ELK ALONG THE SOUTH FORK ACRYLICS ON DOUGLAS FIR FALL 2015
It was early August and we were hiking along the South Fork of the Hoh River on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. The weather was wet and rainy, just what you would expect for a temperate rainforest like the Hoh Valley, although maybe not so much during summer. The Hoh Rainforest is a magical place and is virtually a sea of every shade of green imaginable due to the lush growing conditions. Towering Sitka spruce and Douglas fir trees stand watch over an understory of smaller trees, shrubs, and ferns. Along the river, bigleaf maples are so totally covered in lichens, mosses, and clubmosses to give them a shaggy appearance. We were on our return to the car when out of the dense growth, three Olympic elk emerged. I had often seen elk from a distance, but at this close range I was stunned by just how large they were. The elk were anything but silent, yet they made their way past us in regal fashion and with a casual grace that belied their huge size. They were not concerned about our close proximity. Maybe they knew that they were safely inside the Park boundary and so we would not pose a threat. Just as suddenly as they appeared, the trio climbed a small ridge and disappeared into the forest. The hike had already been a wonderful experience, even in the rain, but the brief appearance of the elk made it a memorable day. I painted this recreation of that day on a pretty piece of fir that was left over in the shop when we moved into our house. As one of the edges of the board was rounded, I painted a black border around the scene instead of building a frame for it.