Saturday, October 22, 2016

Moraine Park - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Moraine Park" Colored Pencil

It’s late fall in northern Colorado and the Big Thompson River is a gray waterway meandering through the spacious meadow. An overhang of ochre grasses forms an elegant border that channels the slow-moving stream.

At its lowest level this time of year, the cold creek reveals a wide range of fantastically-shaped rocks. The blue forest in the background fringes the gateway of jagged spires and conceals the river's mysterious source.

Named Moraine Park, this ancient landscape was formed by mighty glaciers thousands of years ago. Today, the spectacular valley is enclosed by snowy peaks and it’s the centerpiece of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Autumn is a favorite time of year as it provides a pleasant distraction while waiting for the cold season to return. In this drawing, the bright colors are gone and the white sky is a ominous indicator of an approaching winter storm.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Above Tree Line - Something Spiritual

Snowy peaks from above tree line

Most of the summer was spent grounded in Colorado’s graceful foothills, a vibrant ecosystem bursting with activity. The forest was flush with lots of wildlife while the trails were packed with tons of tourists.

Things got considerably lower during a visit to the Pacific Ocean where the crowded West Coast descended to the depths of sea level. There, the sizzling California sun scorched the skin but excess oxygen filled the lungs.

Back home, along with the cool, autumn breeze came a yearning to climb into thin air. There’s something spiritual about getting above tree line that opens your heart and clears your mind.

You’re released from the stifling clutter of the complicated lowlands and gifted priceless time in a wide open space. It’s a simplified landscape composed from the basic ingredients of earth, rock and sky.

It’s a special domain with sparse vegetation and few inhabitants where only the most tenacious survive. The sound of silence is paired with far-reaching views that expose the hazy curvature of our blue planet.

Emerging from the lodgepole pine into such a unique environment is exhilarating and if you continue to make the solitary trek across remote terrain, you’ll begin to feel like this isolated kingdom is all yours.

A cool, autumn breeze

The yearning to climb into thin air

There's something spiritual above tree line

An escape from the lowlands

Gifted priceless time

Wide open space

Earth, rock and sky

A special domain

Sparse vegetation

Only the most tenacious survive

The sound of silence

Far-reaching views

Breaking tree line is exhilarating

Remote terrain

The kingdom is yours

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Laguna Beach - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Laguna Beach" Colored Pencil

It’s a warm, summer evening in southern California. The vast, Pacific Ocean is counterbalanced by steep, yellow cliffs that are decorated with a bouquet of complicated foliage.

Rolling green waves are washed ashore in a white foam that laps against the rocky beach. The endless sea stretches into infinity, creating an obvious horizon line.

Rigid clouds are dispersed casually across the upper part of the composition. They veil the blue sky with an opaque layer of pebbled white pencil.

Crowned with a tussled canopy, sinuous palm trees form an intriguing silhouette against the fading light. Hinting at an untouched tropical paradise, the exotic growth is unfamiliar territory.

The air is filled with the smell of salt and the sound of squawking sea gulls. As the sun begins to set, there is no doubt that the West Coast experience is a feast for all the senses.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Three Sisters Park - A Diverse Habitat

Three Sisters Open Space Park

Three Sisters Park is a diverse habitat featuring rocky crags, lush meadows, secluded forests and bountiful wildlife. The wide open space is nestled below and serves as a prelude to the spectacular Mount Evans Massif.

A complicated network of rugged trails is laced throughout the lonesome reserve. There are a couple of deserted cabins that are historical reminders of the hardy souls who first homesteaded this unforgiving area.

Winters are especially harsh as high winds continually batter the resilient landscape. Cold temperatures descend into the foothills and a heavy blanket of pure-white snow transforms the scene into a monochrome mountainscape.

Spring in this environment is cool and wet which is just perfect for the annual profusion of wild irises. During the oh-so-short summer, mule deer are quite common and seem to be the park’s most popular occupant.

Fall is the colorful time of year that revolves around the intense rutting period. Tormented with a nasty temper triggered by shorter daylengths, the Rocky Mountain elk are intimidating beasts that dominate the local animal kingdom.

Autumn is the ultimate transitional spell as all creatures great and small prepare for the difficulties that lie ahead. A last bit of light radiates from the small pockets of aspen gold before the sudden descent into our season of darkness.

The Three Sisters are rocky crags

Lush meadows

Secluded forests

Bountiful wildlife

A prelude to Mount Evans

A network of rugged trails

A historical reminder

Winters are especially harsh

Blanketed with snow

A monochrome mountainscape

Wild Irises

Mule Deer are common

The elk are intimidating

A small pocket of aspen

Our season of darkness

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Wildlife Encounters - Early Autumn

Mule Deer Fawns

It’s early autumn in Evergreen, Colorado and animals are on the move. Hiking along the edges of Bear Creek Canyon, I’m lucky enough to experience some remarkable wildlife encounters.

Up on top, a pair of mule deer fawns and their mother skirt the wide ridge. They forage furiously as their winter survival depends on the calories they consume now.

On the lush, north-facing slope, more muleys are like gray apparitions emerging from the shadows of a dark forest. As they pass through a stream of diffused sunlight, their movements are sheer stealth.

The trees are quiet because most of the birds have gone but down in the creek below, a curious fellow still remains. Watching the American dipper hunt in the midst of whitewater rapids is an absolute delight.

Across to the other side and the eerie bellow of a Rocky Mountain elk can already be heard. Upon reaching the impressive creatures, I find them resting and grazing in the cool shade.

Browsing on the community’s fringe, a young male still has fuzzy velvet on his stubby antlers. With the rut about to begin, I’m afraid the massive bulls will keep him at bay on the outside looking in.

Finally, a fat ground squirrel with cheeks full of food is a fitting symbol for fall. Before long, the cold weather will settle in and we’ll be looking at our first snow.

Bear Creek Canyon

A mule deer mother and twins

A wide ridge

A gray apparition

Diffused sunlight

Upper Bear Creek

The American dipper is a delight

A big bull elk

A young male

On the outside looking in

A fat ground squirrel

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Viele Lake - An Urban Oasis

Viele Lake

Viele Lake is a pretty reflecting pool located below Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado. The man-made reservoir is an urban oasis that clearly attracts lots of people.

The Flatirons rock formations create an impressive backdrop that’s mirrored symmetrically across the placid pond. On this September morn, structural white clouds float across a deep-blue sky.

During this season, trees display their yellow leaves through a flickering pattern of light and shade. As summer comes to an end, the birds are full of nervous energy before their eminent departure.

The community park is a fisherman’s delight as the lush habitat harbors big catfish and giant carp. A purple bridge is a photogenic arch that spans the lake’s narrow midsection.

The tranquil setting is perfect for a peaceful nature walk in order to clear your mind. It’s time to put your head down, don’t look too far ahead and just keep doing what you’re doing.

Nestled below Fairview High School

An urban oasis

The Flatirons are an impressive backdrop

Mirrored symmetrically

Structural white clouds

The trees are turning yellow

A flickering pattern of light and shade

A lush habitat

A tranquil setting

A peaceful nature walk