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!

Monday, August 28, 2017

It's Begun!

Monarch on Joe Pye
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison) 
click on image for a larger view

Late yesterday afternoon I was taking a photograph of this female Monarch butterfly on the Joe Pye weed next to the studio deck...somewhere in the back of my mind was the question - "When will the migration begin?  I believe it must be getting close."

"Valley Shadows and Clouds"
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison) 
click on image for a larger view

A bit later I noticed the clouds moving in with an intermittent breeze.  It felt like a front moving through.  I was distracted and spent some time looking skyward and photographing the landscape out front.  On my way back into the studio I noticed several Monarchs in the yard acting as if they were "gathering"; was a roost in the making?!!!

"The Roost Begins!"
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison) 
click on image for a larger view 
 
We actually had a roost in the yard - it wasn't a record breaker, like back in 2005 but it was a good first roost especially looking back the past 5 years here.
 
"A Small Roost"
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison) 
click on image for a larger view 

I could count 46 individuals; there were a few moving around so there certainly could have been more...tough counting these guys when they aren't totally settled in.
 
It's begun!  Lets hope for a good year for Monarchs in North America - and a safe winter ahead!
 

 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Plein Air Exhibition at The Pearson Lakes Art Center in Okoboji

 "Lone Bale at First Light"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(Given the "PA Brown Best In Show" Award)

I guess I'd better update the results of the plein air painting exhibition I participated in during the last week - I will admit that I was extremely nervous about doing this and a bit overwhelmed with the results at the exhibition opening reception last night!

 "Wooded Lane No.1"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(Given the "Judge's Choice Award")
 
I was very pleased/surprised to be awarded "Best of Show" and also one of the three "Judge's Choice" Awards.  My favorite painting of the two had already been purchased when Georgie and I arrived about 10 minutes after the start of the evening!  A double bonus right!!!  Can't complain about that :)
 
My favorite of the two was the "Wooded Lane No.1", this is a newer Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation area purchase not too far from the studio...maybe about 10 miles as-the-crow-flies.  When I made the decision to enter the exhibit I knew where my first destination would be!  This was a first for me...I usually do farmscapes or at least somewhat more open or expansive landscapes.  This was really an intimate piece - I can still hear the birds while I was there; no people to distract me - very calm and beautiful.

The second painting was a morning work (the first an afternoon time frame) and surprise, surprise - a hay bale!! Ha!  OK, about 20 percent pf my paintings and photos seem to have hay bales in them...I can't help myself! :)  I created this early morning - as soon as the fog lifted and the sun appeared - then the work began.

These are not easy for me.  I once was at a dinner with world class artists and an old "hero" bird artist of mine, Roger Tory Peterson was speaking.  One statement he said surprised me...I was young and naive...he said he always felt like he was sweating blood - stressed when creating a painting.  I couldn't see it but I've come to understand now.

I can't work magic but if I plan and work hard, I can at least be satisfied...well "some of the time"!  Hey, life's a crap shoot at best some times, right?!  Just do the best you can...if you don't care about what you're doing - drop it and move on to something you can get passionate about.

Thank you for stopping by - have a great total eclipse!!!


 
 
 
 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mid August Already?!!

"Valley Anvil" - oil painting
© Bruce A. Morrison
 
OK, this is really getting ridiculous!  It can't already possibly be mid August; someone greased the skids and we're just not slowing down!
 
I had a small canvas on the easel since late July and kept getting called away from it.  Well I finally finished the piece "Valley Anvil" last week and have gone on to other business calling my attention.  The small painting (I nearly always work smaller 6X8", 9X12" and 12X16") because I'm not getting any younger and my attention span is showing it!
 
The past few days I tried desperately to find time to squeeze in a couple plein air paintings for an exhibit tonight at the Pearson Lakes Art Center at Okoboji, IA.  I did the first painting at an area recently purchased by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, that I hadn't been to before - and really liked it!  I'll have to go again...make it a frequent location if I can.  
 
The second painting was my perennial favorite subject (hay bales)...thankfully a few farmers out there are pretty busy this time of the year and you can almost always find bales that have yet to be picked up and taken away!  I singled out a lone bale and made a morning of painting it.

I'll post these plein air pieces when I can after the exhibit's opening tonight.

Thank you for checking in; I'll do my best to be a bit more punctual the remainder of the summer and coming fall...but if things would just slow down!
 
 


Monday, August 7, 2017

July Was Good...On To August!

 Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

I've been pressed to keep up with the progression of plants in the prairie pasture.  I know I've missed things, life gets in the way, but here are a few things from July.

 Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Culver's Root  (Veronicastrum virginicum)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Showy tick-trefoil (Desmodium canadense)  
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Big Bluestem in Morning Dew
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Canada Milk Vetch (Astragalus canadensis)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 False Gromwell (Onosmodium molle)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
 Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
 Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Narrow-leafed Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison 

There is change in the prairie here...nothing new, its just that we're seeing the end seasons approaching...the mid summer prairie plants, though still offering pollen to many interested bees and butterflies, are passing their peak "glory" and most are now forming seed heads.  

Last night I found the very first Dotted Liatris, Prairie Onion and False Boneset blooms of this new season; things will be progressing more quickly than I'd like now - the prairie bloom periods never last long enough for me!

I found a resting Monarch settling in for the night on some field goldenrod and a skipper feeding on some common milkweed; several small Bumble Bees still taking advantage of the Wild Bergamot's remaining blooms and a male Western Meadowhawk Dragonfly cruising the upper story of grasses and forbs.  I have yet to watch a Robber Fly, a Katydid or an Argiope this summer, and the Argiope spiders have been very scarce for two or three years now...a concern.

This is a bittersweet season, for when it comes and the flaming magenta and riotous yellows wow the senses - it seems to finish as quickly as it started.  Ah, but isn't that the way of things!?  One can never take something so special for granted.

Still...looking forward to what August has to offer! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Definitely Dog (and Frog?) Days...

 Adult Cope's Gray Tree Frog and tadpoles
in both of the rain barrels.

Mid summer and the heat is on...Dog Days of Summer comes to mind, but frogs have a mind of their own!  We had been having a lot of evening "music" in the yard here and in the valley below...love hearing the frogs sing at night!  Apparently some Cope's Gray Tree Frogs took a real liking to our side rain barrels and laid eggs there, which then gave us a bumper crop of tree frog tadpoles.  Only real drawback has been not being able to use water out of the barrels...it hasn't rained here in 16 days and the heat is oppressive in the yard and gardens.
 
 Rain Barrel Hotels
Little Cope's Gray Tree Frog still with a bit of it's
tadpole tail - with a dime for size comparison!
 A drink glass with just a few tadpoles.
 A Little goofing around (I hope!).

The tree frogs have been a fun diversion to the acreage...kind of takes me back to being a kid again!  My Mother would let me keep frogs, toads and turtles in the basement..."Free Range"!  We really were pretty bug free for a few years until I grew out of the menageries!

I actually became pretty good at raising frogs and toads - there were gallon honey jars everywhere (no honey in them of course!) filled with water and vegetation and tadpoles; it was a real blast watching the transformation.  Now-a-days it's just fine sharing a garden path with toads and frogs on occasion as well as enjoying the night music!

Aside from Herps I've been busy with a few Artisan Road Trip exhibits and a small solo showing....A.R.T has had 2 exhibits simultaneously in Minnesota and Iowa one at the Nobles County Art Center in Worthington, Minnesota and one at the Pearson Lakes Art Center in Okoboji, Iowa.  on August 1st we'll also have an exhibit at the Red Rock Art Center in Fairmont, Minnesota too.  On top of all that I have a small exhibit that'll run all summer (though August) at the Lost Island Prairie Wetland Nature Center at Lost Island Lake in Palo Alto County.

"Spring Bobolink"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
On top of all that I have a small exhibit that'll run all summer (through August) at the Lost Island Prairie Wetland Nature Center at Lost Island Lake in Palo Alto County, north of Ruthven, Iowa.
"Dickcissel"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

The natural wetland areas around Lost Island are a particular favorite of mine; commingling the wetlands and the tallgrass prairie "is the best of both worlds"!

"Big Bluestem in Bloom"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

The Lost Island Prairie Wetland Nature Center gives the public an appreciation and basic understanding of the wetlands and offers opportunities to enjoy the beauty of these natural treasures.  One of the goals of the Lost Island Prairie Wetland Nature Center is to give to give visitors the information and skills needed to make wise decisions regarding our natural resources, to become better stewards of the land and to make an impression that will last a lifetime.

Its been a busy summer so far! Catch the showing of select artwork on display July through the end of August - and take in the beauty of our wetlands and prairies while you're at it!  A win -win!
 
Stay cool out there! 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fun to Watch and Do!

"Father's Day Rainbow"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on images for a larger view) 

 Its been a fairly dramatic late spring here with the sky and weather; the clouds across the valley from the studio are beginning to take over my efforts with the camera and the easel.  

"Breaking Clouds Over the Rookery"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on images for a larger view) 

 I've been working with the sky out front on the easel as well - this painting was my first plein air work in quite some time...it is easy to just sit out on the studio deck and paint away...oh I still get distracted constantly but it sure is convenient just outside the studio door!

On the studio deck!
 
I've looked at the rookery across the valley each spring and summer and always wanted to see if I could paint it in some way.  The breaking clouds one day this spring was the answer and I was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of it! 
 
"Valley Rain"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on images for a larger view) 

But its really amazing what the weather will create for the "eyes"!  Whether it was the rainbow I barely caught in time, or the "Valley Rain" system that knocked the rainbow out of the sky and drenched me as I was trying to hide under the eaves of the corn crib!  Whatever and whichever - they were all fun to watch and do!