#18 - Time to 'hunker down'...


    That's me plein air painting in Yellowstone. I wanted to get a low angle on the river.

    Time was ticking - as we watched the economy slip and our artist friends getting hit hard.


    Our best idea was to supplement our Art by jumping into the vacation rental market to 'save ourselves' from this economic downturn. That meant we would be starting up yet another business - which we knew nothing about - while in the midst of a very large building project that was in no way even remotely close to completion.


    From past experience, we knew this was not going to be good. We had been through the 'challenges' of living and working in the midst of a construction zone before. I had said I would NEVER do that again. And definitely NOT with kids. Over the years I have learned to 'never say never' - seems to come back to bite me ;)


    You will notice a surprising lack of visuals in this post. Certainly not a time I was wanting to remember in pictures! So you will have to let your imagination run wild...


    The good news? Our property in the Adirondacks sold around this time. So the loan that we took in New York to make this move happen, (while our fingers were crossed under the loan officers desk), was paid off! Phew. That helped.

    But now here we go into the 'bowels of construction'... AGAIN!


    Ready or not, the time came when we had to get out of our current living space so we could set up that home as a vacation rental. Since we had made the lower level our workshop and storage space for our Art & Lighting business, while living in the upper level, it would take a lot of moving and cleaning to turn the home into nicely set up guest spaces!


    This stage was NOT pretty - in any way, shape or form. We moved into the construction zone with two little kids, no kitchen and no bathroom. A toilet was an emergency install.


    Until we could get a full bathroom completed, we showered at friends – good friends :)

    The kitchen could wait since we had a cooler and a tiny portable 'hibachi' – which was all we had for cooking the entire summer.


    We got creative on that hibachi after a while – figured out how to make cookies 'from a tube' laid out on aluminum foil across the top for the kids treats... The kids loved that smokey flavor!


    Interesting side note on kids... They don't remember this time as anything out of the ordinary. They just remember those great cookies!


    For me, it was a rough summer. Very rough.


    We managed to get our home changed over, cleaned and set up in time for summer guests. But this meant I was now the manager and cleaning person for a 5 bedroom vacation rental on top of my other duties - while I was basically camping in our construction zone and feeding two young kids with a hibachi.


    But before dawn every morning while the kids slept, I would get up and go into Yellowstone to paint the sunrise. Peace and quiet for just a couple hours of my day. That is what kept my sanity I think... and continued my learning curve for painting.


    Most summer mornings, I’m out there painting still. Plein air has been a vital part of my painting practice (and mental health!) and I now have miles of plein air canvases under my belt to show for it.


    View of my plein air painting still on my easel in Firehole Canyon in Yellowstone.

    There is even a spiritual component to plein air for me – meditative almost. Sinking into the moment at hand. It’s a wonderful experience to stand still for a couple hours capturing that time on canvas. Just BE with Nature for a bit.


    And it's absolutely amazing what I have seen when I'm out in Nature and just being still for a couple hours... bears walking by, elk herds around me, fog settling and lifting, wolves howling, bison born, and so much more. I get to experience being part of the natural world 'in 3D' ;)


    So... now we have TWO building projects going. While living in the construction zone of our home and studio, we also needed to keep the Guest House 'up to snuff'. There were certainly improvements that needed made. Which means we had to keep picking away at projects over there too - now, between guests.


    But it was improving...

    A new porch on the Guest House and some landscaping.

    Everything was slowly improving...

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    Shirl Ireland, Artist

    Elk River Art, Lodge & Studio

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