Saturday, April 4, 2020

Clash of the Seasons - A Skirmish of Bad Weather

Clash of the Seasons

While the world is at war with an invisible virus, we have been witness to a dramatic clash between our two most volatile seasons. It is a classic battle between Good and Evil as impatient Spring tries to usher out an unwilling winter.

A couple of weeks of warm weather almost wiped out the last pieces of evidence betraying the dark season. Not surprisingly, on the first day of spring, a fierce blizzard destroyed the early vestiges of calm.

The next morning was bleak as rising temperatures mingled with moist atmosphere, resulting in a veil of condensed fog. Objects close-up appeared with crystal clarity but as the field of vision expanded, the shapes disintegrated into a screen of nothingness.

Wet snow had poured down quietly through the night and accumulated into a heavy pile at least a foot high. The tall pine trees wilted and bowed under the pressure of tremendous weight while smaller ones were smothered in a blanket of flakes.

The steely sunrise absconded with any semblance of color, leaving in its wake a solemn wilderness of sober gray. The feeling of isolation conjured up by the forlorn forest only exaggerated the heightened state of solitude.

Within a few days, the snow had melted and the skirmish of bad weather was all but forgotten. Still sequestered in place, we yearn for a smooth transition between the rival seasons and pray for a swift resolution to the World’s current crisis.

Clash of the seasons

An unwilling winter

A fierce blizzard

A bleak morning

A solemn wilderness

A state of solitude

A forlorn forest

Isolation

Smothered in a blanket

Condensed fog

Crystal clarity

Yearning for a smooth transition

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Somber Light - A Dreary Month

Somber light

March has been a dreary month distinguished by somber light, ill weather and a deadly virus. During this muddy stretch, we usually get most of our sleet and snow but this year it has been all rain and drizzle.

The clocks were struck ahead so twilight is later but the dawn is diffused by a morning mist that cloaks the landscape in a depressing aura. The individual shapes are broken into receding planes that gradually disappear into a blank slate of firmament.

The sun strains desperately to filter its first light into an eerie woodland shrouded by dense fog. Some of the rays are funneled through narrow passages between the trees creating surreal beams that flood the forest floor.

The desaturated colors are dull, the black mountains are buttressed by a tawny meadow and slags of gray snow slide across the scene. The interior is filled with a thick atmosphere of soupy moisture that softens every sharp edge.

Citizens have been asked to disperse, interact socially from beyond a certain distance and refrain from unnecessary activity. The State of Emergency is an unprecedented time of dramatic cancellations and closures that have broken life down to its basics.

Extremely superstitious and a devout believer in Karma, I could never take lightly the lethal ramifications of a global pandemic. I have learned long ago to never underestimate the power of nature so if I’m not out alone in the wilderness, you’ll find me confined in a necessary quarantine.

Surreal beams of light

Rays are funneled through passages

An eerie woodland

Black mountains

Morning mist

Shrouded in dense fog

Receding planes

A depressing aura

A dreary month

A State of Emergency

Alone in the wilderness

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Butterflies - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Butterflies" Colored Pencil

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

It’s an incredible morning in September as a profusion of painted lady butterflies migrate leisurely through the Front Range Foothills. Their fluttering course seems to be at the mercy of a fickle breeze that blows down from the snow-covered divide.

During the fall, the mountain landscape is ablaze in fiery color and the sudden arrival of so many butterflies stirs even more spicy tones into the mix. Out of the thousands passing through, a pair has paused to pollinate on a purple, Scotch thistle.

Intentionally constructed to be a little bit larger than life, this close-cropped composition lends the scene its dramatic sense of immediacy. The tiny niche in nature’s garden is an enlarged, abstract arrangement of hard-edged shapes and saturated color.

The pure pigment is brightened by the black outlines that encompass the separate sections much like a stained-glass window. A deep violet shadow spreads across the petals forming a dark value that pushes the travelers into sharp relief.

This rare, migratory phenomenon is one of nature’s great spectacles, displaying unparalleled beauty and an air of mystery. These carefree, little creatures have only a short time to spend on earth because their average life span is just a couple of weeks.

During their abbreviated existence on this planet, the painted lady butterflies dash about with a joyful enthusiasm. When contemplating the impending future, take your cue from these breathing works of art and always try to live your life to the fullest.

Butterflies is my contribution to the upcoming Twitter Art Exhibit: Myrtle Beach. This unique event is an international exhibition of original postcard art supporting Horry County Disabilities and Special Needs.

HCDSN is dedicated to providing services and supports, to individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, Autism and Head and Spinal Cord Injuries all the while ensuring the person is at the center of services delivery. Their philosophy of person centeredness is aimed at helping individuals with disabilities to become the very best version of themselves.

This is accomplished through vocational training, community employment, day services, advocacy, social and recreational opportunities, community involvement and through unleashing their creative spirit and passion through art.

The art program is designed to promote self-expression, social interaction and the development of peer relationships through various art classes. The program began with art lessons and has evolved to include pottery classes with the local Art Museum.

Improvement in hand eye coordination, visual acuity and self-esteem has been witnessed by so many of the individuals who participate. Individuals with significant intellectual and physical challenges have realized significant emotional and personal growth through their involvement in the arts.

Proceeds from TAE20 will enable Horry County Disabilities and Special Needs to develop and extend the art program to offer additional art classes but enhance the individual’s opportunity to also engage in statewide community art exhibitions.

Twitter Art Exhibit: Myrtle Beach is the tenth 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

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Bald Eagles of Barr Lake - An Idyllic Home

The Gazebo Boardwalk at Barr Lake

Bald Eagles nest and breed in the North but in the fall many of them migrate south and inland searching for a milder climate. They prefer to spend the winter months in tall trees near a large body of open water where they can survive on fresh fish.

Barr Lake is the perfect haven for these majestic birds of prey as they flock to this oasis on the eastern plains more than one hundred strong. Since it is the non-breeding season, the eagles are more tolerant of human incursion into their habitat, allowing you to catch a glimpse of what their life is really like.

Surrounding the reservoir, a barren forest of writhing, twisted, tortured cottonwoods is the perfect place for the birds to perch and gaze down upon their awesome domain. They are built to withstand the cold but on the chilliest days, they remain motionless on the tallest treetops.

When the weather warms, the eagles become more active and social and that is when their entertaining antics are fun to watch. Big, aggressive adults steal catches from seagulls or even from one of their own while others saunter clumsily along the ice line scanning the water for food.

The most spectacular part of their sudden liveliness is the aerial display of playful soaring, diving and tussling. Their vocalizations seem to express the sheer joy to be blessed with the incredible ability of masterful flight.

Come February, a large contingent of migrants arrives from the South and when combined with the residents, it is possible to identify more than one hundred unique individuals in a single day. It is an exciting place to be when the sleepy habitat begins to come back to life.

Other bird species are on their way but the bald eagles are leaving soon as they must fly to their northern breeding grounds. There is a mated pair, though, that returns to Barr Lake every spring where they make the same, enormous nest their idyllic home.

They saunter on ice

The adults are aggressive

They are more active and social

It's possible to see 100 different eagles in one day

The eagles are tolerant

They perch in the treetops

The habitat is coming to life

Playful soaring. Photo by Lukas Miller

An aerial display. Photo by Lukas Miller

Masterful flight. Photo by Lukas Miller

Barr Lake is a haven

Tortured cottonwood trees

The reservoir is partially frozen

An awesome domain

It's fun to watch the eagles

An idyllic home

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Winter Storm Kade - Small Flakes, Big Snow

Winter Storm Kade

Just hours after a furry groundhog in Pennsylvania prophesied a swift spring arrival, a brutal winter storm hammered the foothills in Colorado. It was a classic example of the old adage - Big flakes, small snow. Small flakes, big snow.

The tiny snowflakes poured like rain through a bitterly cold night, resulting in a smothered landscape buried below deep snow. The crystalline powder was piled into fragile drifts that shifted in a brisk wind.

After experiencing our least snowiest January in 50 years, the blizzard was a stunning slap in the face, snapping us back into the reality of winter conditions in the mountains. The glorious daybreak was punctuated by a bright sun whose sleek rays leaked through the branches of a dense woodland.

The low, diffused light spread throughout the forest creating a curious combination of fluorescence and shadow. Seen across the valley from a high vantage point, Bergen Peak was a regal monarch robed in white, a frozen monument revealing the true power of the most recent weather system.

Trudging through the labyrinth of timber, rock and ice on such an extraordinary day was an exhilarating experience. The slippery descent emptied into an isolated meadow where a dilapidated homestead was a weather-beaten tribute to all of the resilient inhabitants of the Rock Mountains.

A brutal winter storm

Small flakes, big snow

A smothered landscape

Crystalline powder

A glorious daybreak

Low, diffused light

Light leaked through the dense woodland

Snapped back to reality

An extraordinary day

A regal monarch

A dilapidated homestead