Creativity: Picture the most euphoric state you can imagine; the birth of a child, flying down a ski slope or a rollercoaster or the view of an awe-inspiring sunset and realize how transient that state is. This is what creativity is for me.
It is when everything aligns naturally and suddenly the strange riddle you’ve been deciphering becomes completely discernible. The riddle is inspiration-I equate it to craving something to eat but not quite able to decide what you are craving.
Photography: I have experienced this state of clarity in each medium I work with. My photography used to be, a love of landscapes which weren’t always available to shoot depending on the quality of light and time of day.
I would find an abstract pattern in nature but the image never quite meshed. In a landscape, you can plan for shapes and composition allowing lines to create depth and dimension for the viewer but how do you explain objects and make them have interest to the viewer.
So many attempts failed because I was missing the crucial aspect of the image-it wasn’t the shape, it wasn’t the color, instead it was how it interacted with light.
you just know you’ve captured something beautiful and the excitement is that transient state of seeing what’s invisible and showing it to the viewer.
As I continue to see nature beyond the larger scope of a landscape, the isolated image becomes more clear. I find myself noticing, even in the flattest, blandest afternoon light how something evokes an emotion or at least interest from a chaos of details.
After I shoot a landscape or an object, sometimes you just know you’ve captured something and the excitement is that transient state of seeing what’s invisible and capturing it for the viewer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One reason for growing a wildlife garden: If you build it, they’ll come. And they are beautiful to watch in the garden.
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.
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.
Blackbirds are a consistent subject in both my paintings and writing. They are mysterious as the night sky and symbolic of impending doom.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Artbygordon: Original oils on canvas, Original pastels on paper celebrating the beauty and mystery of nature. Water and night skies are my specialties.