Saturday, March 28, 2015

Wasatch Mountains - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Wasatch Mountains" Colored Pencil

This drawing depicts a sweeping view of Utah's Wasatch Mountains on a sparkling, summer day. Bordered by great, salt flats, the gorgeous range rises inexplicably out of the dry, desert sand. Here, the Lower Bells Canyon is a lofty oasis providing respite from the lively lowlands.

The foreground is filled with grasses of green and gold while stair-stepped through the rubble of smooth rocks, a shallow stream is a turquoise outlet. It's a place positioned at the mouth of a steep gorge where a murky reservoir is concealed by fresh greenery.

The entire scene is backlit by mid-morning sun as demonstrated by the dark shadows defining the wavy, white clouds. The background features rugged peaks that descend into the distance while a row of blue brush forms a boundary between the forest and high plateau.

A variety of lush vegetation occupies the wet valley where verdant shades of color are too numerous to decipher. Preceded by a remarkable reputation, it's an Eden where the visitor is reminded that the natural beauty of the American, western landscape will always ring true.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Clear Creek - A Transparent Torrent

Clear Creek at Golden, Colorado

On a gorgeous evening in Golden, Colorado, Clear Creek is undeniably liberated from winter's icy grasp. As the cold season draws to a close, we are challenged to emerge from our dark den.

The great thaw continues and soon this silent stream will be transformed into a transparent torrent, flowing below a series of rustic bridges. Off towards the setting sun, a deep gorge was hewn by this wonderful waterway.

Rushing down out of the foothills, a deluge of glacial water causes the snowy banks to collapse. Bordering the rock-filled river, bare trees are unable to divert the air of changing seasons.

Packed with deep snow, the canyon trail is mired in an eternal shadow. Backlit beneath billowy clouds, the blue mountains remain anything but glum. A cheerful spirit permeates the entire landscape.

It's on a special night just like this that I'm reminded. When an extraordinary light shines down from above, it reveals a certain truth and beauty hidden deep inside us all.

A gorgeous evening in Golden

Rushing out of the foothills

Snowy banks have collapsed

Bare trees border the creek

The blue mountains are backlit

A cheerful spirit permeates the landscape

An extraordinary light

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Western Nebraska - A Winter Walk

Silent Shadows at Dugout Creek

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." ~ John Muir

This past winter, western Nebraska was a wonderland. Wandering around in bad weather, I wasn't expecting to find much during my nature walk. Surprisingly, the normally stark Sandhills sparkled with a glow not usually seen.

The wide, blue sky was a dramatic backdrop enhancing the deep, white snow. The abandoned Northport school was eerily concealed by a congregation of old cottonwoods. Down the way, strange, dark shadows stretched quietly across Dugout Creek.

Where the river ran high, a persistent heron hunted along the mighty North Platte. Flitting swiftly through a yellow thicket, resident sparrows searched for corn while perched on a high snag, a striking kestrel kept an eye out for unsuspecting prey.

South of the settlement where whiteout conditions existed, Courthouse and Jail were mere apparitions barely visible above the creekside campground. There, jackrabbits burst out of hiding and accelerated across the open prairie, leaving canine pursuers in their dust.

After time spent visiting hills, rivers, the Rocks, creeks and cornfields, it was back to Bridgeport. The town where trails converge. During the holiday season, I always feel thankful but on that day, I was especially grateful for nature's unexpected generosity.

The Sandhills sparked

Dramatic, blue skies

Abandoned Northport School

The river ran high

The mighty North Platte

Great Blue Heron

Sparrows in a yellow thicket

A striking kestrel

Courthouse and Jail were ghosts

Gray cornfield

Bridgeport, Nebraska

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Elk Meadow - Blue is Beautiful

Pine tree shadows at Elk Meadow

Last Saturday, sloshing through Elk Meadow was an enlightening experience. While breaking trail below Bergen Peak, the winter landscape was presented as an airy palette of pastels.

A dark note set within a sea of snow, an old barn drew the photographer's attention. Built back in the 1800s, the faithful stable has become a scenic symbol for the town's steadfast spirit.

Streaming down from above, a ribbon of icy indigo produced a gentle cascade. Up at the overlook, a cluster of ponderosa pine created cobalt shadows that followed the field's wavy contours.

Still too early for birds to be back, our only companion in the white wilderness was a clever coyote. After a gloomy week of miserable weather, an exuberant sky was sprinkled with powder blue.

Wandering through the mountains warmed our hearts and melted the melancholy. Despite this dreary time being filled with snow and cold, don't be downcast. Look at the bright side, at least blue is beautiful.

Sloshing through Elk Meadow

An airy palette of pastels

The old barn

A scenic symbol

A ribbon of icy indigo

A clever coyote

A gloomy week of weather

An exuberant sky

Blue is beautiful

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Golden Eagle - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Golden Eagle" Colored Pencil

Perfectly integrated into its environment, the golden eagle is a highly evolved bird of prey. The regal dignitary is a versatile hunter armed with an array of deadly cutlery. This keen-eyed, king of the birds may be the most impressive monarch in the animal kingdom.

The imperial eagle has been an everlasting symbol of strength and power. An icon of religious adoration, the golden eagle was revered in ancient Rome as the god Jupiter's personal messenger. Speeding across the heavens with astonishing speed and maneuverability, it was thought to have thunderbolts in its talons.

A world away, Native Americans also worshiped the Thunderbird. They believed this sacred deity was a link between mortals and the Great Spirit. When falconry flourished in Europe, the esteemed eagle was flown by kings only.

Gliding between cliffs from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains, the golden eagle is one of the most fierce predators on the planet. If it gets hungry, watch out because almost any species on earth is fair game.

Our early ancestors may have been hunted by gigantic birds of prey. A swooping sneak-attack would have come from above. So, who can blame you for being innately afraid while in the shadow of a ravenous raptor.

Those restless nights of tossing and turning are difficult, I know. Just be careful if you're searching for sleep by counting sheep because a massive, brown bird may soar into the subconscious and transform your sweet dreams into your worst nightmare.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Evergreen Lake Spring - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Evergreen Lake Spring"

After a tiresome winter, it's finally spring at Evergreen Lake where everything appears back in perfect order. The trout are jumping, ducks are quacking and dippers are dipping. Rushing out of the rugged Front Range, Bear Creek becomes a lazy river as it enters the wide reservoir.

The foreground features sparkling highlights that flicker across the icy inlet. On land, the variety of fresh vegetation displays a rich diversity of size, shape and color. Known as Elephant, the big, gray butte concludes the background while wispy, white clouds sweep across a cerulean sky.

An arched footbridge transports the ambler to a winding boardwalk through a marsh of soggy cattails. The yellow reeds are a place where red-wings make a ruckus over food, relationships and intrusion. Despite the blackbirds' disruption, most creatures consider the warmer weather a Godsend.

Pressed beneath an arctic crush, we welcome spring as an uplifting transition to a short, summer season. At this point, the fate of our fleeting bliss is determined by the courage of a hairy, little whistle-pig. Once again, not surprisingly, we're looking at eight more weeks of winter.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sneffels Range Spring - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Sneffels Range Spring" Colored Pencil

Tucked discretely below the Dallas Divide, the Sneffels is a scenic sub-range of the San Juan Mountains. The confusion of untidy crags is a rugged remnant of an ancient volcano. It's late spring but bare rock is beginning to emerge from a shroud of heavy, winter snow.

A row of crooked cottonwoods is an elaborate gateway into the Colorado wild. Patches of delicate dandelions are scattered throughout the lush meadow while an assembly of blazing brush complicates an already busy foreground.

As a gray sky drizzles the landscape with cold rain, receding into the distance, colors cool from violet to blue-green. A series of spectacular buttes is a scenic prelude to an awesome alpine environment where a single, cautious stroke defines the ragged peaks.

Composed from equal parts image, experience and memory, this drawing was not meant to hang on a wall. It's more of a sketch than a showpiece. A little bit looser and fabricated with less concern, sometimes a simple study is more satisfactory than the final, finished work.