Category Archives: teaching

A Productive Year: 2018 Part 1 of 6

2018 started off with my decision to quit selling insurance and start doing creative projects full time. It has been a very productive year and the elements of this year will shape the future look and feel of all of my work.

Original Oils on Canvas for 2018

My oils have been a collection of snapshots of the road as I put 50,000 miles on my new vehicle. The images are of the hawk surveying a field and mallards along the side of the road. There are actually 4 or 5 more images that I haven’t even started but are on the list of paintings to create. The images include a tractor, cattle and other country road images.

I finally finished the series of swallows. There are 3 in the series and this final image is the celebration. It is the smallest of the group and yet the most birds, the  name of the painting is the celebration because the drought is finally over, it looked as if the swallows were swarming in celebration .

The colors a bit more vivid than in the past as I bridge the gap between realism and impressionism. Future paintings will be more about light and darkness than the image itself. I am also trying to get back to water and the reason why I started painting it in the first place. Back to the basics of clarity and the richness of colors.

I showed for the first time in Opa in Rowlett as of September. I sold one painting and there are 6 paintings still showing until the end of the month. All the new paintings will be included on the website as I move some of the older ones to archive. 

Original Pastels on Paper for 2018

I created these pastels again from snapshots on the road. Each one was created within one sitting both from memory and preliminary sketches.

My style has become a bit lighter and more comfortable with details in some places and relief in others. I also blur the image a whole lot less than I used to.

I am excited about finishing up some of the older snapshots and the immediacy of the pastel promises quick rewards. Some of the pastels will probably become larger more defined oils.

Photography for January-February 2018

January began with a feeling of freedom and exploration. Multiple trips to local nature places brought photography of all different aspects of nature.

Many of these photos have become the initial inspiration for the artist window, which is a collection of objects from nature.

I am more aware of light than I ever have been. On a flat day of gray light with little character, I have learned to isolated objects and find beauty from the bland afternoon sun.

I am also getting more interested in the still life which also lends itself to the artist window series. I have become a collector of leaves, pine cones and even a magnolia seed pod I found.

I am more interested in patterns and colors and the way they react with light. I have also grown more excited about abstract images and am continuing to see abstract patterns in nature.

This is the first installment of 5 more posts that will include travels, writing, contests and more months of photography.

The Loneliness Project: Part 1

It is the absence of something, most of the time something we took for granted for a long time before we realize it’s gone. The swing settles in the family tree and only a random breeze will wake it from its slumber.

I remember the cool green grasses and clothes blowing across the long lines of rope making shapes and patterns like ghosts. I remember the simplicity of a great blue sky and a child’s mind full of opportunities.

There are so many times we fall off the swing, we skin our knees and assume that no one is coming with the clean washcloth or the gentle encouraging voice; we grow up. We become self-sufficient, we are taught to ignore the swing, the green grass and the great blue sky as if they were just childhood foolishness.

We barely realize they’re gone but the child inside us still yearns to stop, to seek comfort, to search with an explorers heart for wonders among the grass and secrets in the woods.

It is this loneliness, missing a child that always found time to play, to look up to the sky in search for something great. How I miss the swing and the tall willows throwing viridian shadows, I consciously aspire for my own resurrection.

The green lawn, the red and white shed before it was an eyesore, back when it had a purpose. We would have family dinners in the backyard, the kids would take orders and there was a barbecue fired up, it was summer.

I remember a large gathering of people, usually Easter, after church we’d sit outside. It was back before mosquitoes became the deadly creatures they are.

I remember plastic chairs and long white plastic table clothes, laughter and drama-it was a family gathering after all.

Now the family is scattered to multiple states. Many of the members I remember are dead, some still live near the same town but we are all separate.

I miss the bond of family, even if what I remember wouldn’t match reality. I”m sure there was more tension among them but I was young. I had the privilege to grow tired of having guests.

I would love to sit in my Aunt Ann’s kitchen listening to the old woman with stories and small talk. I would enjoy sitting in the living room with all the men watching sports and talking trash but time moves on and we don’t realize the connections or their significance in our lives.

The Precarious State of Loneliness

There are so many more like me…but we are all separate,

How uncomfortable it is, longing for contact

and yet unable to fathom its joy

To seek solitude while aching for connection

it’s the most difficult state as nothing seems to feel comfortable

time is slow and yet fast and random simultaneously

I have lived here

I have driven a long road, alone, missing others

and yet insistent on my own solitude

is it the soul’s nature of knowing its own state

but curious for another?

Fear keeps us

separate.

Awkward we are souls in transition.

I forced my way through loneliness

until I grew comfortable with myself

it was only then that I could fathom

interaction

and it’s joyful conclusion…

The colors of humanity

ebb and flow just like the seasons

but they are to be shared

not squandered

our voices are like the fleeting colors of autumn

how they linger among the tangled limbs

to grow as a wonderfully colorful

landscape

they become stories among grasses

ghosts in the shadows

until they settle on stones

and sleep like whispers…

we were never meant to be alone

we are all notes in a beautiful song

so when did we stop singing?









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.

 









Isolated Fruit as Art

I photographed these pieces of fruit because I liked how they brought color to a gray winter window sill. To see ordinary fruit without the context of a kitchen shows how beautiful the colors and textures of each fruit can be outside its’ normal context.

My latest series of  projects  have been finding rich colors and textures from ordinary objects. When viewed in a different light and in a unique setting, even ordinary fruit takes on a new and more attractive presence.









The Prairie in Blue Ridge

I got lost in the long flowing stalks of bluestem grasses, the great blue sky looming above where hawks dance in slow spirals. I sat on the cold, moist ground and listened to what it might have been like when bison and Indians roamed the backland  prairie.

The clouds drifted with a calm indifference, the wind breathed and than exhaled followed by a ritual silence. Meadowlarks flew in patterns from fences and crows called out breaking the stillness, it is like going back in time.

I guess the fact that the winter chill that settled in my spine and slapped my exposed skin with pins and needles would be a good incentive not to go to the prairie. I assume that’s why both times I’ve gone there has been no one there but I consider it my oasis of silence.

I am comfortable sitting on the cold ground. My breath is still, my senses charged with the sounds as I try not to miss anything. I can hear cattle in the background and even a truck in the far distance but for the most part all is consumed with the rush of the wind through the grasses.

All that moves is the grasses, swaying back and forth as if haunted and the clouds marching passively across the plane, I am in awe of the silence and calm.

I have been dwarfed by mountains, the ocean but never by a huge open field. I have images of our history and it’s inhabitants that made a life out here and imagine the distant cows that cry out now were probably the sounds of wagon trains and troops of coyotes, maybe even the bison.

The coyotes are still here, I see their tracks and scat but the bison are long gone. There hawks of all kinds, the red tail, the kestrels and the prairie falcon, their mood is pensive with a mission. They rise and fall in the golden field as it should be.

I learned about this place from a trail guide at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center and I have been back twice. Yet another great place I learned about from the Blackland Prairie Raptor center, great people and wonderful birds with lots of knowledge, if you haven’t gotten a chance to go on the first Saturday of the month, I would highly suggest going.









Fear of the Canvas

florida_intercoastal

I’ve just realized why I have been avoiding painting recently, not really avoiding it but just having a harder time settling down. Many of the works have been in progress for quite a while so getting back to them is often like picking up a strangers painting.

The amazing point is when suddenly you stop thinking about what you need to do and just start slashing at the canvas with purpose. There are unseen shapes and connections of shapes that come out of the surface of the paint and you fill in the blanks instinctively.

A stumbling block is the fear, especially when you like what you’ve started but there is no room for timid strokes in painting or anything else creative. Once you stop and think or attempt the safe way you might as well save painting for later.

Painting should be bold, excited and even a bit reckless. My thought is every painting is a potential mistake that will never see the light of day. This is the time you learn the most, when you are free to forcefully and confidently paint without fear of failure.

One particular technique that takes a lot of time going back and forth is the light on water, it starts out overly dramatic and slowly becomes more realistic. There are points where the light seems right, others when there seems to be a bump in the horizon and you have confidently fix the problems and continue to focus while you see the image you’ve been working on go from good to worse to good again.

Another aspect is painting objects, straight lines and architecture, something that often needs to be reworked and perfected. You are happy with the background and suddenly you’ve just destroyed it with the object that you overlapped-often the background needs to be reworked with the object as you work to perfect both.

I am excited about the process and while I continue to get bits of time to paint, I am adding to an already large painting list. Let me know what you think of the new images.
swallowspsd









So much to learn, So little time: 5 of 5

newgarden

Back to the original post, it takes time. There are shortcuts to find and retaining clients but there are no shortcuts to knowing them. You can’t fake relationship with a potential client, you must be there for them as they are for you.

I speak with the metaphor of a gardener and being one, it seems appropriate. Disperse seeds, don’t expect a quick pay out but realize why you are in the business in the first place, do you care about your customers?

If you don’t care about them, they will quickly not care about you and your product. I believe in laying the future, getting to know people, having more people realize you may something they need and living life with a passion that pays when others endeavors don’t

In the end, I have no doubt that I will reap the benefits of the broad garden of pictures, thoughts and ideas which will one day be book covers, stories in e-books and paintings on walls, it just takes time, did I mention it takes a lot of time.

You just need to use your time wisely. Do what you love and do it well and often and share it with as many people who care about what you are selling, the rewards will come much like the garden that grows from the seeds you planted in the spring, and it will be beautiful.

 









So you have an audience: Now what? Part 1 of a 5 part series

muirwoods

Navigating a landscape, it’s okay to ask for directions.

This is an update to the article, So much to learn, so little time. I’ve learned much about the social media landscape and the hills and valleys of finding and marketing to potential clients. One thing for sure, it takes a time, lots of time.

If you expect to sell your product or service through strictly free social media, realize it will be a long road, with many highs and lows. One thing great about it, you learn so much by trying, experimenting, by failing and experimenting again.

I now realize how important it is to learn from others who have taken the path and discover some proven shortcuts. You have a finite amount of time and content and if you don’t learn how others have made it, you will spend much time learning and less time reaping the benefits.

So learn from others who have lots of followers that are attracting the same audience you seek. Ask lots of questions, take classes that have been valuable to others in your field and learn from the vast amount of experience at your finger tips.

Tomorrow’s post: A changing Landscape but still the same landscape









the fritillary, the hummingbird and the dragonfly

What instills peace in the creative soul. It seems it is simpler and more complex than perhaps the outside person looking in can fathom. It is not necessarily the state nor the actual meaning of an event, it is more the feeling and that moment when for some strange reason things make sense, even if for just a moment.

Let’s start off with a garden, a garden that has been a metaphor for many things in this creatives’ life. Perhaps it’s the helplessness and neediness of this particular years crop that has inspired my introspection.

We got more water than we have this year, having gotten out of a major drought, what’s new in the state of Texas. Unfortunately I think my plants have gotten spoiled as they seem more needy than they have in past years. I have always bragged that the kind of plants that I have chosen don’t need me to tend them at all, they grow, they react to the heat and they recover.

This year, the recovery has been more labored, even losing many of my prized plants that at one time in my manic state of building the perfect garden seemed to be such an important aspect and draw of my attention. Now they wither, they scream at the surface, begging for the gardener to be the gardener he professed to be.

It’s not unlike raising kids, these days my irrelevance seems to be eating me alive due to my sons metamorphosis to a full fledged teen rearing to be anywhere but with me. Luckily having raised what I profess to be a pretty special kid I have gotten to enjoy wonderful blooms of his youthful colors without him insisting I leave him alone. We watched two movies last night and again, the simplicity and perfection of that special time is just what this post is all about. Luckily I keep enough water in the house and he even carries a jug around so my lack of care and attention would never be noticed quite like the garden that screams when it has been neglected.

Being a parent, we either neglect our children or we neglect ourselves and our own identity, in this instance I think I’m the one that is shriveling up from lack of attention. I feel the garden is screaming out the state of how I feel, thirsty and missing something. The yellow leaves, the parched broken earth all seem to be signs of a lack of nourishment.

My creativity, my writing has always been my nourishment so during points of block I appear to be starving, withering in the oppressive summer of this life. Now, don’t take this like I am whining, I am the lucky one, I am so blessed but I am missing something, that solitude, the introspection seems to be what I need and nature is always the catalyst for my healing.

This point of my life seems to be the point of harvest. The fruits of seventeen years of labor are coming to be more amazing than I could ever even have imagined. Now there is sadness in this beauty of success, just like the emotion you feel at a graduation or a wedding-it is the beginning of a new point in our lives that is wonderful and exciting as it is sad and a bit emotional. So what to do with this creative? I know a new life is on the horizon, just like the seeds that are already in the ground ready for next spring, I am excited but being creative we feel everything with equal measure.

So why did I entitle this blog with the fritillary, the hummingbird and the dragonfly? Well you’ll just need to read the next post. A hint, it is about silence, solitude and the spirit of nature….but I guess you already knew that.

Garden_summer









Teaching painting

I have been asked on many occasions if I would consider teaching painting and my answer would always be sure, why not?  I  have never actually had anyone take the next step until recently, she actually bought canvases and paints the next day and I was officially teaching a painting course. One thing I can say about teaching is that the student isn’t the only one learning. There are many aspects of painting and even more aspects of discipline and perspective I learned from the experience.

First of all, there are so many different things that painting consists of that the artist would never actually think about or verbalize. To actually put words to the process and try to explain the task of making a 2 dimensional form look like it is 3 dimensional solidified many of the instinctual choices I make while painting. The change in colors, size, contrast and tone are normally created without even thinking of why a specific color is being used or why different shapes are put in order but to think about them and teach them almost explained some of the second nature tasks and clarified them for my future painting.

Next, I have a short attention span for artwork, I tend to get lost in details and this is why I have so many paintings started at the same time. When one painting gets too close and too intense I change my perspective and work on another, this allows for a change in view and perspective and allows a fresh look at each painting, the drawback is the lack of finished paintings. Having to teach for 3-4 hours every weekend on one painting kept my focus and discipline and forced me not to lose sight of the whole picture. I hope this discipline I will be able to use when painting my own paintings.

Another aspect of teaching is when the student sees things that you don’t and can point out things that you haven’t paid enough attention to, suddenly you have another perspective to see through. Luckily, the student had a very keen eye for detail and we both were able to iron out points of composition, color and perfecting realism-it’s great to have a second set of eyes, so for now on I will hire a student to paint with me-I’m kidding but it would be money well spent.

We finished the painting, which was rather large-36″x38″, in thirteen classes of 3-4 hours each. I learned that my process for painting actually has a very logical progression and each class had specific processes that we accomplished. In the end the student did a piece of art she was happy with and I learned a great deal about teaching, painting and the processes of each. We will be starting another painting that is even larger and this one is less detailed and more about capturing light and simpler form. I will fill you in on the classes after we begin. My next blog will be about starting back to painting after teaching and following a long hiatus.

I will have a photograph of the painting and a flash video of the thirteen steps to a finished painting posted on my website-so check back soon-I will have a notification on the blog when they appear.
www.artbygordon.com, I will also be posting the video on YouTube.