Showing posts from March, 2018

Early Birds - Bringing the Mountains Back to Life

Early Birds After a long, dark winter, the mud season is upon us and the bleak landscape is taking on a more encouraging atmosphere. Elk are on the move and our feathered friends are beginning to make their presence known. The predictable arrival time of some of our most common birds is a trustworthy indicator of the upcoming seasonal transition. The availability of fresh water seems to coincide with the appearance of these early birds. The first to show are male red-winged blackbirds as they begin establishing territory at the local wetlands in February. Dressed in formal black with a red and yellow wing patch, their familiar call breaks winter’s long silence. The robin’s evening song betrays his presence as these surprisingly hearty birds seem to tolerate early spring’s cold and snow as well as anyone. They spend most of their day hunting for insects in the dried meadow grasses. Canada geese come next as they arrive in pairs and land on the lake’s shimmering surface. The

Winter's Last Stand - A New Beginning

Winter's Last Stand After such an unusual season distinguished by sparse moisture and frigid temps, a blustery weather system arrived the day before the first day of spring. With time dwindling down, winter decided it wasn’t going out with a whimper. Blowing in from the north, the storm didn’t unleash a tremendous amount of snow but the ferocious winds were brutal. About six inches of white powder coated the landscape, falling through cold air that plunged to nearly zero degrees. The dark morning spawned a sinister gale that stole your breath and spattered your face with tiny bits of ice. Crunching beneath boots through a near whiteout, the windswept trail was almost impossible to perceive. The stiff breeze was funneled down through the gulch, creating deep drifts in some places and patches of bare ground in others. Troublesome Creek was thawed and the ribbon of blue flowed freely into a pair of stair-stepped ponds. The turbulent skies cleared, offering symbolic hope f

Wild Iris Meadow - Watercolor

"Wild Iris Meadow" Watercolor Wild Iris Meadow is a wonderful park located just beyond Evergreen, Colorado. It’s a warm Spring day but the weather is about to change as storm clouds have gathered over the snowbound Mount Evans Massive. The black guidelines are scribbled in with a felt-tipped pen, setting the tone for the simplification of the pretty scene. The bright colors are derived from a palette of pure yellow, green and blue. The loose brushwork is a difficult technique because it’s uncomfortable to let the fluid medium flow with uncontrolled freedom. Soft passages of warmer pigment spread unchecked across the painting’s lower foreground. Working in this way provokes great difficulty while dealing with the immediacy of an unforgiving medium. Despite its challenges, hopefully, this quick sketch captures the surreal beauty of a pristine wilderness.

Northern Flicker - A Unique Woodpecker

Northern Flicker We’re starting to see some unmistakable signs of an early spring. The daylight is lasting much longer, the snow is melting quickly and the lonely, winter trails are beginning to burst with new birdlife. First to arrive this year were the red-winged blackbirds, then house finches appeared and then flocks of Canada geese searching for open water. I’ve also seen several mountain bluebirds as they’re decorating our brown meadow with a splash of bright color. I like to observe the gradual changes that occur in the mountains during the seasonal transitions. I enjoy watching the birds come in and begin nesting but one of my favorites won’t show up here until it gets a bit warmer. The northern flicker is a unique woodpecker that spends much his day on the ground, poking his beak into the ground while searching for insects. He announces his presence by establishing territory with a familiar call that echoes loudly throughout the pine forest. These elegant birds are

Pikes Peak - A Soulful Mountain

Pikes Peak Traveling south through the heart of Colorado, the Rocky Mountains form an almost impenetrable barrier to the west. Rolling away to the east a broken forest clings to the numerous buttes and bluffs that are a prelude to the big peaks. This time of year the southern mountains are speckled with white snow as much of the powder has been whisked away by a relentless breeze. The frigid wind blows down across the corridor making outdoor activities utterly miserable. Rising out of the rugged terrain, Garden of the Gods is a glorious gateway to the soulful Pikes Peak. The unforgettable scenery features red sandstone slabs that stand out sharply against the dark greenery growing below. Dominating the view at Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak has been inspiring explorers, gold seekers and artists for over 200 years. It’s named after the accomplished adventurer Zebulon Pike who first beheld the majestic, purple mountain in 1806. When gold rushing 59ers set out for Denver in a q