Saturday, November 22, 2014

Art on a Card

"Frigid Morning Bales" - oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

The image above may very well have illustrated our valley last week but today its really changed...a lot of thawing in a heavy fog this a.m. and temps "near" 40 F.  We've already had 2 or 3 days below zero and the winter birds have returned to the acreage here, but its November after all - things can change drastically from day to day now!

The image above was used a couple years back by Arts on Grand in Spencer, Iowa for one of the artist Christmas Cards for its "Art on a Card" exhibition.  AOG invites artists to submit a winter theme image and then their jury committee decides which they'd like to feature "as a printed card for purchasing" from each artist; during the "Art on a Card" exhibit, the participating artists also exhibit other works on a winter or seasonal theme for the Christmas season.

"Art on a Card" will run from December 1st through 31st at Arts on Grand.  There will be an artist reception on Thursday December 4 from 5-7pm - the reception is open to the public.

Take in "Art on a Card" if you get a chance, and get into the Holiday Spirit!

Have a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving out there!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Waterman BCA Public Meeting!

The Waterman Prairie area of SE O'Brien County
is know for its diverse birds throughout the seasons,
like this Merlin (prairie form), a falcon that 
visits there during winter months.

There is always one area near us that Georgie and I go when looking for unusual, or not-so-common birds, and that is the Waterman Prairie complex south of the studio.

This is one place we can count on in the winter for Bald and (yes) Golden Eagles. And when we get stir crazy for our spring and summer bird friends in the dead of winter - Eastern Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings and American Robins are found there... but these are just the tip of the iceberg.  This area is well know for its grassland "obligates" - birds that are grassland dependent for nesting and foraging, as well as birds frequenting a savanna habitat.

It has been long known that this is a special area for birds and a recognition process for important areas like this has been in the works for some time now - concerning the Waterman Prairie complex area, there will be a Bird Conservation Area public meeting this coming Thursday evening at the Prairie Heritage Center.

Major benefits of a BCA would be opening doors to grants and/or cost-share programs that are only available to designated Bird Conservation Areas.  The BCA program is a worldwide program, so could bring additional habitat restoration or preservation dollars.  A positive side benefit by having a designated conservation area is it may increase the likelihood of local landowners getting into Farm Bill wildlife programs.

Whether you're interested in birds or "birding", or also appreciate the natural heritage of this small prairie gem we have way out here in SE O'Brien County - you might be interested in attending this public meeting and learning more how it may potentially benefit the area's resources.

The November 13 (Thursday) meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the O'Brien County Prairie Heritage Center located about 4.5 miles southeast of Sutherland - from Hwy 10 go 1 mile north on Yellow Avenue.

If approved, this area will be the first Bird Conservation Area within O'Brien, Clay, Buena Vista, and Cherokee counties.

Be a part of something that supports your natural heritage!

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 -

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 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 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.