Saturday, August 1, 2015

Prairie Plant of the Week - Evening Primrose

"Evening Primrose - Oenothera biennis 
Photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

This week's prairie plant is another forb (herbacious flowering plant) that most of us see in proliferation each season; though locally it does seem to have its boom and bust years.  The Evening Primrose, or Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a biennial (note the "biennis" in the latin name), so it takes 2 years to flower.

This plant tends to be grazed on by everything hungry though, and can tend to have some rather ratty looking stands in some years.  We have a large stand of volunteers along side the corn crib that have been skeletonized by this year's crop of grasshoppers!  There are also insects that tend to be found or associated with different plants.  The vertical image below has a couple insects on the top of the plant that can be seen with the Evening Primrose every season.  I'll plead ignorant of the insect's identity and it's association with this plant - something to look into for future reference! 

"Evening Primrose - Oenothera biennis 
Photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

We have this plant on our prairie pasture frequently; most commonly along the gravel hillside and the gravel road going past our place.  It volunteers quite easily and needs no seeding or help from us.  It is really quite striking in large stands...I once found a stand along a railroad bed that was at least a hundred feet long and 12 feet wide - it was amazing!

Some Native American tribes collected it's seed for food and most first nation people used the "first season" roots - gathereed and dried for food.  They were also adopted for food by the Europeans when they arrived.

They are great food plants for the birds and our pollinators  - very important for all of us!

Thanks for stopping by - next time you're out along a gravel road or prairie remnant - look for this beautiful native prairie plant!
 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Print of the week - "Upon the Light-keeper's House"

 
"Upon the Light-keeper's House"
artist hand-pulled serigraph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

This week's print is a little different - it is a serigraph.  "Serigraph" is the fine arts term for "screen print" or "silkscreen print".  Silkscreening was a common commercial mode of printing signs and posters back in the early half of the 20th century.  When artists began to adopt this printing method, they didn't want their work confused with commercial sign making so coined the term "Serigraph" to differentiate the two.

Serigraphy was one of my minors in art school; it was a very interesting print making process and I enjoyed it a lot.  It is also, however, a very lengthy and sometimes difficult process too!  If you don't get all the screens registered (aligned) properly - the image becomes blurred looking...kind of like back in the day when the color comics in the Sunday paper would sometimes be out of register, making them harder to look at.

"Upon the Light-keeper's House" is a small 10 color serigraph that I printed myself by hand - one color at a time.  There are actually just 9 screens (colors), but I count the white of the paper as another color.  Can you pick out the other 9 colors? 

This print is of the Light-keeper's house in the harbor at Grand Marais, Minnesota...it now serves as the Cook County Museum.  The Herring and Ring-billed Gulls always seem to like using it as a perch so they had to be included!

This is a limited edition print with only 120 prints made.  The edition is now in very short inventory, having nearly sold out.  The image size itself is only 6.5X10" with a border for the signature and edition number. 

You can contact me for any prints or visit my website at www.morrisons-studio.com.

Have a great last couple days of July and thank you for stopping by! 
 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Prairie Plant of the Week - "Ratibida pinnata - Yellow Coneflower"!

"Ratibida pinnata - Yellow Coneflower"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

I made this prairie forb the "print of the week" because it was peaking nicely here at the studio prairie pastures - so why not "plant of the week" too!?

As I mentioned before, this is a very common native prairie flower or forb (flowering herbacious plant).  Most will recognize it a first glance but maybe by different names.  I like to state the scientific name for a plant if I can - that way there is no argument what plant is being discussed!  This plant (Ratibida pinnata) is commonly referred to as a "Gray-headed Coneflower" or a "Yellow Coneflower", and even some times a "Prairie Coneflower"

"Gray-headed Coneflower" refers to the light green or gray flowering head when it first appears - before filling out with small florets and turning brown.

This prairie flower will adapt readily in a flower garden but tends to be pretty tall at times (4-5 feet here in the pasture) so it needs support from other plants or will lie down from being top heavy.

There is not any odor or smell that I can detect from the flowers, but the bees and butterflies are non-the-less attracted to them...the bees can often be seen pollinating by going round and round the rim of florets.  The smell of this plant's seed heads when they are dry and ready to pick - is "amazing"!  Its a wonderful smell that has come to mean "prairie" in the autumn to me.

Thanks for stopping by - be sure and check out the prairie this summer - you do not want to miss it!
 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Print of the Week - "Yellow Coneflower - Ratibida pinnata"

"Yellow Coneflower - Ratibida pinnata"
print from the original color pencil drawing
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

I have a lot of smaller "decorator" type prints and this is a good example of one.  This is a native prairie flower, a very common one that most will recognize...I like to call it "Yellow Coneflower" but most will give the common name "Gray-headed Coneflower" to Ratibida pinnata.  I believe this is because the flowering head of this plant is initially light green to gray when it first appears and doesn't turn brown until the head fills with small florets.
 
I chose this for the print of the week because it is now blooming profusely here in our prairie pastures!  A beautiful sight in mass!
 
The original drawing that this print is published from was in color pencil...the background thrown out of focus by using different methods of dissolving the pencil's wax based pigment and creating a "wash" effect.
 
This print is available as an open edition/signed print here at the studio/gallery or from other dealers given on my web site at www.morrisons-studio.com.
 
Thank you for visiting - I hope your summer is full of beauty as well!
 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Prairie Hill Farm's Prairie Plant of the Week!


Something I've begun posting on Face Book is "Prairie Plant of the Week" - plants from our prairie pasture, below the studio here.  I'm playing catch-up so will post two different plants this time.  This week we have Monarda fistulosa - know by some folks as Bee Balm or Horse Mint. Most prairie folk know it as Wild Bergamot. Its a member of the mint family and is a common native over most of the North American prairie region. This is one plant that pollinators love - "Bee Balm" aptly describes how much bees like it...Bumble Bees in particular! 



One thing I notice about Wild Bergamot is the heat of the summer matures the flowers very quickly and they just do not last long enough for me - if I don't get out there when they "peak", its too late for good pictures!  We've had a couple days (today is one) with temps in the mid nineties and a heat index into the 105 and higher range...that's moving these flowers right along!  I made a point of getting out the the past couple days and this morning to catch them before they wane.



The plant from last week was Echinacea.  Most people recognize purple coneflowers, well this one is native to our county and some surrounding counties in NW Iowa - this one is Echinacea angustifolia - Narrow-leaved Purple Coneflower - not to be mistaken as Pale Purple Coneflower or Echinacea pallida (which we also have here). Your common garden variety - Echinacea purpurea is not native here - don't plant it in native settings, keep it in your yard.


Most sources do attribute the Echinacea pallida to being native in NW Iowa, so there's sometimes a question as to what you are seeing.  The easiest visible difference is the longer/narrow "rays" (some folks think of them as petals) on the E. pallida...these rays also droop much more.  Also the E. pallida is much taller - I've seen it regularly at 3-4 feet or slightly taller, whereas the E. angustifolia is much shorter (2-2.5 feet) with short rays.

Curiously, I have never seen
E. pallida on a native prairie here in NW Iowa - just on reconstructed prairie or roadside plantings.  The native pasture here had E. angustifolia originally as did the native prairies in the county's SE corner.

I actually think that our Narrow-leaved Purple Coneflower would make a great garden plant too!


Thanks for stopping by the studio blog - stay cool out there!
 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Print of the Week - "Dickcissel's Song"

"Dickcissel's Song"
print from the original color pencil drawing
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 
 
This small print is definitely relevant for this time of the year - the Dickcissels are singing non-stop around the pasture here and area prairies right now, actually have been since June.  The fun thing I like to refer to Dickcissels is the nick-name that birders like to call it - the "barking dog"!  They do go on and on all day long, even in the heat of the day!
 
But I like Dickcissels and hearing them lowers my blood pressure and makes me smile!  I'll post a video of one here along our north pasture singing along the east fenceline -


 
The print "Dickcissel's Song" was done from the original color pencil drawing; this original drawing is now in the permanent collection of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin. 
 
"Dickcissel's Song" is a smaller print with ample borders - a signed open edition print and is available from the studio here or other galleries listed on my web site - www.morrisons-studio.com.

Next time you're out in the country, give a listen for the Dickcissels - singing out their name!
 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Print of the Week


"Summer Memories" 
- signed open edition print from the original oil painting 
- © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

I have print sales from different sources during the month and probably rarely mention the "sales" side of my art business.  Yes, I tell people I'm an artist, but most of the time people don't equate "Art" to business.  If you are doing art to support the art and pay your bills, and that is what you do 24/7 - then art is a business, believe me!

The fun thing about the open edition prints I produce is they sell from many different sources...I have artwork and prints in several galleries throughout the state and area (as well as a few online galleries) - and here at the studio gallery.  Its always fun to get sales from other sources because I'm unaware of the sales until I find out in the mail (many times e-mail)...its like a pleasant surprise to bring an upbeat to the day! 

I just got a check in the mail for a print yesterday "Summer Memories".  This image has a story and has morphed more than most artwork I've done in recent years.  After thinking about the original oil painting, I thought maybe doing a "print of the week" for the blog would be a neat idea(?)...we'll give it a try!

"Summer Memories" has had other names...titles are kind of iffy at times, I usually go with whatever hits me first.  But after a period of time I reflected on what this painting was really about.

This painting is a "memory" - 99% of what I usually paint or draw, is done from the original subject, like a photograph I took or a place drawn or painted on site.  This painting is more from memories of summers on my grandfather's farm down by Madrid, Iowa.  My brother and I would spend 2 or 3 weeks with grandparents each summer, this went on from a very young age - around 6 or 7 through our mid teens.  (My sister would too but we were split up so one set of grandparents would have us boys and the other had our sister).

This became a dominant summer memory for me - spending time at the farm was an adventure...things that happened or that we did there have become bigger than life in my mind.  These summer memories prompted the painting.  But it doesn't end there.

Every artist has their quirks...hmm, maybe I have several - but never mind!  One quirk I do have is I find my best comfort zone is "when I can lay eyes on it"!  Painting a memory wasn't my strong suit and I made the mistake of asking a friend what they thought of the painting.  Mistake.  I repainted it 3 more times.  Not a good experience!

The "Summer Memories" that I was the happiest with was the first one - go with your first gut feeling is now my mantra!  The painting you see at the top of this blog is that painting - the prints I offer of "Summer Memories" is also that same first painting.

I kept the oil painting "Summer Memories" for my private collection, and even though it is now a somewhat different version of the above painting - it still brings back those memories of carefree summer days on the farm...the water pump in the kitchen (no faucets), sleeping above the machine shed in the hired man quarters - on an old spring mattress bed, no TV back then - just an old tube radio, climbing through the hayloft of the barn, walking around with the chickens in the farmyard, taking baths in big galvanized tubs out in the farmyard "in broad daylight"(!), being pulled from the pig pen after dropping a brand new toy in with the hogs (hey there was some "real" excitement too!)

"Summer Memories" - signed open edition print from the original oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison - available from the studio here or other galleries listed on my web site - www.morrisons-studio.com