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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Montana mountains

Heart Butte

mountains at sunset
Rocky Mountain Front at Sunset

montana mountain
Horse near Ear Mountain

First People's Buffalo Jump
Square Butte from First People's Buffalo Jump State Park

Near Teton Canyon

Ear Mountain in Autumn

Square Butte near Vaughn
Here are some random photos of places I love in Montana. Different seasons, different places, all much loved.
Donna Ridgway

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Photos within 15 miles of my home.







I needed some generic photos for a project so I left home around noon and went looking. My camera was hungry for new fodder!

There were challenges. The day was dark, heavy clouds hung down, and when I had light, it was prone to disappear quickly between the gaps in cover. If I saw a scene that delighted my eyes, I had to get my settings right in a hurry and take the photo before the picture changed.

My camera is set on manual, so one shot can be totally different than another, requiring settings to change a lot.

When it got so dark I couldn't shoot anymore, I came home. Those deer were my last photos of the day. They were so cute, I was glad I could get them.

Donna Ridgway

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Big horn rams, mountain sheep.





The mountain sheep are pretty fun to watch. A lot of times, they remain where they are when you see them, they don't take off as fast as elk or grizzlies do. Which means you might get to spend a bit of time with them, just watching them graze, and interacting with each other.

Their eyes are so expressive! It's a great feeling to be looking into those eyes. You wonder what they're thinking and if they're enjoying this experience with you.

I hope to see some more of them soon!
Donna Ridgway

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Travel in Montana



These are some of the roads we were on this year taking photos. I'm glad I married an old log truck driver, lol! Nothing scares him when it comes to the roads, we take it easy and go where and when we want to go. Most of the time we have the fifth wheel camper with the horse trailer behind it.

 We like to take the four wheelers and they just fit in the horse trailer.

In the old days, I had a horse trailer full of horses going to the mountains. But back then I had no camera! I wish I had for I'd have some good photos from those times.

Of course I would not trade what we do now for anything. I love having the freedom to do what we like to do. No matter what the weather might be doing!

Donna Ridgway




Time for some Montana scenery.




Robert was busy working in the yard,so I went to take photos by myself. There are times when it's good to go alone for it's so much easier to think of camera settings and what you are trying to do with each photo you take. When we're together, we're so busy visiting sometimes it's hard to think about what I want my camera to capture.

I had planned in the begining to stay kind of close to home and didn't think I'd roam further than Freezout Lake. I didn't find many birds, or animals there so I took the road that goes behind Priest Butte, hoping I'd see a coyote, maybe a bear, hopefully some deer or at the very least a raven or a gopher! Nothing. So I concentrated on scenery.

Got back to Choteau, had hardly any photos so I headed toward Pishkin because the mountains were calling to me. I ended up on the Peebles Cut Across Road and took photos of Ear Mountain as I went along.

The landscape was totally bare of animals. I didn't even see birds. I came back toward Choteau and when I got to Eureka lake, I ate my lunch and hoped some birds would fly into or around the trees. Sometimes I see Pelicans on the water there.  No such luck so I enjoyed my cheese and ham, and came home!

Do you love to roam about the countryside? What do you see when you're "out there"?
Donna Ridgway

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Nature photography


You might say that nature photography equals patience. I can not tell you the hours I've spent, sitting without moving, just watching and waiting for something to happen. It also requires a knowledge of when and how things might happen in nature.

 I give credit to my patience for watching to the hours I spent on a tractor or swather in the wheat fields, or hay fields when I was a kid. From when I was young we went to the fields early in the morning and outside of a lunch break we were there all day. The more you went round and round the more bored you became and the more you learned to notice each and every thing that happened around you.

You saw when a fox crossed the field, you saw when a sea gull caught a mouse, you noticed if a fly landed on the tractor and watched how tight he could hang on in spite of the vibrations of the engine. You noticed things, and you learned to sit still, because you can't really drive machinery any other way! And you would have died of boredom if you hadn't had nature and it's wonders to view.

You also learned how to deal with the weather, screaming hot in the summer, windy and cold in the fall, it didn't matter, you learned how to take care of yourself and have what gear you might need to be at least a little bit comfortable, or if nothing else, you kept from freezing.

So when I saw the clouds in the photo above, heading toward the top of the mountain, I sat and waited. I watched and waited for quite a while. I kept thinking, if this happens like I think it might, there will be twin towers of sunset clouds over Sawtooth Ridge and won't that be wonderful?

Finally it happened! It doesn't always turn out this way, but this time it did.
I was happy!
Donna Ridgway


I do love creating these objects of art (for lack of a better name for them) from sardine cans and found objects. I did the froggy theme a couple days ago, and yesterday I created the cowboy theme.  I was making my Cream of the West hot cereal, and enjoying the artwork on the box, when I thought, "Hey! I could make a cowboy sardine can using that image.

So I took the box to the studio and began by cutting out the cowboy and the word WEST. I was off and running.  I found some heavy string, twisted it to resemble rope, for all cowboys use their ropes, right?

After I painted the inside of the can with copper paint, I placed the cowboy from the cereal box and glued him down, along with the WEST sign. After that things got complicated, I knew I had to find a horse that fit into the box. I looked in all the drawers and cupboards, looked in the computer room, looked in the back of the trailer where all my Breyer horses stand on shelves.  Sure enough, finally! I found a little rubber brown horse.

Digging through the drawers where I keep jewelry bits, I found a snap from a leather purse that looked like a sherriff star. I got out my tools, pliers, knives etc and separated the bottom of the snap from the top of the snap and the leather that held it all together.

I found the long horn steer on a belt buckle, once again, I used all my tools to separate that steer from the rest of the buckle.

The little antique cowboy on the front was floating round in the western jewelry drawer. I dug him out.  Then I was thinking of something to do with coffee, couldn't find anything that worked, but did find a key chain with the Jack Daniels whiskey info. I took it apart and it fit just right in that left hand corner.

Then I went looking for beads and tiny things to fill in empty spaces and jagged edges.I wanted blue and turqoise colors to set off the orange of the first cowboy. After much digging, I found the right stuff and the piece came together!

Would you enjoy something like this or would it drive you crazy? I love these projects, they are so involved, you don't think of anything else when you work on them. They take your mind to a fun new place!
Donna Ridgway





I'm sitting here in my chair looking through my photos, wishing I was with my little tin can camper way up on the mountain somewhere. Waking up in the camper is cold this time of year, I would have spent the night curled up tight in my good sleeping bag. Getting out of bed, in 20 degree temps makes you feel so alive! I love it.

Next I'd light the stove and make coffee, and the fire from the stove, warms up that tiny camper. If that didn't warm it up enough, I'd light the Buddy heater and watch the condensation run down the windows while I'm waiting for my coffee.

By this time, the sky might lighten enough for me to see the outline of trees.....pine and aspen, no details just outlines of their beauty against the sky.

I take my hot coffee and go outside to sit in my chair, hoping a deer might walk by, listening to the tiny sounds of awakening birds. The coffee warms my hands but it's cooling fast...I drink it down and go get another cup.

Finally, the sun breaks over the mountain top, and I can grab the camera, jack up the iso and hope to  catch some early morning wildlife!

That's heaven on earth to me, what makes you happy?

Donna Ridgway


Tuesday, October 23, 2018





We drove to Hot Springs, Montana to pick up some paintings I had there on display. When we got to the Flathead River, we saw this bear in the water fishing. As we watched him, he came out of the water, to eat berries in the chokecherry bushes along the river.

He munched on berries quite a while, then he crossed the road in front of us, and followed a trail along the road, to go to some berry bushes higher on the hill. It was great fun to see him, and have him allow us to spend this time with him.

Do you see bears where you live? We don't see a lot of them, so it's exciting for us when we do...even though they live all around us.

If you like our photos and art, visit our website! The holidays are coming and we have a lot of good shopping there!
Donna Ridgway

Frogs in a sardine can

I go back and forth between creating fine art, to creating art from found objects, and my photography. I love my hobbies equally! Yesterday, I went to the studio and noticed a drawer I'd labelled "frogs". I opened the drawer and here were these frogs! My mind immediately went to the idea of creating a "watery" world in this sardine can for these frogs. So it's full of shimmery sparkles and colors of water. I think the frogs look very happy in their new world!

When I create sardine can art this is what it involves...first there are many visits to second hand stores, and yard sales. That seems the best way to find objects that might fit together in a can. It takes a lot of searching, a lot of sales and trips to town to find similar objects, such as the six frogs that are in this can.

After we purchase the objects, I sort and store them in my studio. I use plastic drawer combinations, along with the metal tool boxes mechanics use in their shops. If I get several similar objects, they go in a drawer with a piece of tape across the front of the drawer, such as this drawer I had labeled "frogs". As time goes on, I get enough of one thing to create a themed can.

First step in creating a can art piece, is to cover the entire inside of the can with either paint, or the papers etc that will form the background colors and textures. From there, I gather items that seem to fit the theme I'm looking for. It can take a lot of searching through drawers to find exactly the right things!

Once the items are assembled, I place them in the can, exploring different ideas as I go along. At last I decide on the final placements, and begin gluing the art together. I use glossy accents glue, epoxy glue, fabric glues, and poke holes for wires and attatchments.  Sometimes I think I'm finished, only to go back and add more pieces, I love the richness of all the different colors and textures. Sometimes at the end, I'll hang a cute piece from the edge of the can, such as the little frog on top, he hangs down separately and independently to dangle in front of the piece.

What do you think? Do you like this idea and think it's fun and interesting? Do you think you'll try this for yourself? It's great fun!
Donna Ridgway

Chipmunk taking a bath.




Did you know a chipmunk is an expert at getting it's fur clean and neat for the day? We came home from Helena, Montana and we took the old highway. There's a place on top of a hill, with some huge granite boulders and in those boulders, are some chipmunks. I told Robert we could stop there to see what photos we might find. We got lucky and this chipmunk was sitting on the rocks, taking a good bath. It was a rare treat to watch him as he groomed his little body!

What wildlife do you enjoy watching? Do you watch the big guys? Elk, bear, deer, mountain sheep, or do you enjoy the little things also? For me, I love watching all of them. You learn something new each and every time you watch an animal going about their daily life.
Donna Ridgway

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Fall is coming to Montana



 It's been hot and dry in my state. Fires are burning millions of acres of timber land. It will take a hundred years or more for the land to recover and for us to have forests like we had. The beetles killed miles of trees, now they're standing dry fuel for fire. Loggers are not allowed in our forests to clean and preserve them. It's a sad state of affairs. Our entire state has poor quality air from the burns.
The burrowing owls have grown up and left for parts unknown. I wish I knew where they migrated to. They were so entertaining...I'm hoping they come back next year so we can watch them some more.

Bears are roaming the woods filling their bellies for a long winter sleep. This one was near Gibson Dam, in a tree that hung heavy with choke cherries.

I hope it's peaceful where you are, no fires, no floods, just normal life happening....
Donna