Your sneak peek into the studio of Donna Ridgway, Montana artist. Updates, several times a week, art demo's of paintings in progress. Horse art, animal art, Montana landscapes. Photos of Montana, landscapes and wildlife.
Rough start to this, but it's coming along. I haven't spent a whole lot of time on it.
Zippy is a baby zebra who was brought into a vet clinic, because she was ill. A friend of mine works at the clinic. When Zippy was doing better, she took photos of Zippy for me to use to create some paintings.
We've been working on the studio some more. We decided we'd never feel it's clean until we've scrubbed each room with soap and water, so we unhooked it from the electricity and took the garden hose inside. We scrubbed with soapy water, from the ceiling on down, then rinsed it with the garden hose until the water ran clean.
Trouble is, we have so much of my stuff in there, we have to do one room at a time. This is turning into quite a project. Once the framing room is dry from all our washing, we'll lay a new floor down, put linoleum down, and build shelves for the frames. It's going to be so handy to have a room specifically for framing. All the frames and supplies in one place! Donna Ridgway
I've been playing at painting Cheeko again. I suppose he isn't anatomically correct but it was fun to do his bright colors and he had such a bright eyed look it was fun to try this pose of him.
The colors don't show up in the scan. I created his black feathers by using reds, greens, and oranges, along with some payne's grey. I built up many layers of colors, so in the real painting, his head is green and fades into blues. I don't know why my scanner doesn't like thalo green, but it sure doesn't care to pick it up.
Of course, as soon as I post the painting, I see 6 things I need to correct. I scanned it and corrected it about that many times before posting it, also!
Oh well, it's fun to paint, and everything you paint is practise...so if this one isn't perfect, who cares? I'm off and running to the next one! Donna
We decided today, we'd do some campfire cooking and pretend we're camping, even when we're home. So we got out the dutch oven, thawed a big venison roast, and prepared some vegetables. I realized I'd left an onion out in the pickup camper so I went to get it.
Daisy, our donkey, spied me the minute I headed out the door, and came to see what I was doing. While I was in the camper, she pushed her head inside as far as she could possibly get. I think she was about to cut off her windpipe, but there was no thought of backing up in her mind.
The last time she came to the camper like that, I had a loaf of bread in my hands, and gave her some bread, which she adores! She was looking for more.
Since I'd brought the bread into the house yesterday, all I had in the camper to give her was the onion. She kept begging, and she pretty much refused to back up, to let me out, so I took a knife out of the drawer, and cut the onion in half. I offered it to her...and she gleefully ate it. She didn't make a face, she didn't pucker up, she didn't shake her head, she just begged for the other half.
She's so funny. She makes me laugh. I never would have imagined she'd eat an onion. Pedro won't touch most of the things Daisy loves. He's very sophisticated and doesn't lower himself to the level of eating anything, just to be eating. She also ate broccoli and celery before this day was done.
Back to my roast. I marinated it in ginger sesame sauce for several hours. Popped it into the dutch oven. I had a sweet potato, so I put that in with the roast and the marinade sauce. I smothered that with the onions Daisy didn't eat, layered in some carrots and some regular potatoes. After I had that in the pot, I sliced some bratwurst sausages and layered the pieces over the vegies. Next I stuffed garlic cloves into the mixture. Put lots of pepper on top....and put the lid on it.
Robert had a fire going...we put the dutch oven over the fire. An hour or so later, we had a meal fit for a king! Luckily, Daisy doesn't eat much cooked food so we got to have all we wanted. Donna Ridgway
This bear hung out above our camp, digging in the hillside. He dug dirt until he had a dust cloud around him, then, he'd get tired and plop down in a hollow spot to rest. After a while of watching the camp, he'd begin to dig again. He was so much fun to watch. Nothing's sweeter than the song of these little yellow warblers. The swamp was full of them and we all enjoyed their company. donna
We just returned from a camping trip at Spite Hill. It's a campground alongside the "Mighty Mo" as some people call the Missouri River. The river is high right now, and covers half the campground but we managed to stay high and dry.
There isn't much to this campground, one table, and one fire pit and one outdoor toilet with a broken door. Which the guys fixed..... But it was still a fun place to camp and fish and paint and observe wildlife.
The swamp was full of song birds and I got some nice photos of them singing to me. :)
A big pelican flew over the river each morning at the same time, he was kind of neat and I took photos of him. There were several deer on the hillside each day. A bear came to entertain us on the hillside to the south of us. He dug so hard he had the dirt flying. He just left the trail when a white tail doe came along. She was walking with the wind at her tail and we wondered what she would do when she got down wind of the bear and realized how close he was! It was fun to see her catch his scent and take off running. Wildlife is so interesting to see and they keep me entertained.
I did paint while we were there, and here I am (above) on my four wheeler, all set up, doing a painting of Spite Hill, which is below. The Missouri River runs at the base of Spite Hill. I chose to leave the railroad tracks and the long line of yellow railroad cars out of my painting.
This hill has a very interesting shape. It was fun to paint it. I was using watercolor and painting on a 16X20" canvas. I loved the bright colors as we've had so many years without moisture, it was fun to see the country looking green and bright. This hill is to the east of Spite Hill, it's mostly a ridge of rock, but it was fun to paint it. After I painted some realistic things, I decided to paint all the fun we had at Spite Hill. I began this painting with no thought in mind except to capture the emotions of the trip.
You can see the River God, who we thanked for the fish we caught, I could show him to you in photos, he shows up very plainly. He's the mask looking thing on the side of the hill. I threw in the fish we caught, the campers and tents, the colors of the sunsets, sunrises, trees and rocks. I probably had more fun creating this painting, than I did the others. I even threw in the broken door on the toilet. And the people we met! You have to know, the people are straight marks, the campers and tents are the symbols in the orange, the rectangle in orange is the toilet door. The fish are pretty self explanatory.
There's a heart on the hill, it stands for the respect this group of people we went camping with, has for each other.
As I get some of my photos of the bear and the birds ready, I'll post them also. Donna Ridgway
Alkali Lilies... We were lucky enough to see some blooming along the road to the Sun River Game Range. I photographed these same flowers last year. How these little guys live on alkali flats is beyond me, they have marvelous strength and don't need much for nourishment or water.
They're delicate, like orchids, and very beautiful.
When my brother, sister and I were little kids, my mom and grandma's and aunts all wore face powder when they dressed up to go to town. Down in the pasture where us kids used to play, the alkali lilies bloomed on white stretches of alkali ground. This ground was covered with white alkali powder. We used to paint our faces white and pretend we were walking around on high heels being "fancy". No photo shoot is complete without some beautiful horses. I think it's fairly rare to see an antelope with three healthy babies. These were so far away, it's a miracle they even showed up in my photo, but talk about cute, running along with their mom, enjoying a sunny day, are three little triplets. It's the "baby time of year" in the mountains...we also saw this little fawn. When Robert said, "Hey, Little Guy!" He turned and looked right at us. Talk about cute. We just watched the old movie, "The Yearling" and it almost made me cry to see this little one! That movie will get to you every time. If you haven't seen it for a long time, or if you've never seen it, I'd recommend it...it stars Gregory Peck. Sunsets at Willow Creek are just about always spectacular. I saw birds flying out of this rock, and went over to take a look, it's a natural bird bath! Since we had 7 inches of snow last week, there was still water in the rock. This gopher was my laugh of this camping trip. I was riding along on my four wheeler and he was beside me. He was so curious, and not the least bit afraid. I stopped and he came close so I could take his picture. One thing I love about wildlife, is that, while we're watching them, they are just as curious about us.
He was young, and had never been scared or hurt by humans, I almost could have touched him. Dumb me, I didn't know pelicans have bumps on their beaks while they're courting! You learn something new every day. I can just imagine them swimming up to the girls, winking slyly, and saying, "Take me, my bump is bigger than his!" The whole thing conjured up silly images in my mind.... Here I am on the Sun River Game Range, with "Nemo". I named my four wheeler Nemo, so instead of having everyone say, "Where's Donna?" they can say, "Where's Nemo?" When I get into the mountains, no one ever knows what trail I might be on next. Seems they're always looking for me, wondering when I'm going to come out, if my motorcycle is broke down, why is she gone so long....Robert says he's going to put a cb on my bike, so he can talk to me and find out if I'm ok.
Then I'll be locked to the bike. I like to be free roaming when I'm in the hills. I can ride as far as the trail will go, and get off and hike to where I might find the next great photo.
But I also don't want to spend a night out there with the grizzly bears...so I have to balance between what I like to do, and what's practical. And I don't want people out at night looking for me...so I try to behave. Donna Ridgway PS, thanks for stopping by!
Email Me if you have questions, or want to inquire about purchasing a painting.
You might recognize this as the Border Collie painting I started last night...if you do, you aren't crazy...something happened in the night and this painting turned into what IT wanted to be instead of what I had planned for it.
Maybe I was subconsciously remembering the time my neighbors at Charlo asked me to do chores for them. They had pigs, chickens, 8 cows to milk, cream to separate, eggs to candle, and the dog and cats to care for. They were going to be gone for two weeks. They did things the old fashioned way so you had to wash a cream separator, feed the skim milk to the pigs and chickens, keep the cream in cream cans and put them in the old water cooler. And they never varied their schedule, each chore was done at a certain time, in a certain way and all the animals knew it!
These neighbors used the old milking buckets that hung from a black strap underneath the cows. The straps had a lot of holes in them with silver gullets so they could be adjusted perfectly for each cow.
While they were explaining to me, how to do the chores, the wife referred to the dog as Dusty. The husband referred to him as Chip. At first, I kept looking round for the other dog, finally I realized there was only one dog, but the husband called the dog Chip, the wife called him Dusty! Those people fought like cats and dogs and could never agree on anything, not even what to call the dog!
The dog was an Australian Shepard. He was a "smart!" Australian Shepard! Not only did he know he had to answer to two names, he knew which cattle were beef cows, and which cows were milk cows. He not only knew which cows were milking, he knew which cows were dry. And he worked for me as easily as he worked for his masters. I could come to do chores in the evening or morning and tell him, "Dusty, go get the milk cows." While I was setting up the barn, he'd bring in the milking cows and leave the dry cows and the herefords in the pasture.
He knew each step of doing the chores, he could round up the chickens, or the pigs, or the cattle with equal ease. There was one thing I had to do to get him to work for me, if I asked him to do a chore the husband usually did, I had to call him Chip, if it was a chore the wife usually performed, I had to call him Dusty to get him to do it.
So perhaps this painting was done in his honor, the dog with two names...I think I'll just name this dog "Patch". One name should be good enough for him!
This little painting is 4X6 inches and $15. If you'd like to own it, email me from the link below, I can send you a paypal invoice. Shipping is $4.00 extra.
Email Me if you have questions, or want to inquire about purchasing a painting.
I started another dog painting today. This is drawn onto the gessoed mat board with my watercolor brush and Ultramarine Blue paint.
We had 7 inches of snow the other day, and the power company still hasn't got our lines fixed. We're running the generator and glad to have it so we don't lose the meat in the freezer or the groceries we just stocked into the refrigerator.
Our electricity worked until today, the town of Great Falls was without for a day or two, in many places. So many trees came down on the lines. It was a hey day for the tree removal companies. But so sad for the trees.
Anyway, I don't suppose I'll get much more painting done on this as it's getting dark and we won't have many lights going tonight. I'm glad the weather man here is accurate! Because of him, and his prediction of freezing weather and heavy snow, I covered my flowers and they lived through the storm. Such is Montana weather, if you don't like it, stick around it will change in about five minutes. It's never boring and I like that. So long as it doesn't take my house down, or cause any great damage, we can live with it. So much better than living somewhere else! Donna Ridgway
Email Meif you have questions, or want to inquire about purchasing a painting.
Some Power Wagon Stories. In 1949 an explorer took a chance, and asked Chrysler Corporation if they would furnish him with vehicles he could use to explore Arabia. He was given 17 specially equipped Power Wagons and set off on his expedition.
As luck would have it, he found the Queen of Sheba's temple and excavation began. Problems with authorities caused him and his crew members to flee for their lives, they made it to safety in two of the Power Wagons.
There's a Montana story about the power wagons, where Montana Power, in it's early days, had lines to maintain in areas where it was impossible to get vehicles. They bought a fleet of Power Wagons and took them to the mountains. One such power wagon was supposed to have been driven to the shop in brand new condition and never used. The legend goes it was purchased with from Montana Power with only the miles it took to get it from town to the shop...it sat there unused all those years. Like I say, this is a story...perhaps true or perhaps not, but a story about the power wagons just the same.
My grandparents bought their power wagon because they needed a pickup. This was probably in the early fifties or late forties. They went to town, bought the truck and headed home. They lived 50 miles from town, along the Rocky Mountain Front.
As they drove along, my grandpa went through the gears until there were no more gears...the silence grew until finally my grandma asked, "Why aren't we going faster than this?" To which Grandpa replied in a puzzled voice, "I don't think it goes any faster than this!"
That 's just a little family story about the power wagon.
I can remember taking salt to the cows in that power wagon. Weather was not a factor when you had a power wagon. If you got stuck, you took out the winch and pulled yourself out.
Back then, if a grizzly was killing your cattle, you set bear traps and caught the bear yourself. I can remember checking the bear traps in the power wagon. We'd get as close as we could to the trap, and sometimes walk the rest of the way. The anticipation of what you might find was so intense! I remember following my grandpa, while he carried his rifle through the woods like it was yesterday.
There are times now when Robert and I take our four wheelers onto the ranch my grandparents homesteaded. Even though I was a child when I roamed that ranch with my grandpa, when I find the old trails he and I were on, the memories come flooding back of what a wondrous playground that ranch was and how much fun I had with him.
As time goes on and Robert and I get busy restoring our power wagon, I'll probably subject you to more stories about this wonderful old machine. I was going to set up a different blog, with power wagon stuff on it, then I decided one blog was enough. Perhaps if you're interested enough to read my blog and see my art and photos, you're interested enough to learn all of what makes up an artist.
We're a curious breed, interested in so many things, we can't possibly cover them all in a lifetime.
But, in knowing the things that interest us, perhaps you see an overall influence in the art we create, and that leads to a better understanding of who we are and why we paint what we do.
I once painted the old Chevy truck which was the first vehicle I learned to drive, now you can believe I'm going to paint this old power wagon too! Donna Ridgway
It's been a long time coming, but we've finally found our power wagon! He has a coat of many colors, parts in his cab, and he's going to come totally apart and become a new being, but the important thing is, he's arrived!
I've wanted one since I was a kid. My grandpa had one on the ranch, and my dad had one when I was growing up.
Speaking of growing up, I'm not certain how old my brother and I were the day my dad told us to go get "Skogen" and bring her and her new calf home. We were still milking cows then for the milk for the house so we weren't very old. I was a year older than my brother.
We took off for the cow pasture in the old power wagon. If you know power wagons, they don't go very fast, especially when they are in four wheel drive. I'm sure we had it in four wheel drive, as it was calving season, and probably a muddy spring. I was driving.
Skogen was a holstein cow, named after the cattle buyer we'd bought her from. She was notoriously rank when she calved. She'd spent many years having her baby taken from her and the very thought of coming in from the pasture in the spring was enough to put her on the fight.
My dad didn't think twice about sending us after the calf, in spite of our young age. And when he said, "go get that cow and her calf", we didn't question it, and we didn't stand there looking stupid, or hesitate, or pretend we didn't know what he meant....we just jumped in the old power wagon and took off.
We got out to the pasture and found Skogen and her new baby. We got hold of the calf before it took off running and together, we managed to throw the calf in the back of the truck. By this time, the cow was getting pretty mad. I ran around to get inside the truck and my brother held tight to the calf in the back.
I put the wagon in first gear and started off, shifting as fast as I could. The calf began to bellar and Skogen heard him. She ran up to the back of the power wagon and tried to jump in. She succeeded with her front feet, but couldn't get her hind hooves in because I was going just as fast as she was, and I was picking up speed, albeit, slowly...
The cow was mad, she couldn't touch my brother, but she was blowing snot all over him. He'd hit her in the nose, then he'd bang the back of the cab, while he yelled at the top of his voice, "Get this thing outta here!"
I had the giggles to the point I could barely drive for when I looked back in the mirror, I could see that cow's hind legs paddling along trying to keep up. When I looked out the back window, I could see her blowing and bellering at my brother.
We went quite a ways before Skogen dropped off the back of the truck. We didn't need to worry about her following us up to the barn, which was a couple miles away. She was right behind that truck, her full bag swinging and swaying as she ran.
So you can see why I wanted another power wagon, they bring back memories! Donna Ridgway
I've started this painting of a dog. He's probably a "mutt". Those are my favorite dogs. No special breeding, no big pedigrees, just a wonderful, happy dog, who belongs to someone who loves him!
We found this dog in Cascade, Montana...stopped to visit his owner, and while the guys were talking, I asked if I could take pictures of the guys dog. Don't know his name, he was a stranger, but I liked his happy dog.
I'll update this as I go along. Donna Ridgway
Email Meif you have questions, or want to inquire about purchasing a painting.
I'm having a hard time photographing this so it looks like what I've painted, but here's another update. Unless I change something after looking at this for a while, it's finished. I could go crazy and repaint the whole thing at this point. I just don't know.... Donna