Yellowstone Park, Wyoming
Oil on Masonite
9" x 24"
Tain’t no pelicans here…but there are plenty of other strange folk hovering about in gawky white vehicles. Thank God they don't have wings.
When traveling through Yellowstone in the summer months, it is best to sup on chamomile tea and Quaaludes... or whatever best enhances one's tolerance of narrow roadways bloated with mammoth-sized campers lumbering along like pachyderms. It is the spiritual pilgrim's opportunity to practice kindness and acceptance, ultimately to view the be-wheeled ones as but curious seekers beauty and be thankful they are not among the criminal element of the world. I was stuck again and again behind the impassable creatures. When freedom appeared, it was so very brief as the next backlog would soon appear and I was thrust into mastery school again.
Is it largely a human occupation, the notion of wanting to be somewhere other than where you are?
In Yellowstone, when vehicles are stopped roadside with no particular logic, you can be certain there is a photo worthy moment happening nearby; a moose innocently munching on willows, a bison taking a dump roadside, a bull elk calling out his territory. Along with it the possibility of an overly confident tourist being stomped on by them for venturing too close. Indeed you can purchase a book at any Yellowstone visitor center chronicling the many fatal tourista faux pas throughout the history of the park… the enthusiastic housewives who backed up just a little too far for that awesome bubbling cauldron shot, or wanted to pet baby Bullwinkle. Can you imagine the epitaph?
I pulled off by this bridge enroute to Jackson and Big Piney where I had agreed to cook for the long and grueling fall hunt. This was the last painting respite of the season and the remaining three months would be spent cooking for groggy hunters in high alpine winter conditions that arrived all too soon after Labor Day. Hunt camp is all consuming and there is simply no energy left over for creative pursuits. Besides, the paints would have froze to the pallette.
Here and now, I was content to paint in the warm sun, caressed by a light breeze while raptors drift and hunt above. A dreamy afternoon that ocluded time with very little awareness of traffic noise, RVs or people who may have stopped by. A small herd of buffalo wandered into the scene towards the end. One moment they were simply there. Such details have always been part of the invisible layers that never appear in the painting, my secret memory.
Several years later, “Pelican Bay” became the lead image for a one-woman show of my work and quickly sold. Someone inquired, “How long did it take you to paint it?” Honestly, I haven’t a clue. Once an image has me there is no awareness of time, and really no concern about it.