Erin O’Connor

Erin O'Connor_On the Surface

Boyle’s Hill was one of my first favorite painting spots in Jackson Hole.  Just far enough out of town, narrow dirt roads laced around the green ponds, and wise outstretched cottonwoods offered respite from the summer sun.  Every vantage held artistic merit.  This was an idyllic local secret – all-American really – a place for family picnics, the Mountain Man Rendezvous, and kids to hang out the way kids do.  Some nights, yeah, there were parties.  Some days were sweetly quiet, the breeze rustling through the trees, dragonflies buzzing above the water, and just me painting.

Trumpeter swans were one of my first favorite birds.  In the 1966 edition of ‘Birds Of North America, A Guide To Field Identification’ (the very book I used as a child and still treasure today), it said this:  “This largest swan, recently close to extinction, is now increasing in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming…  Very rare outside it’s breeding range.”   My father, who knew of such things, said that fewer than 100 remained in the wild here.  I worried terribly about the extinction of swans.

A few years back, my father and I stopped at Boyle’s Hill.  There are only two small parking areas now, the ponds fenced off, the inner dirt roads grown over, all traces of its previous use gone.  Trumpeter swans crowd the banks, loud and raucous in their success.  They glide across the green water in a riotous cacophony of gleaming white.  Dad was thrilled, taking photos, and I was thinking about the next time I’d come out to paint.  Neither of us mentioned how easily this might not have happened.

This idyllic spot is still something of a local secret, and that’s okay.  When preservation fails, conservation can make the difference.   The Jackson Hole Land Trust has, in no small way, assured vital habitat for wildlife.  One acre, and one crucial pond at a time.

– Erin O’Connor

Pamela Gibson

Photographer Linda Aurelio and I started our exploration of Indian Springs Ranch South in the early morning to catch best light. We had great conversation about what is unique to Indian Springs as we drove and then hiked to find the best vistas.

It is going to be hard to choose a subject, as there are so many striking ones here: the swan ponds, Boyles Hill with its geometric trees and shadows, the meadow with its textured grasses and rhythmic stand of willows crossing it, the mosaic of grass and sage rich with purples and greens in the morning light. There was so much wildlife present. The edges of the resident elk herd were visible through the trees at the top of Boyles hill, birds of all sizes, including an enormous hawk, were out hunting. There were horses in the stables and cows grazing in the meadows.

Linda’s sharp eye captured 160 images, and we returned to the computer to cull them to a reasonable number. Not many were deleted. I now have this treasure trove of images to take into the studio to make the hardest decision of all. Which image do I feel best describes this 1200 acre site made up of private homes tucked away on large lots, and the 500 acres of conservation land weaving through the properties? There are no boundaries here. It doesn’t really matter what is mine, what is yours, but only what is ours. Ours is a legacy of open space that is shared with elk, moose, deer, and the occasional black bear. I can’t wait to get into the studio to begin to interpret this beautiful gem in our valley.

– Pamela Gibson

View22: Open Studio Works Now Online!

View22 Collage

In 2016, we invited 19 local artists to create place-inspired art on 13 Jackson Hole Land Trust conservation properties. The momentum for the project built over the summer as artists created their works and interacted with the community at artist demonstrations at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and R Park. From August 1st -14th, the buzz continued building as the 13 View22 open-access locations were marked with green JHLT flags.

View22: Open Studio will culminate this Sunday, August 14th, 2016 with an exhibit and sale at the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s 36th Annual Picnic at the Fish Creek Ranch in Wilson.

The 31 finished works are now available for viewing and purchase online and through our downloadable e-catalog! The catalog will be updated periodically to reflect sales.

For inquiries regarding art sales please contact Roxanne Pierson at [email protected] or 307-733-4707.

Indian Springs Ranch Painting Session – Thursday, June 26th

Indian Springs Ranch

Indian Springs Ranch

Painting a familiar place is very comforting. Usually, I’ve passed by a view many times before I get the urge to paint it. Many of the View 22 vistas this year are some of my favorite spots in the valley, including my first location, Indian Springs Ranch.


I spent a few hours looking around the borders of the Indian Springs Ranch, which was a lot bigger than I realized. Eventually, I was inspired to paint one of the small ponds on the edge of the ranch along Boyles Hill Road that I discovered just last year. I set up my easel at the edge of the pond, at around 8 in the morning.


I love the way the cottonwoods line the edges of the ponds. The water is so still with the thick trees blocking any wind that the surface is a near perfect mirror. The swans glide around the lake gracefully, occasionally stopping to chase each other across the pond, which is pretty hilarious and noisy, startling me several times. The weather is completely clear and perfect, although the early morning air is so cold still that my acrylic paints refuse to dry. This requires me to leave my painting at an impasse, and I will return to finish it later.

-Travis Walker

Indian Springs Ranch

Photo: Mary Gerty

Photo: Mary Gerty

This painting session is scheduled for June 26, 2014. Sign up to receive email updates from us to the right so you get our blog posts right in your inbox!