Tag Archives: Wildlife

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Maynard Beach habitat restoration painting

These all enlarge in your browser with a click. This is a half-way mark in the painting as it’ll look in the outdoor wayside installation.

And here’s the second sketch for the four wayside panels for North Olympic Salmon Coalition. Since the sketch completion, I went ahead with this painting and, as you can see, things have changed here and there. I’ve placed it in the design mockup to see how things fit – saves time so later I don’t have to repaint objects that are covered by text or other photos. It’s sort of a dance between the art and the words.

And here’s the real scene. Not the same, for sure, but I like the way the painting has a sort of pastel and soft feeling about it.

For Olympic Peninsula locals, if you park your vehicle opposite the Snug Harbor Cafe and walk towards Discovery Bay, you can see all this restoration. While  you’re there, imagine this as it was, a rocky railroad grade complete with bridges, culverts and creosote pilings and you’ll get the idea how amazingly better this is now. Two panel installations will be along here.

And if you’re still with me, in 1973, I came to this area for the first time. Right here I found an old abandoned mill stuck out over the water. It was still together, mostly, and I inquired about renting it for a gallery space. On Hwy 101, Olympic NP nearby, seemed right. I eventually ended up in Ferndale, CA for awhile, but this could have been my home. Instead, I now live 15 minutes away in what has become one of the most interesting towns in America! I believe we envision our paths as we go, and I was right – even if the result was in the future.

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.