Tag Archives: Interpretive Panels

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.

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center progress

I’ve come up for air just long enough to post this – sorry for the big blank spot in my blog. Click the images and they should expand.


When I was growing up, my babysitters at the Illinois State Museum were staff artists and curators, professionals that were the best in the business. They came to work in pristine studios and took months and months to paint stuff just like this. Me, decades later? I do this in a low-ceiling studio and only have 6 weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just happy that I get to do this – a giant four walls with six paintings in one of my favorite places on Earth. And it’s pretty much a completely fictitious scene. There are 3-d branches and models of birds, moles and others that all have to be connected somehow to my paintings. It’s been interesting!

Nancy joined me early on with this and is now pushing paint as fast as I am. How wonderful to have someone to talk to in the studio. And she sounds like she’s maybe going to make this a habit, at which I’m thrilled.

The facts: this is going in a room at the visitor center with a big opening, so there are four sides. I’m painting it in acrylic on Yupo poly paper at 70% size – the reason is I can’t get it bigger and it speeds things up. It’ll be scanned and printed so when the place burns down, another copy can be put up. The bottom two sections, the dirt and forest floor, are being painted at 85% because eyeballs will be closer. The bottom dirt section will be printed on aluminum to withstand the three million people with six million hands that come here each year. I’ll have more soon!

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.

Mount Olympus painting for the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center

This is another piece of the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center project at Olympic National Park, a very complex bunch of paintings I’ve been working on. This painting is in progress but will really change soon that will be something unrecognizable to this – so, I thought I’d like to remember it here, like this. I like it, the park peeps – not so much.

You see, the view of Mount Olympus in the painting doesn’t really exist, so off I went to good ol’ Google Earth. This is a scene with pieces 20 miles apart, all compressed into one image. Above is an aerial GE view, but the angle I needed was down in the valley, 15 miles upstream from the visitor center but with a river somewhat like this view below. Good luck with that.

I drew 8, count’um EIGHT different sketches, all rejected – and then sort of forced the issue by just starting to paint. Of course, that didn’t work and that’s why I’ll be painting over most of it a gain.  And you know that schedule I talked about a few weeks ago? Nobody’s ever said this was fun or easy.

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 – A New Project in the Works

Salmon Cascades in Olympic National Park. Not a big drop, but always beautiful. Stuff goes on here!

Progress shot at the moment. More soon.

Olympic National Park has always been very supportive of my painting-mania, and this project has been years in the making. We both just had to wait for funding to appear, and it finally did.

I already have 24 of my paintings along the Sol Duc Road in various wayside exhibits and panels – drive along, pull over and see art! But this project required my GoPro underwater camera for references. I have always wondered what this place looks like to a salmon, so here it is:

And so the sketch shows the underwater stream bed just below the cascades and rocky walls, and of course, the painting will have a run of Sol Duc coho, females being herded by the big guys, all waiting for strength to attempt a jump in their upstream journey. We’ve seen this ourselves and I’ve stood just to the left watching them circle.

And then I put this into the same design template as some of the other panels up and down the road. Janet at the park will write the text and she’s always so brilliant at this. We both came up with the title completely independent of each other.

Stay tuned, more to come on this probably next 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.

Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center – first painting

Click the image and it’ll enlarge in your browser. I recommend it!

Things are getting pretty crazy around here. Remember when I just painted nature and thought THAT was an interesting life? Well, THIS is now the normal ‘interesting’ – cramming the entire Hoh Rain Forest forest floor at Olympic National Park into an eight-foot tabletop. Actually, this is one of 15 paintings that I’m doing there right now, and certainly not the biggest – but I’m betting it’s the most complex.

The blank green circles and boxes will all have tactile objects like bark, or photos and text. It was a bit of a struggle to get the variety while looking straight down – after all, it’s just a made up scene, but it feels Okay, like it actually is the real thing.

This is the installation it goes on, 60 square feet of packed interpretive tabletop right in the middle of the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. The painting goes on that white horizontal space in the foreground. Also on here are a ‘beach scene’ almost finished and the vertical green thingy is a painting of Mount Olympus (except you can’t see it from the V.C. so THAT’s causing a slight bit of consternation).

I’m just hoping this will give visitors a real eye-opening experience before they venture out to talk with the elk and slugs. With 14 feet of rain each  year, this forest is really a complex, dramatic and emotional place for me. Having spent most of my adult life in and around old-growth forests, I sure know this stuff. And if I can use art to infect a few people with the same passion I have for it, I will have wildly succeeded.

And what does this Hoh-place look like? Here’s the river, just a few minutes walk from the visitor center. Certainly one of the most famous rivers in the country, the pale blue color from glacial flour from the Hoh and Blue Glaciers, lowest glacial ice in the Lower 48, give it a glorious glow.

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.

Wildlife – A new jigsaw puzzle coming soon

If you click the image, it should enlarge in your browser.

This is a new jigsaw puzzle coming soon. It’s a painting I did recently of the Admiralty Inlet Natural Area Preserve for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust. As soon as we saw this finished image we realized it would make a pretty good puzzle, but the dimensions didn’t fit the required size. So, I’ve added some extras around the edges to make it more difficult. I think it’ll be a hit, but I’d love some comments before we send it in – hit reply and fire away.

And here’s the installation of the painting. It’s down a lovely old-growth trail and is a large wayside, 4′ x 6′, like an art gallery in the forest (as I like to say). To me, this is where I like my art shown – instead of in some stuffy gallery or on someone’s wall where no one notices it after a year. THIS location will mean my stuff will effect people for decades, or at least I hope so. This photo was taken a few months after assembly after a big winter storm knocked down the fir to the left, narrowly missing the wayside.  But no worries, the panel can be replaced – like the $5000 porcelain enamel panel (that was just the cost of the panel) that was hit straight on by a giant 4′ eucalyptus at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge a week after putting it in. I  could have taken it personally, but the tree-people know I’m one of them!

Next week we’re heading for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon. Yup, that’s the one the Bundy Militia took over a year ago. It’s still closed for repairs and we’re involved in new exhibits, waysides and signs for all of it. We already have a series of temporary banners ready to go in the visitor center while we get all the others going. You’ll hear much more about this as we proceed.

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.