Category Archives: nature

2018 a Productive Year Part 3

Original photography by artbygordon and text by artbygordon-image from Lake Ray Hubbard

It’s been a productive year but it’s also been very stressful. Chasing after your passion can be very intimidating, it is not the norm and it doesn’t fit into the stereotypical life.

Many times you are out on the limb but actually you are doing what you always said you would: daring to embrace the extraordinary life. The freedoms I have experienced this year have allowed me to find great bits of nature all around the DFW area.

Puddle outside in April: Original photography by Artbygordon

2018 I feel like I have truly found my niche. Nature has always been my inspiration but I am find more options for not only the light interaction but abstract patterns. April brought the rain and I was out finding images to capture.

Original photograph from Parkhill Prairie in Blue Ridge by Artbygordon

I have truly become a solo hiker and have spent much time finding excuses to go back to the places where I used to run insurance appointments. It is a liberating feeling to be able to photograph and explore alone and having much time to reflect on what exactly a photo by Artbygordon looks like.

I am increasing my interest in finding light in the bleakest days. There is no time or place where the richness of light speaks to me than when it is unexpected.

I finally made it to the Frank Buck Zoo. I’ve also had many trips to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Parkhill Prairie, Sulphur River and the Caddo Grasslands in northeast Texas.

Every place I visit I find new nature subjects and learn more about their habits. I watched cliff swallows dig for mud on the sulphur river and watched them build their nests while I searched for fossil Belemites.

Sulphur River from the river bottoms, original photography by artbygordon

This whole year has been a learning and growing experience for me, staying up to date with video, graphics and even 3D imaging, I continue to grow my craft while exploring avenues in Photography.

I Illustrated my first children’s book with R.L. Clayton. I have also worked with a local leader to get her marketing materials for her new church she is gathering: It has truly been a blessing as I continue to grow my small but loyal group of clients.

Ennis Bluebonnet Festival original photography by artbygordon

I got back to the Bluebonnet trails in Ennis and the bluebonnets were quite amazing. It’s amazing how many people go down to see the spectacle, the hardest task was not to let the people steal the show. It was a wonderful afternoon.

April and May were busy as I continued to work freelance while traveling to places to gather photography. The brand is growing and I am developing the look and feel of the site.

The one thing that has never changed and will never change is my interest and passion for nature. It is my solace and keeps me grounded. I am planning on traveling much more in 2019.

Capturing mood in Photos: Finding Inspiration

There are several elements that lend themselves to a mood in a photograph. I used to look for abstract patterns but my final image never added up to my passion or interest.

You can’t fake the inspired image, you can do well with textures, composition, colors and shapes but if the photographer has no interest in his or her subject neither will the viewer.

There are several elements that always find themselves into my work, whether it is painting, photography or even writing.

Dragonfly on Zinnia Artbygordon Original Photography

Nature: Always the center for most of my work, nature is where I get my peace and inspiration from. Nature has always been a comfort and my strength.
Recently I have learned not only to find beauty and peace but also the isolation of light and the abstract patterns that continues to interest me.

For more on abstract images for home and office go to https://artbygordon.com/?page_id=1006
Photograph of Redtip Photino-Abstract image Artbygordon Original Photography
To see what other prints are available https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/steven-linebaugh.html

Abstract Patterns: This is a recent motivation for my art and photography. I am continuing to find where light creates patterns or abstract images out of nature.

I have also learned to find light in the midst of a flat landscape. I isolate nature at it’s simplest form.

Duck at Sunset Artbygordon Original Photography

I like to keep the image simple and as iconic as possible.
The clean empty space is what creates the atmosphere of solitude.

Florida during a storm: Artbygordon Original Photography
The Artist Window Series: Artbygordon Original Photography

Simplicity: Isolating nature has become a trademark of some of my most recent images and I’m planning on expanding with still life indoor and out.

Blue Sunset with Duck: Artbygordon Original Photography
Sunset Duck in Rowlett Artbygordon Original Photography

Nature Photography: A Collection of Lepidotera

One reason for growing a wildlife garden: If you build it, they’ll come. And they are beautiful to watch in the garden.

The Queen on Chaste Tree
Gulf Fritillary on Flame Acanthus
Monarch on Maximillian Sunflower
Three Gulf Fritillary Mating and Competing
Pipevine Swallowtail on Zinnia
Giant Swallowtail on Zinnia
Cloudless Sulphur on Zinnia
Sulphur Caterpillar on Candlestick Plant
Monarch Caterpillar on Mexican Milkweed

All photographs are from my garden. It is amazing how you build a landscape and they come and use it. I have the whole life cycle in the garden. Next post I will show the birds that come to the garden when you don’t spray insecticides.

Artist on the Edge of Surreal: Exploring Darker Moments

Depression: An Emotional Storm

My intention has always been to create art that was realistic and once I attained a certain skill level I would just tweak reality, just enough to make the viewer a little off kilter.

It probably stems from years of depression which, although is part of the creative process, also makes the person feel off center. The paintings that approach surreal are a bit more dark but nothing too obvious.

Moonflower is a painting of the morning glories, moon flowers, which only bloom at night. I wanted to share a bit of the darkness and mystery of evening but I wanted the flowers to have a bit of a magical feeling to them.

The willow tree is a tree from my youth. It makes it into most of my paintings and is a bit of a symbol of time spent in New Jersey. The dark green lawn in the summer beneath the shadows of tall dark willow trees.

The same trees were struck by lightning and ended up becoming outdoor furniture where many of my very old poems were written on copied on.

The Grackles 2018

Blackbirds are a consistent subject in both my paintings and writing. They are mysterious as the night sky and symbolic of impending doom.

Halloween 2016

Alone in Wylie


Halloween 2016

Halloween has always been a subject as every year I see a different feeling to capture. I love the dark evening and the idea of goblins in the trees, I have always been a big fan of horror movies and my uncle used to buy my brother and I horror comic books and the feeling and thrill of being scared has continued through my writing and painting.

Child of Ten

Child of ten is a diary of sorts, my dad died when I was ten. This is a painting of the effects of losing a parent at the age of ten. There are many symbols including the egg which represents the soul. Again the blackbirds are in the field and the child watches the future unfold.

The death of my father was a catalyst for much of my earlier writing and has only recently shown up in paintings.

Grandfather’s Willow

This painting is from a dream when I was very young. My grandfather came out of a willow tree as the lightning hit the tree. The red flannel shirt is from the dream and I remembered the shattered bits of wood-I am planning on another attempt at this painting as the face wasn’t quite correct.

Many older painting ideas are now resurfacing as I begin to gain more confidence. I plan on creating a more concise series on the surreal side.

Light and Warmth: Life cycle of a sunflower

Fire of the sun captured in a flower

A sweet fragrant bloom that captures the energy and warmth of the summer. I’ve been planting sunflowers since I was in my early teens, they used to tower over my yard looking like a forest with giant yellow heads bowing down.

In the first photograph, I felt like I captured the light, all the heat and warmth of the summer sun in a single bloom. I love the way they grow anywhere, they even disperse a chemical from their seeds that don’t stop other competitors from growing.

An early bloom that looks like possibilities. 

Rich yellow blooms in the early spring. The first warmth in the garden as the dark soil gives up its seeds and the sunflowers rise to the height of the fence.

Sunflowers are a welcome treat throughout the season, the giant heads that feed the birds in the fall and the sweet candy blooms that feed butterflies and bees in the spring.

Sunflower bush on the edge of a field somewhere in east Texas.

They are a buzz of activity, intricate cities of bees, moths, wasps and butterflies. As a child, they were my solace, a place where everything made sense. Nature has always been my peace, the garden my escape, Sunflowers like hope.

The last bit of summer sun reflected in a bloom.

It’s the intricacies of color, the complex smell of the nectar, the strong and persistent stems that reach into the sky; A giant yellow bloom stares down at the ground in the long heat of a summer day and the day is painted gold.

I have painted sunflowers much like the passion vine as they represent something wonderful, a nod to childhood and all things nature.

Even in the darkest times, sunflowers rise over the fence insisting, everything is okay and summer will go on.

They are dramatic subjects in paintings and I have painted several works where they steal the show. There is something almost otherworldly about their giant overwhelming forms and the seed heads are an abundant source of food for wildlife in the winter when the summer cycle ends.

Summer Ends

The colors grow warmer but the light becomes more flat as summer gives up its youth. There are more used up blooms than new ones but the ones that stay are more vibrant with thick sturdy stems.

In the distance cicadas serenade the last bit of afternoon light. The landscape is parched, the grass golden as the wind begins to change. 

The Artist’s Window-The last bit of summer at the window sill

The purpose is spent in the final hours of summer, throwing  seeds in preparation of spring and the yellow grasses give into the heat. It’s Autumn, one more flash of rich colors before the season is dark and silent.

Sleep, the needed ingredient, that deep breath that gives up all of one’s hope and reminds us of the purpose of work. From the heat of summer we have learned lessons, they mingle in the black soil and they will speak when we can no longer have a voice.

The final moments of a Sunflower

It’s tilted head gives in. The last bits of yellow discarded, devoured by birds and scavenged by squirrels and field mice-it is the end of a season. With little sadness, nor time to reflect, the seeds wait in the darkness of the soil. 

It is time to sleep, hope sleeps in darkness and purpose is on a winter horizon. Every season has a purpose and to everything a reason under the sun.

A Body of Work

It’s been more than ten years when I first met R.L. Clayton, he is a science fiction writer and I met him through a friend. He wanted a cover image of a futuristic ship that didn’t exist. Challenge accepted!

Sea Species was born. We both invested time and patience to envision an image that didn’t yet exist. That is the job of a designer when you are creating something that is not your own, you need to listen and get out of our own ideas and allow the client’s vision to become real.

Little did I know at the time, but I was about to create a library of books that all stemmed from one project.

A lasting business relationship quickly turned into a friendship even though I have never met him in person.

In these days that the bottom line trumps loyalty and integrity, it is a very rewarding experience working with a client on a basis of trust and the old fashioned idea of a handshake.

Next came the Envoy and soon after that the Genesis. I created his website for the evolution river series and posters for book readings. We also started a social media presence and a monthly email.

The next book was about the woman pilots of World War II. It was a departure from science fiction to a story with a historical backdrop. Another book and another cover was created and as the list of books grew so did the website.

R.L. Clayton books website began with R.L. Clayton descending in dystopia back before dystopia was a thing. I listened to the creepy ideas that spawned the next cover in the collection.

The Dead series began with a book about terrorists, on the cover was to be a coffin with a life meter on the face; Dead and Dead for Real was born.

The writer’s vivid ideas began creating a definite brand and a look and feel that grew as we continued to produce new books.

In this time I learned the art of creating an e-book and suddenly besides the printing issues we learned and tackled the problems associated with creating an e-book.

Grunge style background with blood splats and drips

R.L. Clayton books grew as more books were added to the library. The next frightening book in the series was Dead Reckoning, a child with a bubble wand blowing dangerous chemical agents into the air. The whole idea and darkness of the Dead Series truly inspired my love of the macabre.

Dead again followed Dead Reckoning and the next chapter in the series leads back to the Envoy in the Evolution River Series. It is very exciting to see a writer create a body of work and I feel like I am on a journey that continues to inspire me and reach for more creativity.

As I continue to grow my skills and knowledge of book marketing we are seeing how the public reacts as each book is produced and Clayton attends book readings. We have recently gotten some great reviews on the Dead series and am anxious for the next book to be finished.

During the process of creating all the books, Clayton had mentioned a book he was thinking of with his 9-year-old granddaughter, a children’s book. The first cover we tried was with real photographs and than we decided pastel was the way to go. Inside of the book are 12 separate illustrations of the yard in pastel and the characters besides the cat were all created in Adobe Illustrator.

The book is finally available on ebook and in print on Amazon. During this process we have learned about publishers, I’ve created a video for the evolution river series, two websites, several reviews and two websites. We both have learned from a relationship that has lasted more than ten years and I am excited about the new projects and the new books we’ll come to create, in fact other children’s books are on the list as well. We’ll see.

All of this knowledge and experience came from a trusting and mutually rewarding relationship and I consider myself lucky to be able to work with a great write like Clayton.

Please check out his books at www.rlclaytonbooks.com.

2018: A Productive Year in art and Photography, Part 2 of 6

East Texas in early March, just as the redbuds are blooming Artbygordon 2018

In the beginning of 2018, with a little bit more freedom, I began to explore more places to find nature. Some of the places I visited are the Cedar Ridge Preserve. I began to seek out any place I could find even a hint of nature and mapped out several wonderful hikes very close to Dallas. For  more information on the Cedar Ridge Preserve.

Plum blossoms isolated Artbygordon

February and March found the artist seeking colors and light and instead I began to discover patterns in nature. I aimed to isolate light and shape even when the light was flat.

Screech owl from the Backland Prairie Raptor center first Saturday Artbygordon 2018

I made my regular visit to the Backland Prairie Raptor Center and learned more about the Backland Prairie and its importance to Texas and the DFW area. They open to the public first Saturday of the month and I always try to visit.

Pond near Parkhill Prairie in Blue Ridge Texas Artbygordon 2018

Talking with the naturalists I learned about another favorite place of mine, the Parkhill Prairie in Blue Ridge, Texas. It is like going back to a place in history where the wind cries across the pristine planes. I watched hawks sore and songbirds in the native environment-it was a wonderful trip and a need grounding for me. It is a wonderful remnant of the backland prairie.

Passionvine isolated Artbygordon 2018

 I finally got to the East Texas Alligator Farm and Park. It was an enjoyable visit and something I have been planning for many years on so many drives out East. I plan on finding those out of the way places and writing and photographing about them.

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: white veined Dutchman’s pipevine /Aristolochia fimbriota 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: The Spectacle of the Candlestick Plant: Senna ALata

Senna Alata: The candlestick plant has a strange and dramatic flower and is 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. No questioning why they call it a candlestick plant as the blooms look like tall yellow candlesticks.

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.

Another senna that looks much like the candlestick plant is the Popcorn Senna (Cassia didymobotrya). This plant also attracts the sulphur butterflies and looks like a paler version of the candlestick plant but it also smells like its name suggests.

Makes great photographs.

Candlestick plants love the heat and I don’t think I have ever watered them. In the evening they close up their large mimosa like leaves and the whole plant looks like its praying. I will always have them in my garden and am in the process of selling their seeds as well.

The whole reason I started wildlife gardening was to attract wildlife to my garden and being able to photograph the cloudless sulphurs, clouded sulfurs and several cabbage whites that come for the nasturtium, my work has been rewarded and I love to be able to photograph the plants and butterflies as well.