Showing posts from August, 2017

The Old Stump, Elk Ridge - Colored Pencil Drawing

"The Old Stump, Elk Ridge" Colored Pencil The morning after a spring storm, Elk Ridge is buried under a blanket of fresh snow. Irregular shapes undulate across the drift's smooth surface as blue shadows exaggerate the billowy folds in the landscape's white tapestry. Scattered across the high ground, a few resilient evergreens call this hostile place home. The subalpine zone is a harsh environment where few organisms are adapted to survive. A single cloud, floating just above the horizon, is a last remnant of the passing storm. The sun's warm rays stream through the brilliant, blue sky inspiring hope that better days lay ahead. Twisted by ferocious winds, the old stump is a weather-beaten warrior that fought until the bitter end. The bare tree trunk symbolizing the strength and perseverance required to survive at such a high altitude. A fantastic Englemann Spruce forms a dark halo around the poor tree snag. In the background, smaller spruce are a new g

Mule Deer Buck - The Crown Prince

Mule Deer Buck While hiking up Elk Ridge on a blue, summer evening, the mountainside is drenched and surprisingly cold. Colorful wildflowers hug close to the muddy trail as the crackle of rolling thunder echoes from down in the meadow below. Around the bend, occupying a nook in the forest, a young mule deer buck grazes on shoots of lush grass. His orange coat is glistening wet from the downpour of steady rain that seems to develop every afternoon. If the bull elk is the undisputed monarch of the Rocky Mountains then the mule deer buck is the crown prince. This time of year, these regal animals are bestowed with an extraordinary rack of velvet antlers. He moves gracefully across the rugged terrain that characterizes the Front Range foothills. The elegant creature seems undisturbed by my presence as he’s become accustomed to sharing his territory with our strange kind. The new weather pattern tells us that the seasons are changing so this lone deer is feeding with a purpose.

The Pacific Ocean - A Peaceful Sea

Palm trees on the Pacific Our blue planet is dominated by the five great seas from which the Pacific is the biggest, deepest and most inhabited. The vast ocean fills the gap between the Americas on the east and Asia and Australia on the west. The massive body of salt water is an astonishing 64 million square miles and it's spread across one-third of the earth's surface. In the northwest section there's an incredible chasm known as the Mariana Trench. At 35,797 feet down, it's the deepest point in the world. The ocean's current name was given by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the Spanish circumnavigation of the globe in 1521. He called it Mar Pacifico or the Peaceful Sea because after sailing around the treacherous Cape Horn, the expedition entered into much calmer waters. The place is hardly peaceful, though. Enclosing the ocean, the volatile land that forms the Pacific Rim is known as the Ring of Fire because of all the volcanos and earthq

Broad-tailed Hummingbird - An Energetic Visitor

Broad-tailed Hummingbird Rocky Mountain summers are distinguished by warmer temps, colorful wildflowers and the metallic trill of thin air whistling through the wings of tiny migrants. Zooming through our high meadows, the broad-tailed hummingbird is an energetic visitor. Bursting onto the scene around May, they arrive from their sun-drenched homeland situated south of the border. These hearty birds have developed a unique characteristic that allows them to survive the harsh conditions present at such a high altitude. Broad-tailed hummingbirds save enough energy to survive the bitterly cold nights by lowering their internal thermostat, becoming hypothermic. This reduced physiological state is an evolutionary adaptation that is referred to as torpor. Torpor is a type of deep sleep where a bird's heart rate drops, breathing slows and its metabolic rate lowers by as much as 95%. By doing so, a torpid hummingbird can save up to 60% of its available energy as opposed to when