Monday, November 23, 2015

Don't Blink!

"A Frosty Morning on Barry Creek"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

This time a week ago it was a windy/rainy day, but the month had been very nice with plenty of Indian Summer weather...come Saturday it all changed!  But it was the perfect photo-storm opportunity!  Usually when blizzards come along, things are sewn up and buried for the duration, but this year was unseasonably warm and a large snowstorm on top of warm ground is quite different to see.

I've always lamented for winters with open water...streams flowing through a snow covered landscape are quite visually pleasing...much more so than frozen streams and bodies of water!  Well this first snow of the season was really quite perfect!  Well, OK...I'm no fan of driving in this stuff nor in shoveling out the home place after a storm like this (we had 12" in this one), but here was a new fallen snow on warm ground and streams still flowing relatively warm...their mist rising from the water surface; very pretty stuff going on!

We spent the morning digging out like everyone else but around 3 in the afternoon were able to get out and investigate the transformed landscape.  I drove about 3 miles to a place I've walked many times in past years...I soon realized I should have taken the snow shoes with me!  It was a tough trudge for about an 8th of a mile to Waterman Creek and the shoreline timber, where I took many pictures of snow laden cedars and Bur Oaks...every 10-15 minutes a Bald Eagle or two would cruise past me and I disturbed a few White-tail Deer bedded down for the was a fun time outside!

Later we drove over to Barry Creek just down the road from us.  I've done some photos and drawings of this little creek in the past. The day had gotten too late and the light was gone but I made a note to go back at first light.

The next morning was made to order...very slight breeze and anything in low lying areas was developing a nice frosty coating.  The creek had subtle drifting steam rising from the warm water reacting with the cold air...the shoreline was frosted and glowing in the first rays of sunlight!  Very pretty stuff :)

This was a lucky break for landscape photographers and artists, the kind that doesn't come around too often in this latitude...maybe we'll get lucky again soon?  One can only hope; but on thing is sure - don't blink, you might miss out!


Sunday, October 25, 2015

"The Old Stucco Barn"
oil painting  - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 
Well the big event a couple weekends back is over and I'm still in recovery mode!  It was a successful two days and I'm extremely grateful for that.  Thank you to all who came to visit - we appreciated seeing you and hope you enjoyed your day on the Artisans Road Trip!
I had this painting on my easel during A.R.T. - just waiting for some final adjustments and finishing touches...I'd hoped to have it completed by then but the event preparations took up quite a bit of time;  it was close to its final stage though and it was fun to let visitors see it fresh.  
The painting is of our stuccoed barn just 30 feet from the studio.  We believe the barn is the only stuccoed barn in the county, but can't be 100% sure.  It was built in the early 1900's but added on to at least a couple times since then.  It was stuccoed sometime in the mid to late 1940's...all this information is garnered from local residents/farmers that knew something about the previous owners and occupants here.
As you can see from the angle of the image in the painting, the foundation of the building was reinforced with concrete block at one point - we think that was completed when the stucco work was done - from what the last owner said and the other sources of information, the block was there sometime before 1950.  One other interesting feature that can't be seen in the painting are two flying buttress type concrete elements were added at the time the block was laid.  I don't think you see that very often but don't believe its not totally uncommon with old barns.
We like barns and they are a disappearing element in the rural landscape now...too many are being razed and replaced by pole buildings; its very sad.  I do understand the economics of keeping/restoring a barn is daunting.  So far we are spending time each summer patching roofs and keeping the critters out as best we can (except for the Barn Swallows of course!).  Both the barn and our crib have suffered from racoon and woodchuck damage since we've been here.
I've wanted to do a painting of the barn since we moved here years ago and actually started one or two but wasn't quite satisfied with their direction.  This angle is more up close and backlit...I think this perspective gives it a bit more drama, plus the main subject is nearly in total shade - creating a totally different feel to the barn.  We let the Hollyhocks and other flowers just take over where they want along both sides of the barn and I wanted to include them...they virtually block all the entrances on the east side in mid summer!
As I type I'm aware that I have to get back up on the south side of the barn roof and pick up where I left off last spring with replacing cedar shakes...also have the crib cupola needing patching...these are all chores that are hard to put aside if the building is important to the integrity or aesthetics of the place, and I really feel they are.  We'll keep trying to give a few extra years to them until we no longer are able or have departed for other adventures.
Next time you're out in the country, give those neat old buildings another look; they are part of our rural and agricultural heritage!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

This Weekend!!!

This is the big weekend!

Not one, but three venues!
Northwest Iowa's Artisans Road Trip members invite you to attend the 12th annual open studio tour on Saturday, October 10th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 11th from noon until 5 p.m.

Along with the open studio tour, everyone is encouraged to see and purchase original art at the two collective (group) shows sponsored by Arts on Grand and Pearson Lakes Art Center. "There will be one or two pieces from almost all of the artists," explains chairperson, Tim McIlrath.  It's impressive to see the range, quality and diversity of each artist's work and as a collective group."
Events and Dates: Artisans Road Trip's Open Studio Tour: October 10 – 11, 2015               Arts On Grand, Spencer IA: September 29 to October 31, 2015
Pearson Lakes Art Center, Spirit Lake IA: October 8 to December 31, 2015

"Planning your personal A.R.T. tour is easy."
To learn all about the 2015 Artisans Road Trip, preview artists' work and begin planning your personal tour we encourage you to use these tools:
1. BROCHURE: You can find brochures at local art centers, participating artist locations, banks, libraries and gathering places in your community.
3. BLOG:

"We're looking forward to seeing you this year!"

BRUCE MORRISON, painter/photographer: "I love it when people come to my studio, see what I do and ask questions – I learn a lot from this exchange!  And people learn something too, in a fun way. I believe (that) the interchange between the artist and public fuels the act of creativity. The biggest barrier to any artist is the issue of 'exposure'.  A.R.T. gives the artist a venue for interaction and the potential for the purchase of the work. It also opens the world of 'creativity' to the public.

 LINDA FRIES, watercolorist: "Oh, the freedom and flow of watercolor and just as the brush takes control; the painter begins a journey and that's when the fun begins. For years now, A.R.T. has opened our home studio to the fun bunch that just stops in. And I so enjoy meeting all of these outstanding artists. Each year is richer, better – It's a good time."

 HANK HALL, pottery, drawings, painting: "Sharing my work with the public is something I love to do," says Hank Hall. "I create to satisfy my sense of aesthetics, and if someone else gets a kick out it then it just doesn't get better than that!"

And that's just a few words from three of the 35 artists participating in this year's big weekend event! The weekend forecast is for plenty of sunshine and above normal temperatures for October - plan a weekend trip and make the rounds at the 2015 Artisans Road Trip!

Of Course I am just a bit prejudiced as far as my studio and location is concerned! Plus we've gotten a reputation for the best "treats" of the road trip too.  Be sure and stop by and see what work is in progress and what's new! There's really something for everyone here - even the view is great!

Hope to see you on the road for a fun weekend!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A.R.T - Its Just "Super"!

 "Late September Sunrise"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
"Super Blood Moon Total Eclipse (the last of the Tetrad)"
photograph composite - © Bruce A. Morrison

Many things have been "Super" around the studio here at Prairie Hill Farm!  The "Super" sunrises, the "Super" moon; and in a week and a half a "Super" art weekend with the October 10-11, 2015 12th Annual Artisans Road Trip!

Want a "glimpse" at a "Super" 12th Annual Artisans Road Trip?!  Its coming to Arts on Grand in Spencer, Iowa on Thursday - October 1st with an Artist's Reception to kick the exhibit off from 5-8 PM!

ANOTHER "Super" glimpse - the 2015 Artisans Road Trip Exhibit will be coming to the Pearson Lakes Art Center at Okoboji, Iowa on October 8th and running through December 2015!  Get another view of a sampling from A.R.T.  An Artist's Reception will be held Thursday, October 8 from 5-7 PM.

Mark your calendars for some "SUPER" art on the 2015 Artisans Road Trip open studio tour - coming to our Studio/Gallery on Saturday/Sunday - October 10 and 11 (9Am-5PM on Saturday - 12Noon-5PM on Sunday)...we'll have wonderful art, delicious treats (voted the best on the A.R.T. circuit!), scenery and conversation!

Make a great weekend SUPER! Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Art EMC 2015 Corporate Purchase Announced

Art EMC 2015 artwork selection
top "July in the Valley", center " Along the Southeast Corner Fence Line", and bottom "Creek's Bend" all oil paintings © Bruce A. Morrison
Although it began in 2005 - 2013 was the first year I heard about EMC Insurance's program to support the arts in Iowa...they have a program called "Art EMC" and every 2 years they put the word out to Iowa Artists that they will purchase an undeclared number of works from Iowa Artists that year for their Corporate Art Collection.  Not only that but they leave the purchasing up to the voting via their employees - which really makes it even more unique!
Art EMC 2013 artwork selection
"Medford Avenue Bridge" oil painting © Bruce A. Morrison
In 2013 I submitted 3 pieces of work for consideration and the EMC employee vote honored me with the purchase of my painting "Medford Avenue Bridge" for their collection...they have since used that painting to illustrate their Art EMC program online and in their brochures.
This year the artwork specifications had changed slightly and I only had 3 paintings available that met the criteria so I entered all 3 pieces.  During the summer I was apprised that my work had passed through each voting period but no word as to which painting might have been the vote getter...until this week when I was told a decision had been made and I was one of the finalists.  
When I asked the 2015 Art EMC Art Coordinator Caitlin Stewart which piece the EMC employees had selected she said, "Well, this is a bit unusual but - all 3!"  Wow!
I'm very happy to say the least and a bit overwhelmed!  I have to make a delivery run to Des Moines now but, hey - that's OK!  And I do have to make a return trip back to EMC in November when they will have a dedication of all the artwork that has been purchased for the EMC Corporate Art Collection through their 2015 Art EMC program! 
Great ending to summer!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Print(s) of the Week - "Morning Beatitude I and II"!

 "Morning Beatitude I"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 "Morning Beatitude II"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on either image for a larger view) 

This week's "Print of the Week" is a double treat!  I created the "Morning Beatitude" number 1 print last year, and this year have added "Morning Beatitude" number 2 to the collection.  Both images are of the same creek (Waterman Creek across the valley from the studio), and the images are from the same stretch of creek but the newest addition (print number 2) is slightly downstream from the original image (number 1).

These are both very idealistic landscapes of a wonderful quiet and serene summer morning.  Webster's defines "beatitude" as "A state of utmost bliss." and I have to concur that is exactly my feeling during these depictions along this beautiful stream!  Of course we could get into the Biblical use of "Beatitude", but suffice it to say I truly felt blessed myself at this time and place.

I have printed these two photographs as a matching pair, or to be considered separately - whatever your situation desires or dictates; both are beautiful snippets of a time and place that will ingratiate any home, office or locale!

Thank you for stopping by the studio blog today!  I want to remind everyone out there that the 2015 Artisans Road Trip is coming up soon!  On October 10th and 11th (Saturday and Sunday) we will be taking part in the 12th year of the A.R.T. here at the studio!  Be sure and put us on your calendar if you can - we'd love to see you!

Have a great last few days of summer!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Plant of the Week - Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

Sneezeweed (Helenium autmnale)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 
Oops!  I posted the plant of the week on my "A Tallgrass Journal" blog site last week but forgot my art site...well here it is -
Sneezeweed - bless you!  Well, not really!  There's no pollen in the breeze and sneezing affected as such with this prairie forb...I always wondered why it got this name and the one place I found with a "story" behind the name was in the book "Restoring the Tallgrass Prairie" by Shirley Shirley, a University of Iowa Press publication...a book with some good info on germination and seed I might add.  Shirley Shirley mentions the use of this plant's leaves - dried and made into snuff "cause sneezing and supposedly ridding the body of evil spirits or clearing congestion.  Considered a good tonic by the pioneers."  So there ya go!
Sneezeweed (Helenium autmnale) with Monarch
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

This forb is listed as most commonly found on moist prairies and sites...on our property it exists on a hillside slope that isn't too terribly moist so it may be found in a variety of conditions.  It is one that needs full sun for the most part so ours fits that condition.
 Sneezeweed (Helenium autmnale) with native flies and bees
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 
Sneezeweed is a late summer/early fall forb here, usually showing up with the flush of goldenrods and the beginning of asters.  And it is a great pollinator plant - attracting bees, wasps, butterflies and flies of all kinds!  It is said to cause "issues" with livestock grazing so that is something to be aware of if it occurs in grazed pastures - this would also make it a dominant forb in such a situation as livestock would tend to avoid it.

Catch the August bloomers while they're still with us - Sneezeweed, the goldenrods and the asters will be with us well into September though!