Saturday, June 24, 2017

Red Rocks Park - Happy Days

Red Rocks Park, Colorado

Up out of Mount Vernon Creek in the steep foothills west of Denver, an extraordinary arrangement of red rocks has shattered the western skyline. A network of dirt paths and sheer stairways are woven through the bustling venue.

Taking center stage in this natural backdrop is the unique amphitheater that hosts world-class performances by musical artists. The place is always warm during a summer dayhike while weekend shows heat up the night.

Looping around an ancient garden of sandstone, the Trading Post Trail is a favorite as it features lively songbirds above and yellow snakes below. Here, the park's colorful cliffs contrast sharply with the fresh, green foliage.

Down on the Dinosaur Ridge, seasons have changed but up in the high country there's still lots of snow. This time of year, the semi-arid environment that describes this region is the perfect place for a solitary sojourn.

After surviving a dark winter and a difficult spring, the longer light and fragrant wildflowers fill the air with a sense of guarded optimism. It’s been just a few weeks of subdued patience but now it appears as though happy days are here again.

Mount Vernon Creek

An extraordinary arrangement of red rocks

A summer dayhike

Trading Post Trail

Spotted Towhee

Yellow bull snake

Colorful cliffs

Green foliage

Seasons have changed

A solitary sojourn

Fragrant wildflowers

Happy days are here

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gore Range Sketch - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Gore Range Sketch" Colored Pencil

It's summer in the high country and a blanket of wildflowers covers the steep slopes below Ute Pass. Looming over a slender valley, the Gore Range is composed from an array of incredibly jagged peaks.

Heaped on top of the purple mountains, deep snow still persists even until the end of June. Dark woodlands are curved hastily across the rolling foothills, creating a tapestry of verdant greens.

The beauty of Blue River Basin is an irresistible impression. Sketched quickly in plein air, this pencil drawing might sometime in the future provide the framework for creating a more finished piece of art.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Forest Edge - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Forest Edge" Colored Pencil

It's an early spring evening in the Front Range foothills as golden light streams through this quiet corridor. Waves of yellow grasses churn across the valley floor like a turbulent, yellow sea.

The shadows are violet and their strange shapes follow the contour of a rugged landscape. The centerpiece of the scenery is a pair of red bushes that inhabit this special domain.

The forest edge is a dark barrier of scattered pine trees set in the picture's background. Subtle shading helps define the individual forms while a few streaks of lemon break up the deepest greens.

A single Ponderosa seems to have captured the spotlight as it stretches vertically into a powder-blue sky. In the vast expanse a few clouds drift slowly out of the west with trail edges that disintegrate into the atmosphere.

Simplified shapes and exaggerated color are stippled onto the page in a pointillistic manner, recording an impression of a fleeting moment in time. This rendering may not be even remotely accurate but that's the way I see it.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sneffels Range Spring - Acrylic

"Sneffels Range Spring" Acrylic

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 cautious strokes define the ragged peaks.

Composed from equal parts image, experience and memory, this painting 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.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Elk Ridge - Scenic Splendor

Elk Ridge, Colorado

The morning after a mid-May snowstorm, Elk Ridge is a pristine landscape rising above untouched territory. Breaking trail through drifts of deep snow impedes progress but on this day there is no rush to reach the top.

Frosted Bergen Peak looms over the white meadow where a grove of green aspen accentuates the scenic splendor. Blue shadows undulate across a frozen surface that blankets the rugged earth buried so far below.

While trudging along the edge of the dark woodland, tall pine trees release a deluge of icy snowmelt. Drenched from head to toe, the wanderer in this wilderness is bound to get wet and chilled to the bone.

By late afternoon, the warm sun has begun to release the foothills from the weakening grip of the season's last winter storm. Truly, it shouldn't come as a surprise because this unusual pattern has become an annual event.

It seems outrageous to be experiencing such inclement weather at this time but the snow will not last long. Believe it or not, in a couple of days you won't even be able to tell it snowed at all because it will have vanished into thin air.

A pristine landscape

Deep snow

Bergen Peak looms over the white meadow

Blue shadows

Along the edge of a dark woodland

Tall pines release snowmelt

Warm sun in the foothills

An annual event

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Holladay Nature Preserve - Dreary Days

Wallace F Holladay Nature Preserve

Occupying a rural greenbelt on the outskirts of Indianapolis, Holladay Nature Preserve features a diverse variety of trees and birdlife. Surrounded by a deciduous forest, a small pond is the sparkling centerpiece.

Continuous rainfall has cleansed the dense woodland, saturating the Spring landscape with a glossy sheen. During such a downpour, the brown creek rushes steadily through a rolling meadow.

In the field below a weathered, red barn and a broken-down silo, yellow flowers form a nice border. Nearby, the abundant foliage becomes a tangled mass that's tremendous in both height and width.

Despite being drenched during the remarkable deluge, resilient songbirds keep chirping with an infectious optimism. After a few, dreary days spent in the heartland of Indiana, it's nice to finally see the sun.

A diverse variety of trees

A small pond is the centerpiece

A cleansed woodland

A Spring landscape

A rolling meadow

A red barn and a broken-down silo

Abundant foliage

Tremendous height and width

It's nice to see the sun

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Spring Storm - South Table Mountain

South Table Mountain

"You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes." ~ Alexandre Dumas

The desolate landscape on top of South Table Mountain is a bleak outlook, troubled under a murky, Spring sky. On this great, windswept plateau, trees are scarce and the sting from abundant cactus is too painful to recount.

Dark skies unveil a curtain of cold rain that soaks all who dare to trespass on this depressing domain. The merciless breeze is a dogged companion that's unsympathetic to a yearning for more cheerful times.

The muddy road leading home is a lonely trek serenaded by the melancholy chorus of field crickets and meadow larks. Just like the turbulent weather experienced on this dismal day, life is a storm.

A desolate landscape

A troubled sky

Trees are scarce

A painful sting

Yearning for cheerful times

A lonely trek

Turbulent weather

Life is a storm