Friday, March 25, 2011

Artisans Road Trip Artist Spotlight - Bruce Morrison - Artist

"Sunrise on Negus's Bales"
12x20" - oil painting on mounted canvas
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

This spring we're kicking off with some Artisan's Road Trip artist spotlights!  What is a typical artist of the A.R.T. like?  Is there even what could be called a "typical artist"???  Of course not!  So be sure and check back to learn about those participating in the 2011 Artisans Road Trip in the weeks/months ahead.

This spot light is on Painter/Photographer/Print Maker - Bruce Morrison from rural NW Iowa.  Bruce is an artist of the Tallgrass Prairie.  He and his wife Georgeann live on a small Tallgrass Prairie remnant where he works as a full-time artist throughout the year.  

 Morrison's Studio and Gallery at Prairie Hill Farm

Bruce and his wife built a permanent studio from the frame and foundation of a 1920's/30's brooding house (big chicken coup), doing the majority of the work themselves. You can actually follow Bruce and Georgeann through this whole process by going to his Prairie Hill Farm Studio blog - start at - - back in the fall of 2007 when the major construction started!  This building's purpose was changed to raise sheep in the mid 1950's and had over 100 head of sheep at it's peak use in the early 1990's!  He and Georgie like to say it took a few years to clean it out before they could even start re-building!

Liatris punctata - "Dotted Liatris"
from the prairie remnant at
Prairie Hill Farm
Photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

Bruce takes his inspiration from the Tallgrass itself and the natural and cultural heritage of the tallgrass prairie region. The natural heritage ranges from the tallgrass to the prairie pothole wetlands of the region...and painting or photographing (or both) the flora and fauna there.  The cultural heritage of the "neighborhood" in which he and Georgeann live is rich in history and agriculture.  The oldest known "remaining" agricultural plot in the state of Iowa lies just 3 miles from Morrison's studio.  It dates back to around 900-1000 A.D.!  The "Millcreek" culture flourished in the Waterman Creek valley on which Morrison's studio perches.  There are more than 80 known archeological sites in Bruce's corner of O'Brien county - "This lends a special meaning to the landscape here, and feeds an emotional response to what I paint, draw or photograph.", says Morrison.

"Waterman's Mouth - Summer"
5X7" - color pencil rendering
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

Bruce's color pencil rendering of "Waterman's Mouth - Summer" is an example of how he records and respects the heritage of the "neighborhood" in which he lives and loves.  This drawing presents the place where the Waterman flows into the Little Sioux River, downstream from the Prairie Hill Farm Studio...presenting a metaphorical doorway to the ancient lives and livelihood of the "first" Americans who walked and lived in the valley there.  Now Waterman Creek flows through the pastures and cropland of agricultural farms as well as remnants of the once great Tallgrass Prairie.

Bruce has been working on a body of work the past couple years - on a theme of "From the Tallgrass", a title taken from his book published in April of 2009.  These works will be presented in a one man show at Arts on Grand in Spencer, Iowa this coming August.  The works will include studio and plein air oil paintings, drawings, and photographs from the tallgrass prairie.

Remember - artists of the Artisans Road Trip are open to visitors all year long!  You need not wait till the A.R.T event this fall to see these hard working folks.  Bruce's studio is no exception and is open all year long, but on a staggered basis - "I'm often out chasing clouds and the landscape or knee deep in the prairie, so it's always a good idea to call before making a trip out solely to see the studio and gallery!", says Bruce.  "But the countryside is so pretty to drive through here, that you won't waste the trip if I'm not home!", assures Morrison.  (Bruce's phone - 712 728-2199)

"July in the Valley" - the actual valley view from the artist's studio
6X8"" - plein air oil painting
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

Morrison's Studio at Prairie Hill farm is a lovely spot to visit any time of year but especially wonderful when the prairie remnant on he and Georgeann's place is in bloom, or even fall color!  Bruce loves to take visitors for a free prairie walk and tour on their prairie's mowed paths (and off).  Morrison has been involved in prairie education and restoration for well over a decade now, having started or consulted for prairie restoration/reconstruction for colleges and private individuals in the region.

You can learn more about Bruce and his work - as well as all other artists from A.R.T 2011 by visiting their links on this A.R.T. Blog's side bar.  Bruce's blog is in it's 4th year, and his Tallgrass Journal just switched to a blog format after running as a web based journal since 2002!  Want to learn even more and have a bi-weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox?!!  Subscribe to Bruce's Morrison's Studio Newsletter!!!  Be sure and visit Bruce's web site at for a sampling of his work or even to make secure purchases online!

Check back again to learn more about the artists of the 2011 Artisans Road Trip!