All posts by artiststevel

Return to Parkhill Prairie

The clouds rise over a golden field. The prairie, almost as it was 100 years ago when the settlers watched over their future homesteads.

A road to melancholia, another summer collapsing on itself, the compass flowers, brash yellow shows its contempt. Bails of twisted weathered bails of hay, all the chores are done and everything is the same under a Texas Sun.

I walked the prairie, enjoying the silence, just the sound of the wind and the rustling of the golden grasses. The flowers were all on fire, yellows and golds-compass flower and goldenrod against a perfect blue sky.

There is no greater place I’ve found nearby to truly escape myself and the noise and anxiety of daily life. I have a new list of images that are all biding for attention and yet I haven’t been able to get myself to paint anything. I have so many things to do all at once, much of the time I end up doing nothing.

One thing that was wonderful while walking on the prairie, words came to me without any effort. One thought after another became the skeleton of something I’m planning-Summer’s End maybe-not sure it is growing and becoming as we speak.

I don’t have any pretense that it will get better or worse, only myself and the prairie-the lark sparrow -knows my presence and doesn’t seem to care, golden wheat stands tall like soldiers and sways sulking in the summer heat-we are all breathless, exhausted

I got to drive through the areas of the country that I was servicing with the insurance job. Many of the apartments and small houses I passed were familiar. I don’t miss the job but I do miss that feeling of being out on the road-so many hours of introspection.

I have three or four paintings coming up in the next day or so and I’m excited about what forms. I am in the slow fermentation point, it is very frustrating at times but quite necessary.

Parkhill Prairie in Blueridge Texas

Check out my 61st article on LinkedIn-more on the prairie and finding peace Good Morning God

Good morning God: start of a series

It’s funny how a simple walk with a dog can change how we see things around us. Since I’ve been walking the dog, I’ve met more neighbors than ever before, got to know their dogs and have learned to turn a routine into a purpose.

Routine, is a very strange thing for me anyway as it’s hard for me to develop much of anything into a routine. I wouldn’t consider myself flaky just distracted and maybe a bit undisciplined.

My son decided it was time for a dog to replace our previous dog of 16 years-the same amount of time I spent at my previous job. My first reaction was no, I knew the responsibility of having a puppy, the cost and the time investment and yet this beautiful puppy stole my heart.

My son leaves for the army and I’m left with the duty of raising a needy puppy. My biggest problem with life is not taking the time to stop and enjoy nature, the dog makes it easy to stop, even if in the past I fought the chore.

A simple task of walking the dog has turned into a series of writings about the simple act of stopping long enough to be present. My walks have become an impetus for me to connect with God and nature.

How could anyone say no???

I’m not sure where it’s all headed but just as the dog pulls the lead, I allow my path to find its way, I’m just more present and more available to a greater purpose and a deeper faith.

I hope people like the stories, pictures and insights of walking the dog and how the act has brought routine in writing a weekly post, exercise and a work at strengthening my faith and connection with nature.

Check out the previous posts and one written today.

Launching Artbygordon Etsy site: a bit of Nature from my garden to your desktop

My greatest love is nature, from the mysteries of the night sky to the depth and subtle movements of water, there is no greater place for me to find peace, wisdom and God.

In between time-consuming paintings and commissions, I wanted to create something that could allow friends, art enthusiasts and followers to get just a piece of nature for an affordable price.

All the images of passionvine, morning glories and other garden flowers are directly from my garden, another passion of mine.

At this time, I have 15 different species of passion flower and continue to collect them. Not always easy to get them to flower but I’m learning more about them everyday and will share all my lessons as well as the strange and beautiful flowers on the notecards.

I wanted my collectors to be able to share with their friends and family members these snapshots of nature and maybe get a glimpse into why I do what I do.

Nature is all around us, we just need to stop and notice and for me, God is in the details.

The Art of Seeing: Two Minds see Differently

Part 1

This series is from a painting course I taught. It was a series of paintings that not only challenged the student but even more the teacher.

How do you describe a subconscious event to a student? I taught her less how to paint and more how to see and describe a scene subconsciously.

First we must understand the left side of the brain. If we were to see every image with the right side, we would be overwhelmed with details and intricacies of color, tone and dimension.

The left brain takes a convenient snapshot of our surroundings, it fills in gaps and gives us an impression. When we create with the left side of our brain, it tends to guess on certain aspects of the image.

An example of this is a drop of water, the left leaning eye will assume principles of what it sees as a droplet of water and miss the subtle details of what truly makes a drop of water look like a drop of water.

The left brain is logical but because it simplifies the view of the world, it can often exaggerate what we are trying to describe.

The right side is more refining of reality, it sees and explains in an often unexpected way with details that are both subtle and intangible.

Student painting-first of two paintings

All I have learned about creating an image of water or the night sky is from studying the initial view and flattening the concept into an image that creates an illusion of space through cues on a flat plane and convergent lines that explain a space on a two dimensional format.

Sounds very complicated, but it is seeing the world, once with the eye and than second with the mind of why the image appears as it does. The initial logical view is delayed and the subconscious describes all the nuances that create depth and explain space. 

Half of experiencing a beautiful scene is the mind realizing it is in a great space. To convert a great space to a two dimensional field takes cues that can describe to the logical mind that there is space when the brain realizes it is seeing a flat image.

It is the illusion of capturing reality and describing it in a visual language with multiple techniques that prove there is space, when there is none. Next in the series, techniques of showing distance.

A love of passion vine: New products

I am in the process of creating a new series of notecards and possibly other products depending on the response.

I am officially a collector of passion vines-in the process of growing them from seed, maintaining a collection of 15 different varieties and learning what species can propagate from clippings.

The Red Passionvine: All of these plants are my own and the photographs are mine-it’s the idea of sharing a piece of my garden and little bit of nature for people to share with their friend and people they care about.
Cerulea Passiflora-a native variety that comes back every year and blooms regularly.

Purple passion-Lady Margaret Passionflower.
So many different sizes, shapes and colors are what I love the most about Passionvine and the fragrance is beautiful as well.
Yelllow Passion vine-Citrine

This isn’t actually a passion vine but part of the series for its unique and beatiful flower. Butterfly pea

What’s NEw? Literally Happening this Moment…

Size Does Matter: I have painted small recently with the idea that I could get more accomplished but I usually envision paintings that are larger and the drama for me is better on a larger canvas.

At the Fair: 2019 Smaller painting in the works: Possible study. Artbygordon 2019

Self-Hanging: I’m moving away from the standard thin canvas that needs to be framed. I prefer the larger 1.5 width canvases that mount themselves with the edges painted dark blue or brighter depending on the painting.

Not saying I’ll never use the thinner canvases just for now I prefer the higher profile canvases.

The Shrike: Sold Artbygordon 2019

Immediate Satisfaction: In the past, a series was always a very long process. I would think about it for a year or so, sketch it out and let that set for a few years than one day I would start and that canvas would sit on the wall for the next year.

I have a short list of paintings and plan on clearing them out as quickly as I can. Not to get them done, instead to capture the immediacy of the initial feeling that inspired me to paint in the first place.

Paintings on the List: The rain barrel continues to be on the list and has been for probably 30+ years. The mystery of water and the depths of shadows I found in a next door neighbors rain barrel back before we were afraid of mosquitoes. It will actually be connecting to a current painting of night scenes immersed in nature.

Paintings at Opa in Rowlett, Texas. Painting on the left sold.

Dragonflies and Rain barrel: This is what this has become-now the series is in the works the dragonflies will be dancing on the surface while green leaves settle on the surface of the rain barrel-ghostly autumn leaves will be rising and falling beneath and the moon will reflect on the surface.

This correction on the rain barrel will add to a series in the works-Lacewings and Plums, Moth and Gecko, Wildflowers and Lightning Bugs and honey bees. I am buying large canvases now as they will be large and magical images of the night.

I want to capture that feeling of evening as a child, where the lightning bugs would rise in the early dusky evening. I have been inspired taking my dog out in the evening of the lacewings dancing and the rich green plums.

Older Terns painting: Oil on Canvas: 2013-Artbygordon

Another Series in the Works: This series started a few days ago and I plan on having 4 paintings in the series. The paintings are of sailboats with the richness of light in the distance, other elements are terns-a revamp of a previous the terns painting and a revamp of a very old catamaran pastel.

Gone is the excuse of time, I plan on painting everyday or night and at that painting quickly. The last two paintings I’ve painted have sold in the first week so I’m hoping not to break a streak.

I hope you will enjoy the new series and would love any feedback.

murals: Yesterday and Today

I had the rare privilege to paint haunted houses. I have never been rewarded so much for a volunteer job than working on a small haunted house on highway 544 in Wylie.

Skulls in varying paints that allowed some to come forward and others to float in the background

I was helping with a non-profit and walked into a haunted house in the process of being created. I was given large brushes and paints and allowed the freedom to paint within some guidelines but with much freedom to be creative.

It first started with Alligators and snakes on a giant black wall. What followed was a life-sized skeleton in a broken down boat, masks on a wall and finally disembodied hands and skulls climbing the wall outside. I even put a scary painting of mine inside on the walls.

My son was just 10 or so and I remember how much fun we would have hanging out for a few hours while I painted. He would explore the rooms and finally we were able to visit when the attraction opened.

My painting that hung on the wall in the haunt-Artbygordon

I got several call-backs and paying gigs painting for haunts afterwards. One humbling experience was a haunt in Terrel-Thrillvania.

When I was first offered the job, I thought I was the creative with a whole lot of creative ideas to share. I knew they would use all my skills and creativity but what they really needed was a set painter.

This is the image I originally shared with the haunt-before I became a set painter

I ended up painting doors and hallways, spray-painting a large brain and painting fences with new-aged paints that allowed three dimensional effects.

After I recovered from a bit of humility I learned so much from watching set people paint and create a haunt that was truly spectacular. I learned the trade of painting and doing a lot of the grunt work and actually enjoyed a very hot summer and my son and I got to enjoy the haunt during the next season.

Passionvine 6’x4′

In recent years I have been able to paint on the walls of friends and family and look forward to doing more in the near future.

The first mural was a planter with Passionvine and the most recent is a flock of doves that was actually part of a logo I created for a close friend and colleague.

Doves 2019 36’x30″

Nature: Seeking Peace and Calm

Yesterday, I walked along the edge of the garden; still a calming force after many years of observing. There is a quiet sense of calm nature offers so completely. In this often chaotic life it is easy to lose sight of nature and miss the intricacies of its’ healing force.

Window 2019 Artbygordon

I was walking the dog. A task I too often treat like a chore instead of a ritual depending on the day. Today it was cool and breezy. The air was fresh from days of rain and everything was very green.

There are three elements in truly enjoying nature for me: Sound, Smell and Sight. 

A Natural State of Blue: 2019 Artbygordon

First, you must completely surrender to silence and eliminate the constant buzz of sound and racing thought.

Silence is not just about sound but that voice in your mind that reminds you of things to do, responsibilities and time constraints.  Today, I used prayer to disrupt the thought and I felt a presence I often overlook.

Task to Carry Water 2019 Artbygordon

I listened to mockingbirds and robins with melodic songs balanced with the mournful cries of mourning doves. I watched the light accent the green grass and the fiery blooms of Amaryllis in a neighbor’s front garden.

Paradise a Bird 2019 Artbygordon

The next aspect of enjoying nature is the subtle fragrance of flowers that can be very soothing. I noticed Magnolia blooms mingling with jasmine. It is easy to just ignore the senses we take for granted every day.

Fully realizing fragrance can be a soothing and mind altering experience. I am planning on bringing some hanging baskets of lavender and rosemary in an attempt at enjoying their calming properties.

For just the time of walking around a block, I completely immersed in nature, something that is very difficult both with a busy life but even more profound in a state of depression.

Yarrow 2019 Artbygordon

Depression keeps you in a state of absence, the only feeling and moods that even distract the feeling are chaos and frustration. Instead of experiencing nature and calm-we feel only the disruption of a state of numb that manifest as agitation.

Suffering from situational depression, the garden was my only escape, my only calm. The frightening aspect of chemical depression is the inability to feel anything, to be present, to react to that which would normally soothe.

This recent state has been very difficult for me to overcome. The problem is feeling in between lives and states of being. There is a mix of situational as my son grows up and I have to find a new purpose and direction, unfortunately there is an aspect of the chemically induced state as well.

Flies Swarmed 2019 Artbygordon

Later in the afternoon, I watch the last rays of sun highlight the colors and richness of blooms in my garden. Again, I feel that state of calm and peace, often it is something we need to work at, to strive for getting out of our daily treadmill and find something that has always been available.

My strength and healing comes from nature-others might find it in other places. How do you find peace? What is your source of renewal? I would love to see your comments.

A New Approach to Pastels

White Cat Artbygordon 2019

In the last few months I’ve been developing a style which I’ve never actually adopted before. It is very loose and quite quick-sketches of animal portraits and inevitably people.

My son and his: Artbygordon 2019

In the past I would always avoid the portrait but the discipline and eye for proportion has only recently gelled. Instead of sketching on a board with an outline, I work up the whole composition from nothing to the final.

Singer in a Band: Artbygordon 2019

I have enjoyed a totally different feeling of creating than painting or previous pastels, it is a sort of discipline where you watch as proportion and scale work together to fill a plane.

Ranger:Artbygordon 2019

In the past many of the images would go south as the logical mind would fill in the gaps of what is really there. A new disciplined approach to these images is not only an enjoyable departure from recent images based on mood but it is also quite relaxing.

Steve: Artbygordon 2019

I am excited to see how each image develops faster than the previous as my skill in seeing and rendering have improved. I hope to bring much of the discipline to the new paintings I”m working on.

The Ballerina: Artbygordon 2019
Rot: Artbygordon 2019
Marilyn: Artbygordon 2019

The Belgians Of ENnis Texas: Bluebonnet trails

Artbygordon 2019 Ennis Texas

Not far from the Sugar Ridge Winery, surrounded by fields of fragrant bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes is a Belgian Horse Farm. A ride to see the bluebonnet trails of Ennis is not complete without stopping by to visit them.

Artbygordon 2019 Ennis Texas

I don’t like the word awesome but these horses are the epitome of awesome. Their size and stature, with grace and poise makes one feel a bit awkward being just human.

Artbygordon 2019 Ennis Texas

The light was flat as it was later in the day with a high sun and a bright sky. I wanted to capture a backlit image showing their amazing eyes and the beauty of their chestnut coat.

Artbygordon 2019 Ennis Texas

Two of them came to the fence while a mother and daughter feed them. The larger one I remembered from my previous visit. On this visit there were four of them and a donkey.

I hope you like the images, feel free to leave a comment. Every time I see them, I’m more impressed.