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 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 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.
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 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!



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Juried into the "Oak Hill Exhibition of Iowa Artists" exhibit at the Blanden Art Museum in Ft Dodge, Iowa

"Passing Don's Old Place at First Light - Study"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
Been a lot going on lately and haven't been able to get to the blog as much as I'd like.  Have one bit of news - I was juried into the "Oak Hill Exhibition of Iowa Artists" exhibit at the Blanden Art Museum in Ft Dodge, Iowa.  The Oak Hill exhibit is a juried exibit, meaning artists must submit their work to be juried by an appointed juror each year.  This year's juror was Benjamin Gardner - Chair in the Department of Art & Design and a Professor of Art at Drake University.  

The oil painting juried into the exhibit is titled  "Passing Don's Old Place at First Light - Study" and depicts first light along a gravel road just minutes from the studio. 

The Exibit  "Oak Hill Exhibition of Iowa Artists" is available for free public viewing now and runs through July 8th, 2017.  Be sure and take in this exhibit and other beautiful exhibits at the Blanden Art Museum the next time you're in Ft Dodge!

You can learn more about the Blanden Art Museum by visiting their website at -  And if this is your first visit to my blog - you can learn more about the my work by visiting our web site at -
Thank you for visiting! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

It's OK...I Guess...

"Harris' Sparrow (male) Portrait"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

I've always had a bit of a time staying on task - especially in the Spring...or summer...or fall...maybe winter.  I think "always" is the key word here!  After spring finally does arrive though, everything shouts for time just exacerbating it all even more so.

The prairie is waking up! (Golden Alexanders, Star Solomon Seal and Blue-eyed Grass is in bloom already).  The birds are returning! The yard is alive with music!  Georgie has been putting the garden in and already harvesting from her work last fall. (Spinach and asparagus in the salads!)  The frogs and Toads have been singing like there's no tomorrow!  Even the spring ephemerals are filling the north grove with blues, whites and yellows!

So I guess work has slowed some in the studio...too many birds on the window feeders?  That and too many other distractions to mention!  I'm attempting to get back into the game here but enjoying the outdoors above and beyond the studio at the moment.

It is soooo nice out; slacking off a bit?  It's OK I guess...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Those Pleasant Distractions of Spring

American Toad climbing out for some sun
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Are distractions really a symptom of procrastination?  I think in my case that may have more than a bit of truth to it, but distractions can make you smile or even take some time to just mellow out a bit.  When spring comes - everything is a distraction!

Around here it can be as simple as the first butterfly of spring, a bird returning on its way through on migration, or the Pasque Flowers in bloom on the prairie.  

This morning Georgie saw our first two Chipping Sparrows of the season!  I haven't seen them yet so I'm a bit distracted looking out the window hoping to see them after such a long break as winter.  

A while ago Georgie came in a said she'd accidentally dug up a Toad in the Spinach "that's" a good distraction!  I went out and admired the beautiful spinach she sowed in the fall; we had some of it in our salad last week...that's a good distraction too!  The Toad was caked with dirt and was sunning itself on the pea gravel garden path, it later climbed back into the Spinach bed.

After a short while Georgie came into the studio to tell me another Toad had appeared, this one climbed up out of the leaf mulch in the Garlic bed!  And there was our first butterfly of the season on the radish bed's headboard!  Now that's a good distraction -  I had to see this!

The American Toad looked as if it had actually sprouted out of the Garlic bed's leaf litter and really made a nice image on my camera (above)...not what I'd consider a warm day (actually had a little rain mixed with snow yesterday) but the sun was evidently very appreciated by this Toad - a great distraction indeed!

Right now I'm typing this blog instead of working at the easel, hmmm I'm almost done, what distraction can I find now?  Ah its that's the mother of distractions!


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ahead of Myself?

 "American Goldfinch (male) - Portrait"
color pencil - © Bruce A. Morrison

  "American Goldfinch (female) - Portrait"
color pencil - © Bruce A. Morrison

I have been somewhat obsessed with small bird portraits all winter here at the studio; my most recent portraits have been a pair of Goldfinches...I hadn't done a female American Goldfinch and as I was working on one I thought why not do a male to pair the birds up!  I've since framed them together in one frame and think they look great together!

 © Bruce A. Morrison

  "Gray Catbird - Portrait"
color pencil - © Bruce A. Morrison

One bird from the mimic family I really like hanging around the acreage here is the Gray Catbird; its a challenge in color pencil because its really just a slate gray with a dark cap on its head.  It does have chestnut brown undertail coverts but that wouldn't show in a head and shoulder portrait like this.

The American Goldfinches are here in high numbers all season long but they have yet to turn the spring plumage colors shown in the pencil drawings...right now they are getting a bit splotchy but you can see hints of the full spring color coming along.

We won't see the Gray Catbirds until later in April most likely but we'll probably hear their "mewing" cat-like call before we spot them.

Either way I may be getting a little ahead of myself but still looking forward to them all!

Spring is just a couple days away!

Friday, February 24, 2017

What do you do in a Blizzard?

"American Robin (male) - Portrait"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

What do you do in a blizzard?  Well, plow the acreage, shovel the walks and access to the feeders, have a nice bowl of Pazole (hope I spelled that right?) and then take a nap!  Then realize you haven't posted your latest drawings on your blog!

"American Robin (female) - Portrait"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

 I had been working on these small life-size color pencil portraits for some time - trying to get them done before the first robins showed for the year...but they beat me to it last week; oh well.  Never-the-less they were fun working on...I especially got a kick out of doing the scruffy immature bird!

"American Robin (immature) - Portrait"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

These are birds that just about everyone can identify with; probably our most familiar bird of the yard and lawns.  Most people probably don't wonder what kind of habitat this bird favored before we messed up the landscape and introduced lawns.

I have an audio recording I did many years ago of an American Robin in the north woods of Ontario, Canada, along a wilderness river. The familiar song of an American Robin takes on a whole new meaning reverberating down the pine and spruce corridors of the Canadian Shield!  Talk about "Wild"!  It was ghostly and beautiful; its a good bet our tame(ish) lawn birds were not so social before we came along...did we make couch potatoes out of our birds?  OK, that's taking it a bit far but we certainly did have an influence on the natural balance of things.  

Thinking about spring and these so familiar birds, as well as the wildness that still exists in them and their brethren - I guess that's what I do in a blizzard (after all the work is done anyway!).