Archive for June, 2016


Hiking vs Drawing. HatMan vs the Elk

June 19, 2016

A couple weeks ago I went to Estes Park, Colorado with my husband and his awesome family. Estes Park—which is within minutes of the RMNP—is basically paradise. The place we stayed—a bunch of cabins at the edge of town called Idlewilde—is a paradise within paradise. The Big Thompson river raged right outside our porch. Snow covered mountains continually took my breath away. And beautiful wildlife roamed the town freely, undisturbed by dorky humans gawking at them.

The average high while we were there was 60 degrees, which happens to be one of my favorite degrees. (And half what we are experiencing right now in Phx).

A couple days before the trip, I hit up AZ Art Supply for some new pens. I probably didn’t need knew pens, I could have scavenged my art supply drawers and made due with what I have. But I guess it’s like buying a new dress for an upcoming wedding. I could wear one of my old ones and I probably wouldn’t look much different too everyone else. But in a new dress I would feel better and newer, and subconsciously I would be more excited to attend the event. With new pens I would be more excited to draw.

Or so I thought.

But as frequently happens, my soul’s desire to be creative went head-to-head with my body’s need to be active. This seems to be one of the major struggles of my life. And I admit, in the universe of struggles, this is NOT something to complain about. It’s definitely preferable to say, having to choose between feeding your family vs putting a roof over their head. Or going to work vs going to Urgent Care.

Hiking vs drawing is not exactly a Sophie’s Choice situation. It’s a wanting my cake and eating it too situation. But I will say that for me, being active and being creative are both necessary components to my mental health. I am at my best when I do both. I am in trouble when I do neither. And when I have to pick between either/or… well, I’ll be fine, but it’s just hard to know which way to go.

Anyhow, when I got to paradise and saw all that beautiful nature, I was torn between sitting down to capture it on paper, or walking in and becoming a part of it. In the end, the mountains called, and I had to go. I know that John Muir would understand. Michael Petry probably would not.  😉


So here’s how a typical day went. Wake up, drink coffee, and head into the RMNP for a challenging hike. Return to cabin, scoop up Richard, and head back out for a shorter, more leisurely hike. Return to cabin to shower, nap, and read. Take lawn chairs out to sit by the Big Thompson river. Spend the evening hanging outside with the rest of the family, eating dinner, drinking beer, occasionally running back into the cabin to check basketball scores, and maybe taking a nighttime walk up the road to the YMCA of the Rockies to look for deer and elk.

Pretty damn great, right?

To quote my little brother at age nine: There IS such a thing as too much paradise.”

Anyhow, I did manage to do a little sketching here and there. Not as much as I wanted, but there was just so much effing paradise going on.

I did one pretty cool sketch of Richard as he was sitting on the couch in our cabin reading. Richard has a lot of unusual hats, and he was wearing one that night. That hat made for a fun sketch. I spent a lot of time on the inking, but I never got around to putting in the background or colors.

Another night, while we were in the cabin, winding down for bed, Richard suddenly shouted, “HOLY SHIT!!!”

I said, “What? Is there a bee?”

(He’d found a bee in our enclosed porch earlier and his frustration with it had been a little over dramatic, IMHO.)

“No! Antlers!”


“Out the window!”


“Just put down that drink and come outside!”

And so out we go, and right there in front of our cabin is the biggest most beautiful elk I had ever seen. We spent the next hour stalking the poor thing like paparazzi as it strolled the grounds, snacking on grass. To the elk’s credit he did not seem to mind us at all. In fact, sometimes he would stand a certain way, turning his head, as if posing for a picture.

elk by river

If Richard hadn’t spotted it, that elk would have walked circles around our cabin all night and I never would have known.

Yesterday I was looking at that unfinished drawing and trying to figure out what to do with the background. Then I remembered that cool experience with the elk. That’s it! Instead of adding the background that was actually behind him when I did the sketch – a boring old wall and TV – I drew a window with the grazing elk, and the river beside him. Then I colored it with colored pencils.

So here it is. My one and only completed drawing from Estes Park. But at least it captures my favorite moment from the trip. And that goofy hat.

HatMan vs the Elk

Happy Accident: In the drawing, Richard is holding a book, but he isn’t looking at the book. That was an error. I didn’t draw his eyes pointing in the right direction. I make that mistake a lot. The effect here is that it looks like Richard is distracted by a thought or something, which is preventing him from reading.

Now with the background added in, it looks like Richard is sensing the elk standing outside the window and he is about to turn his head. And that is pretty cool because he is always spotting things that I seem oblivious to. Like in our house, he has found dozens of scorpions, and I never find any. It’s almost as if he has a sixth sense for that kind of stuff.

Hey! Maybe that’s his super power! And if so, maybe his hats are what give him that power! Look out world. Here comes HatMan!