So you have an audience: Now what? Part 1 of a 5 part series

muirwoods

Navigating a landscape, it’s okay to ask for directions.

This is an update to the article, So much to learn, so little time. I’ve learned much about the social media landscape and the hills and valleys of finding and marketing to potential clients. One thing for sure, it takes a time, lots of time.

If you expect to sell your product or service through strictly free social media, realize it will be a long road, with many highs and lows. One thing great about it, you learn so much by trying, experimenting, by failing and experimenting again.

I now realize how important it is to learn from others who have taken the path and discover some proven shortcuts. You have a finite amount of time and content and if you don’t learn how others have made it, you will spend much time learning and less time reaping the benefits.

So learn from others who have lots of followers that are attracting the same audience you seek. Ask lots of questions, take classes that have been valuable to others in your field and learn from the vast amount of experience at your finger tips.

Tomorrow’s post: A changing Landscape but still the same landscape

The bluebonnet trails Spring 2016

A trip to bluebonnet trails

http://roadtrippingnow.blogspot.com/2016/04/bluebonnet-trails-ennis.html

I went to photograph the blue bonnet trails near Ennis and Palmer today. It was a perfect spring day with a gentle breeze and a deep blue sky.

I think I was probably a week early as the fields are not filled yet but there are some amazing patches of them.

My first stop was the Event center in downtown Ennis. The people are all happy to help, giving maps and bragging about the treasure they have to share with everyone. It was exciting to hear about the places to go and see and I was on my way.

I followed the map down to the veterans memorial park. I enjoyed watching families and couples taking pictures of each other in the vast fields of blues and reds.

I got to walk on a trail of bluebonnets and watch as all sorts of people took selfies, full blown professional photography and multiple cell phone pictures. The atmosphere was cheerful as the blooms surrounding us.

I drove along long roads where there were few people. Open fields of flowers and beautiful estates surrounded by great fields of pristine green.

I got lost, found my way and lost again winding up at Bardwell Lake, a lake where I was almost run over by a speed boat my first time water skiing.

I went back up to Ennis and up 45 to 313 and continued following the blue bonnet trails. The first thing that caught my eye was a field of long horns, several other people were also snapping photographs as well.

I followed the road, passing several horse farms and one giant horse begged to be photographed. It was a Belgian horse and its foul and they were close to the fence. The mom was quite friendly and approached me close enough to be able to pet her giant head.

Next stop was the winery. The road leading to it was beautiful, huge fields of blue bonnets, a small pond that was lit up by the high sun. There were people picnicking with wine and families running down from the fields of flowers.

Every turn and hill on this long winding road was just filled with stunning views. It reminded me a bit of the wine country in Sonoma-although the hills were a bit more modest. It was just an amazing green that you don’t see around Dallas much.

I arrived at the winery to the distinct smell of boiling crawfish and to a group of happy patrons sitting out on chairs on the lawn. I was tempted to order a sampler flight but decided to take some home instead.

The owner was quite proud of his wines and shared with me his two favorites-a white and a red and I was set. Also got a magnet too.

The drive back was a lot quicker and easier than the ride down-got stuck in traffic and detoured down buckner boulevard-live and learn.

The ride home I realized how close this uniquely beautiful area was and the landscape reminded me of place in New Jersey, again with a bit more modest hills.

Since I went a bit earlier than the peak bloom, I will definitely go back to the blue bonnet trails and if I love the wine as much as I think I will, I will probably need to stock up-more on that to come.

A Visit to Hagerman

admiralI’ve been talking about visiting this park for years and I finally made it today. It is so close to home it was really a short easy ride but the landscape was just beautiful.

I felt like God was showing me all the greatest designs of nature with a light that changed through the day always bringing me another amazing view of the spring landscape. I have not had this feeling of peace and simultaneous excitement standing behind a camera in quite a long while.

First of all, the greens were so rich and the storm that wrestled with the sky all day made the most amazing light and shadows that changed as quickly as I could shoot. I haven’t had this feeling of excitement watching birds in a long time too.

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I found a field of rich green grass that held large pockets of mallards, pintails, buffelheads and even a few dowitchers. I was able to sit on the side of the road and just enjoy the wildlife without feeling I was in anyones’ way and yet I didn’t feel like I was so remote as to feel vulnerable.

There were flocks of song sparrows, meadowlarks and the largest group of cedar waxwings I’ve seen in a while. There were cardinals, crows, herons and egrets and I noticed a flock of white pelicans that surveyed the sky in the midst of a darkening storm.
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I stopped by the visitor center and the people there were not only proud of their park but they were able to tell me where a large flock of waterfowl were. I got a magnet, a beautiful magnet at that-hand painted I believe.

I got to walk on the Meadow Pond Trail but I wasn’t up for the full 5 mile walk, I did get to see the first pond. I was completely alone except for two couples that I saw along the way. It was one of those amazing moments where you are emersed in wildlife, the sounds of frogs on the roadsides and cardinals calling along the fence rows.
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The trail is actually a very old train track so it’s wide and quite easy to walk, on either side there is water both from the pond and from standing water from recent rains. Along the way I was able to photograph red admiral and sulphur butterflies. All of the yellow wildflowers were alive with the sound of honey bees and I forgot how much I missed that sound.

I will definitely get back to Hagerman for another adventure and believe it will probably be a regular place for me to go to get away and enjoy nature. I would highly recommend this place both for its close proximity and for the beautiful, natural place it offers, I will be back for spring migration.

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What instills peace in the creative soul. It seems it is simpler and more complex than perhaps the outside person looking in can fathom. It is not necessarily the state nor the actual meaning of an event, it is more the feeling and that moment when for some strange reason things make sense, even if for just a moment.

Let’s start off with a garden, a garden that has been a metaphor for many things in this creatives’ life. Perhaps it’s the helplessness and neediness of this particular years crop that has inspired my introspection.

We got more water than we have this year, having gotten out of a major drought, what’s new in the state of Texas. Unfortunately I think my plants have gotten spoiled as they seem more needy than they have in past years. I have always bragged that the kind of plants that I have chosen don’t need me to tend them at all, they grow, they react to the heat and they recover.

This year, the recovery has been more labored, even losing many of my prized plants that at one time in my manic state of building the perfect garden seemed to be such an important aspect and draw of my attention. Now they wither, they scream at the surface, begging for the gardener to be the gardener he professed to be.

It’s not unlike raising kids, these days my irrelevance seems to be eating me alive due to my sons metamorphosis to a full fledged teen rearing to be anywhere but with me. Luckily having raised what I profess to be a pretty special kid I have gotten to enjoy wonderful blooms of his youthful colors without him insisting I leave him alone. We watched two movies last night and again, the simplicity and perfection of that special time is just what this post is all about. Luckily I keep enough water in the house and he even carries a jug around so my lack of care and attention would never be noticed quite like the garden that screams when it has been neglected.

Being a parent, we either neglect our children or we neglect ourselves and our own identity, in this instance I think I’m the one that is shriveling up from lack of attention. I feel the garden is screaming out the state of how I feel, thirsty and missing something. The yellow leaves, the parched broken earth all seem to be signs of a lack of nourishment.

My creativity, my writing has always been my nourishment so during points of block I appear to be starving, withering in the oppressive summer of this life. Now, don’t take this like I am whining, I am the lucky one, I am so blessed but I am missing something, that solitude, the introspection seems to be what I need and nature is always the catalyst for my healing.

This point of my life seems to be the point of harvest. The fruits of seventeen years of labor are coming to be more amazing than I could ever even have imagined. Now there is sadness in this beauty of success, just like the emotion you feel at a graduation or a wedding-it is the beginning of a new point in our lives that is wonderful and exciting as it is sad and a bit emotional. So what to do with this creative? I know a new life is on the horizon, just like the seeds that are already in the ground ready for next spring, I am excited but being creative we feel everything with equal measure.

 

So why did I entitle this blog with the fritillary, the hummingbird and the dragonfly? Well you’ll just need to read the next post. A hint, it is about silence, solitude and the spirit of nature….but I guess you already knew that.

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The  sadness, elation and rapture of creativity

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The other side of a creative block is like coming up for breath after not realizing you’ve been holding your breath for weeks. It’s the sudden feeling of being able to see beyond obvious detail, beyond what is mundane and ordinary.

It’s like a veil lifting off of the eyes and suddenly you can see colors and values more brilliantly. Today I picked up paintings that have sat unfinished for months and suddenly as if the composition reveals itself like a puzzle giving up its secrets.

After this state of elation and excitem
ent where everything seems possible, there is a sudden rush of ideas. Words are written, more sketches are made, all in memory, underpaintings seem clear and concise with a glimpse of what will soon be a finished work.

And than just as sudden as it begins, the overwhelming state of details as every stroke competes to be next. This is why I tend to work on many paintings at once because if one blacks outs with too much detail I can start or get involved in another. It’s like chasing the last bit of sun in a sunset as the colors lose details as the darkness overwhelms the landscape.

Surprise and elation are quickly replaced with that familiar feeling of doubt, as if any of the creative explosion meant anything or accomplished anything at all.

After this amazing state is the feeling of leaving that moment. It’s like leaving an old friend after missing their company so much it hurts. This is the feeling the creative thrives on, why some go mad, why some struggle with addiction and depression.

There is no greater place or feeling than that moment when creation seems to make sense. One small glimpse at an amazing and cruel gift, we as artists are lucky to borrow even if for just a short time.

 

A ride in the country

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I drove through the country this morning as the electric hour gave up all its treasures. The light was amazing, I equate it to a great paintbrush that streams through the landscape contrasting shadows with a rich and exquisite light.

I didn’t have my camera, but the positive side of this is sometimes you see more and capture more without it. In a quest to be discerning about what you shoot you often loose sight and smell of the obvious-the fragrance that surrounds you and the intricacies that are often lost striving for perfection.

A male mallard decided it was time to cross the road and wouldn’t budge for the threat of a car passing. A bluebird found its spot on a fence and serenaded me. I could smell wisteria and honeysuckle.

The remnants of the lake shined like a great expanse of white light as the sun rose higher into the pale morning sky. There is a silence, the cool blues of the lake become soft and transparent like a gas floating above the landscape.

In a little less than a half hour, the light and colors change from brilliant blues and greens to pale yellows and shimmering golds. The shadows reach across the landscape only to be softened and faded out as the sun dominates the horizon.

These are the moments we miss-those bits of perfection that are given so freely to us everyday and yet it is so easy to pass them indifferently. We are always in such a hurry, not one sunrise is a given and yet we take most for granted.

It is why artists paint, why sculptors sculpt, it is the intangible feeling of perfection and majesty that we seek. How quickly and sadly we miss this spectacle that will never be duplicated, so enjoy each day with a passion-suck the marrow out of every day, out of every breath, live as if this was your last sunrise…oh and probably bring a camera, just in case.

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Lemon tree blooming

I planted a lemon seed…thirteen years ago plus. My wife at the time said you can’t grow lemons in Texas-see previous article-You can’t grow lemons in Texas! That article was in 2014, I think it is very strange that last spring I made a statement that I would not expect lemons from this tree as I had only noticed one flower in the life of the plant-green leaves never finding their true purpose.

In a time when I have recently truly begun finding my niche in the creative spectrum; websites, writing and the world of social media-the leaves of the lemon tree finally have found their purpose.

Not just one single flower, twelve bold white blooms, just as I was putting the tree out for its spring debut. It is 2015 and something deep inside the plant has just suddenly decided it was time to bloom.

I put the rather large awkward pot out on the patio and was sad that no one could share my excitement. Thirteen years, watching, neutering this plant and finally the possibility of fruit

..a purpose.

I have since watched them burst with a fragrance sweet like honeysuckle but no lemons as of yet. It’s the possibility, the chance at lemons that to me is quite excitement and hopeful.

So who cares about a bunch of flowers that may never even be replaced with fruit. This is my whole purpose for this series of writing, besides my love and interest for nature it is the idea of possibilities, the thought of finding purpose in that which often is seen as impossible or at least unlikely.

To me this is a great metaphor of life, never give up on the possibility, it is possibility that creates opportunity. Never stop thinking of what you can do and start actively ignoring that little thought in the back of your mind…”you can’t”, “you won’t”, “you shouldn’t.”

The voice in the back of your mind is the voice of reason, of logic and
although important aspects of ones’ life have nothing to do with truly succeeding at the impossible.

A bumble bee shouldn’t fly, if science, reason and logic pertained to its structure and makeup it would be sequestered to the ground. That same bumble bee might pollinate the flowers on the thirteen year old lemon tree and finally disprove that voice of logic and reason, “You can’t grow lemons in Texas.”DSC_0159 lemons2

What’s so great about not so great photography?

http://artbygordon.blogspot.com/2015/04/bluebonnets5 bluebonnets4 bluebonnets3 bluebonnets2 bluebonnets1

I was at Lake Texoma yesterday and I captured the standard Texas image I guess, the states’ harbinger of spring; the blue bonnet. I used the only photographic device I had, my phone, my ancient dinosaur phone. The answer to the question of what’s so great about not so great photography, perhaps the freedom from expectation and the enjoyment of playing with an image.

While my son and my family all have Iphones, I have an ancient phone which once it becomes retro, a word I’ve learned recently that no one uses, I will be the talk of the town.

The bad news is, don’t expect anything wonderful, as far as photography, from a device with all the greatest expectation may be able to deliver a decent snapshot.

With the use of computer manipulation the snapshot becomes a piece of art. I guess art is limited only by its expectations. There is something enjoyable to enjoy the act of photography without any fear or expectation and than to play with the image to create something that captures not only the moment but even perhaps shows something cliché in a new perspective. I will let the viewer be the judge.

Getting out there again: View from a kayak

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This will probably be my next painting. I am working on getting back to the simplicity and beauty of water and how light reacts on its surface and even more important through its depths. It’s been a long time since we have kayaked and today we broke a streak.

Unfortunately, didn’t break the streak of being skunked. Smallmouth bass are sitting on the bottom laughing at the hapless fishermen as we speak. But this post is not about fishing or painting-it’s about being out there.

It was truly an amazing day. The sky was brilliant blue, the redbuds and bradford pear competing to be noticed. We didn’t even rush to get the kayaks out, there was plenty of time to just enjoy being there.

We threw crank baits and tubes, slabs and even some topwater and the fish wouldn’t budge. In fact we didn’t mark many fish on the fish finder. We paddled, we paddled and paddled some more and even though the 54° water filled the back of my boat and we fought the wind for several hours nothing mattered than the feeling of being emerged in the beautiful scenery.

I remembered what I didn’t like about kayaking, the stiff legs, awkward tangling of lines but more than this I realized what I missed. First, my son and nephew enjoying themselves, my brother and I throwing jokes and thoughts back and forth.

I remembered what I have been missing in painting the brilliance of water, the smells and the colors of spring stirred memories. In some areas the rocks and pristine blue-green water looked like how I envision Greece and its rocky white cliffs against the Aegean.

The exploration of another two miles of the lake makes me realize just how many more open areas and hidden bits of paradise that are just waiting to be discovered. By car or by kayak I am excited about starting the journey to bring words and pix from all the faraway places, even those that aren’t so far away.

Cliffs of Lake Texoma
Cliffs of Lake Texoma

Artbygordon: Original oils on canvas, Original pastels on paper celebrating the beauty and mystery of nature. Water and night skies are my specialties.