worked out perfectly.

The photo below is of one of my favorite places on the planet, the Maroon Bells, near Aspen.  Alan and I got engaged and later married here.    The Maroon Bells Range has it’s own weather pattern, and things can be very dicey there.  But on a calm day when the water is still, it is truly a sight to behold, one of the most beautiful places anywhere…

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A straight-up hike near Glenwood Springs takes you to another incredible place called “Hanging Lake”.  This beautiful little body of water hangs right out on the edge of a cliff, hence the name.   Travertine  has formed all over the bottom of the water, making it an interesting emerald green color.

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This place looks like something out of a fantasy movie…

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(Below) Crater Lake lies just beneath the great spires of the Maroon Bells.

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(Below)  While resting on a hike, Kippy meets a new friend.   Chipmunks are for viewing…NOT touching.  Gooood boy Kippy!

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Alan’s brother and his wife joined us in Colorado for a white-water rafting adventure.  Alan and I made the executive decision to put our Nieces in the front of the boat so they could bear the brunt of the hideously COLD water and shield us from it a bit (after all, what are a loving Aunt and Uncle for???).   Sara (in the red visor) and Mary (in the black visor) are in the front row, with Alan and I just behind them, and Alan’s brother and wife behind us.  A couple that we didn’t know sat in the back and of course our river guide Tim brought up the rear, making sure that we hit every trouble spot in the river along the way.

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(Below)  This is why we stuck the Nieces in the front!

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But in the end, the water had the last laugh.  It didn’t matter where on the boat a person was.  We all ended up SOAKED!   What a FUN day this was!!!

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Creating One’s Own Vision

For wildlife artists, I believe that there is no replacement for time spent in the field.  Opportunities for viewing wildlife don’t just happen.  We often have to make them happen.  Although there are sometimes wonderful things going on in the outdoors around us, in order to observe, photograph and study animals that don’t live in our immediate areas of the country, we need to get on a plane or climb into a car and go to where they live.  This seems like a no-brainer to me.  But I am amazed at the amount of people who paint wildlife that just don’t see the need in this.   It often shows in their work.

For me, this travel and observation is the best part of the job.  I can honestly say that a day spent with  mountain goats high up in the heavens or watching crocodiles in the Zambezi River are memories that stay with me for a lifetime.  It can be challenging and fun to bring those wonderful moments home within you and then attempt to capture them with paint.

My husband and I were incredibly fortunate to visit the Yukon in the summer of 2008.  I’ve always dreamed of seeing a wild northern place such as this.  And it of course, didn’t disappoint.   I took thousands of photographs of the area’s amazing scenery, and studied some unique animals there as well.   “Lofty Heights” below is the first painting that I have done as a direct result of this memorable trip.

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Mountain Mamas

Anyone who knows me very well at all knows that the mountain regions of Colorado are among my favorite places on the entire planet.  Any excuse to go there is just fine with me.   Alan and I recently attended a conference in Denver.   Denver is not actually in the mountains.  But it is close.   “Close”,  and an extra day or two is all I need to make a trek up into the high country!

We spent a couple of days way up in the heavens.   One of my favorite mammals to watch is the mountain goat.   They were out in droves.    Actually there were three different family groups that we discovered and spent time with.   Mountain goats are wonderful about sharing their space with people, as long as young children are not present.    Children make them nervous and even a little aggressive (I see eye to eye with them on this :-) ).

June is baby time in the mountains.   Each family group of mountain goats had its own tiny, fuzzy white babies.   Mountain goats form tight family groups of related females.    Males are off on their own in the high country.   They all come together during the mating season.

(Below) What kind of mother would allow her child to stand on the edge of a cliff?   A mountain goat mother.   This is where the goats feel safest.   Predators wouldn’t be very likely to spend time here.    The only exception is the Golden Eagle.   This fierce raptor is the number one predator of mountain goat babies.   They swoop down and knock them off of rocky cliff edges just like this one.   So a diligent mountain goat nanny keeps an eye on the sky!

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(Below) There is nothing like a nice firm mattress!   A mountain mama and baby rest together.    Although Mountain goats are devoted parents, they will not except the presence of a baby other then their own, even if it is in the same family group.   The mama will push another baby away, forcing it to give her some space.   They know their own babies from sight and scent and can tell them apart even from a distance.

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This baby below is about one and a half weeks old.    He was a wobbly fellow on his chubby legs.   Someday he will scale great cliff sides like an acrobat.  But for now, simply balancing on this rounded rock provides a nice challenge.

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Below, a mother leads her baby up the  mountainside.   The one clamoring up the rocks in the center of the picture is hers.  The other standing on the rock is looking for her own mother.   When she spots her, she will follow along.

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(Below)  Two babies nuzzle each other.   Baby mountain goats are VERY playful.  They bounce around on chubby spring-loaded legs.  Then when they tire, they come together and snuggle.   The baby on the left below is only a little more than a week old…

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Sometimes it’s good to have a friend…

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“Adventures”—the Yukon and Canadian Rockies

For those who are interested in stories, photographs and field sketches from far away places, I have just added two new segments to my “Adventures” link on this website.   You will see them at the top entitled “Yukon” and “Canadian Rockies”.

These are a few images from the Yukon entry.  This entry includes interesting history of the area and many images of summer in the far north including a close up look at some of the most famous animals of the vast Yukon territory.

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Below are a few images from the Canadian Rockies entry.   This entry takes you through one of the most scenic places in North America and gives you a glimpse into the lives of the fascinating animals who call the Canadian Rockies home.

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For much more, be sure to check it out!  :-)

Glacier National Park

On a recent trip to Montana, I was fortunate to have some extra time to visit majestic Glacier National Park. It is hard to sum a place like this up with mere words. Photos really don’t do it justice either, as no matter how great a photo is, you can’t smell the cool mountain air and sense the grand scale of things. But this doesn’t stop me from taking lots of pictures!

This is a panoramic view that consisted of four photos taken from the same spot. I hadn’t tried this before now and am pretty pleased with the results, although some degree of distortion is an inevitable result.

The stream below was full of beaver activity. I saw a beaver at close range, but a fisherman unknowingly sent him off in a scurry…

About two feet of snow fell shortly before I arrived at the park (in the middle of June). For that reason the main road that runs through the park was closed towards the top. A friend and I walked a few miles up the road until we reached the area where the snow still covered it. The views were AMAZING from here!

Evening light rivals only the lighting of early morning for it’s beauty.

June and early July are wildflower time in the mountains. There were bright splashes of color everywhere!

I’m not used to seeing white tail deer in the mountains. When I think of western deer, it is the mule deer that comes to mind. This young white tail buck was grazing on vegetation just under the water’s surface. He jumped around like a rabbit from one place to another looking for food. He was so much fun to watch.

We ran into four good sized Big horn rams hiding in the brush near the road. The largest three were shy but this younger one stuck his head out in plain sight. We waited for them to emerge, but they stayed hidden until we continued our journey on foot down the mountain. When we had finally left them, we turned and looked back just in time to see four big butts trotting up the road in the opposite direction from us.


The Whistlepig

Nearly everyone has seen a groundhog at one time or another. But I don’t think that most people ever really stop and take a good look at them and notice how adorable they are.

Groundhogs have lived here just outside my studio windows for the past several years. One summer mother groundhog even used our hot tub deck as a playpen for her babies. Groundhog babies are just about the cutest things around. I’ve pictured one below.

The groundhog (also known as the woodchuck or whistlepig) is a rodent, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. In areas where food is abundant a groundhog can grow to up to 30 pounds. These animals see the winters through in hibernation.

Here a groundhog is climbing up onto our deck rail. It looks like she is strumming the strings of a horizontal harp. She is surprisingly agile for her plump posterior.

Here she has made it up onto the top of the deck rail. When she decided to descend, she jumped down and landed with a loud thump!

This baby groundhog poses for a picture. He and his little sibling grew up on and under this deck. It was fun to watch them mature…

Yellow-bellied Marmots have the same basic physiology and many of the same habits as the familiar groundhog and are in the same family, but marmots inhabit rocky areas often at very high altitudes. They too, hibernate in winter.

My painting of a yellow-bellied marmot entitled “Inquisitive”…