Tag Archives: Field Trips

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.

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.

Mules and Horses – Old Santa Fe Trail painting for the National Trails System

This will enlarge by clicking it.

While the Hoh Visitor Center mural is proceeding, I did this “little” wayside painting for the Old Santa Fe Trail with the National Park Service. A fun and very different sort of project for me.

Last year I did this sketch for Aztec Ruins National Monument, but  it wasn’t used. They wanted something less ‘social’. This is Armijo’s Expedition in 1829, a group that went from Santa Fe to California and back, proving this route could be used for trade. In the painting, they’re crossing the Animas River in New Mexico. They’ve had a difficult day herding 150 horses and mules, and the group is setting up camp for the night, beans are in the pot, gear is being unloaded.

To do this painting, I went over to Olympic National  Park and photographed the two ladies that take care of the 34 mules the park uses for backcountry use. Amazing afternoon! Here are Heidi and Jill, seasonal drovers who push those big mules around like they were goats, and you can see I turned them into Spanish young men in the painting. Others models included my neighbor, Michael, who is the cook. Jill and Heidi are in other poses, as well as Henry the mule.

And this is what it’s all about for me. I learned a LOT on this project, had a great time figuring out how this might look, how the gear would look in 1829. It took over a year from field trip to Aztec Ruins to painting completion. It went from an installation at Aztec to several other installations along the Santa Fe Trail, and I really know about pack mules.

And here’s the Animas River at Aztec New Mexico where the scene is located. It looks exactly the same as it probably did 188 years ago.

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.

Picnic table painting

Nice fire in the campground, our ancient folding chairs awaiting. The famous ant tablecloth, a real red-cedar old-growth table. Notice the details: painting, brush can, funky Richeson paint tray, artichoke can for water, tablet with reference photos, little pencil sharpener for those wonderful Dixon black wood pencils that feel like the carbon has oil in it – brae and crackers, glass of red. I only stopped because it was getting too dark to paint in this old forest. 

And then the painting that’s appearing. This one is part of the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center project and is 12″ high and 330″ wide when it’s installed. It’s being painted on a roll of polypropylene Yupo tree-free paper that I can roll out to where I’m working on it. I don’t know, why go home until October?

And what are we doing the rest of the time? Section hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail is part of it. Avalanche lilies and bear grass in bloom and still some snow drifts to navigate. We just have to make sure they’re all okay.

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.

This Month in 48 North Magazine

Somehow, I managed to meld together two of my favorites into one article this month in 48North magazine – nature and sailing. Here’s the story:

I’ve watched marbled murrelets for decades, learned their recognizable upturned heads as they slipped past the boat. I also remember the “big mystery” over 40 years ago; no one knew where the murrelet nested. Sure, there were birds seen in the ocean from California to Alaska and throughout the Salish Sea, but no nests were ever found even after a reward was offered. Then in 1974, a tree trimmer stumbled on a downy chick high in an old-growth Douglas-fir. Loggers had seen them, called them ‘fog larks’, but loggers and ornithologists somehow never got together to talk about all this. It turned out the murrelet liked, no, required old-growth forests. They need giant trees with big branches and mossy limbs. So, this football-shaped small 10” seabird soon became center stage in a giant battle between the tree-cutting corporations and environmentalists who realized the bird was doomed if all the big legacy trees were cut. In 1992, the murrelet was Federally listed under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species.

While most of the old trees are now either protected or gone forever, it appears the bird’s numbers are still declining. This may be because murrelets usually produce one chick every other year. Parents trade nest-sitting duties and adults take turns flying to and from the ocean with a single fish – mostly at dusk and dawn. Youngsters molt into juvenile feathers before leaving the nest, and when the time is right, they simply step off the nest and learn to fly on the way down. If successful, they make their way, unaided, to the ocean. Now, if there was ever a single moment where a species needed a reality check, I think it might be right here. Let’s say you are a little bird the size of a robin that’s never been anywhere. You’re sitting in a tree several hundred feet off the ground. You’re in Mount Rainier National Park and you can’t even SEE the ocean – and yet one day you jump off the nest into thin air. Just saying!

Larry Eifert paints and blogs about wild places at larryeifert.com. His art can be seen in many national parks across America.

And here’s the other ‘favorite’ in my life.

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.

The Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center – sketches

Both photos enlarge with a click.

As if our Malheur NWR project wasn’t enough, this week I launched into a new project – and for once it’s local. I’m painting somewhere around 340 sq feet of paintings in 15 panels for one of my favorite places. The Hoh River Rain Forest here in our county, but it’s all the way on the far side of the park and takes hours to get there. For awhile, a representation of it will live in our studio. The drawings are almost finished and the fun ready to begin.

Top photo: This is a pretty complex painting, so I used my own photos to piece something together to start the process. This actually wraps around onto four walls; the bottom is the underground area, a railing with forest floor above that, and then an upper canopy area disjointed from the rest. Complex might be an understatement.

I was thrilled to get this commission since this is one of our favorite places. Countless times we’ve hiked the River Trail – the direct pipeline to Mount Olympus. We’ve camped here, watched elk fight it out for their lovers, found the ‘One Square Inch of Silence’ (Google it). Below is Nancy at the beginning of that famous trail. I first hiked here in 1978 – who would have thought that 40 years later I would get to paint a big mural here.

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.

Kauai Asian Cemetery – A Cautionary Tale

We just returned from a little winter field trip to warm up on Kauai. I really cannot remember when I posted anything other than my art on this blog, years probably, but these photos were taken while we watched astonishing events unfolding on the Mainland, and finding this little abandoned cemetery seems to tie it together – and not in a good way.

This is a beautiful place, but we quickly realized the stones told a tragic story. No stones in the ‘old’ cemetery section dated past 1942, the date when we, America, sent 120,000 Japanese to prison for just being Japanese, and few returned to their original homes after that madness was over. These are abandoned graves, meaning people are still here but the families don’t come to remember grand-dad’s fishing stories, or grand-mother’s wonderful meals. No one comes to spruce up the ground, bring flowers occasionally – it’s just abandoned. I’ve never thought that our actions against people might, in fact, reverberate to past generations.

And now, today, what are we doing? The same thing? It seems our tolerance for other cultures, different people, different ways has vanished. This big bronze sculpture is in Kaloa Town, a few miles to the east. This giant piece of art commemorates the truly joyful multiculturalism that was spawned as Hawaii developed. To meet labor demands, the cane companies went to Asia and brought in thousands of workers, the basis of Hawaii’s diverse and harmonious culture today. These people had to get along. And they get along now, and that’s the point. If we don’t learn to get along,  we are doomed to the vastly bigger threat of Climate Change that will probably finish us off as a civilization.

My thought: Don’t give up on Facebook, or that ‘other-race’ family down the street. Walk down, bang on the door and ask them how they are. Make a point of talking to people that aren’t like you in the grocery store. You might learn things aren’t as bad as we’re told they 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.

Alpineglow

Alpineglow

Another painting in my ‘Trail Series’. When I was growing up the word ‘alpenglow’ was like an elixir, something akin to magic. For Mid-western flat-landers who only experienced these places on rare occasions, I vividly remember the few times we finally got up there in the Porcupines or Rockies. My parents knew how to do it, to stay late, wait for sundown when the light came – and later drive down the hill in growing darkness. For Virginia, it was as close to  god as it gets.

I now live where I can see this easily, but not all THAT easily. We still have to work for it with a hike, but that elixir is still there when we arrive, that ‘magic-time’ photographer Galen Rowell always spoke of. So, this little painting is one of my favorite ‘alpineglow’ places, right up the hill from home in the Dungeness watershed of the Olympics. At sunset, it’s a place I’d rather be than just about anywhere.

Alpineglow-framed

This ORIGINAL painting is acrylic on board, 6″ x 9″ and $149 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.
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.

Golden Path – a new painting

Golden-Path

Sold

Going through some old photos in trip journals, I ran across this photo of a local trail in June. It’s February right now, and this place, not 30 miles from  here up in the Heather Creek area of the upper Dungeness Valley is currently beneath a lot of snow. Still, my heart yearned to be there right now, hiking along and looking at the trail flowers – yes, there IS a flower called a trail flower.

So, with all that in my mind’s eye, this little painting arrived.
SAM_1822[1]

And here it is framed.Golden-Path-framed

This ORIGINAL painting is acrylic on board, 6″ x 9″ and $149 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.