Category Archives: exploring

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.

The Artist Window: Part 1

Nature hides its secrets, the artist must be patient, waiting for the riddle to show itself. Usually it is quite subtle and the quiet spectacle of light is gone almost as soon as it’s noticed.

Light is what the photographer seeks to describe, to find it in a way that it might not have been noticed or seen before.

This is a series of treasures no one would notice, but I find them quite beautiful. Nature has always inspired me.

Light through windows

Subtle for a moment and just as quickly gone
the true colors of leaves
are defined
and we see the extraordinary in the mundane
beauty in the ordinary.

Rich autumn colors come inside
bringing warmth to a silver
afternoon
I cling to color
as the landscape turns gold
than gray
watching  the
last remnant of flame
fade

It’s sad to see its wings
useless
how many miles
had passed?
last winter it hung
trembling with
others of its kind
and it belonged
somewhere
in Mexico
waiting to make the trip
back
only to lay on the concrete
spent

The final shaft of light

autum
the final stained glass
window
a remnant of spring
fading

 









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?









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.

 









Wildlife Gardens in Texas Part 4: white veined Dutchman’s pipevine /Aristolochia fimbriota Vine

This is the amazing butterfly that will visit your garden when you plant Dutchman’s Pipe or Aristolochia vine. Even without the welcome visitor it is an easy and very interesting vine to grow.

This is the Caterpillar that will devour every bit of the plants you have but they grow back quickly. They look a bit like slugs but if you study them closer they are quite beautiful in their own right.

Let’s get back to the plant which has its’ own unique qualities. The reason they call them Dutchman’s Pipe vines is because the flowers are very strange and exotic and look much like a dutchmans pipe.

This is the White-Veined Dutchman Pipevine-it is a ground cover that will come back every year in Texas and reseeds itself quite easily. The smell of the leaves are very strong.

There are several different types of vines but be wary of the Aristolochia Gigantea-it is a beautiful flower and dramatic bloom but it supposedly will kill the caterpillars, if you grow them just make sure you keep them away from butterflies seeking to lay their eggs.

The next plant is the sunflower which is not only a host plant but easy to grow from seed and a dramatic addition to any landscape.

 









Wildlife Gardens in Texas: Part 2 Passionvine

Citrine, the yellow passion vine

The second plant I would highly recommend is the passion vine. There is so much  about this plant to love and it attracts Fritillary butterflies that will lay hordes of caterpillars to devour it.

Gulf Fritillary

I have become somewhat of a collector having raced 9 or tend different species over the years and continue to be amazed by its ease and beauty.

Hybrid Flower

The plant is named Passiflora after the passion of Christ, there are a lot of symbolism with the parts of the flower, the stigmata represent the three nails and the 5 anthers below them the wounds.  The sharp tips of the leaves, the lance, the tendrils the flagellation of Christ and the ten pedals and sepals the loyal apostles. Read more

Lady Margaret

They won’t overtake your yard or destroy a fence.
I have had the blue variety come back every spring with a heavier base, I would think if it grew well enough it could destroy a fence but I’ve never had any problems with them.

The smell of the flowers.
The blooms are not only dramatic and odd, they smell like sweet candy and each species has its own unique flavor. The thorny larvae of the gulf and variegated fritillaries will devour the stands of the plant but that’s why I grow plants for the wildlife.

They are Good for Bees. Attracting bees could be a good or bad aspect of raising a plant. I always welcome them and never have been stung while treating them with due respect.

Cerulean

The abundant flowers are many different colors and they will cover an area in the yard with beautiful blooms through the summer. I would highly recommend this plant because its easy and needs little care. The native purple, (incense and incarnate), blue (cerulean) and some hybrids will come back after a mild winter and will grow in most places with an abundance of light.

I will have a whole new collection this year and many more photos.
Next is the Dutchmans Pipe-be patient if you plant it, they will come.









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.









Remnants of Summer Gardens

Remnants of summer’s gardens; sharp gnarled teeth of devils’ walking stick, shriveled up stems and seeds of sunflowers waiting for spring.

I found them at the weathered gate, rich green algae on an old broken down fence. These are all whispers of a summer past and I realize the gardener is only an introduction of seed to soil, the wind and rain are the catalysts, each bird a possible carrier of a new seed and every weed a new battle for supremacy.

You can learn much about life from a garden.









A New Series: Wildlife Gardens in Texas: Milkweed plants for Monarch butterflies

This is the first post in a series on Wildlife gardening in Texas.

Mexican Milkweed available at your local gardens

I have always been a lover of nature and wildlife gardening seemed
a natural connection to my writing, photography and painting. If you
build a wildlife friendly garden, they will find you.

My garden has been the subject matter for many photography posts, art and writing. There are several species of plants you need to have
in your garden and the fact that they are native will make your garden almost care-free.

Monarch on Maximillian Sunflower

You need to feed the adult birds, allow spaces for birds to
hunt for food without chemicals, raise their families and drink.
You need to feed the caterpillar young and have a place for the adults to feed on nectar, again no chemicals.

The first plant you need to have to help the monarch butterfly
population rebound is milkweed. There are all different species but try to stick with the native species.

Mexican Milkweed

Another plant that is available more than the native species is mexican  milkweed, also known as blood flower.  It’s a tall plant that can reseed and it feeds the young of the monarch.

Frostweed

For the adults, they love Frostweed and Zinnias. Both of these plants will attract them to your garden and you will not need to do much to keep these plants wild. Zinnias actually will grow well from seed and frostweed will reseed itself and feed many other species of nectar loving butterflies.

Zinnias and Sunflowers

Next post will be on Passionvine, what they attract and their ease to grow. Stay tuned. The next  post will be next week at this time.

Passionvine

Build it and they will come

For more photos of garden https://artbygordon.com/?page_id=475