Friday, December 23, 2016

Painting - Washed in the Blood
Prints available

This most recent artwork has been an emotional one to paint to say the least.  Years ago, I saw another artist's rough sketch of this same idea and wanted to paint one of my own.  The top hand represents Jesus on the cross.  The blood runs down and symbolically turns to water which represents washing or cleansing of the dirty hands underneath.  The message is that Christ's blood cleanses us from our sins and we can have the hope of living forever with Him if we obey his Gospel.

The process involved using two good friends as hand models and lots of research on crucifixion artworks.  It's unknown where the actual placement of the nails was historically.  Many think they were actually put through His wrists rather than his hands as the hands wouldn't support the weight of the body.  Others think the spikes went into his hands/palms but with other supports in place.  Regardless, it gives a glimpse of how painful and costly His sacrifice was, and on a deeper level, how strong His love for His bride (the church) was/is.  It's my hope that this work might encourage people to come to Christ and to know the love he has for us all.

"...if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
 - 1 John  1:7

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
  - Ephesians 2:1-10

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."

 -  1 Peter 1:18-19

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Star Wars Helmet Series

Star Wars character painting collection

Yep...Star Wars paintings.  Why?  Because it's cool!  With the new movie coming out and an empty wall down in our "game room" I decided to do a series of quick portrait paintings of some of the characters from the Star Wars movies.  They are all villains or dark side characters because...well...their masks look awesome.  Each of these paintings was made using a palette knife instead of a brush to create the cool texture and put the paint on thick.

Collection series of Star Wars Character paintings from the movies

Monday, November 21, 2016

Night hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

A couple friends and I went for a hike before the snowstorm late Saturday afternoon.  We reached the lake as the sun was setting but the sky was totally clear of clouds.  This made for blah photos of the sunset, but great shots of the stars once it got dark.  It's always a unique experience hiking for miles in the dark with your friends.  The moon was so bright that we almost didn't even need our headlamps.  I love the way the peaks look in the moonlight:

Notchtop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado at night with the Milky Way at Two Rivers Lake

This nighttime image is taken at Two Rivers Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  The lake is a bit off the beaten path making it a little less visited than other popular lakes in the Park.  The photograph was taken around 8:30 PM in early November.  The prominent peak in the center of the photograph is Notchtop Mountain, a 12,000 ft. peak that sits on the Continental Divide.  Photographs that look like this are composites of two images due to the extreme contrast of light between the sky and the ground.  One exposure is taken of the peak and foreground while the other is taken of the starry sky.  Then, the two are combined in post processing.

Technical info for the sky exposure:

11.00 mm
20 seconds
ISO: 2500

For the Ground:

11.00 mm
30 seconds
ISO 100

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

5 Majestic Colorado Backpacking Locations

Colorado is home to some of the most amazing scenery in the country.  Many of the well known, iconic views are readily accessible for tourists and day trippers.  Only the adventurous souls willing to hike long distances will be allowed to view the lesser known landscapes that offer pristine rewards.  These hikes are usually done as backpacking/overnight trips.  Here's a list of a few of the top tier areas to explore:

1. Mirror/Crater Lakes: Indian Peaks Wilderness

Rount Trip Distance: 15 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,000 ft. 

Lone Eagle Peak is an inspiring pinnacle located deep in the heart of the Indian Peaks Wilderness of Northern Colorado. Mirror Lake is aptly named as the jagged mountains reflect in the water. Crater lake is only a quick stroll from Mirror Lake and has great trout fishing. It should be noted that this one is a fairly popular destination during the summer weekends and a wilderness permit needs to be obtained beforehand.

2. Ice Lakes Basin: San Juan Mountains

Round Trip Distance: 7.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2500 ft.

The unique, lush mountains of the Ice and Island Lakes Basins don't seem like they belong with the rest of the state.  Green hillsides full of wildflowers give way to red colored rocks towering above.  The area is surrounded by 13,000 ft. peaks.  The tallest of these mountains is appropriately named Vermilion Peak.  It is one of Colorado's tallest 100 summits and there is a class 2 hike to the summit from Ice Lake for those who are feeling a bit more ambitions.  Just add another 2,000 ft. of elevation gain.  Piece of cake!

3. Willow Lakes: Eagles Nest Wilderness

Round Trip Distance: 18 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,000 ft.

It can be difficult to find information about the high peaks of the Gore Range near the town of Vail. This area is much less popular than other mountain ranges for one reason...there are no 14ers. This is a good thing for anyone searching for solitude. It is possible to spend a couple weeknights here without seeing another human. The Willow Lakes are nestled right up to the base of the spires of the Zodiac Ridge between Red Peak and Mt. Silverthorne. This is a long backpack, but well worth the effort.  Don't forget a fishing pole.  The brook trout fishing in these lakes is insane!

4. Chicago Basin: Weminuche Wilderness
Round Trip Distance: 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,000 

The Chicago Basin is a difficult place to access. The easiest way to get here is to take the historic Silverton/Durango Narrow Gauge Train. The train has one stop in Needleton (which sounds like a town, but is actually in the middle of nowhere) and drops hikers off at the trailhead. From here it's a long hike in to the base of four remote 14,000 ft. mountains. Most who hike this far usually continue on to climb to the summit of the 14ers which range in difficulty from easy scrambles to class 4 climbing. The Needle Mountains are some of the most jagged and picturesque in Colorado.

5. Cathedral Lake: Maroon Bells Wilderness

Round Trip Distance: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,000 ft.

For those looking for a little less strenuous outing, Cathedral Lake near the town of Aspen is a great option.  The lake lies near the base of Centennial 13er Cathedral Peak in the stunning Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness.  The lake is a popular destination for day hikers as well, but an overnight trip makes a sunrise/sunset over the lake easier to view.  Make sure to continue on the trail past the lake toward Electric Pass for awesome views of the rugged Cathedral Peak as well as unique angles of Colorado 14ers Castle Peak, Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Bells.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

2017 Colorado Scenic Calendar

Colorado 2017 yearly calendar landscape mountain photography scenery scenic

The Colorado 2017 Scenic Calendar is here!  The photographs on each page were taken during the corresponding months and feature landscape scenery from throughout our beautiful state.  All images are the work of artist/photographer Aaron Spong.

Click HERE to see the pictures and order calendars!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Late Autumn in the Sangre de Cristos

The family and I took a trip down to the lot over the 4 day weekend.  I decided to take a couple afternoons off and go for a couple sunset photography drives.  It was a pleasant surprise to find some pockets of fall colors along the "Highway of Legends" and the Huerfano River Valley.  Here are a few images from the trip:

Culebra Peak from near Trinidad

West Spanish Peak

Sunset and stars over West Spanish Peak near La Veta - Prints Available

Sunset over East Spanish Peak form near Walsenburg

Huerfano Valley

Aspen stand

I drove up to the Lily Lake trailhead to see how the aspens were doing up higher.  Nope... Not a leaf on the trees, but the sunset was awsome over Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point (two Colorado 14ers):

Blanca and Ellingwood Sunset - Prints Available

Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point sunset Huerfano River Valley
This one taken like 2 minutes later - Close up of Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fall Colors Trip 2016

It was 90 degrees when I left my house on Friday afternoon.  Two hours later, I was driving through a blizzard at the Eisenhower Tunnel.  That's a Colorado Fall for you. 

Many people may not realize, but there is a ton of research, planning, preparation and patience involved in these multi-day photography trips.  This year's trip was centered around the peaks of the stunning, but not very popular Eagle's Nest Wilderness a.k.a. the Gore Range.  I took almost 1500 pictures over the course of 4 days.  If I could describe the experience in one word, it would be "cold"... and "beautiful"...and "lonely".  I don't have time to write the story behind each image, so I'll just post some of the best ones from the trip:

Autumn photography of acorn creek with aspens in the fall and gore range
Acorn Creek

sunrise in autumn with eagles nest peak and fall colors gore range Colorado
Eagles Nest Peak Sunrise

Colorado autumn sunrise with the sunbeam and upper cataract lake eagles nest wilderness fall
Sunburst and Cataract Lake

Cataract Lake Colorado in the fall with Autumn aspen foliage
Cataract Lake

Aspen forest panorama in the gore range colorado
Aspen Forest

Peak K, Peak L, Gore Thumb, Guyselman, Peak N and Peak O from Highway 9 in fall colors
Peak K, Peak L, Gore Thumb, Guyselman Mountain, Peak N and Peak O (I think)

Autumn on Grand Traverse peak with colorful aspens in Vail Colorado
Grand Traverse Peak from Vail

Piney Lake

Autumn reflection with peak c and Mt. Powell near piney lake in the calm piney river fall colors colorado Vail
Peak C (center) and Mt. Powell (Left) from Piney River

One night I stayed out late to get some milky way shots as the sky was so clear at Piney Lake.  After shooting, Molly and I were heading back to the truck in the dark.  All of the sudden, Molly stops in the middle of the trail.  She must notice something.  Right in front of us we hear this loud grunting sound.  We both freeze.  A couple seconds later the same grunting sound.  All I can think is, "Man I hope that's not a bear".  Then I see another headlight in front of us.  No... it's not another headlamp.  It's the reflection of my own headlight in the eye of a large animal.  It grunts at us again.  This time Molly barks at it very loudly.  The creature starts moving toward us, then turns to its right and starts walking down the hill.  As it passes, I can see two HUGE antlers of a bull moose.  It walks past us toward Piney Lake.  I later found out that this moose is well known at the Piney Ranch.  Apparently, they call him Monty.  All I have to say is I'm thankful for my canine hiking partner!

Milky Way

Moose in Piney Lake