Thursday, August 27, 2015

Print of the Week - "Daybreak - Southwest Corner Fence Line"!

"Daybreak - Southwest Corner Fence Line"
open edition/signed print from the original oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)
The print of the week this go-round is a particular favorite of mine; published from the original oil painting of a location just a few miles southeast of us (as the crow flies). 
"Daybreak - Southwest Corner Fence Line"  was indicative of a typical August morning along an old abandoned dirt road...the Song Sparrows were still singing and greeting the rising sun.  The kind of morning that beckons one back again and again, to travel or walk the road down and around the corner, and see what treasures it holds. 
This print is available in different sizes and configurations - both paper and canvas - a beautiful print!  We do have a nicely framed and matted "Daybreak - Southwest Corner Fence Line" available at the studio now but can print to order for however you would like it done; just stop by or give us a call anytime!
Thanks again for stopping by - enjoy the rest of August while you can!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Print of the Week - "Big Sky - Brief Shower"

"Big Sky - Brief Shower"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)
Missed a print of the week last week as my wife and I were celebrating our 45th Wedding Anniversary!  Now we're back to daily life on the prairie and all that it brings.
This week's featured print is actually a photograph; I've been featuring so much art work, I thought a photo would be a nice change-up.  This is more befitting at this time of the year, especially now with all the rain we've been experiencing here!  Actually this is depicting just a nice brief shower in the landscape - we just got deluged with 10 inches of rain in 36 hours here the past few days...I think "brief" would be preferred now for a while.
The photograph is the landscape we see every day here - the pasture across the road from us usually gets baled mid to late summer and the sky can be just an amazing compliment to add drama or beauty or both!
All my photographs are printed here in the studio on archival papers and with archival inks.  I print these as open editions and sign each one in the lower margin.
Stop by any time and see more at the studio or take a walk on the prairie pasture here and soak in some of the beauty! 
Till next time! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Prairie Plant of the week - Siphium laciniatum (Compass Plant)

Siphium laciniatum (Compass Plant)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

This week's prairie plant features the Compass Plant; this plant is fairly iconic on the tallgrass prairie - a large plant, usually towering above me as I walk through the mid to late summer prairie.  The birds love their seeds and this plant provides a solid platform for many bird nests as well.

I first spread seed for this plant in our first year here at the acreage and five years later we had flowering stalks 5-8 feet high!  It was well worth the wait I'd say, but I'd recommend only seeding for 2-3 years (maybe less) and then wait for the plants to establish, otherwise you'll have stands too thick to navigate!

Siphium laciniatum (Compass Plant)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

The leaves on Compass Plants are very distinct and quite large and handsome.  The plant gets it's common name from the leaves tending to orient themselves in a general north-south direction...they are very large, a foot or more in length and half a foot or more wide...very thick and substantial to say the least!

The yellow flowers are 3-4 inches wide and are alternate up the plant's heavy/thick stem.  They attract a great variety of pollinators too!

The Compass Plant's leaves and roots was used by several first nation tribes for many different the book "Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie" by Roosa and Runkel, it is even mentioned that burning a dried root during a lightning storm acted as a charm to ward off lightning strikes...or hopefully so!

It was also said that when in bloom, a gummy material forms along the upper 3rd of the main stem.  This resinous material was used by Native Americans as a chewing gum.

Siphium laciniatum (Compass Plant)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

This is one plant that deer really seem to like in the early summer stage of growth but avoid later on when it gains height...I don't know how good of a forage it may have been to pioneers first settling the prairies but the Roosa/Runkel book says it was liked by cattle as well; likely being a reason it was pretty much eliminated wherever cattle were grazed year after year...I personally have found that cattle are very hard on native forbs, many will not sustain heavy grazing pressure like that year after year.

Next time you're out on the prairie, walk up next to a Compass plant and see how it measures up!  They're pretty cool in my book!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Print of the Week - "Wolf Tree - Bur Oak"

"Wolf Tree - Bur Oak" - open edition print
from the original oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 
"Wolf Tree - Bur Oak" was a painting done of a Bur Oak at Southwood Wildlife Area down in Woodbury County, Iowa.  Older Bur Oaks are amazing trees and their branches characteristically reach down and sometimes even rest upon the ground.  Often you will see scat on top of these branches from Raccoon and even Fox.  You won't see these branches in manicured parks or residential yards of course - only where they are not trimmed or pruned over the out in a pasture or prairie.

The term "Wolf Tree" is given to a dominant tree in a location; a tree that has no other competition.  The dictionary defines it as "a very large tree that has a wide-spreading crown and inhibits or prevents the growth of smaller trees around it".
Bur Oaks are favorites of mine...they survive prairie fires well with their thick corky bark, and they are slow growers for their region.  They have such character in their shape and branches.  When you see them out in the open in a prairie or oak savanna, they are very majestic looking.
"Wolf Tree - Bur Oak" is available as a signed open edition print with an image size of approximately 10X15" on an archival sheet of 13X17" paper.  All our prints are printed with archival inks and on archival papers for a couple life time's or more worth of viewing pleasure!
Thank you for visiting - I hope you'll check back again soon!  
Have a great August!

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, 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

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!