Over several fall seasons, I viewed elk at Yellowstone, often in the Gardner River below Mammoth Hot Springs, where they gather in great numbers for the fall rut. I took many photos and last month in my wildlife class I put together a few of my favorites, sketching them in walnut ink in my journal. I began with a light pencil sketch, done freehand, and then used a reed pen,favored by artists like Van Gogh--this is one that someone collected from a waste area near a freeway and which I cut with an x-acto blade into an angled nib. I used a brush and water to dissolve some of the line. I never get tired of the effects of walnut ink--it has to be my favorite sketching medium! I used this sketch as a preliminary drawing for a painting, which I submitted to Pomegranate Communications for the upcoming 2014 Nature's Peace calendar. They are already in production--we just finalized the images last week. This painting turned out to be one not chosen, but it often happens that way--I probably submit 4 paintings for every one that is chosen. I stretched the watercolor paper and then made a photocopy of my drawing, enlarged it to the correct size for my painting and then traced my enlarged copy onto the watercolor paper, using Saral transfer paper. There are only a couple of elk cows in this group--the rest are young males, non-combatants. The big bulls are elsewhere, rounding up their mates, and looking for other bulls to fight. These tranquil youngsters always appeal to me, which is not to say it isn't very entertaining to watch the big battles!