Category Archives: Articles on travel

Travel related articles

Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

Barred Owl from the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center Photo by Artbygordon

Protecting wildlife starts with saving habitat, maintaining native plants and fauna and protecting animals that have become injured or can not compete in their natural world. These animals become ambassadors to show our future stewards of the environment why they are so important and what makes them special.

Barn Owl from the Blackland Prairie Nature Center photo by artbygordon

Blackland Prairie Raptor Center is doing all of these important aspects of wildlife preservation. I visited their first Saturday of the month, it’s the only time they’re open to the public and they show the birds that pass through their center.

They keep the birds as wild as they can be, even the imprinted birds that haven’t learned to live in the wild are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. It is quite an impressive operation and much of what I have learned about the Blackland Prairie is from talking with the naturalists there.

Barn Owl from the Blackland Prairie Nature Center photo by artbygordon

They take the time to show you each bird they have and explain their unique situations. I was impressed with how much the children knew about the birds and the difference between nocturnal and diurnal.

Preregrine Falcon from the Blackland Prairie Nature Center photo by artbygordon

Every time I go to the center I learn something I didn’t know. Here is a list of some more things I’ve learned from my visit today.

1. A flock of Kites is a kettle. The mississippi kite is expanding its range southward. With age comes the more grey plumage and it feeds on mostly insects.

2. I’ve never heard a barn owl hiss up close. They also shriek and it can be quite piercing to the ear.

3. The tuffs of feathers on the head of the owls break up their round shape and make them harder to see in the wild.

4. A barn owls ears are so intense they can hear a heartbeat and they can actually attack a mouse under the snow without even seeing them.

Screech Owl from the Blackland Prairie Nature Center photo by artbygordon

5. Owls have tubular eyes that are more fixed than other animals and therefore they need to swivel their heads to see.

After the bird show we took a hike on the trails and we learned about blue stem grasses, native grass and invasive non-native species. I learned about another place I had never heard of before today and I very much enjoyed my visit, the park is the Parkhill Prairie near Blue Ridge and it was an amazing visit where I saw hawks and vultures flying in their environment.

Red Tailed Hawk from the Blackland Prairie Nature Center photo by artbygordon
Great Horned Owl from the Blackland Prairie Nature Center photo by artbygordon

It was a wonderful day. A wonderful trip to Blackland Prairie Raptor Center all photos by artbygordon 2018

Fear of the Canvas

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I’ve just realized why I have been avoiding painting recently, not really avoiding it but just having a harder time settling down. Many of the works have been in progress for quite a while so getting back to them is often like picking up a strangers painting.

The amazing point is when suddenly you stop thinking about what you need to do and just start slashing at the canvas with purpose. There are unseen shapes and connections of shapes that come out of the surface of the paint and you fill in the blanks instinctively.

A stumbling block is the fear, especially when you like what you’ve started but there is no room for timid strokes in painting or anything else creative. Once you stop and think or attempt the safe way you might as well save painting for later.

Painting should be bold, excited and even a bit reckless. My thought is every painting is a potential mistake that will never see the light of day. This is the time you learn the most, when you are free to forcefully and confidently paint without fear of failure.

One particular technique that takes a lot of time going back and forth is the light on water, it starts out overly dramatic and slowly becomes more realistic. There are points where the light seems right, others when there seems to be a bump in the horizon and you have confidently fix the problems and continue to focus while you see the image you’ve been working on go from good to worse to good again.

Another aspect is painting objects, straight lines and architecture, something that often needs to be reworked and perfected. You are happy with the background and suddenly you’ve just destroyed it with the object that you overlapped-often the background needs to be reworked with the object as you work to perfect both.

I am excited about the process and while I continue to get bits of time to paint, I am adding to an already large painting list. Let me know what you think of the new images.
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Painting: Deliberate until something develops

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There are so many different feelings when you paint, sometimes it’s pushing paint around, sometimes it’s deliberate, even mechanical and sometimes it’s instinctual, tonight’s  sitting was a little bit of all of them.

I started with an under painting and it was one of the more deliberate paintings I’ve started, unfortunately I didn’t have the full picture, just an idea of clouds moving forward over the viewers head. The actual image is from real life, I have photographs for reference but I’m not completely sure where the clouds end and what the landscape looks like.

I painted the background with perspective lines, every form, every color and every space will be designed with the idea of perspective and I want the viewer to feel overwhelmed by the clouds overhead.

As I tend to do, I switched gears after finishing a monochromatic under painting I turned to the painting of a scene from beneath Shark River Inlet in Belmar New Jersey. This painting was inspired thirty plus years ago and it still stood clear.

I painted with a clear feeling of purpose but as suddenly as it began it ends and I wasn’t sure if I was done with the painting or should start all over. The problem is the idea and image is strong but the recollection is so hard to bring back to mind. I will continue to study it until I know it’s either done or time to start over.

Another thing about painting, sometimes you feel like you’ve created your best work and sometimes the same painting looks like a mistake. I got back to the grackles above the city, an image that I started at the end of the last series, again I had that feeling of instinct kick in and for thirty minutes or so I painted like I figured out the problem.

None of the paintings are finished but I feel like I’m shaking off the stagnation and getting in the process. The most exciting thing about painting instinctual is that images appear that you didn’t necessarily know you were creating they just come out of the details you’ve worked in feverishly.

I’m excited about this series and feel it will be a huge step toward my future painting style and feel.

Stay tuned, more paintings coming very soon.

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Back to the Artists Studio

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Last night I finally started painting again. The excitement and inspiration spilled over into the next day. It is a liberating feeling after being stifled for so long and suddenly it all makes sense.

I think the only negative is that suddenly there are more ideas, images and concepts than I can get done in the time available. This is when my lists get overwhelming.

I first started on the third in a series of swallow paintings. The work is smaller than the two previous but more detailed, with a larger population of swallows than the previous paintings.

The name of the work is the celebration, it is a scene from a local bridge in Rowlett after the spring rain. I saw a swarm of swallows that surrounded the bridge and flew under and around the structure. There was a feeling of excitement; nature in celebration, the drought was finally over.

The second painting I work on was a brand new painting called calvary The last time I went to church, I had an amazing image of calvary surrounded by stained glass. This is going to be one of my most colorful paintings and it is a bit of a departure from previous works.

I’m very excited about finally getting back to work and I can’t wait to see the new views as they become real.

Rejuvenating a Garden: life lessons among the weeds

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So many things in gardening mimic life, it’s realizing them that offers us wisdom.

After ridiculous heat and a garden that got away from me, after all the beautiful blooms  I anticipated have failed, I forget why I started gardening in the first place.

 

In Texas heat and humidity you stand and look at a mess you started in the spring that is now out of your control and succumbing to summer heat. Welcome to one’s life, finding that joy is what this  post is all about. Here are my wisdoms from the weeds.

 

  1. Mulch often:Mulch is the gardens’ skin, it keeps moisture in and combats heat and weeds, it is armor for the growing garden.

We all need a thick skin, it will keep the bad out and keep the
good in, a parent needs to start mulching their children at a very
young age-a thick skin is important.

  1. Water when needed but not too often:You would think watering a garden is a no-brainer but the best way to kill a garden, especially in Texas thick clay soils is overwatering.

Don’t overwater your children or yourself for that matter, don’t
take yourself too seriously and don’t rush in to make sure your
kids have everything they need. A little bit of patience and
perseverance grows character and it’s a beautiful flower.

  1. There is more to a garden than just flowers: So many reasons to garden, don’t just aspire for one particular thing. Notice the wildlife, the interesting weeds, enjoy the fruits and vegetables and most of all, learn everything you can. This is kind of self explanatory for your life, learn, enjoy, explore, don’t just focus on one objective-be adventurous.
  1. Don’t use Chemicals: No, I’m not preaching, but you do kill much of what would actually help your garden and the garden can do a lot on its own if you don’t cripple it with chemicals. Ok, that sounded preachy.

This is twofold-don’t surround yourself with toxic people and
don’t try so hard to solve a problem you end up causing more
problems, think first, realize consequences before
you create more for yourself.

  1. Transplanting can often revive a dying plant: I have seen plants magically come back to life after simply being transplanted. Suddenly a dormant plant sends up new life and even flowers.

Transplant yourself, change is great for the soul. Often a change is
the best thing you can do to start living again, challenge yourself,
awaken your inner seed.

  1. Deadheading often brings about new growth and flowers: You rejuvenate a plant when you remove its spent blooms, it works to create flowers instead of reseeding.

Don’t hold on to old ways or  things, sometimes we need to throw
off our pasts, our old language and doubts before we can grow
again.

  1. The beauty of a garden happens over time: There is the initial bloom you buy from a store, the reason you were attracted in the first place to the specific plant. After the initial blooms fade there is so much more that happens, the roots go deeper, the flowers get more complex and it gets healthier and more vibrant with time.

    Be more interested in the long term than the transient. Don’t panic as things in your life change and be patient as you discover the big picture.

  1. Don’t chose the wrong plant: If you plant a cactus in a rainforest, the results are not going to be good. Can you do it? Yes, but it will take more time, more materials and more attention.

    Know who you are, be who you are. Don’t force yourself into someones’ perceived garden, realize how much more work and attention you will need for the same result.

  1. Have fun:If you look at the garden as a task, that is exactly what it will be. Have fun, enjoy yourself, get dirty and did I mention; Learn a lot.

    Sometimes we are so intense about living, about goals, about expectations we forget we are here to enjoy, to have fun. Today I dug in the garden and it felt amazing. Stop, and enjoy your life, winter will be here sooner than you think.

  1. Find old friends among the weeds: This is one of the primary reasons I started writing this post. While digging out the seeds and mulching the garden I found old friends. I rediscovered how much I enjoy digging in the soil. I stopped and enjoyed a moment gardening; it was like spring again.

I also found plants that had reseeded, last years flowers that reappeared, I love perennials. I would have never even realized them if I didn’t stop and dig in the soil and rejuvenate the garden. I remembered why I started gardening in the first place. Despite the heat, despite the sweat and toil and scars on barehands, I never use gloves.  I realize nature is the force that rejuvenates me and gardening makes me remember that.

So get out there, enjoy nature, start a garden or just stop and enjoy someone else’s, Learn, read, find out what you loved as a child and rejuvenate your own garden, the results will amaze you!

The Extraordinary Life

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What does the extraordinary life look like and how much does it cost? An easy question with too many answers and each answer is very subjective.

This is the beginning of a series on living larger and experiencing more. I plan on highlighting individuals that typify a lifestyle that defies convention. The first thing I need to do is define what that life looks like, for myself if no one else.

The first word that comes to mind, for me, is freedom. Again, what is freedom and how do we go about truly feeling its reward. I think it’s appropriate that I would start something like this on the eve of Independence Day.

I want the freedom of going places, of seeing new things and experiencing foods and cultures. I want to write, paint and photograph about the experiences and bring them to my readers with a personal perspective that they can relate to.

My first objective to this quest is seeking clarity and focus, to not only define it but to take steps that would make it possible. We are in a world that is loud, always something pressing, always useless distractions hiding our purpose.

I am in the process of learning from others who have embarked on the same journey. Experiences that others can share will allow many of the mistakes and pitfalls to possibly be avoided and it will give me the knowledge to take the next step.

Next, I believe discipline is necessary, which is strange coming from a creative mind but creativity without some sort of discipline or organization is madness. I plan on learning to be more organized, more deliberate and perhaps the creativity will follow.

I recently read 101 ways to monetize your blog and ways to increase income. I will create a long term list of goals much like a business plan.

So now you have the plan, now what? I think one of the first things is to remove the fear and doubt. Again, listening to others, learning more about the journey will instill the confidence to ignore the programmed expectations we are taught from birth. Stay tuned for the next post on Doubt!

So much to learn, So little time: 5 of 5

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Back to the original post, it takes time. There are shortcuts to find and retaining clients but there are no shortcuts to knowing them. You can’t fake relationship with a potential client, you must be there for them as they are for you.

I speak with the metaphor of a gardener and being one, it seems appropriate. Disperse seeds, don’t expect a quick pay out but realize why you are in the business in the first place, do you care about your customers?

If you don’t care about them, they will quickly not care about you and your product. I believe in laying the future, getting to know people, having more people realize you may something they need and living life with a passion that pays when others endeavors don’t

In the end, I have no doubt that I will reap the benefits of the broad garden of pictures, thoughts and ideas which will one day be book covers, stories in e-books and paintings on walls, it just takes time, did I mention it takes a lot of time.

You just need to use your time wisely. Do what you love and do it well and often and share it with as many people who care about what you are selling, the rewards will come much like the garden that grows from the seeds you planted in the spring, and it will be beautiful.

 

A metaphor of Marketing, SEO and building a following, part 4 of 5

You have some pictures, paintings, words and thoughts, you’ve invited a crowd of people to see your stuff, unfortunately you have no stage, there are thousands doing the same thing and let’s just be honest, you’re not the tallest in the room.

It is a chaos of information, trying to start a conversation with clients when there are louder voices, bigger personalities and reserved stages for those that have known the venue for much longer than yourself.

It seems a bit daunting but I believe that’s why it takes time. First of all give them information that is fresh, content that is easy to digest and use words that no one else in the room is using.

Whisper while all the other marketing people are shouting. Do something that sets you apart from the rest of the room. Start collecting smaller groups of the large crowd and slowly but surely they will become a large portion of the room where your voice is not lost in the chaos.

Now you have a following, that following will share you with others that aren’t even in the room. That following will build a stage so you can now speak over the others who are marketing the same product or idea.

Here is where you can stand out, don’t only talk to them, talk with them, be there for them and suddenly you have customers and relationships that last. You have just turned an audience into a client-base, now make sure you know who they are.