Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I've Been Traveling

Yellowstone National Park
A short hike took me to this small grove of aspen growing next to a trickle of stream.    Sketched with a fountain pen, then watercolor added. 

Maybe you’ve noticed I haven’t been posting lately.  The good news is that I’ve been traveling.  I had good intensions of posting at least something every couple of weeks, but just couldn’t find the time.  There never seemed to be enough hours in the day to even get enough sleep. 

We spent about six weeks in Yellowstone National Park, and then another handful of days in the Malheur Basin, Oregon, USA.  I have lots of notes, sketches and photographs.  Now to find the time to translate some of them into a digital format.  

I’ll only post genuine field sketches on this blog, “Sketching in Nature.”  My personal blog will have a broader variety:  www.elvafieldnotes.blogspot.com.  In addition to my field sketching I also like to flip open my laptop and draw from the images we have just taken.  Often I have penciled an idea in the field, and then I refine it while looking at my image on the laptop ... then I ink or paint.  I find working back and forth this way helps me do both better.  Field sketches often have a freshness that careful sketching looses.  Careful sketching from the laptop helps hone my knowledge of each species.  
Wolf Track
Notes from April 12, 2013 

Hard freeze last night.  Crusted snow crunches loud under my feet.  Chilly wind.  We’re following a wolf track on a closed road.  The wolf came through yesterday when the snow was mushy.  Its prints sunk deep.  Now the tracks are frozen solid.  Dale starts to photograph the track and I’m just grabbing my pencil when he looks up and realizes two bison bulls are following the same path.  Prudence is in order.  We back off the trail at least 50 yards into a rumble of rocks.  The bison lumber along.  Fortunately they don’t linger.  They are heading to an opening farther down the road.  

As they pass I worry the bison are smashing the wolf tracks.  No.  Enough tracks survived.  I get to draw and Dale photographs.  I soon realize the left front paw is abnormal.  The toes should point forward, but on the left foot they splay out.  I lay my pencil down next to the track so I can measure its size.  Big.  

Farther up the trail a smaller wolf has passed this morning.  It left shallow tracks in the dusting of snow that fell on the crust.  While I sketch the far off bugle of a pair of sandhill cranes reaches us.


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