Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Have you been in a last minute crunch the past couple weeks like I have?! What a race it's been to get everything covered and finished or taken care of before the big holidays coming up!

I am grateful for being busy, but things have got to slow down some, if not only just for our sanity!

I haven't had a chance to really get out for winter photography for some used to be a favorite time for landscapes. One favorite location I liked hiking during the winter was Woodman Hollow Preserve in Webster County, down south of Fort Dodge, Iowa on the Des Moines River. As state preserves go, this one is nice.

This preserve actually had a decent access road in and even an old CCC type building, albeit small. The road was blocked off sometime in the1970's. I felt a little bad about it because it really cut off the ability to carry a lot of gear into it...except for younger (more able bodied) folk. The road had completely grown over in scrub trees by the early 1990's.

The photograph taken here was in December in the mid to late 1980's, along the path leading to the river overlook. This path passed through a goat prairie and overlooked the hardwood forest to the south. The main thing I remember about this day is the temperature being slightly below zero and the walk in took some time. I was carrying about 45 pounds of 4X5 view camera and my 35mm gear, and wooden tripod and ball head. I wish I could still handle that much gear below zero on a two hour hike now!

Well, whatever you can or wish you could do these days, get out and enjoy Christmas and New Years with family or friends if you're able.

Wishing you the best! (See you next year!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Winter...unofficially

Male Downy Woodpecker

Well it may not be the solstice yet but it's now winter. A good old blizzard with lots of snow brought it on fast and has us drifted in today. It usually seems that once we get frigid temps and a good snow covering, we're in it for the long haul.

As I sit in the studio pondering some scheduling changes I have to make because of the weather, I'm distracted in a fun way by the birds outside contending with the new landscape. One familiar favorite is the Downy Woodpecker; they seem to be the most plentiful and tolerant of people approaching them.

Downys look just like Hairy Woodpeckers, except in miniature (about a 3" difference). The only way to delineate the sexes is by the male's splash of red on the backs of their heads (same for Hairys).

Female Downy Woodpecker

I had a male and female pose for me this morning so I'll post them here.

I'm mustering up the will to crank up the snow blower and attack our hillside 200 foot driveway...but think the wind needs to die back some yet before I do. Guess there are sacrifices for living out in the middle of the tallgrass - especially in the winter! But, hey, I think I'll just stay distracted with woodpeckers for the time being!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


"Frigid Morning Bales"
Oil on canvas - 9X12"
Purchase the original work Here

Whoa! It's December already! I'm definitely past the ability to normally perceive the passage of time. It seems I'd think of it as still being October, except I remember October and this seems a lot nicer so far.

I was able to finish another piece in the studio this week. This is a small oil painting and is indicative of the season approaching. I rarely ever do more than one winter piece a year and when I do, that piece ends up being the illustration for my Christmas card.

I blogged about my Christmas cards last year. As I think I mentioned, this exercise in yuletide regalia started when I was 16 and in art class in high school. I think I remember doing a woodcut in class that was winter or Christmas themed, and took it even further when my mother took an interest in it...she thought it would be a nice Christmas card for the family to send out. I haven't missed a year since.

It is a bit of a stretch and stress some years, especially when our card list amounts to well over a hundred fifty...that's a lot of ink, paper, envelopes (never a standard size of course) and especially postage! I do enjoy it though...I've always liked to write old friends and relatives, it's just a bit of a rush when I end up waiting until 3 weeks before the big day!

I apologize if you get a card from me each year, I guess I just took part of the surprise out of the event for bad!

Here's wishing you a nice December!