population clock

Blink to 7 Billion
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Another week, another theme on Illustration Friday: canned. Spam. Sardines. Crowds. Population growth. Check out the World Population Clock for estimates of increases. Short of a really, really big disaster, we are reproducing ourselves at a truly remarkable rate. If our governments worked this fast, we'd get lots done.


south of confluence

The Madison River Valley is here below the Madison Mountains. Ranching in the lowland, mining in the highland. This was a hot day—temperatures in the 90sF, low humidity—but a good one to go looking at one of the rivers that becomes part of the Missouri River.



This is the sound of the start of the Missouri River, at the confluence of the Madison and Jefferson Rivers (the Gallatin comes in a mile downstream).



How Much
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Illustration Friday theme: enough.

People have been asking about how I make my collages, do I do them digitally or what?
I use scissors, X-Acto knife, glue stick, bristol board. I scan the finished thing; that's the only digital thing I do and only when I'm done putting all the pieces together. I get the pieces from magazines, catalogs, and any other printed material that comes my way.


today's encounters

Mule Deer on the top, Pelican on the bottom; all on the Missouri River in the Lake Holter area.

And what kind of snake is this? We each took a look at each other and went our separate ways.



Gates of the Mountains on the Missouri River open and close and open and close as a boat moves upstream and side to side on the river. At first, it just looks like the river ends in a rock wall. Then one gate opens and the view upriver opens further. Then that gate obscures the opening, but just about right away, the other side opens and the upstream portion is visible once more. But the canyon never opens completely until the end and only then can the river's course be seen as coming through this narrow portal.

This place is beautiful, but full of motorboats and fishermen and tourboats, which, of course, is how I saw the place. Sigh. My little boat would have been quieter (assuming no other traffic).


where to be, what to be

Lost in a Fog of Melancholy
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Once again, Illustration Friday's weekly theme has arrived: foggy, an adjective. I made it into the noun that sometimes surrounds me.


clark fork river valley

The settlement called Deerlodge, off I-90, is the home of the Grant-Kohrs Ranch, a working cattle ranch which is also part of the National Park System. The mountains in the beyond are the Flint Creek Range. This is a dry land, about 10 inches of precipitation a year. The snowmelt on the highest mountains is watched carefully, hoping that there is still snow on the 4th of July. That usually means that there will be enough water in the streams for the rest of the year.

The Clark Fork Valley is a Superfund site, however, because of the mining residue from Butte and neighboring mining towns. Nothing is as it seems.



Postcard photo copyright Lawrence Dodge

Here, the view of the entire confluence.

missouri headwaters

The confluence of the Jefferson River and the Madison River to become the Missouri River is a quiet place, dominated by the sound of water running, rushing, going. The sky is big, here, yes. The water is full and swift.

Not a mile later, the Gallatin River, coming from the east, joins the new Missouri and this, now, is the Missouri River. This is a place to return to, to sit, to dream, to be quiet from the human world.

gates to hell

Postcard photo copyright Scott Wheeler 2001

Postcard caption: "Butte, Montana, at sub-zero temperatures, where steam from present day heating systems is a vague reminder of the heyday of the copper mining and smelting industries of the 1800s. The Anselmo mine gallows frame is featured on the front."

That says it all, eh?


pH 2

pH 2
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Illustration Friday's theme was sour. A good friend and critic challenged me to do this collage with no animals.

Here it is.


basin street studio

My second floor studio.


basin, montana

I am in Basin, Montana, at the Montana Artists Refuge for a month of studio time and space to work on my artwork. This is what is all looks like outside.

This is Basin Street, the main street in Basin, Montana, looking west.

And this building had been a bank, a drug store, and the upstairs was the masonic temple. That is now my studio and apartment. The studio is 20' x 30' and the apartment is about that size, too, taking up the back half of the second floor. The downstairs is another studio and apartment, also about the same size.

The building to the right is the other Montana Artists Refuge building; it has three apartment/studio combinations, all smaller that the two in my building. 


fierce peace

Fierce Peace
10.375 inches wide x 8.25 inches high
collage on moleskine notebook cover

The bunny and the owl are strong in their protection of home. Keeping the peace, however, is difficult when anything that opposable thumbs do is antithetical to the creatures' understandings of how things should be.

Illustration Friday's theme: fierce.

Basin, Montana

Between Butte and Helena off I-15, Jefferson County.
Elevation 5355 feet.
Population 255.
I'm here for a month-long residency at the Montana Artists Refuge to work on my fiber art.

And, of course, on geography.

wyoming into montana

The mountains appeared faintly along the horizon, at first. Then they became this overwhelming presence. Later, they receded, but only, I think, because I started to drive into them.



Coal mining is going on in full force here. The hotels and motels are full with construction and other workers. Long trains pass each other over the plains, each pulling coal car after coal car, all full. All to make electricity to keep this country running...away.