# 14 - The Practice of Art

Painting alone at Old Faithful one winter morning - magical!

When we arrived in Montana, we needed to be able to work immediately –

delivery deadlines had been established long ago for a lighting commission we were designing and creating. The pieces were packed and brought out to Montana with us.

On our new property, the lower level of our home and an out building become our temporary workshop and studio. Upstairs was set up for kid rooms and my home office.

Table Lamp designed and created by Shirl and John

Pendant designed and created by Shirl and John

Well, I didn't have much of an indoor studio once again - so I was inspired to take my painting outside. And now, after painting those intimate scenes in the Adirondacks, I needed to learn how to put all those huge mountains of Montana and the grand vistas of Yellowstone onto one small canvas!

Plein air painting in Paradise Valley

Plein Air painting Tom Miner Basin

Shortly after arriving in Montana, a friend introduced us to Clyde Aspevig & Carol Guzman - phenomenal painters in the area. Carol was leading the Crazy Mountain Woman's Artist League. I was thrilled to be invited into such a great group of women - friends I hold very dear still today. We painted together weekly... plein air, some indoor still lives and some figure drawing sessions, too. Loads of fun!

Inspired by my work with Carol, I could see that still life painting was a wonderful complement to my plein air painting, and I wanted to challenge myself a little more in that realm. So I called the Curator of the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center to inquire about painting the archives of Yellowstone – as ‘still lives'. She said she had never been asked that before, but was willing to let me try it. I began painting there once a week - 13 years ago.

To me, the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center is a 'candy store' for an artist! The collection houses a treasure trove of objects filled with Yellowstone natural and cultural history... wolf bones, big horn sheep skulls, souvenirs from long ago, birds, mammals, butterflies, Thomas Moran journal and sketches, etc. etc. What a fabulous challenge to 'stretch' my skills!...AND learn about the history of Yellowstone.

Snakes In A Jar - Oil by Shirl Ireland
Silver Service - Oil by Shirl Ireland

Elk Study - Oil by Shirl Ireland

Red Tail Hawk Study - Oil by Shirl Ireland

Wolf Skull Study - Watercolor by Shirl Ireland

Wolf Bones - Watercolor by Shirl Ireland

Ok, now I had some basic weekly art practices in place in my new home in Montana. Even with so much going on around me, I always carve out time to work on my Art. It's a skill that takes A LOT of practice and I have dedicated my life to improving my work. I take that very seriously and keep at it!

I'll finish with a couple quotes on the "Practice of Art"...

Your work is to discover your work - and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. Buddha

Apparently one impression that we are making...is that creativeness consists of lighting striking you on the head in one great glorious moment. The fact that the people who create are good workers tends to be lost.

Abraham Maslow

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