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!).   

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Getting Closer!

 "American Robin - male"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

It's beginning to get kind of exciting here - our first flock of robins showed this past week and the air has been full of Canada Geese and today, Snow Geese.  As I type - small groups and pairs of Bald Eagles are catching updrafts over the acreage and valley.  Huge flocks of Red-wing Blackbirds are noisily accosting the valley as well, sending White-tail Deer running here and there, being disrupted from their sunny afternoon naps.
 
"Rose-breasted Grosbeak - female"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

I'm also still working on the birds that I'm longing to see here again in a few weeks...this sketch being a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  This is one bird I really admire up close, for they are a pretty unassuming songbird that seem to really like our bird feeders each spring and summer.  She was a pretty lady and was a fun challenge to capture it's subtle tonality and personality...not easy!

Spring - it's Getting closer! 
 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Happy Groundhog Day!

"Woodchuck"
pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

It's Groundhog Day!  Wow did that ever get here fast!  I'd go for an early spring, but it feels really like early February here this a.m., around 10 degrees Fahrenheit out there - the sun is shining bright so I guess it'll see its shadow and we're out of luck!  Oh well, business as usual.


 "Brown Thrasher - Portrait"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

I'm still working on small Bird portraits, just finishing one that was a bit trickier for me...too much small work! But I'm still happy with how it came out - a Brown Thrasher...one of our first larger songbirds returning in the spring! These are low nesters (usually in low thick brush or bushes) and found in our yard and grove all spring and summer - Great Singers! One of the Mimic-Thrushes (from the family Mimidae)...very fun to listen too all spring and summer long! 

Keep your spirits up - enjoy the winter days and look forward to spring and all it brings.  That old Woodchuck will just have to go back to bed - see him in March!
 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Winter Musing

"Baltimore Oriole (male)"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
I haven't blogged personally for quite some time - what's with that?!   Well, you know that old saying about "life" catching up with you...that's about the best I can do.
 
Its been a mixed winter here at the studio...started out with snow, snow melted, got cold for "a" day (27 below zero with 30 mph winds), then moderated, got nice, had freezing rains, moderated, had 10 inches of snow...and now here we are!  
 
Not a typical NW Iowa winter at all.  I do remember winters of my youth where we'd occasionally get a January thaw - that we got.  Otherwise very mixed up.  We did follow last year's trend where the final weeks of autumn were much warmer than usual, so when winter started it was not very typical.

Enough weather dissertation.  What does one do when the days are short and the temps chilly?  Take their mind off it and think Spring!  

I've been working on some more small bird portraits in color pencil...actually they are nearly life size, but these birds are small "in hand".  I'd been meaning to do a Baltimore Oriole male; these incredibly brightly colored birds are never tiresome to watch through mid spring and summer - their voices every bit as bright and arresting!

They usually arrive "here" in early May and stay through much of September.  We look for their hanging basket nest around the yard and often find them very near the house, where we can sit and watch their brood rearing each day.  If we can't locate the nests (which was the case this past summer), they always show up after the leaves fall.

These are fun birds to watch at the bird feeders - they love grape jelly!  Many people think they need an orange to attract oriole but really a plain plastic orange colored bowl and a good helping of grape jelly is all that's needed. They do like drinking out of the hummingbird feeders too.

I don't want to wish the weeks away but I am looking forward to May and the oriole's return!

 
 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

All Hail November!

 "Autumn Near Dog Creek's Mouth - preliminary study"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison

You just can't beat this November's weather...I am hard pressed to remember a November this mild or warm!  Now word is out that we may get some wet/slightly white weather in a day or two...well that's bound to happen - it is November after all!

After this nice Autumn color and weather, I've been working on ideas for art work and printing some images as open edition photographic prints.  I finished a small oil painting a few days back - this small painting was worked up as a guide to work from for a larger painting that I'll hopefully get to yet this fall before winter sets in. The location is on some county land in SE O'Brien County...its of Dog Creek just a few yards before it dumps into the Little Sioux River.  This little creeks runs through some pretty territory for a very small stream - a neat unassuming little stream.


With the Holiday season now approaching, there are a couple art exhibits and shows coming up that I'm taking part in!  One is currently at Arts on Grand in Spencer, Iowa - their "Christmas in the Gallery", which is currently running and goes through December 27th; a lot of really nice Christmas related gifts and seasonal artwork!

Also, there is the "Holiday Open House" coming up in Peterson, Iowa!  This yearly event will be taking place at Barb McGee's Gallery in downtown Peterson.  A great little town in a picturesque setting - a great gallery and a top notch assortment of artists!  Enjoy some good treats and good conversation and great art!  That's on Saturday December 3rd from 9am - 5pm!

Happy Thanksgiving coming up next week - enjoy November!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Part of the Process

"Little Sioux River Valley Autumn Bales No.1"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

I have been stuck in the studio "processing" all the image files from a week and a half ago; that was a busy and productive week for autumn in our "area".  Most folks don't realize all the post production work there is when working from "Raw" files...most of us shoot RAW, not JPG or TIFF...doing so preserves all the information that a file has to offer.  But a RAW file doesn't usually present the image as you would print it or use for a blog such as this or for publication, so some computer "darkroom" work is in order.

I spent many years in the darkroom professionally, way before digital imaging was even a flicker on the horizon; actually working mostly in B&W, then doing color printing and transparency film processing for roughly 30 years before I took the leap early into the digital fray. 

"Back in the day" darkroom work was inevitable - no way around it!  But even now, with digital imaging on the professional level, image processing is a necessary part of the process from exposing the image to print or publication. 

It's been overcast, damp and windy here the past 4 days, so its perfect "darkroom" time.  I would prefer to see a blue sky again soon though as I'm feeling couped up!   

A good side effect during this inside time is I get many ideas for future artwork while going through image files...paintings and drawing ideas come to me and get me even more excited!  Lets hope I can get some Autumn artwork ideas to get me through part of the Winter ahead!  

Oooh, did I just say the "W" word??!!!  Oh well, it's all part of the process! 
 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Autumn Is Good!

 "Autumn on Yellow Avenue in SE O'Brien County, IA"
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)

The days are shortening and the color is good...the air is crisp, yet the sun is warm; this is a neat time of year and as with the harvest, there is much to be thankful for.  

 "High Water Color on the Des Moines in northern Webster County, IA"
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)

We don't live in New England or where colors are breathtaking with reds, yellows and oranges shared among hardwoods like hard maples, but we can occasionally get lucky with autumn when all the cards fall just right, and this was such a year!

 "Electric Blues on the North Raccoon in southern Sac County, IA"
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)

 Georgie and I drove the back roads here and in this corner of the state. taking in the transient scenery - a chance to get away from the daily tasks and reflect.

 "Below the Rapids on the North Raccoon in northern Sac County, IA"
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)

We miss the river roads and streams of past journeys - they were dressed in colorful attire, preparing for a good rest from the past year.

 "Quiet Color near the Washta Access in southern Cherokee County, IA"
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)

Some places were bright and noisily passing the day away, while others more somber and reflective.  It's been another year of new experiences, of life's sorrows and joy; it's now a time to rest and regain one's bearings, and to be grateful for those blessings that have come our way

Have a great Autumn season and be good to one another!