Saturday, December 3, 2016

Noble Meadow Barn - A Resilient Landmark

Noble Meadow Barn

Constructed in a narrow gulch, the Noble Meadow Barn is a long-standing structure built to withstand the elements. The resilient landmark is a rustic reminder of the past that’s frequented today by various wildlife.

The exquisite architecture is erected from local timber, blending peacefully into the mountain environment. The wood work harmonizes gracefully with the flowing meadow grasses and broken forest that seeks to reclaim it.

Taking the brunt of arriving storms, the western wall is in shambles from the force of heavy snow. Just like an old bull elk after the rut, the weather-beaten barn makes its lonely winter stand on a windswept hillside.

The humble stronghold is reminiscent of a battered warrior rising from the earth as he’s born with the strength to fight another day. Storms that descend into the slender valley are intense for sure but most of the time the sky is clear, wildflowers abound and bluebirds sing.

Situated on a golden ridge, the insignificant touch of humanity gets lost in the vast wilderness that overwhelms it. Upon careful observation though, the building becomes a compelling element anchoring an iconic expression of the Evergreen landscape.

A long-standing structure

Built to withstand the elements

A resilient landmark

A rustic reminder of the past

Frequented by wildlife

Blending into the mountain environment

Harmonizes with the meadow grasses

Taking the brunt of arriving storms

The western wall is in shambles

The weather-beaten barn

A lonely winter stand

A humble stronghold

The storms are intense

Wildflowers abound

Bluebirds sing

Situated on a golden ridge

Lost in a vast wilderness

An iconic expression of the Evergreen landscape

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Curious Red Fox - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Curious Red Fox" Colored Pencil

A red fox emerges from the lush undergrowth of a dark forest, watching quietly from atop a granite platform. A keen observer of the world around him, this resourceful creature has earned a legendary reputation for intelligence and cunning.

The fox is nimble afoot and has remarkable paws built for rough terrain while his black stockings blend impossibly into the vermillion coat. More orange than red, he moves easily through the thick brush and across a rockfall of strewn boulders.

Cropped out of the picture, the bushy brown tail lends some balance to the agile critter as well as to the composition. The textured, pine tree trunk is pushed into the background because of its low contrast, enclosing the scene.

The depiction is awash in morning light as limber ferns cast a pattern of peculiar shadows across the interior space. This resurrected drawing was freshened up with layers of rich color and completed with cautious realism.

The deep woodland is a mystical dwelling inhabited by all kinds of birds and wildlife. During an excursion into the wilderness, I enjoy seeing them all but there’s one local resident I admire the most - the curious red fox.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Crown Hill Park - A Golden Gateway

Crown Hill Park

Crown Hill Park is an expansive hilltop risen above a sea of amber waves of grain. The far off Flatirons form an impressive backdrop, giving an imaginative wanderer the feeling he’s walking in the wilderness.

The centerpiece of this wide, wheat ridge is a placid lake that’s cobalt blue and smooth as a mirror. Almost perfectly oval in shape, the reservoir and its adjacent wetlands are a birder’s paradise.

During an Indian Summer, the sun-drenched forest exterior is a glorious yellow and full of life. Buzzing about the gnarled cottonwoods, energetic kingfishers happily call this place home.

Nearby, Kestrel Pond is mostly a soggy bottom filled with cattail willows. The ground floor is crawling with creepy, little creatures such as spiders, grasshoppers, praying mantis and garter snakes.

You’ll notice the landscape is distinguished by contrasting colors and textures while romping across this countryside. An isolated haven nestled in the sprawling suburbs, Crown Hill is a golden gateway to Colorado’s mountain west.

The Flatirons are an impressive backdrop

Walking in the wilderness

A blue lake is the centerpiece

Smooth as a mirror

A birder's paradise

An Indian Summer

Glorious yellow

Kestrel Pond is mostly cattails

Grasshopper

Garter Snake

Contrasting colors and textures

An isolated haven

A golden gateway to the west

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Dillon Reservoir - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Dillon Reservoir" Colored Pencil

It’s a dreary, November day at Dillon Reservoir in Summit County, Colorado. Observed from an astonishing overlook, the watery encompassment is hit with a precursor to the volatile winter weather that defines this elevated area.

As temperatures continue to plummet, the passing storm fills the air with pellets of frozen moisture. On land, the foothills feature broken terrain expressed with indistinct outlines erased by the murky atmosphere.

The dark foreground of brush and foliage is enlivened by an inconspicuous grove of orange aspen. Stretched across the textured sheet of paper, the water is steel-blue, taking on the tone of the turbulent sky.

The thin strips of shoreline are jigsawed carefully into the dense forest. Also, horizontal passages of infinite shades of green are succeeded by a string of gray mountains whose contours fade into the distance.

Where the sun’s rays are allowed to touch the earth, patches of vermillion warm the low-key landscape. Those shafts of surreal light stream through the imperial heavens and conclude the composition by highlighting the innocent, white peak.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Bighorn Sheep Winter - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Bighorn Sheep Winter" Colored Pencil
Rocky Mountain thunder cracks across the gray, November sky. Heard for miles around, the stirring echoes are from the violent clash between massive combatants who are desperate to prove their masculine dominance.

The battles may last for twenty-four hours but the exhausted victor earns exclusive mating rights. The weapons of choice are the impressive, coiled horns that are the distinguishing feature of Colorado's state symbol, the bighorn sheep.

They are the ultimate gladiators built to live along steep ridges and in rugged canyons. This fragile species must also carefully navigate the precipice of extinction as the sheep are extremely sensitive to artificial disturbances in their natural environment.

It's a familiar story but the numbers are staggering - before 1800, two million bighorn sheep populated North America. By the year 1900, only a few thousand remained as hunting, loss of habitat and disease spread by introduced livestock decimated their numbers.

In 1936 the Arizona Boy Scouts mounted a sympathetic campaign to rescue the bighorn sheep. A "Save the Bighorns" art contest launched in schools throughout the state garnered national attention. Once made aware of the dire situation, other wildlife organizations joined the effort.

Intense conservation methods such as reintroduction into their former homelands, a decrease in direct competition with domestic sheep and protection from National Parks have all been successful. In areas where the bighorn sheep are allowed to roam unimpeded by man-made obstacles, the animals are thriving once again.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sheep Lakes - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Sheep Lakes" Colored Pencil

Set in a lush meadow, Sheep Lakes is another outstanding locale displaying the surreal beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park. Framed by a chain of purple peaks, the pastoral scene is a sight to behold.

The thin, mountain air is infused with brilliant light that saturates a natural canvas already painted with pure colors. The small, reflecting pond is like a liquid mirror, reproducing the scene with remarkable precision.

Even during summer, a current of cold air flows down through Fall River Canyon and seeps into the horseshoe-shaped park. The cool breeze permeates the pristine landscape and softens edges with a subtle motion-blur.

As the region’s most recent glacier retreated, an outwash of braided streams deposited chunks of frozen debris across the valley floor. The ice-mass melted, creating cavities in the earth and when those depressions are filled with water, they’re called kettle lakes.

Bighorn Sheep are attracted to this place because of the salt deposits still found in the ground. Every summer they descend from the remote Mummy Range in order to graze and eat soil, obtaining minerals that are unavailable in their high mountain habitat.

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.