Well we're sliding into the Winter Solstice tomorrow on the 21st - its hard to believe isn't it! My mind's still stuck in August!
The thing I always look forward to come this day - the days gradually begin getting longer - which means more sunshine and "eventually" warmer days!!! But I know that's not a very appreciative opinion of winter is it...sorry about that (fingers crossed behind my back).
The Winter Solstice is officially here Monday, December 21, 2015 at 10:49 PM CST; at least if you live in Sioux Falls, SD...but that's certainly near enough to us to make it count as "close enough"!
Like many other people, I hear reports of odd weather for this time of the year; we're no different. The image above was 2 1/2 weeks ago south of the studio and the snow is GONE...hasn't even been cold enough for frost to enter the ground yet - and its nearly Christmas! But we have had 18+ inches of snow at the studio since late November, so that at least sounds right for the eve of the solstice!
Either way - enjoy the new season, and get out there if you get a chance. After all, the Winter Solstice only comes 'round once a year!
Thought I'd post another image from last weekend's snowstorm - it was Saturday evening after we had shoveled and plowed out the acreage from under 12 inches of snow; I wanted to get out before it was too late for some photo opportunities in the "neighborhood" . I walked up through some property I've had permission to "explore" and found after about 10-15 minutes that I really needed my snowshoes! I managed to plow through drifts over to the creek's (Waterman Creek) edge from above. The sun was already lower than I thought it'd be but the foreground being in shadow really didn't look so bad...it created an interesting "deep" woodland look - like the dead of winter, so I went with it! Hope you enjoy it!
Tomorrow and the next day are bringing more of the same precipitation. They're promising 5-10 inches more snow but we'll see what shakes out. Unfortunately they're also promising high winds, which will put the ca-bosh on photos until the "dust" settles...time will tell I guess! Either way, it looks like winter is here to stay for now.
Next weekend is bringing some things of interest as well - 2 weekend art exhibits and sales that I'll be participating in!
Each year the artists of this area get together for a Holiday Sale, and this year is no different - except - this year there are two events on the same weekend!
The first Holiday sale that I'm participating in is at Barb McGee's Gallery on Main Street in Peterson, Iowa. Barb will be holding her Holiday sale for several artists, I'm fortunate to be included again this year! The Holiday Open House will be held on Saturday December 5 from 9:00AM to 5P.M. and Sunday from Noon to 3PM.
Take some time and check out the artists represented at Barb McGee's Holiday Open House!
The second Holiday sale and exhibit I'm participating in is a new gallery in Lake Park, Iowa! This exhibit will be an Art and Fine Antique sale and is being held in the former Methodist Church building in Lake Park. This new gallery, the Systolic Studio, is holding this exhibit and sale, and it will have a host of top quality artists and artwork and antiques over a 3 day event! I am very proud to be included!
The event is inside and up the stairway on the west entrance and this exhibit and sale opens on Friday, December 4 from 3-8PM, again on Saturday December 5 from 10AM-6PM, and Sunday December 6 from 11AM-3PM; be sure and take it in - you'll be in for a real treat!
There's a lot ahead but first of all - keep warm and enjoy the season!
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 day...it 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!
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 though...it 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!
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.
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."
learn all about the 2015 Artisans Road Trip, preview artists' work and
begin planning your personal tour we encourage you to use these tools:
BROCHURE: You can find brochures at local art centers,
participating artist locations, banks, libraries and gathering places in
2. WEBSITE: www.artisansroadtrip.com
3. BLOG: http://artisansroadtrip.blogspot.com/
"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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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 -
- 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!
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
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.
the August bloomers while they're still with us - Sneezeweed, the
goldenrods and the asters will be with us well into September though!
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!
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!
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!
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 uses...in 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.
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!
"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 years...like 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!
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!
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!
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, Minnesota...it 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.
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!
I have a lot of smaller "decorator" type prints and this is a good example of one. This is a native prairie flower, a very common one that most will recognize...I like to call it "Yellow Coneflower" but most will give the common name "Gray-headed Coneflower" to Ratibida pinnata. I believe this is because the flowering head of this plant is initially light green to gray when it first appears and doesn't turn brown until the head fills with small florets.
I chose this for the print of the week because it is now blooming profusely here in our prairie pastures! A beautiful sight in mass!
The original drawing that this print is published from was in color pencil...the background thrown out of focus by using different methods of dissolving the pencil's wax based pigment and creating a "wash" effect.
This print is available as an open edition/signed print here at the studio/gallery or from other dealers given on my web site at www.morrisons-studio.com.
Thank you for visiting - I hope your summer is full of beauty as well!