Saturday, September 29, 2012

Soccer in Steamboat - A Lesson Learned

Fall color on Rabbit Ears Pass
I've been helping out with my 11 year old son's soccer team for six years now and it's been a lot of fun. Soccer is a great sport because it's a player's game. Once the whistle blows the action is non-stop with little or no interference from the coaches. The players are free to make their own decisions concerning positioning and ball movement. As the boys have grown older, my duties have evolved from tying shoes and wiping noses to shagging balls and picking up cones. Sometimes at practice, if the numbers aren't right, I have to jump into a drill and if I'm lucky I might even get to play in a scrimmage. I think the boys accept me like a teammate, I know I've grown very attached to them.

We recently traveled up over Rabbit Ears Pass and down into Steamboat for a league game. It was a tough first half as our team constructed some good buildups and took great shots, they just couldn't finish. There were near misses, balls hitting the post and great saves by the opposing goalie. Down two to nil, things didn't look good. The guys were upset and frustrated. They were even bickering with each other out on the field. It would have been easy to just shut it down and quit.

At halftime the head coach asked the team to remain calm and stay positive. He urged them to continue working hard and promised good things would happen. It was exciting to watch the boys take techniques perfected at practice and display them during the match. A spectacular second half ended with a five to three victory. Hopefully the lessons they learn on the pitch will translate to success in the real world. Life is also full of rejection and failure, I know, but I witnessed something magical that morning in Steamboat. Something that proved what I already believe. I like being around those kids because they inspire me. I will never give up.
We took some good shots but just couldn't finish

A tough first half ended down 2-0

A spectacular second half was capped by a 5-3 victory

Hopefully lessons learned on the pitch will translate to future success

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Canada Goose - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Canada Goose" Colored Pencil

A Canada Goose bathes in the warm sunshine of an early spring day. Its reflection shimmers across the surface of chilly, Evergreen Lake. During the cold winter, the lake becomes literally an ice skating rink. When this happens the geese leave searching for a milder climate. They're not gone for long, though, because they are easily tempted back to even the smallest pool of open water.

These elegant birds are delighted to swim about and graze on the local vegetation. A long, sleek, black neck and a black head with a white chinstrap distinguish the Canada Goose. The body plumage is colored with rosy beige and golden ochres. Because these large waterbirds are so common, I think their beauty sometimes goes unnoticed.

The goose is loyal to family and will fiercely defend its territory. If threatened they are well equipped to handle the situation. The Canada's powerful wings are capable of delivering a blow of surprising force. Rarely does a natural predator like a fox, coyote or raccoon take a full grown goose.

Many geese feel comfortable enough to spend the molting season in Evergreen. Molting is when adult geese lose their wing feathers and cannot fly. This occurs from early June until late July. To safely molt, geese must be near water and an easily accessible food source. A great place to view Canada Geese during the summer is Buchanan Ponds.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bergen Peak Summer - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Bergen Peak Summer" Colored Pencil

On a warm summer day in Evergreen, Elk Meadow is dry and yellow. Weathered farm structures contrast with the fresh wildflowers. Bergen Peak provides a dark, green-violet background as low clouds drift across the shimmering, blue sky. At 9,200 feet, Bergen Peak is an Evergreen landmark.

People don't describe this mountain as awe-inspiring but the views from the top are. Bergen doesn't attain the same status as a fourteener and some even dismiss it as just another gentle foothill. I've learned not to underestimate Bergen Peak because it can be quite defiant.

The easy accessibility and excellent trail system make this park an Evergreen hot spot. In the summer, the trails are filled with hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders. The resilient mountain takes a beating from the heavy usage but if you're not careful it will bite back. I've gotten very sick from racing to the summit and I've taken some nasty falls descending the steep switchbacks.

I've gotten caught in the meadow by thunderstorms and have been nearly struck by lightning. One morning during the fall rut, I got chased off by some frustrated elk. I've discovered that when I'm on Bergen Peak the unstable terrain, abundant wildlife and unpredictable weather can turn an ordinary stroll into an exciting adventure.

Bergen Peak may not be the most beautiful mountain in Colorado but I always bring my camera and it's not the toughest to climb but I always get a good workout. Also, despite the chaos and crowds, if you know when and where to look, peace and solitude can still be found. It is definitely one of my favorite places in Evergreen.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Colorado Artist in Disney World

Full Moon over Epcot

It was a normal day, up early, off to work, pickup kids from school, soccer practice and supper. But that night was different, my wife announced those five famous words "We're going to Disney World." Wait...what? I know what you're thinking, so was I. How cliche, a family of four on the obligatory pilgrimage to the Mecca of amusement parks. What about snorkeling with penguins in Antarctica or that photography workshop in the Galapagos or studying the Old Masters at the grande museums in Europe? Not Disney World, the symbol for everything that goes against what I believe in.

As a humble artist living in the Colorado mountains, I cherish simplicity, peace, morality and spiritualism. Disney World is about complication, confrontation, decadence and materialism. I'm a sensitive soul searching for answers to life's great mysteries, not a seasoned tourist on a frenzied quest for fun. Try and explain that to my two boys who were dancing hysterically through the house. I reluctantly packed my bag and off we went. We were flying in from the North, Hurricane Isaac was blowing in from the South. A collision was inevitable.

I've never been East of the Missouri River so the tropical habitat was fascinating. The contrast between dry, brown Colorado and wet, green Florida was stunning. The inclement weather actually worked in our favor because the crowds were thin and the lines were short. We rode the rides, watched shows and played games. We needed that vacation, the kids loved it. It brought us closer together as a family and created memories we'll never forget. The roller coasters gave me a headache and the exotic food upset my stomach but there were elements of extraordinary beauty to satisfy an artist's eye. I must confess, I enjoyed myself and I'm glad we went. Someday, maybe, I'll make that trek through the mountains of Peru to Machu Picchu.

Castle Reflection

Tropical, Green Florida

Tree of Life

Palm Tree

Head-rattling Rollercoaster

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stellar's Jay - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Stellars Jay" Colored Pencil

Perched in a conifer forest at 8,200 feet, a solitary Stellar's Jay contemplates its familiar surroundings. Unassuming and reticent near home, this intelligent bird takes on a much different public persona. When on the search for food it reveals itself by squawking boisterously. Now bold and confident, the Stellar's Jay will bully the smaller birds away from its favorite feeding areas. This bird can become one of the forest's more raucous, year-round residents. When hiking, I've often found myself on the receiving  end of an unprovoked scolding.

A striking appearance reflects the Stellar's Jay's obnoxious behavior. Its blue plumage is accented by dark bars of color, creating an interesting pattern on its wings and tail. A large, unkempt crest of feathers adorns the bird's head. From this distinct crest a beautiful gradient of dark Indigo Black blends down through the head and chest into the True Blue coloring of the belly. Unique to the Jays in this region are streaks of bright white on the face and chin that define the dark eyes and beak.

Stellar's Jays have found their niche in the Subalpine zone between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. I frequently see them in the trees on Bergen Peak, especially in the transition area where forest meets meadow. These birds symbolize intelligence and because it is thought that they mate for life, fidelity. Christian tradition also uses the bird to symbolize the human soul representing joy and goodness.