Category Archives: Articles on travel

Travel articles including trips where art is a large focus. Food, travel and general interests including food reviews.

The Loneliness Project: Part 1

It is the absence of something, most of the time something we took for granted for a long time before we realize it’s gone. The swing settles in the family tree and only a random breeze will wake it from its slumber.

I remember the cool green grasses and clothes blowing across the long lines of rope making shapes and patterns like ghosts. I remember the simplicity of a great blue sky and a child’s mind full of opportunities.

There are so many times we fall off the swing, we skin our knees and assume that no one is coming with the clean washcloth or the gentle encouraging voice; we grow up. We become self-sufficient, we are taught to ignore the swing, the green grass and the great blue sky as if they were just childhood foolishness.

We barely realize they’re gone but the child inside us still yearns to stop, to seek comfort, to search with an explorers heart for wonders among the grass and secrets in the woods.

It is this loneliness, missing a child that always found time to play, to look up to the sky in search for something great. How I miss the swing and the tall willows throwing viridian shadows, I consciously aspire for my own resurrection.

The green lawn, the red and white shed before it was an eyesore, back when it had a purpose. We would have family dinners in the backyard, the kids would take orders and there was a barbecue fired up, it was summer.

I remember a large gathering of people, usually Easter, after church we’d sit outside. It was back before mosquitoes became the deadly creatures they are.

I remember plastic chairs and long white plastic table clothes, laughter and drama-it was a family gathering after all.

Now the family is scattered to multiple states. Many of the members I remember are dead, some still live near the same town but we are all separate.

I miss the bond of family, even if what I remember wouldn’t match reality. I”m sure there was more tension among them but I was young. I had the privilege to grow tired of having guests.

I would love to sit in my Aunt Ann’s kitchen listening to the old woman with stories and small talk. I would enjoy sitting in the living room with all the men watching sports and talking trash but time moves on and we don’t realize the connections or their significance in our lives.

The Precarious State of Loneliness

There are so many more like me…but we are all separate,

How uncomfortable it is, longing for contact

and yet unable to fathom its joy

To seek solitude while aching for connection

it’s the most difficult state as nothing seems to feel comfortable

time is slow and yet fast and random simultaneously

I have lived here

I have driven a long road, alone, missing others

and yet insistent on my own solitude

is it the soul’s nature of knowing its own state

but curious for another?

Fear keeps us

separate.

Awkward we are souls in transition.

I forced my way through loneliness

until I grew comfortable with myself

it was only then that I could fathom

interaction

and it’s joyful conclusion…

The colors of humanity

ebb and flow just like the seasons

but they are to be shared

not squandered

our voices are like the fleeting colors of autumn

how they linger among the tangled limbs

to grow as a wonderfully colorful

landscape

they become stories among grasses

ghosts in the shadows

until they settle on stones

and sleep like whispers…

we were never meant to be alone

we are all notes in a beautiful song

so when did we stop singing?

Celebration: Third in a Series of Paintings of Swallows

Birds are not only a passion of mine they represent nature and often are the most accessible species in the suburban backyard. I remember going to my grandmothers’ in Orange New Jersey-out of the a concrete landscape of the city there were birds, not many but enough to offer some nature amidst concrete.

Over the years of writing and painting, certain birds have become symbolic in my work. The two most prominent are blackbirds and owls but recently the swallow has sparked my interest.

There is a song by Sparklehorse called the pain birds and on the album Good Morning Spider is a swallow. The first in the series is actually called the painbirds and it was during a time of great upheaval in my life.

The painting sat on the wall unfinished for more than a year, just the bridge and the water. I knew it was going to be swallows but I just couldn’t decide how and where the birds would appear. Next came the purple passion vine, a very religiously significant plant that I collect, all of these elements finally gelled and the Painbirds was born.

The second in the series came about with a lot less symbolism. I focused more on the relationship of two birds on a wire and the landscape that expanded behind them. Again, it sat unfinished for a long time as the image came together.

The problem is that the initial idea is filled with excitement and direction but after some time the overall details fade. This is why I can’t paint when I feel like painting, it seems you either see the details and textures and the way they need to be rendered or you don’t.

Birds on a Wire was the second in the series and it was just as large as the first one. Notice the change in colors, the richness and warmth replaces the cools and somewhat melancholy of the pain birds, it was a bit more comfortable time in my life and I believe I was much happier. The sunset does have a bit of symbolism of change and the possibilities of tomorrow and becoming comfortable with things ending.

The last in the series is the Celebration. I watched as the recent drought ended and Lake Ray Hubbard was full again, the swallows swarmed the bridge as if they were celebrating the end of the drought. It is the smallest painting of the three with the most birds.

It also marks a time where I am getting back to water at its simplest aspect. I wanted to get back to the way I used to paint water. I have recently departed from the clarity and depth and explored bright colors and reflections. I am going back to the basics and why I started painting water in the first place.

I have several paintings in the works, one is of grackles, another of egrets, I am getting back to studying nature with more depth and understanding. I am also working on some abstract images that are a bit less about nature and more about the human condition.

Stay tuned and please let me know which of the series you prefer and why.

The Garden Becomes its Own

I love gardening, something I’ve been writing about for quite a while. It is the act of dissolving into the silence and intricacies of nature.

Every bud and seedling is a glimmer of hope. I enjoy tending the soil, being active and watching this natural work of sorts become its own.

The garden starts out with seeds and a general idea and from there it becomes what it will be. I used to be a lot less enthusiastic about the summer garden than the spring garden.

The spring would come with ideas and grand hopes for wildlife and a garden I could photograph but once the summer heat kicked in, the garden would go its own way.

All of the weeding and planting would turn into a garden of brown shrivelled up leaves. I think depression has a big thing to do with it as well, all intent and excitement dies with its crippling effects.

This year is different. I’m looking at raising milkweed to sell, yes a weed but the only hope for future monarch butterflies. I am collecting passionvine and dutchmans’ pipe as well and with the addition to the family of a dog named Ranger, suddenly I am outside even in the heat, still plucking weeds, still planting.


It’s amazing how a puppy can take you out of yourself. It’s not about you, it’s about him and the garden is better because of it. As he chews on sticks and rocks, I continue to weed, water and protect.

I’m not sure how long this will last, but I’m excited to see the garden become its own even after the second hottest May. I hope you enjoy a bit of a walk through my garden.

 

Afternoon Sun: Oil on Canvas

As the sun fades from the backyard and the birds all take their places on unseen perches, the last bit of light paints the trees against the house.

It’s almost like a stain-glassed window as the light filters through spring leaves. I have been watching this for many seasons and have had the idea on my easel for many years now.

I was interested in the richness of fading afternoon sun. I love the shadows of blues and greens reflecting a coolness in the midst of an ending day. This is the third in an upcoming series of paintings coming off the easel. Stay tuned.

The Watchman: Red Tailed Hawk

This image was inspired from the East Texas Roads, I was selling insurance. I got to enjoy a lot of mileage and gathered a lot of inspiration for paintings.

I finally got a chance to paint. It was a stormy afternoon as you can see from the remnants of a swollen stream in the distance.

I got more information and sketched more on a trip to Hagerman where there are always hawks patrolling each fence row. There are a  lot of red tailed hawks and I consider them the watchmen of the meadows and fields.

Oil on Canvas 2018 ArtbyGordon

Finishing Paintings: A New Series Finds Closure

This painting was inspired by a ride in East Texas. I liked the grouping
of the drakes and the females looking on. It was a quick snapshot that turned into a long process of capturing a cool autumn day.

Since I started the painting, there have been many starts and stops. I have also had several times studying mallards at a local park to get the personality and eyes right on the males.

I aim to capture that relationship between characters in nature. When I go and study the ducks, they always know I’m there, they just keep their comfortable distance.

I was also aiming for the dark colors of autumn but the warmth of light on the reeds and the shiny green heads of the males. This is the first in the series, tomorrow I will have another I just finished: A hawk from a fence near Hagerman Wildlife Refuge.

Drakes

Wildlife Gardens in Texas Part 4: Dutchman’s pipe/Aristolochia Vine

This is the amazing butterfly that will visit your garden when you plant Dutchman’s Pipe or Aristolochia vine. Even without the welcome visitor it is an easy and very interesting vine to grow.

This is the Caterpillar that will devour every bit of the plants you have but they grow back quickly. They look a bit like slugs but if you study them closer they are quite beautiful in their own right.

Let’s get back to the plant which has its’ own unique qualities. The reason they call them Dutchman’s Pipe vines is because the flowers are very strange and exotic and look much like a dutchmans pipe.

This is the White-Veined Dutchman Pipevine-it is a ground cover that will come back every year in Texas and reseeds itself quite easily. The smell of the leaves are very strong.

There are several different types of vines but be wary of the Aristolochia Gigantea-it is a beautiful flower and dramatic bloom but it supposedly will kill the caterpillars, if you grow them just make sure you keep them away from butterflies seeking to lay their eggs.

The next plant is the sunflower which is not only a host plant but easy to grow from seed and a dramatic addition to any landscape.

 

Texas Gardening Part 3: Candlestick Plant

It’s a strange and dramatic flower and a host plant for several sulphur butterflies. You will need to give this plant some room because it grows out of its boundaries but the display is stunning.

Another aspect of this plant is that it’s so easy to grow, very little watering and I’ve never fertilized any of my plants. After the  flowers are exhausted, the seeds are very abundant. You will see many seedlings the next season or two.

This is the visitor you can expect, the caterpillar of the cloudless sulphur. Every year I get a few of them and I’ve had this plant in my garden every year for probably the last ten years.

Makes great photographs.

Another Visit to the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

Every visit to the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center in Lucas, Texas is  a chance to learn more about raptors and the Blackland Prairie. What always strikes me is the fact that young children already know about terms like diurnal and nocturnal and are interested in learning more about the birds.

It makes me hopeful for the future that the youth is already interested and engaged in wildlife preservation. Families walk the prairie with naturalists and are taught the significance of the Blackland Prairie and why it needs to be preserved.

You learn about each bird and their stories and you see how each has their own personality.  Today was a particularly beautiful sunny spring day and I can’t think of a better place to spend an afternoon.

If  you get a chance, you need to visit on the first Saturday of each month and if you can volunteer, I’m sure they could use an extra set of hands.

Unfortunately a common theme is human imprinting. People mean well but most don’t know how to take care of wildlife and usually the consequences are not good for the bird.

If you find an injured bird, leave it to the experts. If you are in doubt leave the bird where it is and allow nature to take care of itself.