Friday, December 21, 2018

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Trying Our Best

"Winter Morning at Don's Old Place" 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

I've been trying my best to keep stay on target, but life is a bit more complicated than all that; I just have to quit fighting the tide and go with it sometimes I think.

Our winter finally began...first with a full night of rain, then turning to snow.  Made for terrible driving but also a good reason to stay put and do some work in the house. 

I caught a bug from somewhere - haven't the slightest idea where, but it took the wind out of my sails...still trying to hoist them back up.  Woke up yesterday to the results of an overnight freezing was spectacular!  Around 10:30 in the morning the sun started cutting through and the time was now or never so I grabbed the camera and went for a short visit in the "neighborhood" to see what views might be found.

"Winter Morning, Passing Don's Old Place" 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

I thought of the wonderful little gem of a summer place, one the owner used to spend summers at in his old age...he'd then slip off to one of his children's to spend his winters.  Its sold now...I don't know who owns it but I still refer to it as Don's old place.   When I arrived the sun was already dropping the frost from the trees...not that it's melting but that the air currents are starting to become active and the breeze is tipping the heavy ice crystals from their delicate balancing act.

 "Frosty Morning at the old Farmstead" 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

It was a beautiful setting but becoming quickly undone!  I tried not to spend too much time taking it in and recording it as best I could instead.  I then drove down the road a bit to a nice old farmstead and turned around as a bridge down the road had been wiped out by last September's epic flood in the valley.  The long early morning shadows at the farmstead's gate were wonderful and they were the last strong holdouts on frost that morning. 

By the time I arrived back to the acreage, the frost was all on the ground and the moment was over.  It was a beautiful 45 minutes, not just a visual memory. And now back to the business of the day...trying our best.

Friday, October 26, 2018


"In the Wild Plum - Nashville Warbler"
oil painting on canvas - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

I was having one of those days last spring where I was in a funk of some sort, and Georgie came into the studio and said the plums were full of warblers and "Why didn't I get outside and take some warbler pictures!"

To make a long story short I gabbed a chair and sat under the plum across from the studio deck and photographed these little, almost hyper warblers catching tiny insects pollinating the profusion of blooms...come to think of it, I may have even blogged about it.

I had been working on other things at the time but while going through the files of warbler shots one caught my eye - a male Nashville Warbler "on the hunt"...the camera caught the small fly and the warbler's posture about to spring and catch it's prey...the photograph was "OK" but it needed something - I knew it needed painting.

Finally, in mid June I got around to stating the idea of this painting...I began by laying in the entire background of out-of-focus and blowing branches, trying to create some kind of movement of color and shapes.  A couple of days into the piece I felt I did have something I needed to finish.

My Dad had just taken ill and I wanted to make a trip to see him, so I broke loose from the studio and headed to Ft Dodge - it had been raining A LOT and on the way I was detoured twice by water flowing over the county black tops I delayed me and when I arrived I found my siblings there at Dad's side; he was unconscious and slipping away.  

We spent the day together there in our Father's room, trying to stay calm and together; later that night Dad left us as I was talking to him.

My Father had always supported my work...I keep a note he wrote me a few years ago, here on my studio desk...sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes cry...its signed "your proud Dad".  He liked being a part of my artwork in earlier years, when I was obsessed with drawing, silk screening, photographing and painting birds...even  surprising me by showing up at "Birds in Art" exhibitions I was accepted into, at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI.  He always asked what I was up to in later years.

I was hoping to show him my latest painting, it is more reminiscent of those early passions I fed off of...I think he would have liked it.

It wasn't easy picking this back up after Dad's was weeks before I finally kicked the stool out from under myself and finally got in front of the easel again; but even then my progress has been less than stellar. 

I feel a rekindling of sorts now.  Its hard to explain.  Have I come full circle?  I don't know, but I've got too many things in my head now - I'd better get busy before they disappear! 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Who Needs the Stink'n Grid?!

Been off the internet "grid" in a couple ways lately – one way – Good! In another way...ugh...annoying. I'll get the annoying part out of the way – we've been without internet service for about 7 days this month...maybe more, don't know because we were also gone on vacation a week this month too – a Good thing!

We spent a week up along the north shore of Lake Superior, visiting old haunts and enjoying the beautiful autumn colors. We built a small cabin on the shore of Lake Superior nearly 35 years ago, enjoyed 18 summers and a few off seasons there and loved it very much. But things change – usually beyond our control, and we sold our small north shore paradise and luckily found a new retreat on the prairie to call home year-round. But it had been 16 years since last visiting NE Minnesota and it was a good return visit.

Sometimes you really can't “go back”, things change, situations know what I mean. But even though the weather was mostly gray and wet, it was a pleasant reunion with the natural surroundings...I'll leave you with a small sampling of our “Good” internet free week!

Cascade River Falls - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison
Lake Superior and the distant Sawtooth Range
west of Grand Marais
photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

 Grand Marais harbor 
photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

Pincushion Mtn overlook above Grand Marais
photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

 Along the Kadunce River canyons - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

Along the Flute Reed River - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

The Moose Valley Road - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

Mt. Josephine and Hat Point - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

 Teal Lake - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

The Pigeon River - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

The High Falls on the Pigeon River- photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

 Lutsen Mountain color - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

  Along the Sawbill Trail - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

 Back country marshy stream - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

East branch of the Baptism River - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

 West branch of the Baptism River - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison

And now that we're back I had better get back to work - I've got a lot of unfinished business here...unfinished paintings and half formed ideas stuck in my head that need to be released before they disappear.  But I feel renewed, like after visiting with old friends I haven't seen in a long, long while.  

Now waiting for my internet service to be restored...if you see this you'll know I'm least for a moment...

Friday, September 7, 2018

Sneaking Past!!!

 Band-winged Meadowhawk
in morning dew at Prairie Hill Farm
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Time is sneaking past me!!!  I hope I'm not the only one that should "NOT" be September already!!!!

I'm afraid I'm a victim of work/business computer was "blue screening" me nearly every day this summer and I finally broke down and bought a new one.  Well - I found how difficult it is replacing 10 years worth of software and passwords!!!  The software thing was a the major "time eater" and is still my nemesis - Auuugggghhhhhh!!!!!  Its been 4 weeks and I still have some hurdles to get over...I liked Windows 7 better!!!!  (Sorry for complaining so much.)

I found a couple days ago I couldn't even interact with my blogs.  2 days later (with no help from google!) I finally got control back and can no longer procrastinate and am trying to get back to blogging once more.  (Oops, complaining again!)

We are right in the middle of the Bird and Monarch migrations now.  We had our first Monarch Roost on August 30th and are just now hatching out Monarchs in the pasture too...we'll see one more roost and they'll likely all be on their way to Mexico!  I do have a few caterpillars and chrysalises here inside the studio...these are from eggs I found here on the acreage and I brought them inside to "finish out" so as to give them a better chance at reaching adulthood.  (I've read that survival can be as low as 5% in the wild for eggs and caterpillars - adopting and keeping a watch can increase that a lot - so far I'm getting 100% survival).

 Monarch Roost at Prairie Hill Farm - 8-30-2018
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison 

It's kind of a bittersweet thing when this time of the year comes along, and all your "friends" start leaving.  This morning we only have one Baltimore Oriole left; we still have 2-3 Hummers around the feeders and the Catbirds, Barn Swallows and Red-headed Woodpeckers are still around.  But it won't be long.  At least that will bring our northern fall migrants through and then our winter residents, so there's a bright side to every thing that comes about.

If you haven't been out there, you might want to do so - Summer is sneaking past...don't miss it!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mid Summer and Gorgeous

 Prairie Hill Farm
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

The heat has just abated a little and the Black Flies (having undergone a second hatch) have finally calmed down a its the skeeters - but hey, the dragonflies, bats and swallows need to eat too!  The prairie pastures have continued to wow me...the insects, birds, grasses and forbs are giving cause to pause and watch.  Get out if you can...I know that life tends to get in the way, but a quiet walk is in order!

(Click on any image for a larger view)

 Monarch Butterfly (male) feeding on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) 
in the pasture here at Prairie Hill Farm
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Mass of Cup Plants (Silphium perfoliatum) in bloom in the pasture
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum)  
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Fairy Napkin! OK...just a dew covered spider web! 
The "little fairy" can be seen peeking out from it lair in the upper hole in the web 
(should have zoomed in on him)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Gray-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 My favorites in the low areas of the pasture and ditches - 
Swamp Milkweed! (Asclepias incarnata)  
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Mass of Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) - delicate little plants, balanced in the left foreground by spikes of Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) 
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Mass of Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

The prairie keeps changing - hopefully I can keep up and record it...if you get a chance - get out and enjoy it!!! 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Egads - July!!!

Behind on my blog posts - the Prairie Pasture out in front of the studio has been drop dead gorgeous the past couple weeks...even though the rains have been overly plentiful and troublesome to many in the area - the prairie pasture loved every drop! 

There has been a great deal of flooding these past weeks and many crops have drown, towns flooded and even a derailment in a flooded river valley 45 minutes northwest of us of a train pulling heavy crude from the fracking areas of the north.  If there were more prairies and less cropping of every nook, cranny and fence line imaginable - there would be less flooding, run-off and erosion of our precious soils. 

Here's a few photos, drawings and paintings of the many plants blooming here in our pastures right now!

 Wild Bergamot (monarda fistulosa) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Echinacea angustifolia and Prairie Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Hoary Vervain - (Verbena stricta) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Canada Milkvetch (Astragalus canadensis)
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum) 
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison

 False Gromwell (Onosmodium molle) and Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa) 
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Heliopsis helianthoides with Orange Sulphur butterfly and Soldier beetle
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Heliopsis helianthoides
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Monarch caterpillar feeding on Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Showy Tick Trefoil (Desmodium canadense)
color pencil drawing - © Bruce A. Morrison

Wild Four O'clock (Mirabillis nyctaginea)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Enjoy the summer - as things change real fast out on the prairie; they'll be something different blooming tomorrow for sure