Category Archives: Wildlife

Waterman Shoreline Uplands Painting

Click the image to enlarge it in your browser. It needs a big screen.

A new painting this week for Waterman Shoreline Preserve on Whidbey Island just east of Port Townsend. This is for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, a bunch of truly nice people to paint for. It will be one of two large wayside panels that go beside this abandoned road – now a public trail – like a little art gallery in the forest. The painting shows the rich habitat of birds and berries that jumble up along here, a very compressed “edge zone.”

Nature is most abundant along edges like meadow/forest, roadsides/forest, shorelines/forest – so it’s a painting that hopefully expresses that.  I’ll have the finished design ready soon to share.

During my long painting career I’ve sure sold my share of art to private collectors. I still get about five emails a month asking for details about paintings I sold decades ago.  Now, it seems, I’m more passionate about hanging some art outside where visitors can get up close and personal with my stuff – but also learn a bit about where they’re standing. At heart, I’m really just a painter of nature in all its glorious details.

I’m a happy painter because of it! Thanks, Ida, for being patient on this one – and the next.

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.

Progress on Cache River National Wildlife Refuge Mural

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Just a progress report – a snapshot of how this current effort is going. Okay, I think. It needs to get much messier, more foliage, downed stuff, details in the critters, but it takes time to throw paint on 12 feet of mud, trees and leaves.

I’m finding this a very unusual ecosystem to paint, different than anything I’ve worked on before – and that’s saying something. Seasonal flooding in the Mississippi floodplain of Arkansas means a very difficult situation for plants to exist. Critters can just move with the water’s ups-and-downs, but plants are a different deal – they can’t leave. So, lots of water-tolerant trees and vines that can get above it all. One grape, for instance, can’t climb, so it’s starts life by grabbing onto a small shrubby tree and just waiting, going up with the tree as it grows towards the canopy. Crazy, because this is a closed-canopy forest so  how long might that plant wait to get there? Other vines climb like crazy and in the old days of old-growth, they must have been ancient thick things the size of my arm.

Here’s one of my references taken by Eric, my go-to guy for photos and the refuge dendrologist. Am I getting the colors close to right?

And finally, here’s my progress as it’ll look in this section of the visitor center. There is also some text on both sides and bottom, but this shows it’s overall placement so I can tell what’s going on. Stay tuned for more, more mud, brown water, muddy trees and all.

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.

Western Tanager study

Western-Tanager

Nancy has put oranges out by the pond for these birds. I think we get the very same pair back each year – after a winter holiday all the way down in Central America. While the female lacks the red head feathers, I’ve read that the male gets them from eating certain insects – along with berries from our cherry trees. We gladly give up our fruit for the companionship of this pair – and so I painted the male on the hunt.

And here’s the frame it’s currently in (and comes with the painting). I think the color is a tad off on the photo. The wood is more blond, painting less blue – I took it on the porch on a sunny day, so things got funky.

Western-Tanager-framed

This ORIGINAL painting is acrylic on board, 6″ x 9″ and $145 framed. Outside edge of the frame is about 12″ x 15″.
This custom frame has a triple liner and glass. Shipping adds just a bit more depending on your zone. This is the original painting, NOT a print.
Email us for details.

Thanks for reading this week. Send this to someone who might appreciate what I’m painting and tell them to sign up. I’m trying to expand my list. An email will work.
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 beautiful photographs

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

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point-Reyes-final

I think some of you will say “wait a New York minute, I’ve seen this.” True, but this week I was in a client’s office looking at my website on her computer and this painting wasn’t there. Embarrassing.  There were posts of progress, of locations last year, the sketch – but I spaced out the posting of the final version. I keep this stuff on my blog/website for reference, like a catalog – and with almost 500 pages it’s a handful to keep track of. So bear with me while I add this one from last year to it.

If you haven’t seen this place, it’s Point Reyes National Seashore just north of San Francisco. A landscape full of atmosphere and history for me (I’ve hiked it, rode a horse through it, sailed by it in my own boat twice). We arrived at Headquarters and asked what they wanted in the painting. The beach, lighthouse, fog, ocean, redwoods, Doug-fir, Drakes Estuary, Tamales Bay, about 50 sq miles of coastal scrub with all the critters. Nothing to it! The painting hangs in the main visitor center, the back of the new park map features it, and now it’s  here.

Finished map and mural.

finished-maps=web

Labels were added on a draft design that wasn’t used.Point-reyes-labels

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 beautiful photographs

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

Some Little Bits of Art for a Prairie Exhibit

In these posts I always try to show what I’ve currently been painting. This week it was finishing up over two dozen of these little insets for outdoor wayside panels – Land Trust on nearby Whidbey Island. (thanks, Mark and Pat) I like the looseness of these illustrations – telling a story, yet artistic enough as stand-alone little paintings.  Here are a few of them.

Vole
Vole in the grass
Bumblebee-and-Golden-Paintbrush
Bumblebee on Golden Paintbrush, one of the Northwest’s rarest flowers
Chorus-Frog
Chorus Frog – they’re singing tonight.
Rear-Admiral-and-Selfheal
Red Admiral and Selfheal
Swallowtail-and-Aster
Swallowtail and Aster

A friend and painter recently asked me if I ever tired of pushing all this paint around flat surfaces. I had to think, no, never – but pushing keys on this silly computer, dealing with all the amazing amount of stupid details of an art business, it just drives both of us nuts. Give me a trail, a sketchpad, a sunny day and I’m in heaven.

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 beautiful photographs

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

Rufous Hummingbird Looking for Spiders

Rufous-Looking-Spiders

Click to enlarge in your browser.

Just a new painting that could be happening right outside my studio window, but isn’t. We have several Anna’s Hummers wintering over nowadays – enjoying our warmer winters. I often see them flying among the branches, carefully checking each bit of moss, each crook and corner, then a quick snatch-up of a hapless spider for lunch. The other hummingbird species commonly here is the Rufous, a reddish-brown job like this painting, but for some reason these tiny birds are NOT over-wintering. Instead, just like forever before, they fly off to Mexico or Costa Rica (where we all want to go this time of year). It’s obviously cheaper and safer for these little guys to stay home and dine on spiders and mites, but so far they don’t do it (so I painted one as if it did). Makes us think it’s spring already.

Rufous-Looking-Spiders-framed

This ORIGINAL painting is acrylic on board, 6″ x 9″ and $145 framed. Outside edge of the frame is about 12″ x 15″.
This custom frame has a triple liner and glass. Shipping adds just a bit more depending on your zone. This is the original painting, NOT a print.
Email us for details.

Thanks for reading this week. You might send this to someone who you think would appreciate what I’m painting and tell them to sign up for my  weekly posts. I’m trying to expand my list. An email with their email to me will work too.

Thanks for reading this week, and enjoy the last of 2014.

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 beautiful photographs

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

American Fishers return to Olympic National Park and make whoopy!

Fisher-Poster

Our web host has been messing with our shopping cart this last week. You’d think a company the size of France could figure this out, but not these days. And, I admit it, painted this image last year, but I just had to put a blog entry about it now because the Olympic Peninsula recently got a bit more crowded.

Fishers had been extinct on the Olympic Peninsula for decades, having been trapped out of the entire state of Washington for their plush fir. Last year, Olympic National Park commissioned this painting to coincide with the release of the first groups of fishers seen around here in 80 years, animals the Park resource people brought down from Vancouver Island. The painting was used for a bunch of interpretation, educating everyone about the event. It was fun to attempt to paint something I knew little about. This house cat-sized critter is between 2 and 4 feet in length including a giant tail. All four feet have five toes with retractable claws, and because they can rotate their hind paws 180 degrees, they can grasp limbs and climb down trees head first. So, unlike similar martens or weasels, this allows them to hunt birds in trees.

So, it’s one thing to reintroduce animals into the wild, but it’s another to keep them there. It appears to be happening. The park set up an automatic camera in the backcountry near a female fisher’s den in the Elwha Valley. It showed the mother taking four babies, known as kits, out of the den, which is located fairly high up in a rotting snag. The animal appears to be moving her young to a new den, presumably closer to the ground so the kits won’t have far to fall as they grow.

I really hope that in a few years there might be fishers all over the Olympic Peninsula, maybe even passing through my backyard (but that’s a stretch).

Currently you’ll have to email if you want something, but we now have museum-quality prints available of the fisher painting available here of three sizes for between $39.95 matted and $239.95 fully framed.

Or, you can go to our Giclee Print Index here

Or, send us an email to opt in or out of our email family – or just ‘talk’ with us.

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Kingfishers

This story is in 48-North this month, the best sailing magazine in the Northwest. I thought everyone might enjoy it. I tend to write and illustrate short stories much like my mom did – must be some genetic-thing repeating itself after 50 years. Once you’ve read the story, click the link below to find out a bit more about this interesting woman. (We’re still working on the content,) Virginia’s site.
Catch-of-the-Day
An Ancient and Respected Art
Story and illustrations by Larry Eifert

Varnish Day! Sounds like something important, like Election Day, but that’s just the day I’d picked for an afternoon bout of keepin’ the ol’ boat goin’. Old wooden boats are not unlike a good partner in life; they need attention occasionally. I kept a careful log last year and it worked out that the dreaded m-word (maintenance) was in play about 12% of the total time I spent aboard Sea Witch. Not that I mind it in the least, because it’s always a pure joy to make something of quality shiny again.

So, there I was. The block sander had made its rounds; the vacuum had cleaned up the mess, followed by the tack rag. I was ready to uncork the can of varnish that, since the Bush Years, had become a little tin of liquid gold when overhead I heard that unmistakable chattering sound. “Yack, yack, yack, yack” – my lady-friend the slate-blue kingfisher. This noisy little bird had spent the winter here in the marina, dodging rigging during her flights up and down the fairways, fishing along with those flashy hooded mergansers that also spent time here fishing. I’d grown accustomed to her, a little flash of gray, white and chestnut that often landed on the upper spreaders of Sea Witch to eat her fishy meal. Yah, there was occasionally a bit of a mess on the desk, but to me this bird represented ‘the quality of life” and fish parts were a small penalty. The varnishing could wait a few minutes. Watching a kingfisher at close range was better.

I sat back and studied her. I knew this one was a female. In most bird species, the male is the most colorful – fitting clothes for the obviously less intelligent of the genders, but kingfishers are reversed. Both have complex grayish-blue and white patterns, but the female has a reddish-chestnut band across the stomach.
Bad-hair-day
Belted Kingfishers are around the waters of western Washington and coastal B.C. year-round. During breeding season in spring they can get very vocal and spend their time defending local fishing territories against others of their kind. About a foot long, they have evolved a very specialized set of tools suited for their lifestyle. Their method of making a living is simple. They sit on a perch overhanging water, like a tree branch, piling or boat rigging, and when their fantastic eyesight spots a tiny three-inch fish below the water’s surface – they go for it like a rocket. A terrific plunge at lightning speed either spears the quarry or the bird manages to grab the fish in its bill. Another variation is to stop in passing flight, hover for a moment and then take the high dive. Once the fish is captured, the fisher-king finds a perch where it beats the heck out of the fish until it’s subdued, followed by rearranging it so it can be swallowed whole – gills, scales and fins pointing aft. When fish aren’t available, frogs and aquatic insects are second choice on the menu, but it’s the fish that give this skillful bird its name (afterall, they’re not the frogfisher or insectfisher).
Kingfisher-diving-off-sprea
In the 1936 book, Birds of America, George Gladden wrote: “This is one of the pronounced and picturesque personalities of the feathered world – a handsome, sturdy and self-reliant bird who makes his living by the persistent, skillful and largely harmless practice of an ancient and respected art. [Fishing!] What wonderful eyesight he must have. From a fluttering halt in his flight ten or fifteen feet above the surface of the water he makes his plunge, like a blue meteor, or not infrequently from a perch fifty feet or more from the water, striking it with an impact that, one would think, would completely knock the wind out of him. It is as graceful and daring a ‘high dive’ as is to be seen anywhere”.

The bill: an amazingly long and oversized appendage with a slight crook in the upper mandible, evolved so added pressure can be applied like a meat sheers or pliers. The overly-large head (like a doll) fits the bill but seemingly not the rest of the body. Feet: so small they look ludicrous. Evidently kingfishers can barely walk – but then they don’t really need to. Perching is what they’re all about, so they only need feet to grab the branch. After fifty years of watching kingfishers, I don’t ever remember seeing one walk, but they do walk. Kingfishers nest in holes in waterside banks, like so many eroded shoreline cliffs we have around the Northwest. They dig an upwards sloping tunnel sometimes eight feet deep into these sandy banks and then widen the far end for the nesting chamber. You can tell kingfisher nest holes by the “W” shaped entry. As they land, both feet scrape a slight trench on the bottom of the landing strip, and then they walk up the tunnel in total darkness to the nest. Inside, five to seven nestlings wait expectantly for their parent’s return – and a regurgitated meal. After three weeks, the fledglings work their way to the tunnel entrance and their first flight – sometimes from a hole 30 feet up on a cliff. Remember, in the confining tunnel there’s no fluttering around learning to fly for a kingfisher, and also remember, they’ve been in that black hole for weeks and not watching their parents avian skills. They simply jump and hopefully ancient instincts help them get it right during the first second.
Caught-a-fish-and-taking-of
How beloved are these birds? Well, Canada has paper money with former Prime Ministers, the Queen, and – a five dollar bill with a kingfisher. It’s even kingfisher-blue. And the varnishing? It appeared the day was over!

You can go to our index page of more published stories.

Link here to the same story on our website, larryeifert.com.

If you’d like to see why I write about our ol’ boat, here’s more about Sea Witch.

Or, send us an email to opt in or out of our email family – or just ‘talk’ with us.
Thanks for reading. Our mailing list is increasing, so if you know of anyone else who might like this, send us their address.
Larry

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The Fisher Returns to Oympic National Park

Eifert_Fisher

American Fisher
This commissioned painting is for Olympic National Park for use as the summer 2008 park newspaper cover (100,000 copies) and interpretive exhibits. The last Olympic fisher was trapped about 50 yrs ago, leaving an empty ecological niche. ONP is releasing 100 of these animals in a re-population plan. About the size of a large housecat, fishers hunt small birds and rodents.
I painted this scene at about the place the first group were released, the Elwha River Valley. The models for the trilliums were from our own backyard, and so is the cone midden the junco is messing about in. The junco could have been here too, if it had stood still long enough.
Because of the interest in this project, we decided to offer high-quality giclee prints of the fisher painting. Here’s the fisher link and easy buying info.