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.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Maroon Bells Spring - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Maroon Bells" Colored Pencil

Years ago after a heartbreaking winter, all hope was lost. The apathetic winds and embittered cold were just more salt in the wound. Unable to recover, an excursion to the medicinal Maroon Bells offered rebirth. The mountain refuge promised restfulness, remedy and reinvigoration.

Springtime in the Rockies is so pretty. Nothing in nature can match its perfection. After a dreary dark-season, the longer luminance sparks a renaissance of optimism, light and life. Decorated with patterns of pure green, the entire landscape is laid out with unabashed affection.

The muddy path to Maroon Lake is an uplifting pilgrimage to Colorado's scenic paragon. The regenerative powers of such an enchanting place is simply undeniable. It's outlet blocked by broken branches, the deep-blue lagoon is bordered by grassy banks and bushes.

Commanding the composition, the rugged, purple peaks are serrated with wedges of white snow. Yellow wildflowers dot the foreground while rock-solid clouds are structured in the sky above. Across the way, a dark, pine fortress stands over a slide of pink rubble.

Often criticized for its naive draughtsmanship and unnatural color blending, this piece was not manufactured as a window into reality. This drawing is an honest expression that's meant to convey true feelings conceived in the heart.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Monument Canyon - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Monument Canyon" Colored Pencil

Out in western Colorado, the pinon-covered plateau is sliced by a peculiar gorge that appears more alien than Mars. Under a searing, summer sun, Monument Canyon is an inconceivable gateway to the Great American Desert but this sweeping panorama isn't make-believe.

Like some garden of unearthly delights, chiseled sandstone pinnacles tower above a devil's den of arid habitat. The dazzling landscape is distinguished by sharp contrasts in value and color. In order to express the oppressive heat, a palette of warm tones is required.

Beaming down from above, a radiant light polishes the red rocks with bleached highlights and dark shadows. Below, colors clash on the canyon floor where passages of green brush speckle the scorched earth. Behind, a hazy shelf of Book Cliffs becomes blueish-gray.

The piece is meant to be an accurate representation of the view from an outstanding overlook along Rim Rock Drive. So if it seems like a study in Surrealism, nothing could be further from fact. This detailed drawing is a classic case of the truth being stranger than fiction.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dragon Duel - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Dragon Duel" Colored Pencil

"Riddles my weapons. Answers my shield. Though you battle with wit, I'll never yield."
Slowly the clamped teeth loosened. The watching dragons collectively sighed in disappointment. But the confrontation was not over.
"My wit is quite sharp," responded the leader, "as sharp as my claws and teeth. One wound means your life as surely as this battle will.
"And if my riddle wounds you?" asked Strange One.
"You and your servant leave here alive. You, as an unnatural dragon, are outcast and banished from the gatherings forever..."

My friend, Cindy Schuricht, asked me to illustrate the preceding passage for the cover of her new book, Secrets of the Flame - The Power to Protect. Considered a magical fantasy the story is categorized as juvenile fiction. Written in a whimsical format, Secrets teaches us the hard truth about letting go. In the tradition of an American fable, this tale spotlights the farm, family and freedom.

Each year, under the eerie glow of a full moon, thousands of dragons gather atop a ring of remote, jagged peaks. At this sacred place, ancient rituals arouse the mind, body and spirit. The cold, mountain air is filled with recollections, racing reptiles and riddles.

In the drawing above, two combatants square off in a war of words. It's a composition chock-full of classic contrasts where the undisputed commander challenges the cocky youngster. The fiery-red behemoth is fuming with white-hot impatience while the strange fledgling exudes a certain innocence.

The desperate, little dragon hopes to stump the sore loser and escape with his skin and an unexpected servant. The chronicles continue at a lively pace as the fate of Strange One's family comes to the forefront. From there, further reading is required to reach the final resolution.

Please visit Cindy's website for more information: Hundred Book Pile-up

The wonderful book is currently available at Amazon.com: Secrets of the Flame

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Last Dollar Road - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Last Dollar Road" Colored Pencil

It's a wet spring day in southwestern Colorado. Along a rough edge of the San Juans, sculpted spires are an astonishing work of art. Standing in an ochre meadow, a grove of gray aspen is topped with a canopy of fresh green while olive-colored hills rise into a seamless transition with the silver mountains.

Hayden is the prominent centerpiece of this fine bouquet of pretty peaks. Slightly offset, the festive summit to the right is aptly named North Pole. This open passage over the magnificent mesa described here will lead the lucky driver on an epic adventure.

To find this place, come down out of the Black Canyon, head south from Montrose along the Uncomphagre Plateau, take a right at Ridgeway and you'll discover the Dallas Divide. Up top there's a dirt path that's an obscure shortcut to the town of Telluride.

Snaking through the Sneffels Range, the scenic side-trip may slow your car down but the divine drive will raise your spirits up. So, if you ever find yourself in Ridgeway, make sure you've got some money in your pocket and take the secret, Sunday drive down Last Dollar Road.