Saturday, March 30, 2019

Forest Dwellers - Revealed by First Light

Forest dweller

On a cold, winter morning while traversing a snowy hillside, a couple of hidden creatures was revealed by the day’s first light. A young doe and buck were foraging so quietly in the shadows that they could have been easily missed.

As they must be used to human contact, they never became startled and seemed to be curious about my ability to maintain balance. The north facing slope is always more difficult to negotiate because the shadowed terrain is broken by rock, snow and ice.

The harsh conditions didn’t seem to bother the mule deer as they were completely at ease while grazing in the depths of a dark woodland. It’s a secretive environment described by dense foliage, damp atmosphere and cool temperatures but it’s a safe haven providing security and shelter to all of its forest dwellers.

Completely at ease

Quiet in the shadows

Revealed by first light

A secretive environment

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Hooded Merganser - Positively Flamboyant

Hooded Merganser

The hooded merganser is a secretive creature that prefers to live in a secluded woodland somewhere near a small pond or stream. A mated pair nests in a cavity of either a live or dead tree where the female lays a clutch of seven to fifteen eggs.

Remarkably, the fuzzy hatchlings leave the nest within 24 hours after they hatch. Upon reaching open water, the tiny youngsters begin diving and foraging immediately but remain close to mom for warmth and protection.

The hooded merganser is a diving predator and the only duck that specializes in capturing fish. They’re able to track down food by sight because their eyes are specially adapted for unsurpassed underwater vision.

These speedy, little ducks are found almost exclusively in North America. They must like it here because even during the spring and fall their migration routes are usually just a short distance.

Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic is their striking appearance as both male and female exude elegance in their own way. The gals take on a dusky look with a dark head, bill and chest but they display a fancy orange hairdo that can be raised and lowered at will.

The guys are quite spectacular with bright yellow eyes, chestnut flanks and a white chest that’s crossed by two black bars. Their crest is white with a black border and when fanned out in excitement, the presentation is positively flamboyant.

A secretive creature

Lives in a secluded woodland

A diving predator

Found almost exclusively in North America

Speedy, little ducks

A striking appearance

Quite spectacular

They like it here

Crest is fanned out in excitement

Positively flamboyant

The females exude elegance

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Winter Cyclone - A Blizzard's Aftermath

A winter cyclone

Over the past month, the Front Range foothills have been battered by a series of severe storms. The latest of which has been appropriately deemed an historic weather event.

The winter cyclone came spinning into our state from the southwest, dumping buckets of heavy, wet snow. A vicious wind came blasting down through the valley at 70 miles an hour leaving 10 foot drifts in its wake.

The only saving grace during this unique system was the warm temps that pumped much needed precipitation into the parched landscape. After the blizzard subsided and daylight broke, Bergen Peak was a black mountain frosted with white dust.

The big mountain loomed solemnly over a barren meadow of smooth, polished snow. The fresh pack was about knee-deep and required a great amount of physical exertion in order to plow through.

The exposed ponderosa pine were blown clean of any pale lace but in the more protected pockets, the trees were plastered with snow. The silence was eerie as no one else was crazy enough to venture into the frozen woodland.

While it’s much more enjoyable to tramp through the mountains on a warm, summer day there’s something invigorating about experiencing the wilderness after such a fierce snowstorm.

The foothills have been battered by storms

A barren meadow of snow

The cyclone was an historic event

A black peak frosted with snow

Ponderosa pine

The big mountain looms solemnly

The silence was eerie

Drifts were left in the wake

Trees were plastered with snow

Much needed precipitation

After the blizzard subsided

The fresh pack was knee-deep

A fierce snowstorm

A frozen woodland

An invigorating experience

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Fillius Loop Trail - A Fortress of Solitude

Fillius Loop Trail

March has arrived like a lion and exerted it’s ferocious nature by unleashing a storm distinguished by heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures. The foothills resemble an arctic landscape reminiscent of the last ice age.

The lower Fillius Loop Trail is in a secluded setting located near the edge of town. The park seems to be not well known so whenever I’m there, I usually don’t see another living soul.

The old-growth, ponderosa pine forest is a steadfast fortress of solitude. The uncultivated woodland is a barrier between an urban environment and the vast Rocky Mountain wilderness beyond.

Last week, the morning after the storm, the trees were glazed with scumbled swatches of fresh snow. Their cobalt shadows crept quietly across the smooth drifts.

Bright sunlight beamed through the clear, thin air while thawing the bone-chilling cold. The distant mountains were dusted white and set against that pale landscape, the sky was the deepest blue imaginable.

Trudging through the deep snowpack was especially difficult as the uneven terrain was broken by rocks, mud and ice. Deep inside the dark forest, traversing a steep, slippery hillside required cautious negotiation.

It was a surreal situation in which the fresh powder sparkled like cut diamonds and the thicket was encrusted with a silvery sheen. March is always our snowiest month so I guess I have more of this fairytale-like scenery to look forward to.

March has arrived like a lion

Trees are glazed with fresh snow

A pale landscape

Ponderosa pine

Trudging through deep snowpack

Reminiscent of the last ice age

Sub-zero temperatures

Cobalt shadows

Fresh powder sparkled like diamonds

A fortress of solitude

An uncultivated woodland

March is our snowiest month

Deep inside the dark forest

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Urad Lake - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Urad Lake" Colored Pencil

“Through art we can change the world.” ~ #twitterartexhibit

It’s a warm, summer evening at Urad Lake with skies of steel blue in the low, fading light. Situated at tree-line below the Continental Divide, the high basin is enclosed by a black forest and dense willows.

An aggressive creek and its lively tributaries come roaring down from the high peaks, spilling into the bottom of a narrow valley while forming a fan-shaped reservoir. Filled with this frigid snowmelt, the water is ice cold.

Patches of resilient snow still cling to the red mountainside and the steep, grassy slopes are dotted with tundra wildflowers. Shapes and colors from the surrounding landscape tint the reservoir with shimmering reflections.

The peaceful haven for wildlife is found off the beaten path just past the outskirts of Empire, Colorado. Flush with fresh air and bountiful fish, the tranquil setting is undeniably therapeutic.

Through trial and error, I try to express my admiration for the great outdoors through art with hopes that others will approve of the final product. I want to inspire people to appreciate the same beauty in nature that I do.

Urad Lake is my contribution to the upcoming Twitter Art Exhibit: Scotland. This unique event is an international exhibition of original postcard art supporting Art in Healthcare.       

It is well known that art can have a positive impact on an individual’s health and well being. Art in Healthcare is an Edinburgh based charity whose core aim is to have “a Scotland in which visual art improves health and keeps people well”.

Art in Healthcare works closely with a broad cross section of healthcare providers in hospitals, GP surgeries, community care groups, hospices, healthcare centres and other bodies involved in the provision of healthcare to run a series of carefully tailored art workshops throughout the year.

The programme of art workshops which is led by professional artists and aided by volunteers have grown steadily since 2011 enabling Art in Healthcare to reach a broader cross section of patient groups. In addition the Charity has a large collection of contemporary artwork which is displayed in healthcare premises across Scotland.

Funds raised by TAE19 will enable Art in Healthcare to develop and extend their workshop programme to benefit more people within the healthcare system. All Art In Healthcare’s workshops bring the power of creativity to people in times of need whether in a hospital, care home, community health centre, hospice or any other healthcare setting.

Twitter Art Exhibit: Scotland is the ninth installment of this open international exhibition of handmade postcard art for charity, donated by artists from around the world.

Social media plays a major role in the Twitter Art Exhibit. It is their intention to tweet, share and promote contributing artists to thank them for their participation, and to make this event a success for all involved.

The event will be highly publicized and well attended by art buyers and enthusiasts, members of the press, local artists and the TAE community.

For more information, please check out this link: #twitterartexhibit