Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nearly September

 "Nearly September"
8X6" oil on mounted canvas
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

If  you subscribe to this blog, the title will seem "late"...you'll likely receive it "in" September!!  The last hours of August are upon us and we sit and wonder when time will slow...but it was fun while it lasted (I think) and the mosquitoes are getting closer to being zapped away by the eventual first hard frost!  Ya, OK I'm getting too far ahead of myself!  Let's enjoy September now and not look too far ahead.

The small plein air painting I'm posting was done several days back; I'm even late posting it. It was named appropriately (at the time) "Nearly September".  This was one of the last summer skies we had in August, and the goldenrods and sunflowers were beginning to overtake the prairie, bringing the rust and yellow hues of late summer to the grasses of native pasture ground.

I'm very far behind on everything, in the studio and in the field.  I actually missed the peak on our own summer liatris bloom here.  That's just sad!  But we gotta do what we gotta do and that's that.  More framing and printing ahead through September to reach the Artisans Road Trip deadline.  Looking forward to a very nice autumn ahead!  Hope to see you here at the studio in a few weeks!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dry Spell?

August mornings are full of dew covered webs
(click on images for a larger view)

We haven't had rain for almost 2 weeks now!  I'm voicing this as a positive thing, mind you; it is so nice to have a reprieve from constant rain this summer.  One thing it has brought to the region is lush landscapes and record crops though - an amazing change from our normal dry and browning late summer settings.

I'm experiencing a short dry spell in the studio too, was planning on getting some more painting time in but have had several personal and business issues get in the way.  I came to the realization just a couple days ago that I only have 6 weeks to prepare for the Artisans Road Trip on October 1-3! Holy smokes where did the summer go!??! 

The Stiff Goldenrods(Solidago rigida) are bowing over with blossoms 
and the weight of pollinators (Monarchs in this case)!

Well, it (summer) hasn't disappeared yet but it is rocketing toward fall now...what we're seeing on the prairie remnant pasture here is now in the late liatris, prairie onion, goldenrod and sunflower stage.  I had to spend a couple hours in the pasture yesterday clearing the fire break/paths.  The rain has grown monster goldenrods and sunflowers and they've all toppled over each other and onto the paths making mowing impossible.  I had to cut stalks and volunteer trees (we get a lot of mulberry, elm and locust volunteers in the pasture), and wade through a gazillion butterflies, flies, bees and wasps in a feeding frenzy on the blossoms...and mosquitoes on me!

I'm settling in to the studio as best I can to pick up the momentum here now.  But I'm going to have a tough time tearing myself away from the prairie outside the door ...maybe I'll get a chance or two to sneak in a painting yet this summer?!

Friday, August 13, 2010

When it Rains...

Orange and Clouded Sulphurs
(Colias eurytheme and philodice)

As the old adage goes...it does pour.  Everything to excess this summer it seems!  Too much rain!  Too much work to wade through (much because of the rain).  But who could ever say too many butterflies?!  Don't look at me!

It has been a busy summer for the Sulphurs...for a couple weeks there they seemed to commit a mass amount of lives to highway traffic.  But on the rural roads and yards every where they are adding a great deal of color.

I'm just stepping off a busy weekend from a bio blitz at Lost Island Lake.  It was a great time to see butterflies, dragonflies, mammals, birds, prairie plants - you name it!  I was in charge of the prairie plant inventory process.  

A Bio Blitz is when a bunch of folks get together in organized groups and methodically walk through specific locations and list species they find.  This is an exciting process but very intense, especially when you are trying to determine species closely related to others or which may be new to you!  I am still going through the listing process but getting closer to the end...it'll be interesting to see what we found as an event!

Get out if you can and enjoy what's going on right now...it's pretty amazing out there!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Night Noise

Sedge Wren singing (during day time!)
from Maximilian Sunflower 
(Helianthus maximlianii) perch

I've been recording the night's here...audio recording the night noise, it's mesmerizing.  Painting and photographing the natural world is my avocation...appreciating it is my "hobby" I guess you could say.  A personal interest only for the fun and enjoyment of it.

One thing I've not been totally successful in recording is the Sedge Wren here at Prairie Hill Farm.  They've been elusive to photograph as well, but one special characteristic with the Sedge Wren is one of it's calling habits - it sings nearly all night long!  Well, "singing" is a kind way to describe it.

Sedge Wrens do sing during daylight hours too, but I can't get over how they don't burn themselves out?!  When do they ever sleep?!  I "can" tell you when they don't!  Wake up around here at 1, 2, or 3 a.m. and I'll almost guarantee a Sedge Wren down in the pasture or out back, singing away.

I've been trying to record the nights here this summer...I've done bits and pieces in past years too, but the Sedge Wren's voice doesn't carry loudly enough to record well from the house.  I usually stick a microphone out the upstairs window and then go to bed!  That's the lazy way of recording nature!  I have given thought to taking the equipment out and recording outside...I've done it many times but found out the hard way...you don't let electronics run long outdoors here in the summer at night.  Our dewpoints have been tropical here this summer...in the 70's to around 80 degrees.  I fried my parabolic microphone a few years back when I left it outside recording nature sounds.  I got up and went out to turn the tape over in my deck (to record the other side), only to find out the entire set up was covered in a heavy dew...fried everything that was running...a sad state of affairs for a "hobbiest" audio guy, and it took only an hour to do it.  :(

It's wet out there!!!

"Sedge Wren Sunrise"
(oil painting by Bruce A. Morrison)

Sedge Wrens are one of our grassland birds...they prefer tall grass and pasture or prairie or wetland edge...it's their cup of tea.  I did a painting of one from a early sunrise encounter one year...the bird singing it's heart out like it was trying to get a few last notes in before the sun over took the landscape.

I'm going to double post this blog onto the "A Tallgrass Journal" also...it's suitable for both purposes, I'll just tweak it a bit, so if you follow the "A Tallgrass Journal" you'll see the little guy there as well.

Stay up late and give these little guys a listen...one of these days I'll possibly be able to post some audio of them for you...good night from the Studio!