Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Follow the Light

"Late Afternoon in the Valley" - oil painting
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

We've had some strange light the past couple days due to forest fires up in northern Saskatchewan I guess...it might give some very unusual photographic landscapes opportunities but I decided to stay inside and work on a small painting from the valley a few miles south of us.

Light is pretty important in painting, photography or any visual expression I'd think.  This painting has been an idea for a couple years and finally made it out of my mind...I liked the light, a late fall afternoon...shadows getting longer and a warmer contrast/effect if-you-will.  I also love bales and this one had both rectangular and round bales...those geometric shapes you just don't find in the landscape until baling time!

I struggled a bit with this painting because I wanted to depict the barn in its current decline; the roof is about 1/3 gone...it appears to have been re-roofed over the original cedar shakes, with red asphalt shingles...possibly 40-50 years back.  But every time I tried depicting holes in the roof and the peeling asphalt shingles, it just wasn't working for me...I also felt it was detracting from the pleasant feel I remembered from the landscape itself.  So I "fixed" the roof.  Hey...I've spent so much time working on our own outbuilding's roofs that I figured I could do some good in the painting too!

The cupola is partially gone however and I left it the way it now sits. 

Hmmm, speaking of "our" roofs, I'd better get busy around here...nah, plenty of time right?! I think I'll follow the light!


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Prairie Monarchs

"Prairie Monarch - Bison Bull"
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view

I've been working on a prairie monarch since March - not the insect kind, but rather the "regal" mammal kind - the American Bison.  I've never really drawn or painted a bison, except for a logo I did several years ago for the area's Prairie Heritage Center.  I have taken a few photographs over the years, but came across one in my file that I thought I could isolate and set into a scene fitting for him.  I had to do a bull - up close these guys are quite intimidating!
2 1/2 months on one drawing has been a little much for me, I need to get loose now - both figuratively and outdoors.  The prairie pasture has thrown several surprises at us this year...we're seeing many plants we haven't seen in the places they're showing their heads.  Some of our hillside pasture's original native seed bank is coming back, its pretty exciting to see!  I need to take advantage of what's out there and free myself from the lap board (drawing board) so much.
I've often wondered what it would have been like to see Bison here, in our local habitat a couple hundred years back.  I purposely set the bull bison in the drawing, on the side of a hillside slope; its how I see our pasture much of the time and adds a bit more drama as far as the image is concerned.  The sky is also quite dramatic out here in the open prairie, and by placing it back behind the hill top, it adds some tension and drama as well...is it a breaking sky or a developing storm over the horizon?
I hope you are able to get out there this summer and see what develops...what's over that horizon for you?!  
See you on the Tallgrass!