Friday, September 7, 2018

Sneaking Past!!!

 Band-winged Meadowhawk
in morning dew at Prairie Hill Farm
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Time is sneaking past me!!!  I hope I'm not the only one that should "NOT" be September already!!!!

I'm afraid I'm a victim of work/business computer was "blue screening" me nearly every day this summer and I finally broke down and bought a new one.  Well - I found how difficult it is replacing 10 years worth of software and passwords!!!  The software thing was a the major "time eater" and is still my nemesis - Auuugggghhhhhh!!!!!  Its been 4 weeks and I still have some hurdles to get over...I liked Windows 7 better!!!!  (Sorry for complaining so much.)

I found a couple days ago I couldn't even interact with my blogs.  2 days later (with no help from google!) I finally got control back and can no longer procrastinate and am trying to get back to blogging once more.  (Oops, complaining again!)

We are right in the middle of the Bird and Monarch migrations now.  We had our first Monarch Roost on August 30th and are just now hatching out Monarchs in the pasture too...we'll see one more roost and they'll likely all be on their way to Mexico!  I do have a few caterpillars and chrysalises here inside the studio...these are from eggs I found here on the acreage and I brought them inside to "finish out" so as to give them a better chance at reaching adulthood.  (I've read that survival can be as low as 5% in the wild for eggs and caterpillars - adopting and keeping a watch can increase that a lot - so far I'm getting 100% survival).

 Monarch Roost at Prairie Hill Farm - 8-30-2018
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison 

It's kind of a bittersweet thing when this time of the year comes along, and all your "friends" start leaving.  This morning we only have one Baltimore Oriole left; we still have 2-3 Hummers around the feeders and the Catbirds, Barn Swallows and Red-headed Woodpeckers are still around.  But it won't be long.  At least that will bring our northern fall migrants through and then our winter residents, so there's a bright side to every thing that comes about.

If you haven't been out there, you might want to do so - Summer is sneaking past...don't miss it!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mid Summer and Gorgeous

 Prairie Hill Farm
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

The heat has just abated a little and the Black Flies (having undergone a second hatch) have finally calmed down a its the skeeters - but hey, the dragonflies, bats and swallows need to eat too!  The prairie pastures have continued to wow me...the insects, birds, grasses and forbs are giving cause to pause and watch.  Get out if you can...I know that life tends to get in the way, but a quiet walk is in order!

(Click on any image for a larger view)

 Monarch Butterfly (male) feeding on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) 
in the pasture here at Prairie Hill Farm
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Mass of Cup Plants (Silphium perfoliatum) in bloom in the pasture
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum)  
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Fairy Napkin! OK...just a dew covered spider web! 
The "little fairy" can be seen peeking out from it lair in the upper hole in the web 
(should have zoomed in on him)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Gray-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 My favorites in the low areas of the pasture and ditches - 
Swamp Milkweed! (Asclepias incarnata)  
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Mass of Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) - delicate little plants, balanced in the left foreground by spikes of Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) 
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Mass of Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

The prairie keeps changing - hopefully I can keep up and record it...if you get a chance - get out and enjoy it!!! 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Egads - July!!!

Behind on my blog posts - the Prairie Pasture out in front of the studio has been drop dead gorgeous the past couple weeks...even though the rains have been overly plentiful and troublesome to many in the area - the prairie pasture loved every drop! 

There has been a great deal of flooding these past weeks and many crops have drown, towns flooded and even a derailment in a flooded river valley 45 minutes northwest of us of a train pulling heavy crude from the fracking areas of the north.  If there were more prairies and less cropping of every nook, cranny and fence line imaginable - there would be less flooding, run-off and erosion of our precious soils. 

Here's a few photos, drawings and paintings of the many plants blooming here in our pastures right now!

 Wild Bergamot (monarda fistulosa) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Echinacea angustifolia and Prairie Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Hoary Vervain - (Verbena stricta) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Canada Milkvetch (Astragalus canadensis)
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum) 
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison

 False Gromwell (Onosmodium molle) and Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa) 
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Heliopsis helianthoides with Orange Sulphur butterfly and Soldier beetle
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Heliopsis helianthoides
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Monarch caterpillar feeding on Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Showy Tick Trefoil (Desmodium canadense)
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

Wild Four O'clock (Mirabillis nyctaginea)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Enjoy the summer - as things change real fast out on the prairie; they'll be something different blooming tomorrow for sure

Thursday, May 10, 2018

That's More Like It!

 Our Spring Birds! 
(composite - color pencil drawings)
© Bruce A. Morrison
click on image for a larger view

Wow, its just been over a month since my last blog entry and I have to say "That's more like it!"  We had snow every week in April here with a couple blizzards and weeks with more than one storm - we're finally out of the snow!

And once the snow stopped, our favorite birds started pouring in and making an appearance!  Some will be leaving soon on their migration further north but the majority will be staying the summer or are our year-round friends.  Got to LOVE the Birds!

"The Forgotten Bale"
oil panting - © Bruce A. Morrison
click on image for a larger view

I have also been painting in the studio but it has gotten very hard now that the sun is shinning and the birds are singing.  This painting is a little different for me, its a late autumn scene and the leaves are done turning yet the native grasses on the hillside are still quite vibrant yellow with hints of orange.  The lighting is flat and contrasty with the late afternoon fall sun.  The fields have been mowed with stubble still affording the wildlife some cover and forage; and a bale lies forgotten before the winter's first snow arrives.

I need to switch gears and get back to the greens of spring and summer ahead!

Ya this is more like it!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

STILL Waiting...

"American Tree Sparrow"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Forget what I said in the last post ("7 Days") - it just hasn't happened!  SPRING!  Where are You???

So far all we've seemed to pull out of our hat is a weekly snow storm and cold weather.  Oh, there's been a day here and there that felt hopeful, but so far nada!

This can go down as a "Complaint" Blog...oh well....

"Slate-colored Junco"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

At least this weather brings a lot of birds to the feeders and they're fun to watch as the "frenzy" reaches a pitch.  Makes for lots of fun photos of birds in the snow too.  Hard to get anything done even though snow days are good for that.  I guess this is good weather for us bird watchers anyway!

Keep the feeders full - I'm headed out to do refills - see ya!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

7 Days!

"Mid Day Summer on Diamond Lake"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

Yup - 7 days!!!  7 days till Spring!   It seems like this winter won't end but really it hasn't been all that bad.  BUT - I am ready for Spring!  Now!  Am I being too unclear about all this?  Ha!  

I can't rush time (and we really shouldn't wish time away), but I can visit warmer days on canvas and that's exactly what I did this past week here in the studio.  The painting above is a small landscape study depicting a hot/humid summer day along a marshy area about 45 minutes north of the studio.

This was a little challenging as I'm attempting to show a bright back-lit landscape - looking right into the sun as it diffuses through clouds building in the mid-day sky.  It was painted with a slightly limited palette compared to most of my paintings...trying to help support a sense of a humid afternoon.

Ya just a week of winter left!  I can get real used to the idea as we are still in the snow pack here - bring it on Please!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

One Last Stab at Winter!

"Winter at Broken Kettle Grasslands"  
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

3 weeks till Spring!  Can you tell I'm counting the days?!  Ha!  Well I really do not want to wish my days away so I'm not being quite that crazy - just looking forward to what the season change will bring.

But in the meantime I thought I'd work on a winter landscape that had been on my back-burner for several years; I don't do winter paintings or drawing that often and I thought what better time to get one done then before winter ends outside the studio.

The landscape is of a Nature Conservancy Preserve about and hour or so south and west of us - the Broken Kettle amazing place to visit if you have never been there!  This 3000 acre tallgrass prairie preserve has many native species that are usually only found west of the Missouri - extremely rare or unusual finds in Iowa.  It is the home to the largest 100% pure blood American Bison herds in Iowa as well as possibly the last place in the state with a breeding population of Prairie Rattlesnakes.  A really cool place!  Thank you to the Nature Conservancy for preserving and maintaining such a treasure!!!

Many years ago I did a quick painting of this preserve, more in an alla prima style (wet into wet) and I'll post that painting below.

"Broken Kettle Winter"  
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)  

Winter is noticeably waning now with the increased length of daylight and the snow melt that we're experiencing.  I'd say this really reminded me of winters back in the 50's and 60's when I was a kid...we had some January and February thaws and many snow events...also some pretty frigid temps off and on.  But now we're hearing rumblings of early migrations building 2-3 hours south of us and did actually have a small flock of geese pass by this morning!  Oh I love this time of the year with changes taking place and something new every day!
"Male Red-bellied Woodpecker"  
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 
The only drawback to all this is I am too easily distracted and have trouble staying on task inside at the easel!  A couple days ago was no exception with the bird traffic outside the window.  This nice Red-bellied Woodpecker thankfully sat still long enough for me to get a picture!  Looking forward to more distractions in the yard in coming weeks!
Enjoying the warmup, hope you are too!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

From the Drawing Board

"Bald Eagle - Portrait" 
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

Its shall I say this?  Winter!  Ya...snow...cold...ha!  Well you know how it is; winter is a time I used to go sledding, have snowball fights, cross country ski or snowshoe - but that was eons ago! (At least the sledding and snow ball fight part!)

But we've been making the best of it, staying warm and enjoying the critters we usually see more of this time of the year.  The Deer herd in the valley, and the yard...the birds around the feeders here, and the Bald Eagles flying through nearly each day...occasionally even fence post or tree branch sitting here too.  Just a couple weeks back Georgie and I were heading out to visit the area nature center (the Prairie Heritage Center) and as we drove south of here we passed a harmless Bald Eagle melee - 15 or more birds just having a wee old time playing around (and eating)!

I had toyed with the idea of doing a Bird Portrait of a Bald Eagle for some time.  I have a few photos in my files but the pictures I've taken of Bald Eagles are from the ground and I wanted to portray a more "formal" look, up close and more personal.  There is a Bald Eagle on display at the nature center and I look at this beautiful bird every visit.  I just recently finished the drawing seen above here.

With past "Bird Portrait" drawings I've usually concentrated on doing all those little passerines - perching/songbirds in the yard, but decided to change it up a bit; as in my past Bird Portraits, this too is drawn approximately life size. 

"Wenasaga Bald Eagle"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison

Many years ago I did a small oil painting of a Bald Eagle along a Canadian river we used to spend a lot of time vacationing at, but have never done a closeup like this before.  A very majestic and cool bird, whether up close and personal or at a distance!

Hope you're staying well this winter!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thinking and Working Warm

"Wooded Lane, No.3"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison 

My first post of 2018...where does time go?  A perpetual question I know I'll have on my mind until my last breath...

It's been drier than usual and fairly cold the last couple weeks, but all-in-all not really so bad for winter here...oops should not say this out loud!  I have been trying to start work once again in the studio, I guess you could say I've been goofing off - too many things to distract me, but I have been earnestly trying to decide where to begin and what to start.

I have a yet "unofficial" solo exhibit coming up in make this work I will need to be productive this year and into the next!  I say unofficial because the invitation was given me and a date has yet to be set or even officially agreed upon. But right now I am proceeding with beginning the process that this requires.  I last had two solo exhibits in 2012 so haven't been pressed with this responsibility for a while.

I began my work toward this process with the above oil painting, still drying on the easel as I write.  "Wooded Lane, No.3" is a small oil landscape painting of a location about 10 miles south of us, as the crow flies.  It is the same location I painted at for a plein air show last August.  This was done from some photo studies I took at that time.  

My wife asked me a very pertinent question when I talked of posting the image on social media, one I had already contemplated.  That was "Should you be showing your work before your solo exhibit?"  Good question and as I mentioned, given a good deal of thought.

I guess I replied something like this (don't remember my exact response) - "If I show no work on social media for the next 18 months it would be like dropping out of art...if I am an artist, I think I need people to know I am still working; although I am taking an 18 month hiatus I shouldn't give former collectors and clients (and  friends) the idea I have "quit" working all together.  I really feel that once all the work I endeavor to produce over the next 18 months hangs together in a gallery/museum setting, the work should take on a new life.  Besides - seeing work "in person and in the flesh" is much more interesting than the paintings, drawings and photographs "teased out" online over the next year and a half!"

Also I need to let people know that these works are for sale, as always...I don't collect my work, I do it because this is my profession.  But obviously things have to be worked out in sales of this painting or any other works produced for an exhibit 18 months from now - so please do not hesitate to express your interest in any artwork I am creating at this time and into the future!

I hope you enjoy seeing what I'm up to...that means the world to me!  Please stop back and visit this blog when you have a moment, and better yet - don't ever hesitate to visit the studio and check in on me!  I love to visit with folks who soon become my friends, its a blessing.

I hope this painting helps warms you now in mid January!!!  Take Care.