Category Archives: Articles on travel

Travel related articles

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.

Seeing Life Like A Child: Rediscovering Your Why

Discover Gardens Dallas, Texas: Artbygordon 2019

Yesterday I went to the Discovery Gardens at Fair Park in Dallas for a plant sale. A regular trip I take where I find more plants than I need and buy more than I should…it’s a passion and a business.

Plants are part of my creative outlet and this year I am planning something great, that may change as the summer heats up but for now I am planning the best wildlife garden I’ve ever created.

Disovery Gardens, Dallas Texas: Artbygordon

I will be using many of the plants from the previous year as well as filling in the gaps with more host plants. I will have no shortage of milkweed this year and I hope the Monarchs and Queens will appreciate my labor.

I spoke with a fellow gardener yesterday and we discussed the extraordinary life and how uncomfortable but beautiful it is to break away from standards of the norm. She mentioned a book called finding your why by Simon Sinek. I am very interested in reading this book as it will add to expanding my own sense of purpose.

Discover Gardens Dallas, Texas: Artbygordon 2019

The latitude of an individual’s why is so diverse but we all have that need to see life outside our normal expectations and that is a common theme I”m finding.

So how do we see through the eyes of a child after logic and age has dictated our path. I believe getting back to what made us smile, got us excited-we lose a lot of this thought process when raise our own kids as it’s not about you, it’s about them.

Discover Gardens Dallas, Texas: Artbygordon 2019

Now as my life finds its new and exciting path, I find myself starting another wildlife garden, choosing the colors to add, the weeds to control and what wild vine to just let grow. I told the women I spoke with about the fact that if you are patient and aware, your purpose and joy will show itself and I truly believe this.

My purpose and joy is in nature and that’s what moves me more than anything. I am excited to see where all of my labor takes me. Listen to strangers, they will give you great wisdoms and show just a bit of light on your own journey and together you might discover the extraordinary life.


Spring 2019: A Garden Begins

Fort Sill Oklahoma: Artbygordon copyright 2019

Spring is time for a new chapter that I’ve been avoiding. You watch the joy of your life grow like a seed you’ve planted, it grows away from you and it’s good. As my son goes off to the army this gardener is out of a job.

Canadian Geese Fort Sill Oklahoma: Artbygordon copyright 2019

My purpose has always been deeply grounded in art and nature. I raised two sons to respect nature and enjoy all its treasured moments. With my oldest son we would go fly-fishing and go on travels, with my youngest it was kayaking and fishing of which I learned more than I taught.

Wildflowers Fort Sill Oklahoma: Artbygordon copyright 2019

In recent years I have learned more about plants as I build wildlife gardens, all the blooms and plants are native and used for local wildlife. I choose host plants and nectar plants that grow with little water or care. 

Fort Sill Oklahoma: Artbygordon copyright 2019

I have counted more than 50 bird species and almost as many butterfly and moth species: the gardens are working. It is a great feeling to build something and watch wildlife come.

Iris from Wildlife Garden: Artbygordon copyright 2019

This year, the garden will be much of what grew last year. I am allowing the winners from the previous year to grow even stronger roots and adding complementary plants such as more milkweeds, dutchman’s pipe and herbs. 

Canadian Geese Fort Sill Oklahoma: Artbygordon copyright 2019

I’m going to show the different stages as the garden starts from scrubby overgrown mess to a bit more controlled. It is important for me to show how to maintain a wildlife garden that doesn’t drive the neighbors mad that’s the new idea this year.

I always find a metaphor in nature and especially gardening. I am finding a new path, choosing order over chaos, discipline over disorder and I’m excited about writing, photographing and describing the process. 

Garden Begins Sneak Preview: Artbygordon copyright 2019

If my son can go and learn discipline and structure, I am inspired that I can do the same. Wish me luck.

Gardening and Raising Independent Children: Lessons in the Weeds

There’s a little bit of selfishness in all of us but it’s something that gets a bit complicated when raising kids. Who wants to feel like they are not needed anymore? No one of course, but letting a child go and live his or her life is the epitome of becoming a bit more irrelevant.

Zinnias and sunflowers

There is a great pride a parent takes in watching our words, motions and even our facial expressions reflected in this wonderful person who we’ve watched grow from a helpless infant to a confident adult.

I am having great difficulty finding my own purpose as I watch my son find his. I feel like an actor whose whole life has been a television series: a comedy, a drama, and a love story. So what’s left of this actor?

Garden in the last year or so: Zinnias

All my talents and ideas seem raw and ready for me to see the next path that I’m supposed to take but I’m feeling a lot of melancholy looking back. I am happy to say I savored every moment like it was the most incredible buffet but it went so fast, to ever be able to fully enjoy it, I find myself looking back through pages, reading the beginning, not questioning or fretting just reflecting.

I started this post while tending to an overgrown winter garden, a canvas of sorts, much like the children we raise. I watch the same story unfold as nature gives us all the inspiration we need to live extraordinary lives.

Selfishness is a common trait in the garden as well as our lives. You watch the weeds that bind other plants, clutter and block the light; the sunflower even disperses a chemical with its seeds that stops other seeds from germinating.

I am the mediator, I go in and remove obstacles, plant the garden the way I see fit but in the end, it grows to be its own despite the gardener. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The child grows out of the garden, out of all our ideas, ideals and expectations. They become adults despite us, they find their path and their place in this world. We can remove some of the obstacles but the main goal for any parent is to raise their child to find their own garden. 

We are all selfish gardeners, planting seeds, fertilizing soil and loving every bit of the flowers we are lucky to enjoy. 

Life is putting the plants out for spring.


My lemon tree with flowers

Its spring in a few days and I’m excited about putting out my plants. Every year it is a ritual and there are so many reasons for it and many directly relate to the trials of a creative and not-so creative life.

One particular plant is a seventeen year old lemon tree and that’s just an estimate-it’s probably a little older. It started as a seed, as my exwife told me “you can’t grow lemons in Texas”. 

My lemon tree with droplets in the spring

It’s never produced a lemon and only a handful of flowers in more than a decade. I’m hopeful every year but lack of fruit is the difference between growing from seed and growing a store-bought plant, which is a grafted stock from an existing plant, but that’s science and botany and another story to tell.

Last summer was probably it’s most spectacular year, full and desperate to fruit. This winter it showed my neglect with a lack of leaves and dried up broken stems. It sinks in the pot, lays over looking for bits of light but there is a spark in it, a life force that is ready for the summer.

Remnants of the Ocotillo

I dragged it outside and watered it, even feed it. I can’t fix the winter or make up for shortcomings in care but I can make this next summer the most spectacular and I will. 

I’ve always found hope in watching a dormant plant be born again in spring. Bits of green adorn ash colored limbs as if it were rising from the dead. During a very dark time in my life, the garden was a place for me to watch spring make everything new, every spring of new growth was like hope.

East Texas Redbuds

In our lives, there is always winter, a time where we crawl deep inside ourselves and find strength mingled with weakness, we throw off our broken dying limbs that don’t serve us anymore and we search for that green, that youth that hides in each of us.

This year, I’ve become a bit more realistic, there are less plants that I held over-the sambuc Jasmine which is such an easy plant as it long as it doesn’t get too cold and it rewards you with a wonderful fragrance that soothes and relaxes me in the spring.

Carrion Flower

Some plants brighten up the first day they feel the warmth but others are stubborn, they hold on to their dark and pensive state, the Occatillo, a favorite plant of mine because of its dramatic spiny disposition, it is gray, hard and thorny. I’m not sure if it’s alive or dead but you learn patience and realizing nature is on its own schedule, not yours.

It’s a great responsibility to take plants through the winter and I will be honest, I loose more than I keep. Winter is my introspective time, I don’t get the excitement and feeling of hope like I do in spring, maybe it’s the lack of light but I don’t take the responsibility of taking care of plants lightly.

The Garden in Summer

Plants take you out of yourself, much like pets and children, it’s not about you or what you feel like doing. My manic state tends to over buy plants and my opposite state tends to give up but in the end I have plants with strong roots that can take the winter and still recover in the spring.

Much like humanity, not all of us will be the same after winter, some of us will be stronger, some of us will change our path, some of us will want to give up but as long as winter lays itself down for spring, there is hope. 

Sometimes hope is as simple as putting your plants out in the spring.

Ten Things I’ve lEarned about Social Media: AN OLD INTRO TO AN UPDATE

1. Not all sharing is equal: regardless of your intention.
What you share will not suit everyone’s need or interest. Making an impact starts with honest interaction followed by useful data for mutual benefit.
If you share without real interaction and sincere interest in viewers you become the blur of words and pix the reader learns to avoid.

2. You can’t fake social. 
Social media requires one important factor; you must really be social. People need to know you are interested in their stuff as well as your own. Drive-by social media will get you quickly ignored. Find people with like interests or things that inspire you and build relationships that are based on mutual respect and sharing.

3. Give them something to do. 
Okay, you’ve got their attention, now what? Get them to respond, to engage or go somewhere. This is where pinterest, Facebook and tumblr, to name just a few, allow you to find something than repost it sharing it with others, they find your website, your information or something they need to know and the reason you started sharing in the first place.

4. Engagement is not an option-it’s a necessary goal. 
Now you have started a relationship, you need to engage your readers, be available, answer questions or expand on information you’ve shared. Engagement shows that you are not just sharing information you stand behind the ideas, you can support them with knowledge and useful expertise.

 5. Make goals and learn how to reach them. 
You need to share with a purpose. Have a clear vision of what you want your audience to do and a formula for what a successful campaign would equal whether in new connections, reposts and retweets or amount of response and engagement.

 6. Ask the experts-learn from others’ experiences. 
You’ve been growing a following on various platforms. Now it’s time to add to the momentum, see why others who are leaders in social media have larger engaged following-it’s time to take your sharing to the next level-learn from the professionals that have the following and solid content to prove it.

 7. There are no shortcuts; it takes time, work and content. 
In a society wanting everything now, there is no shortcut to creating a lasting impression; it takes many hours of patience and perseverance.

 8. Don’t disappear- stay focused and engaged so your audience will. You’ve done all the work, you’ve taken the time and effort now you must keep yourself and your audience engaged. Don’t disappear and at the same time don’t keep tweeting the same old thing, give them something new, something interesting and keep them engaged.

 9. Social media is a two-way street, retweet and mean it.
A relationship requires give and take. If you only show and tell your own story no one is going to share theirs or yours with anyone, you need to work with your audience and offer them the same respect and appreciation for their thoughts, stories and products.

 10. Don’t cry wolf. Don’t offer false information, thoughts and ideas that are pointless, exaggerated information-make a good first impression and make sure your audience knows your not only going to be there but that they can count on your perspective and trusted information.

Here is just a small list of the experts that have impressed me with their knowledge of social media and wealth of content. These are specific to the creative side of social media.

http://www.artpromotivate.com- a great site for artists-Graham Matthews is the owner and does a wonderful job of connecting and offering artists valuable information. He’s also a gifted artist https://plus.google.com/101360643544552502915/posts.

Jennifer Mattern from All Indie Writers http://allindiewriters.com It’s a great place for lots of information on writers, publishing, blogs, etc.

http://www.angelikafineart.com- a wonderful artist I found on twitter who has so much information to share and a great following.

Let me know if this post was helpful. It’s still a work in progress but social media and marketing in general is a knowledge that grows and adapts in a rapidly changing landscape.