Saturday, November 21, 2015

About Art, Paintings and Drawings - An Interview

"Trout Lake" Colored Pencil

Recently, I had a conversation with my friend Adam Ziemba from Noble Portrait about art, paintings and drawings. Somehow, Adam was able to weave that information together and he published the results of our discussion in an interview format.

It’s always gratifying when someone shows an interest in your creative work so I appreciate Adam’s inquisitive enthusiasm. If you’re interested in learning more about my philosophies of art, photography and nature, please check out Adam’s article.

Prepared by Adam Ziemba

Dan Miller, a top 100 colored-pencil artist, was kind enough to share his experiences with and passion for fine art on our pages of Noble Portrait.

Born to an artistic family in western Nebraska, Dan quickly discovered his lifetime passion for fine arts. Ever since he began with a pencil as a child, he has developed expertise in photography, writing, and oil and acrylic painting. Dan searches and seeks for truth in the world. His inspiration derives from nature, landscapes and wildlife, which truly shows on his many artworks.

In the interview, Dan expands on his education and career path. He talks about some of the most important lessons and most difficult challenges which he encountered on the way to becoming a fine artist. He shares his observations regarding imitating styles of other artists (even most famous art masters like van Gogh, Rembrandt or Dali), as well as painting photo-real portraits. Dan also shares advice with other established and aspiring fine artists.

Please join us for the entire interview “About Art, Paintings and Drawings with Dan Miller”.

Evergreen, Colorado

Nature is inspiring

Photographing the Colorado landscape and beyond

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Observation Point - An Unreachable Destination

Zion Canyon

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” - Greg Anderson

Zion National Park is known for its dry heat, clean air and bright colors but on this day the canyon is cool and wet. During a steady drizzle, we begin our steep ascent up the dark, weeping wall.

Despite the limited light, the narrow gorge displays a wide value range. Under such conditions the desert can’t be seen in black and white, it must be expressed with a thousand shades of gray.

Lofty height is earned quickly from a steady effort exerted up the long switchbacks. The far rim vanishes in a veil of dark clouds as the storm descends below and settles over the riverbed.

The dangerous ravine is approached with respect but climbed with confidence. While walking a narrow line, the airy landscape is visually stunning but frightful vertigo is induced to the sensitive viewer.

A slender cavern provides surprisingly dry cover during the heaviest downpour. Pressing ever forward across slippery rock, the massive landscape is completely quiet.

After taking it to the limit, our unfortunate return is reluctantly arranged. Unfazed by the uncomfortable elements, we just miss the vertical max because time expired.

Despite our best efforts, the Point remains unreachable but that’s okay because there’s something I’ve learned concerning life. The journey is what brings us happiness, not the destination.

A steady drizzle in Zion National Park

The gorge displays a wide value range

A thousand shades of gray

Lofty height is earned quickly

The far rim vanishes in a veil

A storm settles below

The dangerous ravine is approached with respect

The airy landscape is stunning

Unfazed by the elements

We missed the vertical max

We gave our best effort

It's the journey, not the destination

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hobbs Peak Park - A Secluded Reserve

Ocelot Cliffs at Hobbs Peak Park

Hobbs Peak Park is a hidden oasis landlocked by surrounding private property. The centerpiece of the secluded reserve is a photogenic rock formation known as the Ocelot Cliffs.

Native Americans revered the unusual landscape, evidenced by arrowheads that can still be found at the sacred site. The place may have been used for ceremonies and other spiritual activities associated with origin stories and oral traditions.

During the 1970’s, the area was a climber’s mecca that attracted adventurers from all across the country. Currently, scaling the cliffs is illegal and if caught, the penalty is as steep as the rock’s south face.

The little piece of land is bursting with wildlife where red foxes roam through the forest while mule deer graze in the meadows. Rumor even has it that a reclusive mountain lion stalks the sequestered woods.

Featuring the Mount Evans Massif, a marvelous vista appears to the west while traversing the park’s narrow spine. Whether seen in the spring or sprinkled with snow, this special area is blessed with beauty during all seasons.

Protective locals are gracious hosts but they clearly hope the hidden gem remains off the radar and who can blame them. It’s pretty nice to have such a pristine wilderness all to yourself.

A hidden oasis

The centerpiece is a photogenic rock

Native Americans revered the unusual landscape

A spiritual place

Meadows are bursting with wildlife

Sequestered woods

Marvelous vista to the west

Beauty during all seasons

A hidden gem

Pristine wilderness

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel - A Lost Soul

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Crowned with a russet headband, the golden-mantled ground squirrel is a lost soul living at the forest’s edge. Usually stationed on a fallen log, this solitary creature lives most of his life alone, quietly observing the activity happening all around him.

Always alert, he’s an inquisitive animal that seems to tolerate a peaceful approach. For this rockhound of a rodent, summers are spent lying about in the sun while fall becomes more frenzied as he must fatten up for a five month hibernation.

Specialized cheek pouches allow the golden-mantled ground squirrel to gather generous amounts of food off of the ground. With all fours freed up, he is able to transport the mouthful back to his burrow at full speed.

The edible cache is reserved for winter so if he wakes from hunger, he can gnaw on a mid-slumber snack. It’s also a convenient energy source that can be eaten when the sleepy squirrel reemerges in the early spring.

Because they share the same ecosystem and physical features, he is often confused with the Colorado chipmunk. The golden-mantled is easily distinguished, though, as he lacks the facial striping so prominent in his smaller cousin.

He doesn’t have much impact on the environment and despite human alteration to his habitat, his kind seems to be thriving. It’s our world and he’s just a simple squirrel searching for a nut but if he ever disappeared, he would be sorely missed.

A lost soul

Stationed on a fallen log

Always alert

He tolerates a peaceful approach

A rockhound

Fall becomes frenzied

He has specialized cheek pouches

He gathers food

He lacks facial striping

He doesn't impact the environment

His kind is thriving

A simple squirrel

He would be missed

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ornate Box Turtle - A Harmless Homebody

Ornate Box Turtle

Inhabiting the arid sandhills of western Nebraska, the ornate box turtle is perfectly content to live life in the slow lane. Sharing some of the same traits as the persistent pioneers that first settled the area, he is admired for his grit, determination and perseverance.

The species was first discovered in Nebraska circa 1795 and described by early explorers as occurring in “vast numbers” all across the prairie. Today, their status is uncertain but the population must be at least stable because I frequently see them during the summer.

This tortoise is a harmless homebody that doesn’t require much room to roam. Active from April through October, he saunters through the brush existing in a small territory that’s just a few acres in size. By the first frost, he digs a shallow burrow and hibernates over the winter.

In his small world there isn’t much competition for available food resources because this easy-going omnivore isn’t a picky eater. His favorite meals are insects, spiders and worms but he’ll also happily consume fruits, vegetables and carrion.

Like most reptiles, his daily activities revolve around thermoregulation. Mornings are spent warming up in the sun but during the hottest part of the day, he rests in the shade. Drawn back out by cool temps, he's probably most active in the evening.

The little land-dweller is distinguished by the yellow paint that’s splattered artistically all over his dark body and shell. Created with a hinged plastron, he can completely withdraw his head, legs and tail into a defensive box position for protection from predators.

He's a sensitive creature that’s terribly vulnerable to disruptions in his homeland. Habitat destruction due to agricultural expansion is probably the biggest threat to his continued survival but surprisingly, the most common cause of death comes from car collisions.

He doesn’t ask for much, just green grass, soft dirt and fresh water but if you’re ever driving through Nebraska, please keep an eye out for our humble friend. If you do happen to see him in the middle of the road, kindly pull over, pick him up and place him on the other side.

Perfectly content in the slow lane

The species was first discovered in Nebraska

He doesn't require much room to roam

An easy-going omnivore

Mornings are spent warming up

He's splattered with yellow paint

He can completely withdraw into a box

A very sensitive creature

Keep an eye out for our humble friend