Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why do you come to this blog?

The other day, we decided to go out to lunch, to celebrate the sale of King Carousel. We like to go down the road to a place called Mary's Midway. It's a little pub with a great restaurant attached, and they have a huge platter of Nacho Supreme's for about $7.00. You just can't get a better meal at that price for two people!

As we sat waiting for our food to arrive, a logging truck pulled up in the parking lot and two people got out, a man and his wife. I told Robert, "Oh Look! Someone who will talk to us!" We were so excited.

The couple came in, and ordered, then the husband walked by us. Robert isn't afraid to begin a conversation with people, so he asked the guy, "How do you like those old Fruehoff trip stakes?" Of course the guy started talking and they had quite a conversation. Since I was sitting there feeling kind of left out, I walked over to the lady and started talking to her.

Ends up they were from Lincoln, Mt and they were putting on a car show on the next Sunday, they invited us to attend.

Since we were at loose ends on Sunday, we went to the car show. The man-Stu, saw us when we arrived, and came and shook hands with Robert and acted so happy we were there. He was talking to another friend of his, and he told that friend, "Christa and I pulled into Midway Mary's and I told her, good, there are no loggers in there today, we won't have to talk logging!" (He could tell that from the vehicles in the parking lot, you can always spot a logger's pickup or truck)

He continued, "I no sooner got inside than this old codger grabbed me and asked me how I liked using the old trip stakes and I ended up talking logging!" Stu thought it was hilarious he'd hoped to avoid loggers, and ended up running into one he enjoyed...

Now that I've told that little story, I'm going to switch gears.

When I go to someone's blog, I go for different reasons. I go to James Gurney's blog
to learn about art. He's better than college! He offers lessons in art that are vital to an artist and he offers his knowledge for no cost. What he gives freely, is astounding.

I go to Maggie's blog to learn, and to be entertained. I also love seeing her new paintings, drawings and writings.

There are blogs I visit to learn SEO techniques, blogs about blogging, and blogs about camping and dutch oven cooking. Blogs are entertaining!

This has also lead me to wonder what I want to accomplish with my blog. First off, I hope I entertain you. I hope it's not a boring experience to come here. Let me know if I fail.

Another purpose of this blog, is to let people know what I do. I create and sell paintings and photos of animals and Montana.

This blog also serves the purpose of keeping my website in the limelight so to speak, where google is concerned. This is a kind of hidden purpose of the blog for you'll find a lot of links pointing to my websites on this blog.

My hope is this, that you and I are not on cross purposes when it comes to the reasons you visit here. I don't want you to be disappointed when you come here, thinking you'll see one thing- and getting another. Take for instance, my example from above, where Robert and I are sitting in the pub, hoping to talk to someone in the logging industry, and Stu and Christa have come in, hoping to avoid the topic all together!

My hope is that I entertain you with my stories of Montana, the photos and paintings of animals. I also hope you remember me when you need a gift for a family member or a friend, and perhaps stop by the website to make a purchase.

If you click round the topics on this blog, you'll see links to free art lessons, horse stories, paintings of your favorite animals, tidbits about my life.

Hopefully, you're contented with what you find while you're here. I'll be interested to know.

Don't give up on your website, or your painting!

"King Carousel"

Last week I received a letter from paypal, "You've got Money!" Wow, I love getting money. I hurried up and opened the email, to find King Carousel had sold.

It took me two hours to find the painting, I was beginning to panic, wondering where on earth I had put it! It finally turned up over in the studio. We're remodeling the studio, so I had tucked things away here and there to keep them safe.

I painted King Carousel in 2004. When I was creating this painting, I was so excited, I'd had a dream about a carousel horse, and I wanted to paint him just like he was in the dream. He attended several shows around the state of Montana...and no one bought him. I couldn't figure it out, as I thought he was so beautiful!

Because he'd been a dream horse, there were transparent passages in the painting, and thick opaques in other places. He had a very dreamlike quality about him.

In spite of liking him so much myself, I had given up on the fact he might sell.

I'd also been doubting the effectiveness of having a website. I've spent a thousand hours learning html, image optimization, copyright laws, watermarking, SEO techniques... I've spent a fortune on software, computers, printers, scanners and cameras. I wondered if I would ever have an affirmation it was all worth it!

Now I have hope. I'll keep at it....

Email Me if you have questions, or want to inquire about purchasing a painting.

Remember, you can find horse art , Western art, Mule and Donkey art
wildlife art, cow art, and animal paintings, my reference photosfor sale on my website.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Coyote photos, old steel granary photo.

Yesterday as we were driving along, I had Robert stop so I could take photos of this old granary. After the advent of semi trailers, the old granaries aren't much needed. In the old days, they were a way of life, they stored all the farmer's hopes and dreams of continuing the life he loved.

I liked the way the fading light washed over the steel of the building and the heads of the bolts.

When I got back into the pickup, after taking this photo, I pushed the button that allows me to check my photo, I wanted to see how it turned out.

For some crazy reason, I felt eyes on me, and looked out the window....
Now remember, we're driving down the road about 30 miles an hour, when I look out the window, this is what I saw, a coyote, trying to get a good look at us, she was loping along side the pickup window!

In spite of the fact, I had just been looking at the granary photo, I sprang into action and got pictures of this coyote.
She'd run like heck away from us, then she'd stop and look at us, then she'd run again....
I loved seeing her big feet and the way her front legs came between her hind legs when she ran. Somewhere there's a photo like that also.

These photos are not clear as a bell! We were driving along and didn't dare stop, as she wasn't staying still, until the very last, when she took a final look at us, then boogied off across the stubble field.

It's the biggest rush for us, to see these animals, and be able to watch them as they go about their lives. Get this, we were maybe five miles from home as the crow flies, and we see a badger hunting prairie dogs, a coyote running along side us, a few white tail bucks in the velvet, an owl sitting on the fence, and some really awesome scenery.

I love Montana. I love to showing it off to other people, if you like the photos, leave a comment, it inspires me to go find more!

Badgers and Buffalo

Traveling along the Rocky Mountain Front is full of delights. And this buffalo is one of them! Just like in the old days, you see them roaming across the Montana landscape.

These buffalo had been rubbing against the fence, leaving patches of soft wool. We gathered some just to have the feel of it. Buffalo fiber is becoming an industry, it's as soft as a cloud in your hand. Garments made from it, would feel wonderful.

If you click the image, you can see a larger version.
Last night, Robert was working on the pickup, giving it a tune up. When he finished, he came in and said, "Let's go try it out, to see if I helped it any." (He did, it ran as smooth as silk!)

So I grabbed the camera and off we went. About 6 miles from here, we have a buffalo jump state park. They're in the process of changing it's name, so I don't know what it's called now, it used to be Ulm/Pishkin State park.

On top of the ancient buffalo jump, is a prairie dog village. This badger didn't seem to know they're an endangered species, he roamed around hunting until we finally saw him choose his prairie dog and eat it.

He must have been about 300 yards away from us, but I took photos anyway, I knew he'd run if I came any closer to him, plus I'm afraid to walk through the grass up there, as there are so many rattlesnakes.

So this is a very cropped version of the photo, but still enough detail to see the badger as he hunts through the village.

Poor old prairie dogs are watching, and wondering, is he going to choose me for supper tonight?

Hope you enjoy the photos! Stay tuned for my next post of some white tail buck deer in the velvet, and a coyote....

Email Me if you have questions, or want to inquire about purchasing a painting or photo.

Remember, you can find horse art , Western art, Mule and Donkey art
wildlife art, cow art, animal paintings, and my reference photos for sale on my website.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Range horse photos, mountain goat photos for artist reference.

We spent a day with mountain goats. We'll never be the same.

I hope the photos I've chosen to display here give you an idea of the peace and harmony we felt in their presence. Once they were certain we hadn't come there to hurt them, or scare them, they were so happy to spend time with us.

They did not mind my camera at all, in fact I think they posed for me.

Since we spent this time with the goats, they've been in our dreams....I wake up with the most wonderful, peaceful feeling, knowing they roamed through my sleep.....

On our way to visit grandchildren, we travel through the Blackfoot Reservation. I've always got my eye out for herds of range horses, for the resemble the wild mustangs in their freedom and natural ways.

In the next few days, I'll be uploading numerous mountain goat photos for artist reference. If you wish to create some paintings of these wonderful creatures, check out my photo reference site.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Green Whisker?

If you own donkeys, you have to spend a lot of time taking photos of them, Right? This is Pedro's muzzle. He's got the softest nose in the world, and it's covered with whiskers. One of those whiskers is suspiciously green. You're right it's grass....

I liked the way the red on the side of the photo counterbalanced that little blade of green grass that hangs from the side of his mouth. What do you think of it? That little arch in the middle of his nose was interesting to me also.

If you want to see this photo larger, you can click on it and see more detail. The green will show up better. Let me know what you think when you look at this photo...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Daisy's head in the sack and other things.

The wires going to the pump in our well burned out. It's taken us a while to decide how big a pump to put in the well, as we decided right off we'd replace the old one. Luckily, our neighbor has let us hook a hose to his system so we have water until we solve our dilemma.

Robert is out by the back porch, hooking the new pump to it's wires and hoses so we can, at last, drop it down the hole and have our own water again.

I was in here, posting on my myspace blog, while he was working. All of a sudden I hear him yelling, "Donna get out here!"

I thought something was wrong so I ran as fast as I could. But nothing was wrong, he was laughing. And Daisy was standing beside him with an empty feed sack in her mouth, trying to get her head way inside it to see if it contained a few left over pellets. She'd gone into the back porch through the open door and grabbed the sack, hoping to help herself since we're so stingy with what she wants.

It only took me a second to grab the camera and some pellets. I put the pellets into the empty sack, to see if she'd stick her head all the way in to get them.

You can see we posed this picture, but there she is, with her head all the way in the sack, I swear, she has no fear!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Me and Benny Reynolds, Uncle Bill and the Bob Marshall

I'm sure this will become a long story as it has "elements" that have to be added to it for it to become complete!

One of those elements, was the crush I had on Benny Reynolds when I was in high school. He was the most fantastic rodeo rider the world ever saw. To this day, I don't think I've seen rodeo like it was when Benny was there. He made it all look to easy.

Back then, I had a horse named Lucky. My grandparents bought him for me for my birthday one year. We had a good 22 years together before I lost him.

If you follow along in this blog at all, you've seen my photos of the ranch on the Rocky Mountain Front, the one my cousins now own, that used to belong to their father, my uncle Bill.

Uncle Bill was the perfect cowboy uncle for a horse crazy kid to have. He'd invite me to come to the ranch and he'd show me things about horses.

In fact, Lucky had been born on Uncle Bill's ranch, sold to the Lyman family at Sand Coulee, and my grandparents bought him from them. You've heard of Rod Lyman, the champion calf roper and steer wrestler? His dad (who was Uncle Bills best buddy) owned Lucky at the time my grandfather bought him.

Lucky and I were inseparable. I left my warm bed in the house, to sleep many nights, either on his warm back or curled up against his front legs.

At the time my Bob Marshall story begins, I was in high school. Uncle Bill asked my sister and I if we wanted to ride into the Bob with him for a week. Of course we said yes.

He came to our farm and got Lucky and hauled him to the ranch so Lucky would be ready for the trip into the Bob.

When we got to the ranch, and we were loading up the mules and saddling the horses, U Bill told my sister to put her saddle on Lucky. I couldn't believe it and I almost came unglued. Now most of the time, you didn't question U Bill. You did as he said and you did it now. But this was important to me. I said, "She's not riding Lucky! I am. He's my horse!" I was mad.

U Bill took one look at my face and took my arm and pulled me off away from the activity around the horses and mules. He said carefully, "Look Donna, I've only got a certain number of horses here we can ride. I'm going to have to put you on "Beastie".

I was so insulted. Beastie was a 3 year old Appaloosa POA U Bill was breaking for some neighbors. I know from the look he saw on my face, he thought he was about to get more argument from me.

He continued,"I've seen the way you ride, you can handle Beastie on this trip, but I don't want to put your sister on him. We haven't been riding him that much."

He knew right where to hit me, in the old cowboy pride! The knowledge you have when you're young and you spend all your days in the saddle, you know you can ride anything! So I agreed to ride Beastie into the Bob Marshall.

Another "element" to the story. My saddle is an old Hamley. It didn't quite fit Beastie. We were in a hurry getting ready, and we didn't take proper time to adjust the saddle to fit him. It would have taken some major overhauls. We (being U Bill and I) decided it would have to do. His advice to me was this, "So long as you stay in the middle of him, you'll be OK."

Yet another element of importance to my story was U Bill's old hat. I'd never worn a hat in my life and I'd spent all my days out in the sun. He couldn't accept that, I had to wear a hat. He sent my cousin in to get his old beat up, broken brimmed hat.

I was beginning to feel a little disappointed in him by this time, not only had he talked me into willingly riding Beastie, with a saddle that didn't fit, I was also going to wear his old worn out hat! But who's going to complain when you're headed into the Bob for a week? I rode off with the rest of the bunch with a big smile on my face, wearing that floppy old hat!

Now, U Bill lead off with the mule string behind him. He was riding a horse named, Chili Pepper. That horse had that name for a good reason. He was part firecracker. But he and U Bill had an understanding, and Chili Pepper would go places in the mountains with U Bill on his back, where no sane horse should go.

Starting out on the Swift Dam trail head into the Bob, the very first thing you do, is climb the face of a cliff. Horses have dropped off that cliff to their deaths, but up the cliff we went. The next part of the trail is getting around Swift Dam, the trail goes up and down over a lot of granite rock, then you go through the Gorge, where you're high on the mountainside, looking down a sheered off rock slide into a waterfall of rugged rock and deep water. Once you cross that rock slide it's clear sailing into the Bob.

Except for one thing. U Bill loves to fish. No matter where he sees a nice deep fishing hole he wants to try, he heads Chili Pepper for that fishing hole and Chili Pepper will get him there.

We're going along the trail as nice as can be, I'm "staying in the middle" of Beastie and growing downright fond of him. U Bill's old broken brimmed hat is quivering along on top of my head. Every so often he looks back at me and says, "Nice hat, or - nice horse!" Just to let me know he appreciates me giving in to him on the hat and the horse.

Every time U Bill's about to go around a corner in the trail where he'll be out of our sight, my cousin or I grab a pine cone and throw it as hard as we can so it goes over the mules and hits Chili's nice fat rear end. We giggle our heads off at the way Chili humps up and zooms around each corner.

We're high on the mountainside when U Bill decides he sees a fishing hole way below us. He drops the pack string lead rope in the trail and heads Chili down over the bank. The rest of us are following him like ducks in a row. My cousin Mary was ahead of me, and I was next. My sister, on Lucky, was behind me, so were my cousins, Marcia and Pixie. We also had a honeymoon couple with us, so they were behind me also.

Now imagine this, the mountainside is littered with dead, fallen timber. Everyone else is riding a full sized horse, with normal looking legs, and here I am, riding a POA. Logs that looked like nothing to the rest of them, must have looked huge to that gallant little horse. Yet, he never backed off for an instant!

We're headed straight down the high mountainside, and we're jumping dead falls, so guess what happens next? When Beastie is on the downside of a jump, my saddle comes up off his back, in the rear end. I throw my arms around his neck and hold on, "keeping in the middle of him" until he lands, then I get my saddle down and onto his back again.

By the time we hit the second dead fall, everyone behind me is expecting this colt to come unglued under what's happening and they're all screaming for me to jump! At this point, I had discovered what a wonderful little horse Beastie was, and I wasn't about to jump, he was tolerating the whole thing and handling it with aplomb!

We jump a few more dead falls, and my saddle was beginning to slip sideways as the force from the jumps loosened things up even more. It was impossible for me to leave the deck, as my feet were either jammed straight before me, or straight behind me.

By the time we hit the bottom of the hill, even I was afraid of what Beastie might do when he hit flat ground, and I decided I'd try to bail out after all. I got my chance when we jumped into the middle of the stream at the bottom of the mountain. Of course, I lit in the creek on my rear end. I sat there in complete and utter humility as my broken hat brim quivered over my face from the force of the landing.

With no where else to go, the other horses jumped over me and I can remember looking up at their bellies and legs and counting them as they went by so I'd know when it was safe to get up.

As I came dripping out of the creek, I'll never forget looking up and seeing U Bill. He was still sitting on Chili, the perfect cowboy picture with the sun behind him and the shape of him and Chili all back lit and glowing. His eyes were bursting with mirth, and he only said, "Wouldn't Benny Reynolds be proud of you now?"

Copyright Donna Ridgway

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Zebra work in progress 2.

I'm spending time today refining details on Zippy. It doesn't look much different from yesterday, because the details are small and picky. And I haven't spent a lot of time on this yet, I'm just working between doing laundry and other chores.

Once I get the details where I want them, I might switch to acrylics.
Donna Ridgway