Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Sangre de Cristo Sunrise - Light Conquers Darkness

Sangre de Cristo sunrise

Winter nights in the high country are obscure, eternal and inclement and the inkwell of black firmament is glittered with a profusion of silver pinpoints that contradict the startling silence. It’s a beautifully eerie combination of contentment and discomfort.


Down in southern Colorado, there’s a mountain range that’s as rugged as it is remote. Rising out of a desert situation, the chain of needle-sharp peaks extends all the way into New Mexico, transporting its picturesque allure across state lines.


The mountains are called Blood of Christ and if you ever witness a Sangre de Cristo sunrise, you’ll understand why. Just before dawn, the first solar rays are reflected off of snowy summits, creating a rosy alpenglow that astonishes the retina.


The steady transformation unfolds even more dramatically when a setting, full moon shines brightly in a purple sky. The crimson sierras come into full relief as the forceful contrast between light and shadow defines the surreal shapes.


After the pinkish atmosphere gradually dissolves, a basin full of life begins to emerge. Cattle graze peacefully in a swale of vast grassland while a herd of mule deer gather around a pleasant reflection pond.


Making the trek to explore a region untainted by progress is a much need respite from complicated circumstances. Morning in the Wet Mountain Valley demonstrates an observable truth - even during times of turmoil, light conquers darkness.


Winter nights are eternal

Full moon shines brightly

Beautifully eerie

Extending to New Mexico

Rosey alpenglow

Picturesque allure

Needle-sharp peaks

Surreal shapes

Forceful contrast

Blood of Christ

The transformation unfolds

A peaceful swale

The atmosphere dissolves

A basin full of life

A pleasant reflection pond

Morning in the valley

Light conquers darkness

Friday, November 13, 2020

Bishop Castle - Not for the Faint of Heart

Bishop Castle

Rising out of Colorado’s remote Wet Mountain Range, Bishop Castle is a royal symbol of hard work, creativity and perseverance. Jim Bishop began building this unfinished, medieval fantasyland 60 years ago while using nearby rock and timber so the fortress blends neatly into the local environment.


The scary keep is designed to shoot straight skyward as a labyrinth of stone and iron ascends to dizzying heights. Not for the faint of heart, a strenuous climb up a spiral staircase is required to reach the summit of this monster house.


Once you reach the top, vertigo sets in and things begin to sway as intermittent gusts of cold air make your balance unsteady. The acrophobic experience is exacerbated by open windows, suspension bridges, exposed ledges and sketchy railings but the views are incredible.


Back down in the lower bowels of the austere bastion, a grand ballroom is illuminated by a series of beautiful stained-glass windows. Interesting details can be found throughout the citadel, enticing visitors to explore every nook and cranny.


From the outside looking up, the sheer scale of the structure begins to sink in, making you feel thankful to have both feet on the ground. The most fascinating piece is the fierce dragon that guards entry into this magical kingdom. Armed with a steely gaze, the silver serpent warns all who dare to approach - ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!


Rising out of the Wet Mountains

An austere bastion

Grand ballroom

A silver serpent

Spiral staircase

Stained-glass windows

Enter at your own risk

Vertigo sets in

Incredible views

Acrophobic experience

Monster house

Medieval Fantasyland

A scary keep

A labyrinth of stone and iron

A royal symbol

Friday, October 30, 2020

High Country Clouds - Colored Pencil Drawing

"High Country Clouds" Colored Pencil

It’s a perfect, summer day in Colorado’s Front Range where soft clouds drift across a hard wilderness that’s constructed from wood, rock and water. The remote cirque is set below a string of jagged giants who don’t possess even a trace of snow.


As is usual in the alpine environment, a dense thicket of verdant willows inhabit the outskirts of a pristine, glacial tarn. The surface of the ice-cold reservoir shimmers from a placid wind that rushes into the valley from the west.


The high country clouds are beginning to gather and their choppy shapes reflect the rugged contour of the mountain peaks that occupy space far below. The naturalistic vision is portrayed in a more accurate, traditional manner concerning line, shading, perspective, composition and color.


The subtle hues, observed in thin air, are a woven tapestry of the three primary colors, resulting in an endless gradation of gray. A delicate mix of ochre, pink and cerulean creates lively shadows that continuously sweep across an extraordinary landscape.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Lake Minatare - Something Surprising

Lake Minatare

Built on the edge of Nebraska’s sandhills, Lake Minatare is a secluded oasis of clear water and dense woodland. More than a century old, the remote refuge is an irrigation reservoir supplying water to the North Platte Valley farmers.


The great, blue aqua fir is encircled by a hedge of cottonwood trees that glow dazzling yellow in the fall. A terrible drought has shrunk the shoreline, exposing a wide gap of white sand and a narrow land bridge.


Gazing out on the beach from within an exotic forest, gives the scene a strange, tropical feel. It’s hard to believe such a lush, riparian environment exists in the arid plains of the Great American Desert.


Overlooking the horseshoe-shaped bay, a line of rugged buttes creates an incredible backdrop for the unique landscape. Towering above the point of a narrow peninsula, a full-sized lighthouse seems out of place as it shines over a landlocked prairie paradise.


During a breezy autumn, big clouds are blown across the sky, creating moving shadows that glide silently over the rolling ground. Many miles from the main road, the area is a place of unsurpassed beauty which is something you might find surprising to exist in this - The Land of Corn.


A remote refuge

Full-sized lighthouse

Rugged buttes

A unique landscape

Dense woodland

A prairie paradise

A breezy autumn

Unsurpassed beauty

Great, blue aqua fir

An oasis of clear water

A terrible drought

A lush environment

An exotic forest

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Three Sisters Park - A Marvel to Behold

Three Sisters Park

Settled below the eastern slopes of Elephant Butte, there is a quiet quadrant in Three Sisters Park that features a rocky pathway which loops through a stark woodland. Earlier this summer, during a morning jaunt, the peace and tranquility of this lesser-known locale was readily apparent.


On the move by daybreak, the sun’s deliberate diffusion of clear light gradually transformed the look of the lush landscape. Shadows and luminance flickered through the forest creating an effect that fostered delight.


From the trail’s highest point, an open overlook offered unobstructed views of the landmark trio of rocky spires. Jutting into a powder-blue sky, the changing works of art are continually sculpted by wind, rain and ice.


One of the most interesting aspects of the area was the existence of old structures symbolizing the spirit of the pioneer west. I’m certain the evidence confirms that this wilderness, chock-full of wildlife, history and solitude, has always been and will continue to be a marvel to behold.


A trio of rocky spires

A quiet quadrant

Changing works of art

A rocky pathway

Wilderness solitude

Clear light

A lush landscape

The pioneer west

Settled below Elephant Butte

A marvel to behold