Category Archives: 2018 Photography and Art in Review

The Artist’s WIndow: Isolating Light


Honeybee on winter jasmine: Original Photography by Artbygordon 2019

Light separated glistening white blooms of winter jasmine this morning. The image was beautiful as a whole but it was difficult to simplify and accentuate details that could explain what originally inspired me.

Finding light amidst darkness and chaos is a privilege I never take lightly.

Artbygordon 2019

This is a problem the artist often has with separating the ordinary from the extraordinary. We are bombarded with details and often a beautiful image of nature can be quite overwhelming to the viewer.

It is the artist’s job to separate light and shape from the background where the viewer is often left with a chaotic mass of line, form and color. The essence of beauty is often just simplification of the whole.

I have always been a landscape artist but often a flat afternoon light does not offer anything dramatic, this is why I have learned to not only see light but to isolate it and allow it to be the main focus in my photography and art.

As a painter, in the past, I was more impressed with the whole or the peripherals to evoke mood. Now I tend to see shapes and how light accentuates them creating drama.

Light becomes its own object in an artwork and much like you don’t paint water, you must paint that which interacts with the clarity of water, light is not easily defined, it is more it’s reaction with objects that is important.

Because of a growing passion for photography, I have learned more about seeing objects and painting objects. Much like writing teaches us how to think and explain our experience such is photography to the artist, it teaches us how to see and describe the intangible.

Yesterday I made a trip to Daingerfield Lake; it was a wonderful trip with my brother and nephew. Lately I miss the electric hour and either capture the sunset or afternoon light but we had two things, time and shared interest.

I haven’t enjoyed photographing quite like it, it’s amazing to share seeing with others, I love the solitude and introspection but having family to share that passion was an incredible experience for me.

The light as the sun dipped into the horizon created a spectacle on the landscape. The blues were cold and rich, the green reflections were charged with depth and intense green color.

Almost 400 photographs later, I was able to capture Lake Daingerfield in a way I’ve never seen it before. Usually we kayak and fish but this time it was solely a photography trip and a memorable one at that.

To complete the perfect trip, my son called from Oklahoma, although I wished he were with us, it was the next best thing. We will definitely get back for more photography and kayaking, it is truly a beautiful lake to visit.

Daingerfield State Park is 150 miles east of Dallas. Texas. It is a small intimate lake for kayaking and offer a wide variety of fishing opportunities including pickerel which is what we go for.

It is quiet and perfect for the get away from the city without feeling too far remote. For more information go to https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/daingerfield

Rediscovering the Artist Eye: Diversions are Part of the Process

This image is from a night of camping with my son at Lake Murray-we both played on the cold, hard rocks and watched the moon rise-it has become his favorite painting. Artbygordon 2013

I just started a new painting about the night sky, just did a simple underpainting of trees in the front yard with a moon and star-filled sky.

The more I get back to painting, the more I find myself seeking a graphic element, simple and more abstract. In the past it was more about mood and peripherals and now it is about the shapes and how they interplay.

Photography of light and simple shapes-probably an evolution that is effecting my paintings. I enjoy the contrast of light and shadows and the simplicity of objects. Original Photography by Artbygordon 2018

I’ve been admiring too much abstract images I guess. I’ve also been seeking how light interplays with objects in my photography, which seems to be a principle in the new/old series.

I am getting back to several images of water-they all were somewhat complete but I was never completely pleased with them. It is amazing to me how much an image literally plays itself out while you paint.

There is the first obstacle of pushing paint around, overcomplicating what you see and over-explaining a simple principle of light and shadow.

The droplets on the rose are perfect example of how it is not overcomplicated creating reflection and light-it is a very subtle, simple rendering that delivers the best image.

When the subconscious overrides the conscious and truly sees and renders simple the image as it is-this is when the hand and the brain tend to work independent of consciousness, the lines, forms and subtle detail seem to create themselves.

The Terns Artbygordon 2013: An older painting and the beginning of seeing things in shapes and abstracts

To show the progression of recent paintings, I need to go back to previous series. This is where the shape is becoming a bit more important than the feeling and depth of the water.

I feel like I am getting back to full circle, the paintings in the new series will have more detail in the water, more sharper contrasts of light and I will get back to the reason I loved the night sky and water.

The next post will be about the night sky with the newer images. I am excited about the new series and see my vision truly taking shape.

Back to the Canvas: Rediscovering water and the simple intricacies of light

Turner Falls Oklahoma Original Oil on Canvas Artbygordon 2018

To Truly See: Getting back to Details

I got back to the canvas yesterday and found my purpose for water. The problem with water or even capturing images realistically is seeing and capturing the basic element of the image.

After you’ve truly seen and conveyed the basic idea, the essence of water with temperature and depth, then you can stray from the reality of the colors and even the perspective.

Intention: What is the Basic Premise

It all depends on intention, my intention is always to see the depth and clarity of water first, after that I can express the place or time and I’ve succeeded in the whole reason I started painting water in the first place.

What has happened recently is a loss of conveying the details. Waterfalls end up looking like flows of hair or cotton and the water clarity and depth instead takes on a nondescript study of color.

Petit Jean Arkansas: Original Oil on Canvas Artbygordon 2018

The Shift: To Truly See

There is a point where I can push color back and forth without truly seeing but with any luck there is the shift, where the subconscious remembers what it knows.

This is what happened yesterday, suddenly the brush moves with little consciousness from the artist-it’s like all the forms and strokes are already there.

It is almost an out-of-body experience because the hand the brush, even the colors and the forms tend to paint themselves. I’ve experienced this with writing too and it is an amazing place that no artist wants to leave.

The Fisherman: 2018 Original Oil on Canvas, Artbygordon-work in progress

New Elements in Recent Works

I’m not sure if it’s because of shooting so much graphic photography but recently I have more intention on form and contrast of light. The actually scene is secondary to the relationship of the elements and the contrast of light.

There are many ways to show depth and perspective, this is just one more option and I’m really beginning to see a shift in my work overall as elements supersede or at least complement mood.

Lake Texoma: Original Oil on Canvas Artbygordon 2018

2019: A New Year

A new year, an unblemished calendar but what to do? How can I make 2019 a special, productive year? 

The question definitely has to do with my readers but at the same time, I can’t deliver meaningful content unless I know what my readers and subscribers are wanting or even expecting.

I have decided to break my posts into specific columns so you will have an idea of what to expect and there will be a constant theme going through my content although varied as it might be.

I used to create the blog on Blogger and than share it with multiple network channels but I am trying to localize all the content through the website.

Here are a list of the upcoming posts and what I envision for the year.

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge original photography by Artbygordon

The Artist’s Window: It’s how the artist sees the world, how we find light and what makes the ordinary extraordinary from an artist’s view. 

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge original photography by Artbygordon

Depression for the Layman: How to live with depression and tips and tools to live a good life despite the illness. I will be putting all the pieces into a book with other self-help books in the works.

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge original photography by Artbygordon

From A Kayak: I’m trying to bring this back; it might be a view from a tree, a view from a platform-it’s just going to be different places in nature.

The Grackles 2017 Artbygordon

ArtbyGordon: New Series, new subject matter and my reactions and thoughts on art and being creative. Artbygordon and life creatively will merge into this catchall for living a creative lifestyle and breaking the boundaries of the expected.

Remnants of the Garden Artbygordon

Gardening: From the beginning to end of the garden and different aspects of life woven through a life filled with nature and gardening. On a practical note: all the winners and losers, maintaining order in a chaotic garden and other thoughts on life and creativity.

Road to Hagerman Artbygordon

Travel and Writing: This will be the travel side of my blogging. I will highlight at least one place through each month-it could be reviews on food, venues, concerts-anything travel with a little bit of nature added in for color.

The Reluctant Military Dad: This is a new piece of the puzzle-it’s about being a single dad and letting go. It’s about my son in the military and the aspects of a dad watching his son become something great. 

General parenting insights and topics about raising kids in today’s world-being a step dad to my oldest son and all I’ve learned on this journey of parenting.

The next thought, what my readers are wanting and what to add to the blog-I would love to hear what people would like to read about.

I am excited about 2019 and feel my brand and its scope is growing.  Please be a part of the Artbygordon newsletter to get up to date news on series, appearances and latest writing and photography.

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.

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

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.