Michael Sieve - Chisholm Valley Wildlife Art


To capture the adventure and excitement of the hunt is to know the sportsman. To join forces in preserving and protecting habitat is to understand the conservationist. To identify the songs of the wind and relish calloused hands is to appreciate the farmer. To see this combination in a painting is to view the art of Michael Sieve. Sieve's talents and expertise are undeniable. To date, over 100 of his original artworks have been chosen for print in limited edition form. His original paintings can be found in collections throughout the world and have been featured in some of America's finest wildlife and nature publications. Additionally, Michael Sieve has appeared as a featured or guest artist at most major art shows in the United States.

The final painting; ‘Days of Plenty’.I’ll start ‘Days of Waste’ in a few days.

The final painting; ‘Days of Plenty’.
I’ll start ‘Days of Waste’ in a few days.

Here are two images of the bison hunt painting from the last week.  So what is going on here, what’s with the tape?     ...

Here are two images of the bison hunt painting from the last week. So what is going on here, what’s with the tape?
Here is what that’s for...I’m in the final phase of the painting now. When I’m at this stage I want to have every color in the painting at hand, mixed and ready to go. The palettes in the photos have a lot of the colors that I will be using, but there are always more. Then I run a strip of tape at the top of the painting and start painting across from left to right. I will rest my hand on the canvas as I paint for steadiness, and will lay my hand below the tape to keep from smearing the wet paint above the tape where I am painting. I am looking for flaws in the paint, places in the paint that can be highlighted, and opportunities where I can add more paint texture. I methodically go from left to right, then move the tape down and start over, and do that again and again until I reach the bottom of the painting. Then I sit back and look, and look some more. I’m looking for small details and opportunities as well as big things that I may have missed and might need major changes. The next day I’ll look for anything I might have missed and will repeat this final stage if necessary, and will do that over again the next day if I feel like it would help. More time or a reluctance to do more work are absolutely irrelevant, the only thing that matters is the painting itself.
This is the fun part, every bit of paint that I put down now really matters. This paint will not be painted over, this paint is the subtle colors and the sharp bright little highlights that will make the painting fun to look at. And eventually when I can find nothing else to do, it’s done. Thanks for following along.

Buffalo Hunt painting update...The last couple weeks of painting were the long slow push to the finish line.  The compos...

Buffalo Hunt painting update...

The last couple weeks of painting were the long slow push to the finish line. The composition, the colors, the anatomy and more are in the past. Small corrections and details, lots and lots of details are what happens after the early fun part is over. The grass, sage and rocks alone seemed to go on forever. Same for every buffalo and each of the Native Americans. It’s just time and work. There are no little elves in my studio that do this work while I’m off someplace else, doing something else. But it must be done, and is important if I want the painting to be what I hope it will be. But today I’m pretty much past that tough stretch. Now is the final fun time. From now on I’ll be working on small refinements and the little high points of light, the sparkles, that make a painting fun to look at. I’m posting two photos of an area of the painting that’s almost done. I’ll look at this part and will add a few of those sparkles, and will make a few small refinements, but very little. Mostly I look at an area like this as a standard that I will bring to every other area as I push on to the end. A few more days and one more post and it’s finished, then it’s on to something else. Stay tuned.

Here is the latest image of the Buffalo Hunt painting.  I think the sky and the distant hills are finished, but I will h...

Here is the latest image of the Buffalo Hunt painting. I think the sky and the distant hills are finished, but I will have to add some warmer colors to the middle hill to balance the distant hills and sky with the foreground. That’s really important and has to be done right! The grass and sage closer up are good, just need more work, same goes for the rocks up front. And then I’ll concentrate on the buffalo and finally the Indians. Perhaps next week.
I’m thinking of titles as I paint now, and will probably go with ‘Days of Plenty’. I might even follow up with a painting that I would call ‘Days of Waste’. I could do a painting of the hide ‘hunters’ with ox drawn skinning wagons following the buffalo shooters, with the great prairie wolves coming in afterward to take advantage of the slaughter. Or possibly a painting of travelers shooting bison from the railroads as they traveled west and passed through the vast herds of buffalo, herds that seemed like they went on and would last forever. The railroad painting has been done before, but the prairie wolf idea has not as far as I know. Either way these are ideas that are not often painted but are certainly interesting, at least to me. Just some thoughts...


Bison Painting Video #4

I’m having trouble posting a video, so I will describe the recent progress with the ‘Buffalo Hunt’ painting here with a ...

I’m having trouble posting a video, so I will describe the recent progress with the ‘Buffalo Hunt’ painting here with a photo and a written commentary. Here is what is happening with that painting...

The sky is pretty much done, I’m happy with it but I’ll touch it up a bit anyway. I like the lightness of it and the subtle colors also. This will contrast in a good way with the power and action up front in this painting. The sky is important in any of my paintings, but especially in a big landscape prairie scene like this painting will be.

The rocky ridge in back is good in the middle but weak on the left side. The colors of this area are weak and unbalanced and are still in the very early stages. There will be big changes in all of the distant background hills, I am confident that this area of the painting will come along with everything else and will be OK. It just takes time.

I have also added lots of running buffalo, and there will be more to come. They are just getting started and need a lot of refinement, much like the distant hills.

And finally I have added four Indians on horseback. Two are fairly prominent and I’m happy with them, two are farther back and in the dust. There are no horses under them yet, but there will be soon. No work on the foreground yet, but I expect that the foreground will go well, I hope so anyway.

That’s it for today, thanks for following along...I hope to post a video next time, as I have in the past.

Also a reminder that Juli and I will be hosting our annual Christmas Open House this coming weekend on Saturday and Sunday, December 7th & 8th. We always have it the first full weekend in December and hope to see you then. Bye for now...

Please join us for our 2019 Christmas Open House!

Please join us for our 2019 Christmas Open House!


On Tuesday November 12, I drove to Kansas to bowhunt with my good friend Bill Brannan. Bill owns a farm near Centralia that is prime deer country. My hunts there over the years have been fun and exciting, even when the cold Kansas winds blow mercilessly over my old bones. This year I hunted for seven straight days on 80 acres of Bill’s 320 acre property. It is all woods, creeks, native grasslands, and food plots. Bill’s land is the place where 2 or 3 waterways all come together and drain into a good sized reservoir lake that is entirely on his land. Here is a brief summary on how the hunt went:

I had a total of 58 deer sightings, certainly many were repeats. 21 of those were antlered bucks. By age class I judged them as follows:
o Yearlings – 8
o 2 1/2 year olds – 6
o 3 1/2 year olds – 5
o 4 1/2 or older – 2
o Deer seen 1st 3 days – 33
o Deer seen last 3 days – 13

On the last day I took a buck that I judged to be 3 or 4 years old, just before noon. He was passing through the area, no doubt looking for does. He was the only deer I saw that day. A warming trend throughout the week and the hunting pressure that I had put on that area during the week had undoubtedly pushed a lot of the deer out, and onto the neighbors lands. The buck that I took approached from the brushy woods on my left at a fast walk and would soon cross a fence line from the neighbors onto Bills. I lost track of him before he crossed but I had already decided to take him if I could. He stopped just before the fence, out of sight behind a cedar tree, probably carefully checking for danger ahead before he moved on. That kind of standoff favors the deer. Eventually he would either see, hear or most likely smell me and would be gone. Those are tense seconds that seem to be much longer than they really are. But I was ready when he finally crossed. There was only a small window to shoot through before he would be in cover again and I took the shot while he was on the move, always a bad idea. The hit was high, and as it turned out, quite fatal.

But like a lot of old bucks, they don’t give up easily. Bill and I followed a very thin blood trail for several hundred yards, and eventually ran out of anything to follow and began to search for a dead deer instead, finally concluding that the deer was not hit hard and would probably recover. The next morning I continued to look in the direction that he had gone, and finding nothing, decided to quit and head home. That evening, near Des Moines Iowa, I got a call from Bill. “We found your deer!” he said. It seems Bill took his dog Katy for a walk on the farm and she found the buck, only a few yards from last blood. If I had stopped there and looked back and to my left I would have seen him myself. Instead I continued on, to search up ahead. The deer apparently died shortly after the hit. When I got the news I immediately turned around and headed back to Kansas to pick up my hard earned buck.

The meat unfortunately was not the quality of venison that I hope for and almost always enjoy, but it was still salvageable. Just barely! I will not serve it to company or ask Juli to cook or eat it...but I will. In fact, as of this writing I’ve had steaks for two meals in the last two days and haven’t suffered any bad effects so far. I’ll have this buck mounted, and I take great pride in the fact that the meat from no deer mounted on my wall has ever gone to waste. Every single one of those deer provided food for myself and my family. It’s important to me!
The buck was probably a 3 or 4 year old. He had the heavy body, thick neck and heavy beams of a mature buck. He was a 4 x 5 point buck, not wide or tall, but heavy. The kind of deer I am pleased with. Because of the circumstances and events that took place, there are no field pictures of this deer. But before long you can come to the gallery to see him where he will have a place of honor with some of the deer of my past!

On a side note: I shot this deer with a crossbow! This is a change that has been on the horizon for a few years now. I have had a bit of shoulder pain for a few years now and have concluded that the time for change is near. I will still hunt with traditional archery gear when I can, but if my shoulder starts hurting I’ll back off before I do some real damage. At my age, I figure if I play my cards right, I’ll have about 15 or so more years of good deer hunting to look forward to. After that the deer in my neighborhood can safely relax!

Just kidding...deer NEVER relax!

Stay tuned...

Photo #1:  Mike’s Minnesota buck with the Vaske’s from Wilmont,  it sure is good to have a bunch of young guys help drag...

Photo #1: Mike’s Minnesota buck with the Vaske’s from Wilmont, it sure is good to have a bunch of young guys help drag a buck out of the woods!

Photo #2: A great photo by Tom Martineau/Raw Spirit, Mike’s Minnesota buck a couple days later, after the first snow of the year.

This morning I took a very nice buck with a bow. I was hunting on the land of a friend and neighbor, and for the first t...

This morning I took a very nice buck with a bow. I was hunting on the land of a friend and neighbor, and for the first time this year I saw good buck movement. The one I got was the fourth buck of the morning. At about 9:30 he came cruising down the closest of three trails that I was watching, moving at a pretty fast walk, looking for does. He approached from right to left into the wind and almost but not quite into my scent path. I stopped him with a grunt at 10 yards and had a standing broadside shot. He never had a clue. The shot was perfect, but he still managed to go a surprisingly long way, well over 100 yards. Those big mature bucks are sure tough! He was a rough looking front heavy deer that I’m guessing was 4 1/2 years old, possibly older. I’ll send a tooth in for accurate aging soon. He is fairly wide and heavy and would be a 10 or 11 point buck if you count his brow points, which had wide bladed bases but were both broken and rubbed short. I had help dragging him out by four friends who were staying in our cabin and also deer hunting around here. In the hills around here help like that sure makes a tough job a lot easier!

Otherwise it has been a very slow year, for me anyway. I’ve seen lots of young bucks, a few two year olds and a couple threes. Nothing that I would want to take. The second buck that I saw this morning however was a great buck. An hour before I got my buck a much bigger one came close, stopped behind a screen of brush well within my shooting range and made a scrape. By all rights he should have walked down the same trail as my buck, but he didn’t. He took a seemingly random walk away in the wrong direction and out of my life. He was a great looking prime buck and I felt blessed and honored to even have seen him.

Does have been very scarce this year, I think that they are in the cornfields, of which almost none has been harvested yet.

This weekend Hannah will be here to hunt and the week after I’ll be in Kansas. Stay tuned...

The GatekeeperLast summer Juli and I spent a week together on Mackinac Island. It is located between Lake Michigan and L...

The Gatekeeper

Last summer Juli and I spent a week together on Mackinac Island. It is located between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and is one of Juli’s favorite places. She loves the timeless, peaceful feeling of the place, as well as the horse and bicycle culture (no cars). I was impressed by the history of the area, dating back to the early voyageurs, fur trade, and the War of 1812. There are cemeteries there, back in the woods, that reflect this past. This old gate is in one of those cemeteries and was the first inspiration for this painting. Most of the rest, but not all, is artistic license. Who is Strix Nebulosa anyway? And is this cemetery, like other places on the island, really haunted? I don’t know. Visit Mackinac, go to the cemetery, find the gate, and see for yourself—just don’t be there after dark. Have fun and stay safe!

Please join us for our 2018 Christmas Open House! See flyer for details.

Please join us for our 2018 Christmas Open House! See flyer for details.

Here are the promised photos from my Kansas hunt.

Here are the promised photos from my Kansas hunt.


Today is the last day of my 2018 Kansas deer hunt. It’s been a good year here, I’ve seen lots of deer and have had a few adrenaline surge highs but have not been able to put it all together on a big one. I try to keep track of what I see, and here are the results. I have hunted 10 days here in Kansas and have recorded seeing a total of 87 deer. I saw 38 bucks and 49 does. Of the 38 bucks I have seen, I estimate that 27 were either yearlings or of unidentifiable age. 8 were two or three year olds and 3 were four years old or older by my estimation. Of all the deer I saw about a third were in bow range for me. I usually carried a good camera and photographed many of them, but I always reached for my bow first on any deer that might be of the size or age that I was looking for. Two days ago I drew back on one, a very nice mature buck standing broadside at 25 yards, but there was a small tree in the way that made the shot too risky. When he left he walked straight away, no shot there either.

But my best chance came early on. A monster buck came past me from a totally unexpected place. He was a massive heavy body buck with a great rack on what looked like too small of a head and a neck that looked as big as his chest. Clearly a mature buck. I missed a standing 15 yard broadside shot at him when my lower bow limb hit a close branch in the tree that I was in. It was the best chance I’ve ever had at a big buck. The arrow landed at his feet and he didn’t seem to even care. That one will haunt me for a long time. I didn’t get him but the rush was well worth it. Am I disappointed? Of course, but less than you might expect. My real disappointment continues to be with the way the deer herd is managed in my home state of Minnesota.

A hunt like I’ve had this week here in Kansas is virtually unheard of back home unless you are lucky enough to manage hundreds of acres or more of land and are willing to rigidly control access in order to protect the younger bucks. I call it the ‘Wisconsin Plan”. The place I’m hunting here in Kansas is 240 acres. I share it with two other bowhunters. The lands around it are heavily hunted as well. And the deer hunting is great.

But the opening day of their gun season doesn’t start for a few weeks yet, unlike Minnesota’s peak-of-the-rut gun hunt that started November 3rd this year. Our two shotgun seasons and our muzzleloader seasons will continue until mid-December. This monumentally stupid Minnesota plan annually overshoots the bucks and undershoots the does. That is not an accident...it was designed to do exactly that! Farmers in my area suffer from an overpopulation of deer, mostly does, and hunters see too few mature bucks. Both of these things are a direct result of the way the Minnesota deer managers manage the deer in Minnesota and especially in the SE part of my state. Because of this, many hunters are losing access to hunting lands as those who own or control those lands try to protect “their bucks .” This method of private management, the Wisconsin Plan, has become very popular and common in our state. This is why so many hunters like myself take our Minnesota dollars and spend them in Kansas, Iowa or elsewhere. But enough of that for now. If you want to see a few of the deer I saw and photographed in Kansas check back in a couple days and I’ll post a few of them. And sorry about my rant about Minnesota’s deer management structure. Every time I hunt Kansas or Iowa I come back home mad as hell that deer hunting in Minnesota can’t reach its full potential, or even be better than it is. It’s called tradition.

Enjoy the photos.

Mike Sieve
November 18, 2018


22388 Daley Creek Dr
Rushford, MN


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We had a great time at the Open House today. Just great to see so many wonderful pictures/prints and, of course, get to talk with the artist and his wife, Juli and family. We went to just look but that didn't work out so well. At least Tammy and I have our Christmas presents now and we know just where they're going. The Open House continues tomorrow -- don't miss it. Thank you for hosting and having the open house!
Had a great time visiting the gallery during your open house! Thank you for taking the time to visit, even as busy as you were. I really enjoyed seeing your studio space, and could have stared at the originals all day! Look forward to returning in the future.
Didn’t know Mike was on Facebook. Thanks Juliann Sturm for liking the page, I did too! It’ll be fun to keep up with him.
Congratulations on the pheasant stamp win!
Your work is great!