Thursday, August 27, 2015

Print of the Week - "Daybreak - Southwest Corner Fence Line"!

"Daybreak - Southwest Corner Fence Line"
open edition/signed print from the original oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)
The print of the week this go-round is a particular favorite of mine; published from the original oil painting of a location just a few miles southeast of us (as the crow flies). 
"Daybreak - Southwest Corner Fence Line"  was indicative of a typical August morning along an old abandoned dirt road...the Song Sparrows were still singing and greeting the rising sun.  The kind of morning that beckons one back again and again, to travel or walk the road down and around the corner, and see what treasures it holds. 
This print is available in different sizes and configurations - both paper and canvas - a beautiful print!  We do have a nicely framed and matted "Daybreak - Southwest Corner Fence Line" available at the studio now but can print to order for however you would like it done; just stop by or give us a call anytime!
Thanks again for stopping by - enjoy the rest of August while you can!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Print of the Week - "Big Sky - Brief Shower"

"Big Sky - Brief Shower"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)
Missed a print of the week last week as my wife and I were celebrating our 45th Wedding Anniversary!  Now we're back to daily life on the prairie and all that it brings.
This week's featured print is actually a photograph; I've been featuring so much art work, I thought a photo would be a nice change-up.  This is more befitting at this time of the year, especially now with all the rain we've been experiencing here!  Actually this is depicting just a nice brief shower in the landscape - we just got deluged with 10 inches of rain in 36 hours here the past few days...I think "brief" would be preferred now for a while.
The photograph is the landscape we see every day here - the pasture across the road from us usually gets baled mid to late summer and the sky can be just an amazing compliment to add drama or beauty or both!
All my photographs are printed here in the studio on archival papers and with archival inks.  I print these as open editions and sign each one in the lower margin.
Stop by any time and see more at the studio or take a walk on the prairie pasture here and soak in some of the beauty! 
Till next time! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Prairie Plant of the week - Siphium laciniatum (Compass Plant)

Siphium laciniatum (Compass Plant)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

This week's prairie plant features the Compass Plant; this plant is fairly iconic on the tallgrass prairie - a large plant, usually towering above me as I walk through the mid to late summer prairie.  The birds love their seeds and this plant provides a solid platform for many bird nests as well.

I first spread seed for this plant in our first year here at the acreage and five years later we had flowering stalks 5-8 feet high!  It was well worth the wait I'd say, but I'd recommend only seeding for 2-3 years (maybe less) and then wait for the plants to establish, otherwise you'll have stands too thick to navigate!

Siphium laciniatum (Compass Plant)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

The leaves on Compass Plants are very distinct and quite large and handsome.  The plant gets it's common name from the leaves tending to orient themselves in a general north-south direction...they are very large, a foot or more in length and half a foot or more wide...very thick and substantial to say the least!

The yellow flowers are 3-4 inches wide and are alternate up the plant's heavy/thick stem.  They attract a great variety of pollinators too!

The Compass Plant's leaves and roots was used by several first nation tribes for many different the book "Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie" by Roosa and Runkel, it is even mentioned that burning a dried root during a lightning storm acted as a charm to ward off lightning strikes...or hopefully so!

It was also said that when in bloom, a gummy material forms along the upper 3rd of the main stem.  This resinous material was used by Native Americans as a chewing gum.

Siphium laciniatum (Compass Plant)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

This is one plant that deer really seem to like in the early summer stage of growth but avoid later on when it gains height...I don't know how good of a forage it may have been to pioneers first settling the prairies but the Roosa/Runkel book says it was liked by cattle as well; likely being a reason it was pretty much eliminated wherever cattle were grazed year after year...I personally have found that cattle are very hard on native forbs, many will not sustain heavy grazing pressure like that year after year.

Next time you're out on the prairie, walk up next to a Compass plant and see how it measures up!  They're pretty cool in my book!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Print of the Week - "Wolf Tree - Bur Oak"

"Wolf Tree - Bur Oak" - open edition print
from the original oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 
"Wolf Tree - Bur Oak" was a painting done of a Bur Oak at Southwood Wildlife Area down in Woodbury County, Iowa.  Older Bur Oaks are amazing trees and their branches characteristically reach down and sometimes even rest upon the ground.  Often you will see scat on top of these branches from Raccoon and even Fox.  You won't see these branches in manicured parks or residential yards of course - only where they are not trimmed or pruned over the out in a pasture or prairie.

The term "Wolf Tree" is given to a dominant tree in a location; a tree that has no other competition.  The dictionary defines it as "a very large tree that has a wide-spreading crown and inhibits or prevents the growth of smaller trees around it".
Bur Oaks are favorites of mine...they survive prairie fires well with their thick corky bark, and they are slow growers for their region.  They have such character in their shape and branches.  When you see them out in the open in a prairie or oak savanna, they are very majestic looking.
"Wolf Tree - Bur Oak" is available as a signed open edition print with an image size of approximately 10X15" on an archival sheet of 13X17" paper.  All our prints are printed with archival inks and on archival papers for a couple life time's or more worth of viewing pleasure!
Thank you for visiting - I hope you'll check back again soon!  
Have a great August!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Prairie Plant of the Week - Evening Primrose

"Evening Primrose - Oenothera biennis 
Photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

This week's prairie plant is another forb (herbacious flowering plant) that most of us see in proliferation each season; though locally it does seem to have its boom and bust years.  The Evening Primrose, or Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a biennial (note the "biennis" in the latin name), so it takes 2 years to flower.

This plant tends to be grazed on by everything hungry though, and can tend to have some rather ratty looking stands in some years.  We have a large stand of volunteers along side the corn crib that have been skeletonized by this year's crop of grasshoppers!  There are also insects that tend to be found or associated with different plants.  The vertical image below has a couple insects on the top of the plant that can be seen with the Evening Primrose every season.  I'll plead ignorant of the insect's identity and it's association with this plant - something to look into for future reference! 

"Evening Primrose - Oenothera biennis 
Photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

We have this plant on our prairie pasture frequently; most commonly along the gravel hillside and the gravel road going past our place.  It volunteers quite easily and needs no seeding or help from us.  It is really quite striking in large stands...I once found a stand along a railroad bed that was at least a hundred feet long and 12 feet wide - it was amazing!

Some Native American tribes collected it's seed for food and most first nation people used the "first season" roots - gathereed and dried for food.  They were also adopted for food by the Europeans when they arrived.

They are great food plants for the birds and our pollinators  - very important for all of us!

Thanks for stopping by - next time you're out along a gravel road or prairie remnant - look for this beautiful native prairie plant!