Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Indian Summer - Gotta Love It!

Prairie Hill Farm and the Studio - photograph
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

I did a post some time back about Indian Summer; I wish Indian Summer were a true season - if it were, it would be my all-time favorite!  As it is, I love Indian Summer - regardless!

I always loved the fall season, but it is frustratingly short; specifically the color transitions that take place in autumn.  Unless you live in New England, your fall colors are somewhat more of a crap shoot.  I've been told by more than one person that if I ever experienced autumn in Vermont, I would be spoiled for life.  

Autumn Stream - photograph
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

I'm sure there's a element of truth there in the assumption that fall colors are just spectacular beyond explanation in parts of the country - some regions more so than others, and some years better than others as well...but I still take great pleasure in the small pockets of beauty around us. 

Autumn Streamside - photograph
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

I was finally able to get away with the camera yesterday morning.  I get permission from different folks in the area, to walk their properties - and appreciate these offers and opportunities more than I can ever completely express!  The color here on the acreage started suddenly last week - the pasture always comes through for us but the acreage hasn't looked this good in years, really!

Autumn Woodland Sunrise - photograph
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

The place I walked yesterday morning still had some nice pockets but I could tell I was late - never-the-less it was not disappointing!  I do hope to get back there through the seasons now that I have a better idea as to where to walk.

Just a short 2014 Artisans Road Trip follow-up.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by the studio and made our weekend here a success - I could not do it without your support!  Thank you so much!

Have a great autumn and may Indian Summer days bring a glow to your hearts.

Friday, October 10, 2014

2014 A.R.T.!!!

It's here!  Well - this weekend anyway!
Each year for the past 11 years the Artisans Road Trip has been bringing the "studio road trip" genre to NW Iowa!  This year's event is Saturday October 11th (9AM-5PM) and Sunday October 12th (Noon-5PM) and the studio here on the valley hillside is warmed up and waiting to give you something to enjoy - whether its the artwork (many new things!), the view, or the "Best in the A.R.T." home baked wonderfulness - you don't want to miss out!!!  

If you have never been to the studio here - check out the A.R.T. link for my information at - http://www.artisansroadtrip.com/Bruce%20Morrison.htm

Enjoy a road trip this autumn weekend - take in the sights and have a great time - we hope to see you then!

Sunday, September 28, 2014


"Valley Autumn"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(Click on image for a larger view) 
I suddenly came to the realization that I haven't done a Studio blog in 8 or 9 weeks!  Yikes!
Well I have been blogging, just not for myself I guess.  And its Autumn!  Did it sneak up on you as well?  I did see it coming, it just doesn't seem like it should be here already.
I've been blogging for the 2014 Artisans Road Trip and getting ready for it as well!  It's coming up soon - just a couple more weeks and it'll be here!  This year the A.R.T. event is the 2nd weekend of October - that's Saturday October 11th (9AM-5PM) and Sunday October 12 (Noon-5PM)!  
The Artisans Road Trip has been running for 11 years now...the art studio tour is a great get-away or destination day trip, with even more to look forward to than just a fun fall drive through the countryside!
If you have time to get away during the weekend of the 11th and 12th, I hope you can make it out for great atmosphere, delicious treats, conversation and great scenery!
First time for the Artisans Road Trip?  Check out the web site at - 
Hope to see you then!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fleeting Bales

"August Bale Study No.1"
oil pastel and pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)
I always look forward to the hay bales in the valley here!  This year was very different - baling was late this summer here...usually done by the first week in July, it wasn't until the first week of August here this year.  A very positive note to this "wait" - there were far fewer ground nesting birds that suffered moralities due to early haying.
Each summer we have good numbers of Bobolinks, Sedge Wrens, Dickcissels, Meadowlarks, and other birds nesting in the pastures here.  All of these birds are grassland "obligates", meaning they require grassland habitat for their nesting and feeding - their survival. I do realize the "affect" on forage quality, the longer farmers wait to cut hay, but grassland bird populations have been dropping steadily in the past 2-3 decades and any break they can get is critical for their long term survival.
But as I've said many times in the past - I just love seeing bales out in the landscape.  There is something quite pleasing to the eye about hay bales randomly dropped here and there in a pasture setting...call it nostalgic or whatever, there is just something visually interesting about this transient introduction of geometric shapes into the environment.
I suspected that with this field work running behind schedule here, I needed to get out there as soon as they were done baling and get some images made for future reference!  Within 24 hours they were picked up and gone.  
I just did this small study in oil pastel and oil based pencils.  I think I'll be doing more as well, while the iron's hot...trying to prolong that nostalgia! 
August is here - enjoy it!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ode to July

"Morning Beatitude"
photograph © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view
July...when I was much, much younger "July" meant the middle of summer vacation.  It meant there was a whole month "after this one" before school began again!  It was a month of wandering, like June and August, but there was something else about July; it was ephemeral...you lived it, breathed the essence of it, held it close and then it was gone.
June seemed like a dream when it arrived; summer was here!  We languished in the
thought of it, but as it gained momentum and you grasped the opportunity - it was finished.  We had "wised up" by July; it needed to be savored.
When August came, the sense of well being was shaken...summer's end was near.
Now that I am older, I pay more attention to the calendar. Summer is no longer finished in August - there's September to look forward to...its not until the equinox that the end is true.  But this old duffer still remembers saying goodbye to July all those years ago; its not over yet but I'll still wish it back.
I know its cheating, but stepping back and savoring a "time and place" in my paintings or, as in this case, my photographs - can be a nice respite.  I hope you enjoy "July" in my work.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


"Anvil Across the Valley" - oil pastel on mounted canvas
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view

Its nearly mid July and I'm baffled where the time has gone; I do find myself in this position often, but its never any less frustrating!  Summer is a busy time - make daylight last this long and you're out there taking advantage of every minute, right?  Well, I guess you have to!

Our outdoor work now consists of bug hats and Deet.  All the rain we accumulated in June (14.95 inches) has bred the worst crop of mosquitoes I have seen in some time. The black flies (biting or Buffalo Gnats to some) are just as bad - they're the ones we really wear bug netting around for...I think Deet is like whipped cream to these little monsters! 

But that June rain has made things pop!  And the prairie pasture is very nice this July...this is another good year for Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepia tuberosa) and Compass Plants (Silphium laciniatum) are prominant in the "green" everywhere!  I haven't been able to do much photography work yet this summer though...between the windy days and "life", the opportunities have been limited.

I did set aside an evening "job" for myself though.  I'd been admiring the many "tops" of thunderheads off in the distance the past few weeks and got the itch to do something that's been in the back burner for some 3 years.  I photographed an amazing anviled thunderhead out acroiss the valley here back in 2011.  Back then I had more than one person ask if it were something I'd ever paint.  I thought not at the time but I'm backsliding now and decided to first do a small study in oil pastel and see if it showed promise.

The image above was just finished last night and I think I'm fairly pleased with the possibilities it shows.  It only shows about 60% as wide of a field of view as the original photo panorama does, and the landscape, color and sky are composed more to suit me, but I think it'll work for a larger painting down the road!  Let's see what I can cook up next  - summer's not going to wait around!

Take care and have a great one!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

From the Tallgrass at the Neal Smith NWR

A familiar theme for a place with a "like-mind" - that's about as accurate of a description as I can give.  

I can't live enough years to outgrow or become bored with the tallgrass prairie, it is a subject I will probe and celebrate till I draw my last breath.  The Neal Smith NWR is dedicated to the tallgrass prairie as well.

Just 22 miles east of Des Moines, near Prairie City, Iowa, you'll find a truly unique refuge.  The Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1990, within the National Wildlife Refuge System, to "actively protect, restore, reconstruct and manage the diverse native ecosystems of tallgrass prairie, oak savanna, and sedge meadow. These were the native habitats existing on the Refuge’s 5600 acres prior to Euro-American settlement."

The refuge approached me in 2012 to do an exhibit of artwork and photography depicting the tallgrass, and I accepted.  This solo exhibit, at their J.N. "Ding" Darling Art Gallery, will feature work on the prairie theme and genre.

The exhibit will open on July 1st in the afternoon, and will run through August 20th.  More information about the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, its hours and other contact information can be found online at - http://www.fws.gov/refuge/neal_smith

Its a great place to visit and I'm looking forward to it!  If you're passing by the area this summer, take a little time and stop for a visit, you will be glad you did!