All posts by eifert

Western Grebes in 48 North this month

I’m always months late posting these stories. This one is as close to being current as it gets – it’s still in stores for another day.

Here’s the text:

If I were Mother Nature, designer of all things wild, I would have felt proud completing the western grebe – a job well-done. First, it’s just a beautiful creature, but parts are combined to make an amazing machine. That bright red eye helps see underwater and bulbous feet allow it to move faster than fish can swim. Those funny over-sized feet also make it possible to run OVER water and even walk upright on shore like a Dapper-Dan in a black and white tux. Then there is this double-jointed neck that curves backward and can act like a spear. It bends back and – wham, into a fleeing fish. This is quite the bird, and it’s here right now for you to see in the Salish Sea. Look for these gregarious birds in quiet bays. They’ll be in flocks, almost never alone.

During spring and summer breeding season, western grebes are found on freshwater wetlands far to the north and east of our coast. In the fall, they fly south and west to salt water, often during the night. Once they get to the Salish Sea or other warmer lakes and bays along the West Coast, they congregate in large flocks, sometimes in the thousands. I once saw western grebes on Clear Lake in California, a mass of birds from shore to shore covering many miles of water. During spring courtship, these birds are known for their elaborate rituals and displays. Pairs both react to some private signal (a wink?) and both rise out of the water in unison and run together, side by side, in a flutter of feet defying gravity. Having spent their energy, they ‘land’ in the water again and act as if nothing has happened. Well, it probably hasn’t, yet.

All the rest of these, five years worth, are here in a new section on my website:

Salish Sea Stories 48 North magazine

Thanks for reading this week – and the entire year for that matter.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Dismal Nitch on the Columbia River – new wayside paintings

Click to enlarge in your browser.

Not exactly nature art, but still meaningful to me. Lewis and Clark National Park is at the mouth of the  Columbia River. Part of the park sticks out into the river and was the location (maybe) where the Corp of Discovery stayed for a week, wet, hungry and in a dangerous situation. My task here is to show the event in six paintings that will be placed along this walkway. Somewhat serendipitously, we were here a year ago goofing around and a couple of weeks later this bid to fill up these empty panels appears. I was the only one involved that had actually been to the site.

The most meaningful thing, at least to me is that for part of the research, I used my mom’s book “George Shannon, Young Explorer with Lewis and Clark”, Virginia S. Eifert, Dodd Mead, New York, 1963. What a kick, painting the exact same thing she wrote about 55  years ago, and using her research for my paintings. Keeping it in the family!

Panel bases are already in and waiting. Below is an amazing bronze, probably worth more than our house, that sits right at the end of the loop trail.

Nancy beside the big Corps of Discovery bronze with Dismal Nitch cove in the background.
A section of the bronze, a lost wax casting of the highest quality. I know, I’ve helped do this stuff.

My paintings will be scattered along the shore and tell the story of salmon, Indians, Lewis and Clark and Jefferson’s vision of westward expansion. Of course, I’m sprinkling nature into all of them.

I like to compare Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery with the moon landings of the 60’s. It was the same, really, for these guys to head off into nowhere, without maps, and find a way across the continent in a government-sponsored expedition.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Discovery Bay wayside panels installation

A New Years Eve walk on a brand new section of the nearby Olympic Discovery Trail beside Discovery Bay. But what’s this? A couple of those outdoor wayside panels with some art by that Eifert-dude, so new they look startlingly clean without gull poop. Still, I thought they looked good, properly placed and I’m proud to have been involved in this. Funded by almost 2 dozen groups over several years of work, it’s closing in on completion.

How clean IS this new asphalt? Not even  a boot mark on it. The trail follows (more or less) the old railroad grade and is part of the 126-mile Olympic Discovery Trail from Puget Sound to the Pacific. There were lots of partner organizations involved in this new section, but the lead was the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, with offices not a mile from our studio. It’s not often I get to do this stuff so close to my home and rarely do we get to see it fresh and newly installed.

The panel below doesn’t have art but is more about the physical process that removed 1900 tons of concrete and junk, hauled off 425 tons of contaminated soil and restored 3200 lineal feet of shoreline. It wasn’t just about building the trail, but restoring salmon habitat – which is a lot of what I painted in 2017. I can count a dozen recent paintings about habitat restoration, and I feel I’ve contributed in some small way to helping put things right in these projects.

But there’s another small story here I want to tell. In 1972, I was looking for a place to open a little craft gallery. I was young, making crafts and little paintings, and driving up and down the Pacific Coast trying to find a cheap place that fit my passion for nature. I needed someplace to just learn to be an artist, and I found this cove extraordinarily beautiful. I still do. I eventually ended up in Ferndale, California on the redwood coast for awhile, but this place beside Discovery Bay briefly grabbed my heart.

Just over the top of this photo is a little strip of land where once sat a small, run-down sawmill, and it was for rent in 1972. I sat there for two days thinking about how beautiful it was, how hopeless the idea was, how I was probably crazy to even try to figure out how to make it work. Wind blew through the broken windows, otters lived underneath it and the building was just too far off nearby Highway 101. So I headed south.

And now, over 45 years later, here’s my art installed at the same place! Life is short, but it sure can be wide and it loops back.

Thanks for reading this week – and the entire year for that matter.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Stories from the Salish Sea on the website

I’ve recently gotten requests for back pages of my monthly magazine page in 48 North in Seattle. I often forget to post them, and going back through 65 months, I found I only had maybe 12 on the website. So, now they’re all up HERE so you can binge read them all, five years of them – as if you would. It was actually fun to go back and see how they’ve evolved, much tighter art now, looser in the writing. 48 North is a magazine all sailors from the Northwest read from time to time. It’s the ‘pickup’ mag we get in boating and marine supply stores everywhere, and I’ve gotten fan mail all the way from San Diego and Hawaii for my stories. Kind of fun to see the ‘legs’ of something published.

Below is a sample of what the printed page actually looks like with the text.

And here’s the link again in case you missed it.

Thanks for reading this week – and the entire year for that matter.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Hoh Rainforest Canopy mural scanned

I sure wouldn’t have scanned this monster myself, but here it is, all 12 gigs of it and 36′ wide.  I started this project back in May of 2015, and finally I’m free of it. Yaaaah. This scan is two of the seven paintings being installed at the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center at Olympic National Park in a couple of months (when they get the road open again after the last high-water).

And here it is against the side of our barn last summer, painted at 70% size (that’s the biggest I can get this media). I painted it rolled up with just the section I was painting on at the time unfurled. Interesting way to go about it. Occasionally I would bring it downstairs and nail it up here to see if it was all fitting. As you can see from the scan at the top, it worked pretty well.  Here’s a progress composite a few months ago.

And here’s the real place, a forest with one of the highest biomass counts on the planet – and one Nancy and I never tire of. It’s been fun painting my local park. I’m sure this installation will last longer than I will.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Red-throated Loons – My 48 North story for November, 2017

This is my 48 North magazine story for November. I thought t he subtle colors of this beautiful winter bird came out fairly well. Here’s the story:

“On the Port Townsend ferry, we crossed those notorious tide rips out in Admiralty Inlet and I spied quite a group of large striking birds, all milling about and diving for dinner in the turbulence. The red-throated loons are back from the north for winter in the Salish Sea. At about 24” long, these are the smallest of the three species of loons we see here, but they are still large birds. Easy to identify in flight, they have a hunchbacked look unlike any other Salish Sea bird and appear to fly very fast. Specialized bodies with legs placed as far to the stern as possible make for fast underwater swimming as they chase down and catch small fish. As with many species, they have evolved into a very specialized and successful fishing machine.”

“They arrive here in winter plumage, basic tux black and white with a very subtle mix that would drive a painter wild trying to portray. As winter progresses, they change profiles completely and sport a dramatic red-orange front and overall soft look of doe skin. Then they’re off for the long flight to the far northern lakes to nest, and here is where it gets interesting. These birds, with legs placed so far back on their bodies, make them almost unable to walk. They cannot stand upright! So, the loons push vegetation around to create a floating nest or simply push themselves up on a low shore. How the eggs stay warm enough to hatch is a mystery to me, but somehow it works – and next November we’ll see the results here with more red-throated loons to enjoy.”

Again, here’s the link to the NEW new puzzle I talked about last week.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Aztec Ruins National Monument – Along the Animas River

This week I moved on from this completed painting for Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico. Projects are piling up here. Below is the sketch I posted some weeks back, and it’s a great example of things changing as they go along. The Park Service, of course, hates change, but, I don’t know, it just happened. The entire thing got reversed, river got bigger (like it is), cottonwoods got smaller (like they are), the chickadee changed into a turkey. It’s just the process of creating something from nothing but a blank piece of paper.

Some things remained, especially this little desert cottontail that I followed around the native plant garden near the visitor center. I could have petted it if I’d had a Cheeto to use as a bribe.

Desert Cottontail at Aztec Ruins

And here’s the river in summer when I was there. A green ribbon of life. Amazingly, even though the bottomland is packed with people, the original ecosystem is almost perfectly intact, right down to the cougars and bobcats. This will become a wayside exhibit panel with some text added to explain all this. It turned out pretty well, I think.

Again, here’s the link to the NEW new puzzle I talked about last week.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

A Vibrant Pueblo at Aztec Ruins New Mexico

Click the image to enlarge it.

Quite an interesting project here.  This is one of the half dozen paintings for the National Park Service at Aztec Ruins, New Mexico. Photos I took like the one below of the real ruins today were about all I had to go by – that and Google Earth. The task was to paint this place 1000 years ago when the Indians had migrated from Chaco Canyon and set up a real economy on the banks of the Animas River. I asked the Chief of Interpretation at the park just how much of the land would have been under cultivation: “all of it, every foot”. That sketch didn’t make the grade ‘too jumbled’, and I couldn’t put the many irrigation ditches in because ‘we don’t know where they were’. So, I just made it all up! And tossed in a red-tailed hawk to keep my heart alive.

Here’s a section view of the pueblo painting, today a World Heritage Site. Yes, there are tiny people down there; yes, it’s pretty much the same layout as today but the photo below shows how much it’s changed.  I really love working out these challenges. I was surprised the NPS really doesn’t have a good grasp of what it was really like. Yes, COULD be, yes, it might have been like that – but in the end it was just a big cloud of not much to go on.

Probably the best set of reference photos I took were of the native plant garden just outside the ruins. It had the same native species that would have been in all those gardens, and how they think it was grown. Flooded occasionally, it’s all grown on mounds.

This painting will be made into an outdoor wayside exhibit with some text added. The original art will hang in the visitor center with the others I’m doing. Only one more big one to go. Thanks to Rosene Creative in Jasper Georgia for putting up with me on this one. It’s been fun.

Again, here’s the link to the NEW new puzzle I talked about last week.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Wildlife of the Old-growth – a new jigsaw puzzle for Christmas

Click the image to enlarge it in your browser.

Finally, a new interpretive jigsaw puzzle is here, all 43 cases in our little warehouse. This is a really fun puzzle, I think, with lots of hidden critters, a story being told and lots of details on the box. As usual, we put the full story on the box back, an interpretive essay and key. Few commercial puzzles have all this stuff on the box, but I never thought it should JUST be a puzzle, but more an experience. If you’d like to purchase it, along with the others we current have in stock, click  here. If you buy more than one, it helps our freight costs – these are heavy.

This painting was a commission, along with a bunch of others, for the Whidbey – Camano Island Land Trust, just to the north of us here in Port Townsend Washington. High on a bluff above the ocean, Admiralty Inlet Natural Area is a preserve with ancient trees and a restored natural prairie. This is also part of the much bigger and very beautiful Ebey’s Landing National Historical ReserveThe high winds here above the Strait of Juan de Fuca have made this a battered forest, creating strange gnarly old-growth Douglas-fir. It’s a fitting place to paint a jigsaw puzzle.

Again, here’s the link to purchase the new puzzle.

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.

Riparian Ecosystem Painting for Aztec Ruins National Monument

Click this and it should enlarge. Too big for small screens.

I’m painting some other installations for Aztec Ruins National Monument, a World Heritage Site in New Mexico, but this additional image just received funding to proceed – and I like how it’s looking and wanted to share. Aztec Ruins is in the town of Aztec, NM and straddles the Animas River, life blood of this green little valley. People 1000 years ago also thought this was a good place to live, so they build a massive pueblo with upwards of 500 room! The rooms are still here, the Indians not so much.

Here’s the Animas with cottonwoods and willows I used for reference in the sketch.  Amazingly, almost the entire original ecosystem is still in place, more than I can say for most places. Several additions such as saltcedar are here now, but they’re not goofing things up like so many other western desert rivers.

Here is a small section of the park with trails through the ruins. The river is just a few hundred yards south. I could really see how the river directed what went on here. The pueblo is close to it, but not close enough for flooding. When I asked the Chief of Interpretation how much land would have been dedicated to farming, he said “all of it, every inch”.  The people lived here on top of each other so as to not ruin their the very land feeding them. That’s NOT the way it is today!

They have a giant kiva that was restored many years ago, over 50 feet in diameter. I thought these big kivas were used mainly for religious events, but it was more, a communal place to hang out in winter or blisteringly hot summer days. My site visit highlight was a guided tour into a closed section of pueblo off-limits to visitors and not restored at all. Absolutely fascinating to see how these places looked before they were ‘cleaned up.’

Give me a project in a new park and I’m a happy painter! And if you, too, think our heritage is important, resist, I SAID RESIST ANY ATTEMPT to reduce or revoke national park designations. This is not who we are!

Thanks for reading this week.
Larry Eifert

Here’s the blog on the web. And here’s my Facebook fan page. I post lots of other stuff there.

Click here to go to our main website – with jigsaw puzzles, prints, interpretive portfolios and lots of other stuff.

Nancy’s web portfolio of stunning photography

And here to go to Virginia Eifert’s website. Her books are now becoming available as Amazon Kindle books.