Yellowstone USA Workshop

Where else can you go that takes 27 hours and three flights to get there, has you short of oxygen at 6500 feet, cracks your lips with the low humidity, gives you snow and sunshine in the same week……and is so very enjoyable. Yellowstone! And to ice the cake, we were warmly welcomed by the many talented artists attending my 5-day workshop. If we could return tomorrow, we would.

Yellowstone Park workshop, day 3

As you can see we had a good attendance – 20 for the first two days then an increase to 23 for the final three days. First, I must thank Rich Adams ( for suggesting the workshop and then tirelessly arranging everything, including the making of the drawing boards. And, of course, thanks also to our fellow artist Owen Garratt ( for opening our minds to art marketing methods over the course of his five evening presentations.

The Production Crew - Mike Sibley, Owen Garratt and Rich Adams

The Production Crew:

from left to right

Mike Sibley (that’s me!), Owen Garratt and Rich Adams.

The day 1 and 2 group, without Rich who took the photo

Most of the workshop group

The Holiday Inn (our venue) worked hard for us too. It wasn’t possible to check the conference room until the first morning of the workshop and we found the lighting to be far from ideal. We asked for a pole so we could adjust the ceiling spotlights. They didn’t have a pole… but they did have a man with a ladder – and by the time we returned from breakfast they had all been adjusted. Then they raided their storeroom for unused floor lamps and installed them too. Much better!

Rich Adams presentation and Mike Sibley demonstrating a drawing technique

Rich Adams giving his presentation on “Non-destructive editing in Photoshop” and me demonstrating a pencil technique.
Owen 'Pencilneck' Garratt presenting art marketing advice.
Owen ‘Pencilneck’ Garratt and his evening art marketing presentations
Workshop members hard at work
Stuart Arnett – Susan Miller – Merrill Willis – Roxy Rueckart and Gayle Uyehara

We had a very diverse class, with artists from Colorado, Montana, Texas, Oregon, California, Canada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, and Indiana. I think everyone took something away with them but some seemed to have had that “lightbulb” moment and their work had leapt forward – and nothing pleases me more than seeing an artist suddenly blossom.

Wolf in the snow blizzard, Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday morning we all met at the Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Center. Being mid-June I suppose we should have expected… a snow blizzard! It was a real nuisance but most of us, I think, managed to return at a later time. Rich and I spent a happy couple of hours on Saturday morning photographing the Bears and Wolves in brilliant sunshine.

Photographing a Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel

I thought I’d start small and work my way up to Bears and Bison… This is Rich’s photo of me seemingly clinging to a cliff face taking a long range photo of a Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel. Fellow artist Karen Hargett photographed it heading for the sanctuary of my trouser leg… but I wasn’t aware of that at the time! And since my return, I’ve drawn the little critter for the Small Wonders exhibition at the Sycamore Fine Arts gallery in Goshen, Indiana. The actual size of the drawing is just 2″ × 3″.

Ground Squirrel - Small Wonders drawing
“Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel” © Mike Sibley 2008

My wife Jenny and I had our first taste of Yellowstone Park on the Sunday before the workshop when Rich and his wife Angie very generously took us on a tour of their favourite areas. The very first wild animal we saw (not counting Bison!) was a Black Bear on a hillside. Then a Bald Eagle, Bison, Elk, more Bison, and we got to see Old Faithful erupt…… and more Bison.

After the workshop we had three days of “relaxing” holiday. Saturday morning was spent with a return visit to the Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Center (just a couple of blocks from the venue) and this time in brilliant sunshine! Rich and I got some great shots between us. Then in the late afternoon, accompanied by Owen and Karen, Rich and Angie drove us out to the Diamond P Ranch to go horse riding. This is something I’d really been looking forward to.

Horse riding - Diamond P Ranch, West Yellowstone
Me mounting Sam – Jenny and me – Jenny followed by Owen and Rich

Although I’ve only been on a horse a half dozen times (and only two of those without someone holding the lead rope!), I’d developed a desire to ride in the Western Style. The English riding style just doesn’t appeal to me, as the Western style seems to be so much more in tune with the horse – a true partnership.

On Sunday, Jenny and I treated Rich and Angie to a mini-bus tour of the upper loop of the park. I think I drove our driver and guide Heather to despair……I seemed to have turned into a loud and noisy tourist. I don’t think two keen photographers laden with long-range lenses and monopods helped either!

Lower Falls, Yellowstone River
Lower Falls, Yellowstone River, and Jenny at “Artists Point”

Actually, our guide Heather was very accommodating and took pains to point out the photo opportunities. At one time she drove the other tourists to see the Fossilized Tree while leaving Rich and I to photograph two Black Bears… but I think she breathed a sigh of relief when she finally dropped us off at our hotel!

Mini bus tour of upper loop, Yellowstone Park
Minibus tour, Travertine terraces, geysers, and guide Heather waves me Goodbye!

Monday was spent in the company of Rich and Angie before they dropped us off at Bozeman on their way home. All that remained was to grab a few hours sleep before catching our plane early Tuesday morning for the 27 hour journey home. Our thanks again to Rich, Angie, Owen and, of course, to all the wonderful workshop artists, for making our trip so very enjoyable.