Category Archives: outdoors

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.

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.

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.

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.

Celebration: Third in a Series of Paintings of Swallows

Birds are not only a passion of mine they represent nature and often are the most accessible species in the suburban backyard. I remember going to my grandmothers’ in Orange New Jersey-out of the a concrete landscape of the city there were birds, not many but enough to offer some nature amidst concrete.

Over the years of writing and painting, certain birds have become symbolic in my work. The two most prominent are blackbirds and owls but recently the swallow has sparked my interest.

There is a song by Sparklehorse called the pain birds and on the album Good Morning Spider is a swallow. The first in the series is actually called the painbirds and it was during a time of great upheaval in my life.

The painting sat on the wall unfinished for more than a year, just the bridge and the water. I knew it was going to be swallows but I just couldn’t decide how and where the birds would appear. Next came the purple passion vine, a very religiously significant plant that I collect, all of these elements finally gelled and the Painbirds was born.

The second in the series came about with a lot less symbolism. I focused more on the relationship of two birds on a wire and the landscape that expanded behind them. Again, it sat unfinished for a long time as the image came together.

The problem is that the initial idea is filled with excitement and direction but after some time the overall details fade. This is why I can’t paint when I feel like painting, it seems you either see the details and textures and the way they need to be rendered or you don’t.

Birds on a Wire was the second in the series and it was just as large as the first one. Notice the change in colors, the richness and warmth replaces the cools and somewhat melancholy of the pain birds, it was a bit more comfortable time in my life and I believe I was much happier. The sunset does have a bit of symbolism of change and the possibilities of tomorrow and becoming comfortable with things ending.

The last in the series is the Celebration. I watched as the recent drought ended and Lake Ray Hubbard was full again, the swallows swarmed the bridge as if they were celebrating the end of the drought. It is the smallest painting of the three with the most birds.

It also marks a time where I am getting back to water at its simplest aspect. I wanted to get back to the way I used to paint water. I have recently departed from the clarity and depth and explored bright colors and reflections. I am going back to the basics and why I started painting water in the first place.

I have several paintings in the works, one is of grackles, another of egrets, I am getting back to studying nature with more depth and understanding. I am also working on some abstract images that are a bit less about nature and more about the human condition.

Stay tuned and please let me know which of the series you prefer and why.









The Garden Becomes its Own

I love gardening, something I’ve been writing about for quite a while. It is the act of dissolving into the silence and intricacies of nature.

Every bud and seedling is a glimmer of hope. I enjoy tending the soil, being active and watching this natural work of sorts become its own.

The garden starts out with seeds and a general idea and from there it becomes what it will be. I used to be a lot less enthusiastic about the summer garden than the spring garden.

The spring would come with ideas and grand hopes for wildlife and a garden I could photograph but once the summer heat kicked in, the garden would go its own way.

All of the weeding and planting would turn into a garden of brown shrivelled up leaves. I think depression has a big thing to do with it as well, all intent and excitement dies with its crippling effects.

This year is different. I’m looking at raising milkweed to sell, yes a weed but the only hope for future monarch butterflies. I am collecting passionvine and dutchmans’ pipe as well and with the addition to the family of a dog named Ranger, suddenly I am outside even in the heat, still plucking weeds, still planting.


It’s amazing how a puppy can take you out of yourself. It’s not about you, it’s about him and the garden is better because of it. As he chews on sticks and rocks, I continue to weed, water and protect.

I’m not sure how long this will last, but I’m excited to see the garden become its own even after the second hottest May. I hope you enjoy a bit of a walk through my garden.

 









Afternoon Sun: Oil on Canvas

As the sun fades from the backyard and the birds all take their places on unseen perches, the last bit of light paints the trees against the house.

It’s almost like a stain-glassed window as the light filters through spring leaves. I have been watching this for many seasons and have had the idea on my easel for many years now.

I was interested in the richness of fading afternoon sun. I love the shadows of blues and greens reflecting a coolness in the midst of an ending day. This is the third in an upcoming series of paintings coming off the easel. Stay tuned.