Category Archives: Wildlife

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.

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.

Salmon Cascades wayside painting for Olympic National Park

Finally finished this nice little painting for Olympic NP. Spawning coho salmon are here and we’ve seen them several times milling around waiting to jump.

Lots going on here in the paint department, but this one was truly fun for me. Below is the concept sketch.

And here’s the real place. The wayside panel will be located just at the top of the cascades on an overlook. As I posted before, I dropped my GoPro camera into the water here and found out the bottom was full of colorful gem-like rocks, tainted organic sierra on the upstream side. Hummm?

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.

 

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge site visit

We spent all last week out in the eastern Oregon high-desert country at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns. Where’s that? 150 miles from the next nearest town. We were installing some temporary exhibits so the visitor center can at least reopen after the occupation by WHITE terrorists a year ago. What? An amazing collection of wildlife, historic ranches, huge vistas and almost 188,000 acres of public land. Oh, and the sandhill cranes and snow geese? This photo was a small section of one flock, and it was hanging out IN TOWN!Most photos by Nancy Cherry Eifert

Nancy and I took somewhere around 1000 reference and wildlife photos, her camera clicking more than mine. We’re supposed to be the local site team and were there with the Boss from Georgia who made things proper and friendly (actually, Rosie is as un-boss as it gets). As for the refuge, as Carey, the refuge contact said “WE NEED HELP” and so we’re giving it as best we can with art, photography, exhibits, waysides and a bunch of new signs to replace those shot up by cowboys – guys that evidently think guns and white privilege trump our heritage and access to public lands (pun intended).

If you don’t remember yet, this was the place that the Bundy armed militia took over a year ago and demanded the federal government return all land to the cowboys because their cowboy descendants had it first. Remember that? Of course the local tribe said something like “REALLY?” – but enough of that nonsense.

I feel a great privilege to be able to use our skills to help with this mess, which is basically a violation of my heritage. MY HERITAGE – notice the caps?  If i can even get this place half way fixed up so visitors have a good experience and learn something, I’ll feel successful.

This is inside the Sod House Ranch barn, an ancient structure that’s now cabled against the desert winds (see the cables?). Notice the full pinyon trunks for posts that were brought miles in wagons. It’s only open a few weeks a year but we had open access. There’s a heron and Canada goose rookery in the ranch house trees  (I never knew Canada geese nested in trees). Once part of the largest private ranch in the country, it’s part of the refuge. Nancy said she felt like  she was in a candy store.

I’ll share some more photos of this amazing place next post and on into the year as we get this thing together and the road from home to Malheur gets some Eifert tire rubber!

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 Tide Pool Wayside Panel

You may have noticed a serious absence of my blogs for the past month. Just too depressed about the my country sliding into hatred and my despair about it to write anything – but also this is the busiest period for my painting hand in decades. It’s all good, the painting part, but the level of art flowing out of my studio is somewhat frightening. I’ve learned to speed it up, fewer layers, less thinking about it – just go at it. All this is mostly National Park Service and WA State Parks stuff, so that means hurry up and then wait, wait for approval to proceed. At this moment, I have 43, yes, 43 sketches waiting to proceed to paint! Not to fret, there are dozens waiting in line for me to begin.

This one of the tide pools is for Washington Park in Anacortes, Washington. An interesting and fun painting, and, hopefully, make you read the rules about tromping all over the critters.

All those logos at the bottom will change when I get them, but the rest is fairly together. Several of these will be installed just where you hit the tidepools – sort of a welcoming sign to respect your neighbors.

Don’t you wish the same sort of thing was happening elsewhere?

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 – Snow Creek wayside panel

Some small changes but I think this is finished. At least the art is. This panel will live on the east side of Discovery Bay, just a few miles from Port Townsend. The North Olympic Salmon Coalition recently rearranged a lot of land here, took out a railroad bridge or two and moved a mountain of fill dirt. Two streams, Snow Creek and Salmon Creek now run free into the bay in a textbook example of how to successfully restore salmon habitat. I was proud to be a part of it.

Here’s the detail on the left side. If you check the photo below, you’ll see there was a very pronounced umber feel to the color, a Van Dyke brown, and even thou it was winter and the painting is summer, I used it. This also seemed to be the color of the water here, hinting at all the organic nutrients coming down this stream.

This is one of four of these I’ve been working on for this restoration group, and I really appreciated the freedom and also professionalism everyone has in the group, especially Dave Shreffler, who did the interpretive writing. Very tasty twists of phrases that looks easy but isn’t. This makes the 9th underwater restoration painting I’ve done in the Pacific Northwest, just in time for the next one coming soon. Stay tuned.

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 – Maynard Beach painting completed

These should enlarge if you click them.

Holidays or not, I spent some time this week finishing up this part of the North Olympic Salmon Coalition project for Discovery Bay. Last week I posted a partially finished painting of this and now here’s the final. I cut a piece out of the right corner, below, so you can see some details.

I’ve been working on various ways to show both above water and below water situations in the restoration paintings. This one is, if my count is right, the ninth painting showing this odd situation, and I really fudged reality in this one. If you look at the center lower part you’ll see the shoreline comes across into the water, but the scene is deep underwater. The water line above it is about as far off from reality as it gets – but it seems to work somehow.

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.

Snow Creek Restoration wayside panel sketch

Finishing the year properly with a local project. A LOCAL PROJECT! Hear that, he said joyfully with some paintings for Discovery Bay, just southwest of Port Townsend, WA.

Here’s the sketch for this first one. But first some background. For the past couple of years, heavy equipment and a bunch of people have been pulling creosote posts, removing a couple of bridges, rerouting a water line, hauling off tons of rocks and trying to put nature back together after more than a century of messing things up by us. The idea was to recreate a friendly environment for salmon, and it’s looking good optimistic.

This painting will be on a wayside panel at Snow Creek, the same creek that our nearby Chimacum Creek chum salmon came from 15 years ago in another restoration – and that makes this project even more personal for me. It shows the creek meandering down under the sheltering alders and out into the estuary.  Port Townsend is down the bay and around the corner. There was a trestle and railroad grade crossing just to the left that is now completely gone, allowing two creeks to find their historic channels again. Drawing this, a landscape in transition, has been challenging, so we’ll see what transpires as two wild creeks relocate themselves. Either the painting will remain realistic or it might become completely outdated – either way, the story is accurate.

Here’s what Snow Creek looks like at the moment, carrying silt to build new shorelines and generally get back to normal. I’ll post the painting for this one soon. Thanks, Dave and the folks at the North Olympic Salmon Coalition for the pleasure of learning more about and then painting my own neighborhood.

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.

Orcas Island’s West Beach wayside panel

Both of these images enlarge in your browser if you click them.

A little side project that’s hopefully coming in on the truck today.  The Straits Foundation just finished a project on Orcas Island in the San Juans that will help fish, a lot! West Beach Creek was blocked by two old culverts, so out they came and a giant culvert the size of Texas went in to make fish passage easier. In fact, I doubt the fish will even realized they’re in a culvert at all. A fairly amazing change and a real credit to the land owner for making this all  happen.

So, here I came with small budget but a speedy paint brush. These two illustrations are separate paintings, pieced together on the panel. I also did the design, collaborated on the text and handled the fabrication in aluminum.  Another little piece of art on a beach, which makes NINE of these around Puget Sound and the Strait in the past two years.

And here is the final installation. Thanks again Lisa and Carolyn at the Straits Foundation in Bellingham, WA for allowing me to push some paint again for you.

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.