Showing posts from June, 2013

Waterton Canyon - An Extraordinary Gorge

Storm over Waterton Canyon The Platte River spills down from the mountains and carves an extraordinary gorge through the Rampart Range that concludes with a rugged canyon known as Waterton. This is where the South Platte emerges from the foothills and onto the boggy wetlands just southwest of Denver. The gravel service road that follows the river course is wide and flat making it a perfect track for biking, hiking or trail running. Bighorn sheep are the park’s feature attraction but mule deer, blue herons, black bears, mountain lions and rattlesnakes also frequent the area. We approached the rocky corridor during a late June blizzard. Flakes of white, cottony seeds from gnarled cottonwood trees fell on us like a spring snowstorm. To the west, gray clouds foretold afternoon thunder showers so we picked up the pace. Before long, the steep, red walls had risen to one thousand feet. Dark-green shadows stretched across the narrow pathway. Just around the bend, water confined by an

Wheat Field with Cypresses - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Wheat Field with Cypresses after van Gogh" Colored Pencil It's a warm, sunny day in southern France. Boiling clouds drift across the turquoise sky and the indigo cypresses are windswept by the notorious mistral. The golden wheat field is ripe and ready for harvest. The picture is a magnificent expression of summer. It draws you in. I can almost feel the wind and the heat. In my head, I can hear the buzz of locusts announcing the change of seasons. This is one of my favorite paintings and I wanted to understand why. I decided to make a study after it but not an oil painting copy. I chose a different medium instead, colored pencil. "The study I have intended for you depicts a group of cypresses in the corner of a wheat field on a summer's day when the mistral is blowing. It is therefore the note of a certain blackness enveloped in blue moving in great circulating currents of air, and the vermilion of the poppies contrasts with the black note." ~ Vincen

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Located just northeast of downtown Denver, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a peaceful swathe of prairie, wetland and woodland habitats where wildlife thrives. The place used to be hell on earth. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States charged into World War II. Fearing that Germany and Japan would resort to chemical warfare, the Government was determined to produce it's own stockpile of chemical weapons as a deterrent. Major General William Porter, chief of the Chemical Warfare Service stated, "It is fully recognized that the best insurance against an attack by chemical agents lies not only in gas masks and protective clothing but also in the ability to retaliate immediately." For strategic reasons, the 27 square miles of farm ground near Denver was chosen as the site for a massive, top-secret, chemical weapons manufacturing center. The government purchased the land and promptly evic

Birds in Art - Colored Pencil Drawings

"Bald Eagles" Colored Pencil Birds have inhabited the earth for 160 million years. Incredibly, they represent a direct link to the last dinosaurs. Since the dawn of civilization, birds and their spectacular gift of flight have fascinated humans. The sheer diversity of their appearance, behavior and personality is astonishing. Prehistoric peoples featured them in culture as birds were often depicted symbolically in early cave paintings. It seems like artists have always appreciated their beauty because birds have appeared in masterpieces throughout the history of art. Today, seeing birds has become so common and their songs so familiar, that sometimes their true existence is taken for granted. Avid birders now use high-powered binoculars and cameras to document rare sightings and check off life-lists. Their field guides are beautifully illustrated with great precision by talented draughtsmen, who meticulously render each and every feather. My artistic style is realist b

Staunton - Colorado's Newest State Park

Staunton State Park Last week we visited Colorado's newest state park. Located just six miles west of Conifer, it reminds some of Sherwood Forest in England because of the huge, old-growth ponderosa pine trees. Others believe the jagged, granite peaks resemble Yosemite National Park in California. Frances Staunton, who gifted the property to the State of Colorado in 1986, described the area "as a natural wilderness-type park ... typifying Colorado's most beautiful mountain forest and meadow region." When Frances was six her family left West Virginia and headed to California, searching for a healthier, drier climate. They arrived in Denver during the winter of 1905. The beautiful, snowy landscape inspired them to stay in Colorado forever. Her parents were both doctors. Archibald and Rachel Staunton set up medical offices downtown at the Republic Building. Shortly thereafter, they purchased the mountain property and Mrs. Staunton lived up there in a cabin seven m