May 24, 2017 – Winter in Bisbee

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“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”
~John Steinbeck

A small town is a strange place to live, but I loved living on the hill looking over Old Bisbee. Up on High Road, this was the view from my deck. I watched winter storms descend in January and monsoon storms roll through the canyons in July. There’s no other place like it in the world.

But life moves on and things change. The view will always be beautiful, but I eventually had to leave.
This image was taken in February of 2012. A crisp, dry morning with snow dusting the hillsides.

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January 25, 2017 – Dead Flowers

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Winter isn’t over, and we’re beginning to enter that last long stretch. For me, February is almost always the longest, coldest, hardest month. But the promise of spring, dormant as it is, surrounds us. Today’s image is a watercolor and ink illustration of a dried husk of a flower, based on a photograph I took during one of the coldest winter days I lived through in Bisbee, Arizona.

I enjoy this image because we always have a tendency to connect themes of death and rebirth to the winter. Leaves fall from trees, grass withers and dies, and our gardens crumple up beneath frost and snow. This image, to me, is a reminder of the color and warmth that we can expect in the following months.

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January 16, 2017 – Snow Field

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What better way to embrace the winter than by making photographs and artwork that celebrate it? We’re in that stretch of winter where things often start to really slow down; I know a lot of people who dread the upcoming February storms. I left the Midwest to escape the cold, but whenever I return I feel as though I have a much deeper appreciation for the natural beauty of the Plains States, as flat and sparse as the landscapes often are.

We always take a little bit of our home town with us when we leave.

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January 05, 2017 – The Cardinal

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Bird photography is incredibly challenging, but it’s also very addicting. I’m certainly no expert, but there are times when I will grab my telephoto lens, go for a walk or a hike, and hunt around for birds to try and capture.

I’m not the only one who loves cardinals. They’re bright, vibrant creatures with a very distinctive song. I seem to have better luck photographing these guys than just about any other species of bird, too.

I looked up the symbolism behind cardinals recently. Evidently, they make pretty wonderful animal totems – if you’re into that kind of thing. From what I can gather, the cardinal is supposed to remind us to hold ourselves with pride – not ego pride, mind you, but rather to stand tall, be more regal, and step into our natural confidence.

I can dig that.

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January 04, 2017 – Snowstorm In Arizona

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After a glorious New Years celebration in Sedona, Arizona, we decided to take the long way back to Tucson. Although it was sixty miles out of our way, Flagstaff was too close not to pass through. As we approached the mountaintop city, whiteout conditions descended from the hills, a big black mass of winter fury.

Naturally, once we passed through the maelstrom, it was necessary to stop and get our boots wet. Virgin snow is beautiful, but even more-so to the desert-rat. It’s a rare sight for Arizonans – and even though I’m from Kansas, I have to admit an affinity for a landscape draped in fresh snow.

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The Dead Flower

Dead Flower post“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
~Albert Camus

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I was reminded of this painting, based on a photograph, by an unlikely figure: Facebook.

We all have a profile and engage in it’s meticulous, brilliant distraction. Over the past several weeks, I’ve plucked the crust from my eyes each morning and reached over to quell the grating sounds of my alarm clock – which would also be my phone. Usually there’s a recommendation from our social media overlord to reminisce and share an old memory – I’m guessing they’ve been pulling at your nostalgia-strings too. The catch, at lease for me, is that the past twelve months of my life have been, mildly put, troubled.

Facebook’s algorithms have yet to filter out the job losses, financial woes, marital strife, and death. It’s hard to fault an equation for hoisting my life’s misery back upon me, even as I scramble to escape the sense of demoralizing defeat, but there it is, like a mirror, holding your failures as a civilized man right up to your face.

Today, thankfully, brought a different narrative. Rather than a friend-turned-enemy or a recently-deceased compatriot, I was reminded of a painting I’d made and quickly forgot about. I made a simple picture of a crisp, lifeless twig; I was satisfied. The canvas of the earth shifts during the winter time; colors turn from vibrant to monochrome. A very good and close friend, deeply religious, often speaks of God’s divine design, proclaiming that “the colors of His palette never clash.”

I certainly couldn’t be described as a religious or faithful human being, but my friend is right. The colors of the natural world do not compete for glory – they sit side-by-side in exquisite harmony, promoting a sensory experience that is indeed “miraculous,” and can easily be described as “heavenly.”

And now I spread my gospel to you.

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January 31 – Farm Country

01-31 Kansas Barn post“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

~Henry David Thoreau

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One of my occupations, of late, has involved walking around the city. During these urban hikes I keep a sharp eye out and I try to keep in mind my own individual, physical perspective. As a challenge to myself, I’ve been re-imagining the familiar neighborhoods, shopping centers, roadways, and walking paths. The city – the concrete and steel, the timber boxes of row houses and the carved-out subdivisions – has so thoroughly consumed all of the wild, untouched areas I grew up around, so I’ve been looking for spaces untouched by development.

This barn sits on the intersection of Interstate-435 and 87th Street Parkway. It is in the eye of the storm. To the right of this red barn, just off-camera, is the off-ramp and a line of cars waiting to merge onto 87th Street. Behind the barn is a field, probably two miles deep, before a thicket of housing, strip malls, and office buildings. Across the street from this barn is a McDonald’s, a Taco Bell, and a supermarket.

I don’t know the story behind this tract of land, but I’m guessing there’s a stubborn landowner who has refused generous offers on his property. I applaud such action, if only because I enjoy the basic concept of a person saying no to cold hard cash – it forces each of us to consider the possibility that there are indeed things more important than money.

I this small slice of untouched land. A little reminder of what the whole surrounding territory probably looked like a generation ago, before all of this “progress.”

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