Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Peneda-Gerês National Park

Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal , 2014
Acrylic on canvas board
10" x 8"
© copyright Mike Kraus

Our little rental car struggles through the mountainous switchbacks in northern Portugal.  Just north of Parque de São Bento da Porta Aberta, the little hatchback pulls over to an overlook of the Cávado River.  A valley filled with unique colorful flora.  Wind and water have carved this land of granite.  Now, if only we can find the trailhead to explore...

This painting would look best in a space that is light yellow, bright red, dark orange, or neutral beige.

For more information or custom order, please visit:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Red Contours On Field of Green

Red Contours On Field of Green, 2014
acrylic on canvas board
5 1/2" x 7 1/2
© copyright Mike Kraus

What do I see?  The personal memories and symbols I am trying to express.  Dreams of flashing images.  All the experiences I have imagined.  What do you perceive?  

This painting would look best in a space that is yellow, blue, orange, mahogany brown, or beige.  

For more information or custom order, please visit:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior, 2014
acrylic painting on canvas
8" x 10"
© copyright Mike Kraus

"A small shift between cloud and sun altered the daylight, and the whole landscape intensified, brightening before her eyes.  The forest blazed with its own internal flame.  "Jesus," she said, not calling for help, she and Jesus weren't that close, but putting her voice in the world because nothing else present made sense.  The sun slipped out by another degree, passing its warmth across the land, and the mountain seemed to explode with light.  Brightness of a new intensity moved up the valley in a rippling wave, like the disturbed surface of a lake.  Every bough glowed with an orange blaze.  "Jesus God," she said again.  No words came to her that seemed sane.  Trees turned to fire, a burning bush.  Moses came to mind, and Ezekiel, words from Scripture that occupied a certain space in her brain but no longer carried honest weight, if they ever had.  'Burning coals of fire went up and down among the living creatures.

The flame now appeared to lift from individual treetops in showers of orange sparks, exploding the way a pine log does in a campfire when it's poked.  The sparks spiraled upward in swirls like funnel clouds.  Twisters of brightness against gray sky.  In broad daylight with no comprehension, she watched.  From the tops of the funnels the sparks lifted high and sailed out undirected above the dark forest.  

A forest fire, if that's what it was, would roar.  This consternation swept the mountain in perfect silence.  The air above remained cold and clear.  No smoke, no crackling howl.  She stopped breathing for a second and closed her eyes to listen, but heard nothing.  Only a faint patter like rain on leaves.  Not fire, she thought, but her eyes when opened could only tell her, 'Fire, this place is burning.'  They said, 'Get out of here.'  Up or down, she was unsure.  She eyed the dark uncertainty of the trail and the uncrossable breach of the valley.  It was all the same everywhere, every tree aglow...

...She was on her own here, staring at glowing trees.  Fascination curled itself around her fright.  This was no forest fire.  She was pressed by the quiet elation of escape and knowing better and seeing straight through to the back of herself, in solitude.  She couldn't remember when she's had such room for being.  This was not just another fake thing in her life's cheap chain of events, leading up to this day of sneaking around in someone's thrown-away boots.  Here that ended.  Unearthly beauty had appeared to her, a vision of glory to stop her in the road.  For her alone these orange boughs lifted, these long shadows became a brightness rising.  It looked like the inside of joy, if a person could see that.  A valley of lights, an ethereal wind.  It had to mean something."

-Excerpt by Barbara Kingsolver, "Flight Behavior." 1st ed. New York: Harper Collins, 2012 13-16. Print (

This piece would work in a space that is light green, blue, yellow, beige or on wood.

For more information or custom order, please visit:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vision Quest IV

Vision Quest IV, 2014
acrylic painting on canvas
20" x 16"
© copyright Mike Kraus

I have stayed here for several days.  Alone in the wilderness with only the things I can carry in my backpack.  I've been rationing my food and water to extend my time here.  There's an intensity to the evening sun that is counter-balanced by the darkness of the soil.  A delicate harmony to everything.

This piece would work in a space that is yellow, light orange, blue, light purple, beige or on wood.

For more information or custom order, please visit:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Red and Green Contours

Red and Green Contours, 2014
acrylic on canvas
16" x 20"
Collection of Elmar Pöselt
© copyright Mike Kraus

What do I see?  The personal memories and symbols I am trying to express.  Dreams of flashing images.  All the experiences I have imagined.  What do you perceive?  

For more information or custom order, please visit:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I < 3 NY - Part Four - Taughannock Falls in Ithaca

Megan and I at Taughannock Falls State Park.  

More hiking and more gorges! 

Taughannock Creek 

An old railroad bridge that we'll be crossing that's way the hell up above the gorge. 

Another waterfall  

View of the Taughannock Creek gorge

Taughannock Falls 

 The 215 foot drop is 33 feet higher than Niagara Falls

Unfortunately, it started to rain and Megan hurt her knee.  Scout was pretty tired.  So, we cut out most of the hiking we planned to do.  But, as I said about Lucifer Falls, it's a good excuse to come back. 

Waves of rain crashing against the woods.  Cayuga Lake in the distance.

Occupied by Taughannocks situated north and south of stream burial ground on bluff west of John Jones home site Indians named Lake-Guenguch
First white settlement 1794 by two Goodwin Brothers

That's it for this trip.  All you really need to know though is:

Part One: Albany

Part Two: Buttermilk Falls In Ithaca

Part Three: Lucifer Falls In Ithaca

I < 3 NY - Part Three - Lucifer Falls in Ithaca

Just a short drive from our campsite is another state park.  This time, it's Robert H. Treman State Park (

Enfield Creek flows over the road.  Luckily, there's a bridge for pedestrians.

Once again, "Rim Trail" means you'll be climbing a steep hill up for a while.  And, it's worth it.  Below is Megan's dream camping cabin overlooking a waterfall.

The lower falls

For some reason, this one specific tree is targeted for carving.

Three things I've learned while living in upstate New York: 1) Upstate New York has a lot of waterfalls, 2) New Yorkers are not impressed with waterfalls, 3) the same can be said about slate rock.

Base of Lucifer Falls

Cliff Staircase which is a lot of steps...

"This Glen's singular charm was recognized and rescued for the people of New York by ROBERT and LAURA TREMAN some of whose friends set this tablet here in loving appreciation of their gift of Enfield Gorge to us all." 

View from the Cliff Staircase

Megan, Scout, and I with Lucifer Falls behind us.  The woman who took this picture just happened to be running by and was kind enough to take this for us.

"OH MY GOD!  Is that the running lady who took our picture over there!!!"  Yes it is!  Somehow, she was able to race down the cliff staircase, across the river, and up the gorge trail in a matter of minutes.  It blew my mind.  We saw her again at the end of the trail and she says she runs this park everyday.  We should have gotten her autograph because she should be an Olympian or something.

Lucifer Falls from the top.

Butts.  Is this for puppy butts too?

 Old Mill

This place really impressed me.  Probably because I was born during the wrong time and probably been very good at running an operation like this.

Unfortunately, we've had some very severe storms recently (damn you global climate change!) and it took out much of the really awesome parts of the Upper Gorge Trail.  But, it's a great excuse to visit again when it is rebuilt.

Into the gorge leading to Lucifer Falls.

Bridge over Enfield Creek

Back at Lucifer Falls from the other side of the gorge.

 Trail closed...

We had to carry Scout on this part of the trail because she really likes to sightsee.  She'd jump on all the walls to see what we were looking at.  Also, she's not afraid of cliffs.  So, to save ourselves from a sad vacation, we had to carry her up part of the gorge.

"SCOUT!  How are you missing the frog?"

Cliff wall along the Enfield Gorge

"Family portrait" while resting our sore feet in the creek.

Megan and Scout

Oh la la!

Scout gets goofier every day...

Parking garage mural art.   Very whimsical.

The Commons Pedestrian Mall in downtown Ithaca is being rebuilt (

Lots of great old buildings in the city.

Viva! Taqueria ( was necessary after our hike.

Me: If this is the only time I'll ever come here, what should I get?
Waitress:  Um...  Well, it's all good.  But, I'd get something with the mole

She was right.  Get something with the mole.  In fact, buy extra mole to bring home.  It's $1.50 for 4 ounces.

Poor sleepy Scout.

Mmmm...  More brats, veggie delights, and corn on the cob from the grill.  It was awesome corn.

She was so tired that she put herself to sleep that night.  Megan went to get something from the tent and she made a beeline to her crate.  Too many chipmunks and not enough naps...

If you visit Buttermilk Falls State Park and still see this tent, I wouldn't be surprised.  We saw the family one time the entire trip and their campsite was untouched.  I think this was their first time camping and they said, "This is camping?  I hate it.  Let's stay at a hotel" and left the scene.  If that's the case, I missed out on some good free camping gear...

Part One: Albany

Part Two: Buttermilk Falls In Ithaca

Part Four: Taughannock Falls In Ithaca

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