Thursday, February 15, 2018

From the Drawing Board

"Bald Eagle - Portrait" 
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

Its shall I say this?  Winter!  Ya...snow...cold...ha!  Well you know how it is; winter is a time I used to go sledding, have snowball fights, cross country ski or snowshoe - but that was eons ago! (At least the sledding and snow ball fight part!)

But we've been making the best of it, staying warm and enjoying the critters we usually see more of this time of the year.  The Deer herd in the valley, and the yard...the birds around the feeders here, and the Bald Eagles flying through nearly each day...occasionally even fence post or tree branch sitting here too.  Just a couple weeks back Georgie and I were heading out to visit the area nature center (the Prairie Heritage Center) and as we drove south of here we passed a harmless Bald Eagle melee - 15 or more birds just having a wee old time playing around (and eating)!

I had toyed with the idea of doing a Bird Portrait of a Bald Eagle for some time.  I have a few photos in my files but the pictures I've taken of Bald Eagles are from the ground and I wanted to portray a more "formal" look, up close and more personal.  There is a Bald Eagle on display at the nature center and I look at this beautiful bird every visit.  I just recently finished the drawing seen above here.

With past "Bird Portrait" drawings I've usually concentrated on doing all those little passerines - perching/songbirds in the yard, but decided to change it up a bit; as in my past Bird Portraits, this too is drawn approximately life size. 

"Wenasaga Bald Eagle"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison

Many years ago I did a small oil painting of a Bald Eagle along a Canadian river we used to spend a lot of time vacationing at, but have never done a closeup like this before.  A very majestic and cool bird, whether up close and personal or at a distance!

Hope you're staying well this winter!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thinking and Working Warm

"Wooded Lane, No.3"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison 

My first post of 2018...where does time go?  A perpetual question I know I'll have on my mind until my last breath...

It's been drier than usual and fairly cold the last couple weeks, but all-in-all not really so bad for winter here...oops should not say this out loud!  I have been trying to start work once again in the studio, I guess you could say I've been goofing off - too many things to distract me, but I have been earnestly trying to decide where to begin and what to start.

I have a yet "unofficial" solo exhibit coming up in make this work I will need to be productive this year and into the next!  I say unofficial because the invitation was given me and a date has yet to be set or even officially agreed upon. But right now I am proceeding with beginning the process that this requires.  I last had two solo exhibits in 2012 so haven't been pressed with this responsibility for a while.

I began my work toward this process with the above oil painting, still drying on the easel as I write.  "Wooded Lane, No.3" is a small oil landscape painting of a location about 10 miles south of us, as the crow flies.  It is the same location I painted at for a plein air show last August.  This was done from some photo studies I took at that time.  

My wife asked me a very pertinent question when I talked of posting the image on social media, one I had already contemplated.  That was "Should you be showing your work before your solo exhibit?"  Good question and as I mentioned, given a good deal of thought.

I guess I replied something like this (don't remember my exact response) - "If I show no work on social media for the next 18 months it would be like dropping out of art...if I am an artist, I think I need people to know I am still working; although I am taking an 18 month hiatus I shouldn't give former collectors and clients (and  friends) the idea I have "quit" working all together.  I really feel that once all the work I endeavor to produce over the next 18 months hangs together in a gallery/museum setting, the work should take on a new life.  Besides - seeing work "in person and in the flesh" is much more interesting than the paintings, drawings and photographs "teased out" online over the next year and a half!"

Also I need to let people know that these works are for sale, as always...I don't collect my work, I do it because this is my profession.  But obviously things have to be worked out in sales of this painting or any other works produced for an exhibit 18 months from now - so please do not hesitate to express your interest in any artwork I am creating at this time and into the future!

I hope you enjoy seeing what I'm up to...that means the world to me!  Please stop back and visit this blog when you have a moment, and better yet - don't ever hesitate to visit the studio and check in on me!  I love to visit with folks who soon become my friends, its a blessing.

I hope this painting helps warms you now in mid January!!!  Take Care.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Wishes During the Winter Solstice!

Here we are in the shortest day of the year!  Its all downhill from here!  With this late fall and early winter season being so unusually pleasant, we're all pinching ourselves and less distracted from the Holiday Season approaching.

In the spirit of this season we would personally like to wish each and every one of you and your families a very Merry Christmas and the Best of New Years!  God Bless -  hope to see you next year!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Two Months!?!!

"Mountain Bluebird - Portrait"
color pencil drawing
© Bruce A. Morrison

2 months!?!!  Two months since my last post!?  That's just crazy...that thing called "time" is definitely on its own a nasty bug, it infects all of us and erases days, weeks and months!  Where was I?  Well...I was still here, honestly!   

I guess I've just been enjoying myself.  Since the Artisans Road Trip event in October I've been taking some time off and just being a bit more laid back than is probably normal for me.  This was the last year I'll be participating in the Artisans Road Trip and when I resigned from the board I think I've begun to just spend time on other things instead.  

But life didn't stop or anything like that - I've been filling orders here in the studio both from the Artisans Road Trip event and from requests and customer commissions.  One example being the little "Mountain Bluebird - Portrait" color pencil drawing illustrated above.  And I am enjoying a "hobby" for a change...not that I don't have other birding and prairie restoration and antiquing...I guess they could be hobbies. But a more latent interest raised it's head about 2-3 years ago and I'm enjoying it ever so much more now with the help of a mentor...more on that some other time.

The fall bird traffic seemed early but then maybe that was the weather?  We had a cold damp autumn early on in October.  Not bad really, just a bit nippier than usual.  Our very first day of Indian Summer (any day reaching into the 60's after a hard freeze) wasn't until November 24th!  That is VERY unusual here...October is normally full of them!  We had just 3 days this fall now that qualified, but all-in-all it hasn't been too bad - we're usually blanketed with snow and in the deep freeze for the winter by now and we're not.

Sharp-shinned Hawk
© Bruce A. Morrison

But we've had great fall visitors here, like this sub-adult (transitioning) Sharp-shinned Hawk.  This guy was doing the "Veloci-raptor" moves with the birds around the feeder - running around on the ground chasing down it's quarry - fun to watch!  
We've also had the usual sparrow migrants go through, this year hanging onto a few Tree Sparrows and some Juncos hanging around as well.  Cedar Waxwings already giving our viburnums a taste test, a great flock of Blue Jays have moved in for the winter too - 15-20 birds at a time, quite a show!  And loads of the usual variety of woodpeckers and looks like the winter residents have now set up shop.

I hope your Fall season has been going well and that the Holiday season will be what it should - full of Loved Ones and Good Cheer!

Till next time...and who knows when that'll be!!!???  All my best!

Friday, October 13, 2017

This Is It!

The 14th Annual Artisans Road Trip is about to begin!  Saturday October 14th from 9am through 5pm and also Sunday from Noon through 5pm!  And we're ready here at Morrison's Studio on Prairie Hill Farm!  Ready with a warm place out of the weather if needed, great treats, hot cider, and always a great view and artwork!

Come and see a working studio and art gallery perched on the hillside above the Waterman Creek Valley.  In 2004 the Artisans Road Trip began with regional artists opening their studios and galleries to the public.  We originally had to show our work out in the corn crib of all places and it was a bit chilly out there to put it mildly!

Well in 2008 we completed a remodel of our out building that formerly served as a sheep barn until the mid 1990's and as a brooding house (chicken coup) prior to the mid 1950's and now have a nice cozy indoor studio and gallery to host our work and visitors - with a great view from our deck!  Come in and sit in comfort, have a nice warm beverage and look through our paintings, drawings and photographs of the region in which we live!

Rain or shine don't miss out on traveling through the NW Iowa countryside for a great view and experience - thank you for supporting the local arts and artists and bring something home to cherish for a life time, whether it simply be the experience or a beautiful piece of artwork to cherish!

For more information on this great weekend - visit the 2017 Artisans Road Trip web site at!  Check out the artists on the Galleries page or go to the Map page and plan a weekend area artisans road trip!

Enjoy the weekend - hope to see you!!!

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Autumnal Equinox Is Sneaking Up On Us!

It's the first day of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere!  It's also around 90 degrees out right now - sounds like it's still summer to me!  We do still have a few Monarchs lingering here in our pastures.  There's been a couple days of 30mph winds from the south and east so butterfly migration is a bit difficult at the moment.

Our Barn Swallows left last weekend, along with our last Baltimore Oriole and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  They could easily have stuck around for this temperature!

"Tree Swallow - Portrait"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

Although our Tree Swallows left a couple weeks back, I had been meaning to find the time to sit down and do one of these guys as part of my "Bird Portrait" series.  These are one of my spring and summer favorites around the pasture - probably one of the friendliest birds here.  The first to make a bee-line for the Bluebird houses in the pasture, but that's OK, we'll share with them and still get a Bluebird family or two nesting here as well.  I struggled to get a hint of the iridescence in the color of these bird's feathers, They really are quite beautiful up close!

There are leaves and crops showing that hint of Autumn out there; the nights have been great for sleeping - also for the Katydids and Crickets, the Coyotes and neighborhood Great Horned Owls - all have been serenading us each night and we LOVE it!

 "Nearly September"
from the original plein air oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison

Been spending much time here preparing for the 14th Artisans Road Trip - this year on Saturday and Sunday October 14th and 15th.  Along with my usual new paintings, drawings and photographs, this year I am doing something a bit new - I will be offering reproductions of paintings printed on canvas, hand varnished by the artist and framed in a choice plein air frame - like the original painting at framed print prices! These 'jewels" have to be seen - a few choice paintings available - just vibrant! Above and below are some examples!

"Behind the Grove"
from the original plein air oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison

"Lone Bale at First Light"
from the original plein air oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison

This will be our last year participating in the Artisans Road Trip. I have been a part of this great organization of artists since the beginning in 2004 and have appreciated the quality of artwork and professionalism this great group has represented itself with! I have been the organization's web master and social media person for 14 years and it is now time for me to make a change - at least for now; if sometime down the road I feel a need to rejoin A.R.T. as a regular member I certainly will.

So! This will be your last chance to visit Prairie Hill Farm and our studio "for the Artisans Road Trip"! BUT NOT for any other visit - we will still be here and I will still be working as an artist!

I am taking this time to work more toward building a new body of work. There comes a time in many an artist's life that we need to step back and start anew. I am taking somewhat of a hiatus from "producing sales" to producing work that compels and draws me to it...maybe I'm getting a bit old and set in my ways but life is too short for pursuing any goal other than a feeling of accomplishing something important to one's "self" and less for commissions and distractions. I am not stepping off the face of the earth or anything crazy like that; I will still be out here on the prairie - working in the studio when the urge moves me, walking in the prairie when I need time with God's creation or maybe actually going somewhere for a fresh experience or just time away! Like I said - life is too short!

Enjoy your time on this earth - get out and have a great Autumn!



Monday, September 11, 2017

More Movement for the Monarch Migration Here

The big push has now gone through - for the fall Monarch Butterfly migration...they're still trickling through but not in the high numbers of a week back.  We had over a hundred at our highest one evening and morning.  This was nothing like 15 years ago when that number was over a thousand and more, but it is a slight improvement over just a couple years ago when a dozen was not attainable.
 Monarchs in the prairie pasture goldenrod here
Photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 Monarchs in the prairie pasture New England Aster here
Photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Monarchs resting on the Gray-headed Coneflower seed heads
in the prairie pasture here
Photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Monarchs roosting in the grove here
Photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Monarchs roosting in the grove here
Photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Now its up to the rest of their journey and the winter ahead in Mexico...I wish them the best of luck!