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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Day 45: Hot Hot Hot (springs) (7/19/15)

I woke up and realized this is my last full day in Yellowstone. I felt uneasy about this at first, like there was still so much left to do, but as the day went on I felt more comfortable and ready to move on. Today I wanted to tour the "hot" features where Moran painted so many watercolors. I started off at the Lower Geyser basin or "Fountain Paint Pot." One of the first things you see is this gorgeous orange and rust colored field called a Bacterial Mat. The color is from cyanobacteria (again crazy that the vibrant color is from living organisms!). Silex Spring is a beautiful hot spring beyond the bacterial mat. So compelling in fact that I almost didn't notice the BISON sitting behind me. He was just chillin...I can see why people think these animals are slow and docile. They really are not...I read in a visitor center about four attacks this summer due to people being careless and getting too close to the animals. Sure enough while I was there an idiot put his backpack right next to the bison's face which prompted it to quickly stand up and walk away. He lamented the fact that he'd almost got the coolest shot super close to his face...dude you should be happy you weren't bucked ten feet in the air!!! Anyway before this incident I sketched Mr. Bison because he was being a perfect model.

After I turned around and sketched Silex Spring, trying out an ink pen and watercolor technique. It worked okay. A little better than just the watercolor. Maybe I am making excuses but like I've said before, these boardwalks are just so crowded that I can't imagine setting up my oil paints here. If I could do Yellowstone all over again, without a cold, I would have gotten up super early to get to some of these locations before the crowds rushed in. I continued on to Clepsydra Geyser which is surrounded by a great view. It is one of the first times I felt like I was seeing the whole scene of a Thomas Moran watercolor. You can see trees in the distance and the geyser is placed in a scene, instead of walking on a boardwalk, seeing the geyser, walking to the next thing, etc. I took notes because it is the kind of geyser scene I'd want to paint. A note about the dead pines here - they are called "Bobby Socks" trees because the white solidified portions of the dead tree resemble the upper cuff of bobby socks from the 1940s and 1950s.

Next I drove Firehole Lake Drive which was quite peaceful and not crowded after the hoards of tourists at a Fountain Paint Pot. No RVs allowed either so I think it cut down on some traffic. I don't think I would ever want an RV, but I'd be on board with a real camper van. They make them so the top comes up and some have kitchens too (I've seen a lot for rent). With a family, I think good old fashioned camping is awesome. Anyway...lots of great sights to be seen on this drive, as you will see in the pictures. I didn't stop to sketch or paint because I wanted to get back to the Old Faithful area to paint two geysers I know Thomas Moran painted.

So back to Castle Geyser I went, and walked along many other hot springs and geysers on my way to Grotto Geyser. Castle Geyser had lovely colored light and shadows as the sun set. Grotto Geyser was churning and bubbling and making a sound that made me think of Ursula from The Little Mermaid. It just looks grotto-like too, more so than in Moran's painting. Moran's paintings of both geysers are both more developed than mine but I tried my best with watercolor/cold/limited time. Back to the Tetons tomorrow!

Two lonely Bobby Socks trees.
Bacteria Mat
Insanely vibrant rusty red!
Mr. Bison, relaxing at the hot springs.
He sat so nicely...I had to sketch him.
Silex Spring
Watercolor and pen sketch of Silex Spring.
New relaxing position for Mr. the background you can see the idiot tourist who got way to close, causing Mr. Bison to get up and leave.
Fountain Paint Pot, bubbling away.
Earth or Mars?
Red Spouter fumarole.
Leather Pool.
Jet Geyser
Clepsydra Geyser
Clepsydra Geyser
Sketch of Clepsydra Geyser with Porcupine Hills and Gallatin Range in the distance.
Bobby Socks trees.
Dead trees selfie!
Firehole Spring on the Firehole Lake Drive.
Firehole Spring
My ride or die.
Surprise Pool.
Great Fountain Geyser.
It's a huge geyser!
White Dome Geyser.
Largest hot spring in this area, Firehole Lake. It averages 158 degrees!
Firehole Lake
Finished a sketch back at Castle Geyser.
Moran's watercolor of Castle Geyser on top, and Jackson's photograph of the same spot.
Color image of Moran's "Castle Geyser."
Sawmill Geyser.
Beauty Pool
Grotto Geyser...straight out of the Ursula scene from the Little Mermaid.
My travel watercolor set...the brush barrel holds water. It's a fantastic invention for on the go painting.
Grotto Geyser...just after sunset.
"The Grotto Geyser" by Thomas Moran.




  1. I love your watercolor paintings! Emily!!! You are too hard on yourself! And your bison sketch is to die for! It's so good....I feel the calm and peace of the bison (until the idiot spooked him).
    Love, mom

  2. I agree with your your watercolor paintings! They are simply beautiful!
    That bison was cool!