Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Waiting on Spring...

"February Evening, Mammatus Clouds"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 
I'm no different than the next person...I'm being tricked by the nice little breaks in the winter weather here and getting somewhat of a case of spring fever.  Not that I want to give up my studio time yet; I still have too much to do!  
But late in the afternoon yesterday, Georgie came over to the studio to tell me that I'd better get my face peeled off of the monitor and look outside!  It was pretty cool and a real surprise - mammatus clouds in mid February!  That's weird...ya cool too, but not something you'd expect to see!  She caught me just in time too because I only had a couple minutes to get some photographs of the scene before the light was lost to the early evening. The view is right outside the kitchen looking east.
Today is a nice day as well, but the snow, ice and wind is supposed to pick up tonight making tomorrow (Thursday) somewhat unpleasant again; the birthing process for spring can be agonizingly long!
"False Gromwell and Prairie Phlox"
(Onosmodium molle and Phlox pilosa)
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)
I have been forestalling the inevitable onslaught of spring fever by working on spring subject matter here; the spring landscape finished about a week and a half ago (last blog) and the small color pencil piece seen above.  
Over the past couple years or more I've been working on artwork of various prairie forbs (wildflowers) found in our native pasture here.  The "False Gromwell and Prairie Phlox" is the latest color pencil drawing, just finished this week.  These are both fun plants - the False Gromwell is less showy from a distance but quite a "looker" up close...the Bumble Bees love this plant; I'd say an early summer favorite of theirs!  It has some "nicknames" like most wildflowers, one that fits it real well is "marble seed".  It has a small roundish seed that is creamy white when matured, and is as hard as a marble.  A weird charachteristic is - after a rain, the plant can smell like a wet dog or mule!  (All's normal again once it dries out thank goodness!)  You can't tell much from this drawing, but this plant's "structure" is quite beautiful, pretty even when not in bloom.
The Prairie Phlox (some call it "Downy Phlox") is another native plant here I've been doing my best to help proliferate.  It is quite showy from a distance and up close...the issue around here seems to be that the deer and the rabbits love to eat it as soon as it starts blooming...ugh!  I do my best to dissuade them, but its not easy.  Skippers seem to like the phlox about as much as the Bumble Bees do.  These are both early summer bloomers, out before the prairie really goes crazy with color, but once they are out - its like the gate has been swung open for the race to begin, a fun time on the tallgrass prairie!
Think Spring, but don't be too impatient!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Easel Rest...Keeping Warm!

"Along the Southeast Corner Fence Line"
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on imagefor a larger view)

Finally finished my latest painting on the studio easel and am now working on starting the next, framing work for clients, trying to clean up this place and...oh ya, and keeping warm!

There's a lot of winter discontent out there, we all hear it, but I'm really kind of scratching my head.  I do remember winters like this AND worse.  I was younger then and trudged right through the sub zero temps and high winds...Iowa has always had high winds in the winter.  We never used to talk about wind chill either, or if there was an awareness of it I'm sure it was just the adults who talked about it.

But now the Weather Channel has "names" for winter weather fronts, and all the news anchors shout out the winter "ravages" like dooms day announcements...I still just scratch my head and think its so much unnecessary hype.  Its always been cold in the winter here, and besides - everyone else is getting lucky with all their snow and we've just barely scraped up enough to call the ground white now.  

The only bad thing I can think of here is without a good snow cover this winter - so much frost has gone into the ground that it has been a mess for wells freezing up and pipes bursting...that's never fun!   We're very dry in our area and with frozen ground, there's little that's going to replenish it come thaw, as the majority of moisture existing can only run off and not soak in until the frost is gone.

But I've been keeping warm in the studio with a spring painting, born from an idea last spring.  It was a pleasant morning on a new (for me) piece of prairie and woodland...always fun seeing a new landscape for the first time!  I took a photograph of this scene along the SE corner fence line of the property and almost imediately thought it spoke "painting" to me...I wasn't sure but it reinforced itself later as I viewed files here in the studio.  It had to wait for other work to be done here during the summer, fall and first half of the winter; but now its complete, still drying on the easel.

It needed few changes to move from the original file to the canvas...sometimes you find a scene that just really suits your feelings about what you want to paint and all the elements are there just as you'd like them to be.

Hope winter has been good to you!  And I do apologize to the SE part of the country for belittling this winter...they would certainly disagree with me!