Saturday, August 8, 2020

Forest Bison - Buffalo Calves

Forest Bison

An enduring symbol of the Great Plains, the American Bison was driven to the brink of extinction during Westward Expansion. After a modest recovery, they can now be found in a woodland that adorns Colorado’s Front Range foothills.

The mountain herd roams through a labyrinth of sharp slopes, draws, gulches and ravines that comprise Genesee Park. There is lots of activity at the forest’s edge where this year’s spirited younglings kick, buck, run and play from dawn until dusk.

Born in May, the precocious devils are born into the world big and agile. The whole congregation is pretty protective and the cows collectively take care of the calves for about a year.

They are reddish-orange at birth but their coloring gradually deepens in concert with the development of their fierce independence. On this warm summer evening, the different individuals engage in various behaviors such as resting, grazing and rock climbing.

The easy-going adults move efficiently through the timber as they’ve adapted wonderfully to their high altitude home. Even during the harsh winter, these confident creatures bulldoze through deep snow and conquer the steepest hills.

Taking his cue from the long shadows that creep across the landscape in low light, the dominant bull guides his scruffy flock into a deep valley. Vanishing below an array of pale peaks, the last of the buffalo fades quietly into the gloaming like a dark apparition.

Found in a woodland

An enduring symbol

Calves are born in May

A deep valley

They kick, buck and play

They are reddish-orange at birth

They've adapted wonderfully

The whole congregation is protective

A bull guides his flock

Resting calves

An array of pale peaks

Genesee Park

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Blue Bergen Peak - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Blue Bergen Peak" Colored Pencil

Below a blue Bergen Peak, the late winter landscape is a clash of complementary colors, changing seasons and converging perspectives. The spirited mood is heightened by stylized shapes, gradual shading and the application of dense pigment.

Burning under a bright sun, the fiery field in the foreground blazes across the picture plane from crimson red to Spanish orange. The confusion of excessive detail has succumbed to a smooth gradient of analogous colors.

A stubborn remnant from a recent storm, a drift of deep snow lingers in the shadows of a troublesome gulch. Patches of still more snow are scattered across the vermillion grassland that recedes into the distance.

A remarkable pine tree explodes into the composition from the right, dwarfing the other elements during its desperate call for attention. It’s vibrant foliage is an organic swirl of light and shadow that is splayed out into the air.

The sky is broken into two tiers of different compartments separated by a soft-edged line. Pockets of lucid atmosphere show through the bulky tree’s canopy, allowing birds to fly through freely.

Bergen Peak’s boxy profile is painted with blue which designates it to the background. Its dark value sneakily compresses the space, creating a tension that adds subtle drama to the scene.

Another in the Bergen Peak series, this drawing is more expressive as it displays artistic license with flowing contours and saturated color. The mountain is a beautiful, local landmark whose perfection is impossible to reproduce but it’s intense magnetism has issued a challenge that is too strong to resist.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Wapiti's World - Elk Calves

Elk Calves

Rocky Mountain Elk are the undisputed symbol of Evergreen, Colorado where they roam freely from one end of the community to the other. Their annual movements are synchronized with the seasons, becoming an integral part of the natural rhythm of life that exists in the Front Range Mountains.

Yearly events staged by the local weather, flora and fauna are predictable benchmarks offering some comfort during these uncertain times. Trustworthy examples featuring all kinds of wildlife occur like clockwork and sometimes the display is quite spectacular.

The great elk rut in the fall is one such spectacle when massive bulls fight for possession of a harem of breeding cows. During the winter, the herd congregates en masse while struggling to survive harsh conditions worsened by deep snow, frigid temperatures and a meager food supply.

Returning in the spring, the haggard animals look gaunt and shaggy but after a few weeks of gorging on fresh grass, their form becomes sleek and well-nourished. This is when the pregnant cows break from the group and give birth to rambunctious little ones.

By the middle of summer, the elk population explodes with the sudden arrival of so many white-spotted calves. Unable to stay still, the babies are up and moving almost immediately, exploring their wondrous surroundings.

Just like any happy kid, they squeal with delight - running, kicking and bucking while playing in a field of tall grass. Craving some much needed rest, the exhausted mothers are remarkably tolerant of the childish antics that swirl around them.

As the elk calves grow stronger, the cycle continues and soon the bulls’ haunting calls will fill the air, foretelling the first snow. Disheartening as it may be with the planet currently turned upside down, it’s nice to know that the wapiti’s world remains the same.

Middle of summer

Wondrous surroundings

Unable to stay still

Undisputed symbol of Evergreen

Annual movements

Happy kids

The population explodes

A predictable benchmark

White-spotted calves

Rambunctious little ones

The mothers are tolerant

Childish antics

A trustworthy example

The cycle continues

The wapiti's world remains the same

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Mountain Basin, Summer - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Mountain Basin, Summer" Colored Pencil

This unforgettable landscape is located in Colorado’s southwestern mountains where during the summer, winter snowmelt is washed through a deep basin. The tapestry of varied terrain is a fantasyland featuring willows, wildflowers and a dazzling waterfall.

Soaring over the incredible scene, jagged peaks possess a pinkish hue in the afternoon’s soft ambiance. The mellow light creates elongated shadows that define the fantastic shapes inhabiting the scenic valley.

The luminous blue sky is reflected in the thread of clear creek that carves a pathway through dense underbrush. A precipice of golden cliffs forms a steep stairwell that descends all the way down to the water’s edge.

Slabs of white snow still cling to the rock wall that encloses the wondrous canyon, betraying the fleeting nature of the dry season. Before long, the moraine will be concealed under a thick layer of glacial ice but this sketch is a sensitive reminder of a joyful, summer evening spent in the San Juans.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Bergen Gulch - A Discreet Wetland

Bergen Gulch

Settled below the southern slopes of Bergen Peak, Bergen Gulch is a discreet wetland that supports flowers, birds and wildlife. This time of year the cattails are beginning to ripen and the lupine are in full bloom so blackbirds and elk engage in a territorial dispute over the bountiful land.

Filling the discreet ravine, the large-leaved lupine are massive plants whose ladder-like blossoms climb towards the sky. The hungry wapiti are anything but gentle as they tromp through the purple field, consuming a huge swath in a single sitting.

The little red-wings have fledged so while they’re learning to fly, their protective parents aggressively dive-bomb anyone who happens to wander into the area. The conglomeration of chickadees, juncos and nuthatches is small but noisy as the busy birds scour the ponderosa pine for anything edible.

Branching off from Bergen Peak’s most beautiful side, the muddy drainage, depending on the season, varies from a trickle to a deluge. The small valley is surrounded by steep hills, littered with fallen logs and broken by rocky ground, making nimble footing a necessity.

After the chaos of completing another week, the serenity from spending time in nature is sought but there is difficulty finding somewhere secluded. During the summer, when the main parks are occupied by lots of people, this place always seems to be pretty quiet.

Southern slopes of Bergen Peak

A discreet wetland

Lupine are in full bloom


Massive plants

Ladder-like blossoms

Elk territory

Bountiful land

Hungry wapiti

Spending time in nature

In a purple field

The place is pretty quiet

Consuming a huge swath

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Summer Light and Shadows - A Somber Vignette

Summer light and shadows

During this season, when the weather is warmer and the days are longer, the foothills landscape is defined by distinctive summer light and shadows. Evenings are particularly special because beams from the setting sun pilfer through cloud congregations, resulting in a rather dramatic effect.

At dusk, the mountains turn blue and the trees in the meadow, before casting long shadows across the undulating field, are traced by a luminance that glows. Delicate wildflowers become translucent when their obscure niche is struck by the fading radiance.

Sunsets at the lake are magnificent because now water, which reflects the glorious scenery, has been added into the equation, expanding your viewing pleasure. The peaceful ambiance becomes even more soothing when the rain settles in and, rather than induce melancholy, the muted atmosphere germinates solutions to perplexing problems.

The blossom garden is bursting with optimism as the wind-blown flowers dance joyfully across the preserve of fresh greenery. The gorgeous grounds are a cheerful place to linger because ebullient portraits can be composed from out of the darkness of a somber vignette.

The weather is warmer

Fading radiance

Distinctive light and shadows

Delicate wildflowers

Forest dawn

Evenings are special

Beams pilfer through clouds

A dramatic effect

Bursting with optimism

An obscure niche

Dancing joyfully

An ebullient portrait

Blossom garden

Blue mountains

Peaceful ambiance

Gorgeous grounds

A cheerful place

Glorious scenery

Traced by luminance

Viewing pleasure

Soothing rain

Muted atmosphere

Induced melancholy

A somber vignette

Fresh wildflowers