One of my passions is walking on this wonderful planet, in the wild areas where encounters with animals can always occur. The rhythm of my steps stimulates me to go further and further. It is a kind of meditation. There is always that question: What will I see behind that corner? The trail is inviting. Especially in the parks in the West: Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon, etc., the scenes are fascinating. Tracks of animals are everywhere, and with a little bit of luck, you can surprise one.
In the parks, where there is no hunting, the animals are not shy, and at certain places they get so familiar with hikers that they become very cooperative and sometimes even pose for you (it makes me think about paradise).
The subject of this painting comes from such a close encounter. It was in Teton National Park high up in the mountains. For twenty minutes, I wasn’t more than three feet away from this little ground squirrel. It enjoyed eating the mixture of plants and flowers, and those are among my favorite subjects, too. Painting plants and flowers is a special discipline, and painting small mammals always allows you to introduce some very detailed vegetation in the scene. Botanical illustration was important in my early career. I sometimes select my subjects to be able to paint plants and flowers again. This was one of them.
Golden-mantled ground squirrels usually dig burrows under brush, stumps or near a rock such as this. Active in the daytime, they love to sun themselves and make a variety of sounds such as squeaks, chirps, chatters and even whistles to warn of predators.