Category Archives: exploring

Back to the Artists Studio

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Last night I finally started painting again. The excitement and inspiration spilled over into the next day. It is a liberating feeling after being stifled for so long and suddenly it all makes sense.

I think the only negative is that suddenly there are more ideas, images and concepts than I can get done in the time available. This is when my lists get overwhelming.

I first started on the third in a series of swallow paintings. The work is smaller than the two previous but more detailed, with a larger population of swallows than the previous paintings.

The name of the work is the celebration, it is a scene from a local bridge in Rowlett after the spring rain. I saw a swarm of swallows that surrounded the bridge and flew under and around the structure. There was a feeling of excitement; nature in celebration, the drought was finally over.

The second painting I work on was a brand new painting called calvary The last time I went to church, I had an amazing image of calvary surrounded by stained glass. This is going to be one of my most colorful paintings and it is a bit of a departure from previous works.

I’m very excited about finally getting back to work and I can’t wait to see the new views as they become real.

Rejuvenating a Garden: life lessons among the weeds

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So many things in gardening mimic life, it’s realizing them that offers us wisdom.

After ridiculous heat and a garden that got away from me, after all the beautiful blooms  I anticipated have failed, I forget why I started gardening in the first place.

 

In Texas heat and humidity you stand and look at a mess you started in the spring that is now out of your control and succumbing to summer heat. Welcome to one’s life, finding that joy is what this  post is all about. Here are my wisdoms from the weeds.

 

  1. Mulch often:Mulch is the gardens’ skin, it keeps moisture in and combats heat and weeds, it is armor for the growing garden.

We all need a thick skin, it will keep the bad out and keep the
good in, a parent needs to start mulching their children at a very
young age-a thick skin is important.

  1. Water when needed but not too often:You would think watering a garden is a no-brainer but the best way to kill a garden, especially in Texas thick clay soils is overwatering.

Don’t overwater your children or yourself for that matter, don’t
take yourself too seriously and don’t rush in to make sure your
kids have everything they need. A little bit of patience and
perseverance grows character and it’s a beautiful flower.

  1. There is more to a garden than just flowers: So many reasons to garden, don’t just aspire for one particular thing. Notice the wildlife, the interesting weeds, enjoy the fruits and vegetables and most of all, learn everything you can. This is kind of self explanatory for your life, learn, enjoy, explore, don’t just focus on one objective-be adventurous.
  1. Don’t use Chemicals: No, I’m not preaching, but you do kill much of what would actually help your garden and the garden can do a lot on its own if you don’t cripple it with chemicals. Ok, that sounded preachy.

This is twofold-don’t surround yourself with toxic people and
don’t try so hard to solve a problem you end up causing more
problems, think first, realize consequences before
you create more for yourself.

  1. Transplanting can often revive a dying plant: I have seen plants magically come back to life after simply being transplanted. Suddenly a dormant plant sends up new life and even flowers.

Transplant yourself, change is great for the soul. Often a change is
the best thing you can do to start living again, challenge yourself,
awaken your inner seed.

  1. Deadheading often brings about new growth and flowers: You rejuvenate a plant when you remove its spent blooms, it works to create flowers instead of reseeding.

Don’t hold on to old ways or  things, sometimes we need to throw
off our pasts, our old language and doubts before we can grow
again.

  1. The beauty of a garden happens over time: There is the initial bloom you buy from a store, the reason you were attracted in the first place to the specific plant. After the initial blooms fade there is so much more that happens, the roots go deeper, the flowers get more complex and it gets healthier and more vibrant with time.

    Be more interested in the long term than the transient. Don’t panic as things in your life change and be patient as you discover the big picture.

  1. Don’t chose the wrong plant: If you plant a cactus in a rainforest, the results are not going to be good. Can you do it? Yes, but it will take more time, more materials and more attention.

    Know who you are, be who you are. Don’t force yourself into someones’ perceived garden, realize how much more work and attention you will need for the same result.

  1. Have fun:If you look at the garden as a task, that is exactly what it will be. Have fun, enjoy yourself, get dirty and did I mention; Learn a lot.

    Sometimes we are so intense about living, about goals, about expectations we forget we are here to enjoy, to have fun. Today I dug in the garden and it felt amazing. Stop, and enjoy your life, winter will be here sooner than you think.

  1. Find old friends among the weeds: This is one of the primary reasons I started writing this post. While digging out the seeds and mulching the garden I found old friends. I rediscovered how much I enjoy digging in the soil. I stopped and enjoyed a moment gardening; it was like spring again.

I also found plants that had reseeded, last years flowers that reappeared, I love perennials. I would have never even realized them if I didn’t stop and dig in the soil and rejuvenate the garden. I remembered why I started gardening in the first place. Despite the heat, despite the sweat and toil and scars on barehands, I never use gloves.  I realize nature is the force that rejuvenates me and gardening makes me remember that.

So get out there, enjoy nature, start a garden or just stop and enjoy someone else’s, Learn, read, find out what you loved as a child and rejuvenate your own garden, the results will amaze you!

The Extraordinary Life

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What does the extraordinary life look like and how much does it cost? An easy question with too many answers and each answer is very subjective.

This is the beginning of a series on living larger and experiencing more. I plan on highlighting individuals that typify a lifestyle that defies convention. The first thing I need to do is define what that life looks like, for myself if no one else.

The first word that comes to mind, for me, is freedom. Again, what is freedom and how do we go about truly feeling its reward. I think it’s appropriate that I would start something like this on the eve of Independence Day.

I want the freedom of going places, of seeing new things and experiencing foods and cultures. I want to write, paint and photograph about the experiences and bring them to my readers with a personal perspective that they can relate to.

My first objective to this quest is seeking clarity and focus, to not only define it but to take steps that would make it possible. We are in a world that is loud, always something pressing, always useless distractions hiding our purpose.

I am in the process of learning from others who have embarked on the same journey. Experiences that others can share will allow many of the mistakes and pitfalls to possibly be avoided and it will give me the knowledge to take the next step.

Next, I believe discipline is necessary, which is strange coming from a creative mind but creativity without some sort of discipline or organization is madness. I plan on learning to be more organized, more deliberate and perhaps the creativity will follow.

I recently read 101 ways to monetize your blog and ways to increase income. I will create a long term list of goals much like a business plan.

So now you have the plan, now what? I think one of the first things is to remove the fear and doubt. Again, listening to others, learning more about the journey will instill the confidence to ignore the programmed expectations we are taught from birth. Stay tuned for the next post on Doubt!

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

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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 Sublime Magazine article on Artbygordon

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See full issue!

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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.

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Kayaking Lake Murray Oklahoma

Saturday evening was cold and windy, after a two hour drive up highway thirty five we get to a spot    near Tucker Tower to put the kayaks in and the wind is ridiculous. It took much of our will to get the kayaks down and get the water shoes and actually commit to going in, especially since we only had two hours or so to be on the water before sunset but we decided to go ahead with it. My first problem, getting hung up on a stump while the wind pushed me the opposite direction-very awkward I must admit-an awkwardness I haven’t felt for a while after getting more used to fishing ad kayaking. In the beginning it was a very awkward process-I’ve lost a rod or two and even snapped a rod in the first try at it but I’ve gotten more comfortable over the last few months and every time it seems to be more enjoyable and I get more accustomed to the process.

It was a rough week, too many stressful things happening in the news-we all know what happened just Friday and here I am in the middle of a lake trying to relax and get past it. There is something about sitting in the middle of a beautiful lake just as the sun is going down. Lake Murray is particularly beautiful, I have vacationed there for years but had never been able to boat across it and it was an amazing experience. The water is emerald green and you can see ten feet to the bottom, it is surrounded by trees and huge limestone cliffs. There are loons, bald eagles and great blue herons that are regular visitors and on Sunday afternoon I even saw a kingfisher fly by. Suddenly everything that stresses you out just melts away and all that seems to exist is water, lots of water and the sound of the wind-which after we had gotten in for an hour or so, calmed down to a soft breeze. I heard an owl on the edge of a grove of cedar trees and it’s one of those amazing sounds that is both soothing and haunting.

I studied the water between cast in lures and made mental notes for future painting. Tucker Tower loomed above us shining a light across the water as the clouds covered and darkened the sky. We stayed in the water into the evening, the sky reflected in the water and the moon was a ghost behind the clouds. I have many sketches in my mind of several scenes-I will definitely have future paintings of the trip very soon. I realized as the sun went into its final position beneath the horizon, I was relaxed and peaceful- a feeling I have aspire to for the last few years and have known it only as an illusive state that I barely remember. It’s hard to stop and watch the sunset but on a kayak, you have no where to go, no one is pushing and prodding you. Time seems to slow down and you are suspended out in the middle of an amazing lake with nothing to do but relax.

We didn’t catch anything-maybe a cold but still-no fish-I’ve heard it’s harder when it gets colder to find the schools but the areas that we fished seemed prime for  smallmouth bass and nothing. I still enjoyed every moment of it and my son and nephew both agreed as well that it was one of the best times and the most beautiful lakes we have been on. Catching fish is a fun and wonderful addition to a trip but just being out there away for a short amount of time replaces something that time and age seems to take from us, some intangible calm we can’t find anywhere else but the outdoors. We had the lake to ourselves all evening and even the next day after sleeping over, I came home rejuvenated, I can’t wait to visit ten lakes in the coming spring break-we will go to ten lakes in eight or nine days.

You can’t control what is happening in the world, you can’t change the bad things that happen in society but you can get away from it for a while, you can get a different perspective even if it is just for a weekend or even just an evening. We need to stop, enjoy the beauty around us and hopefully we’ll find the peace we tend to overlook-  until next time get out and explore-it’s what freedom is all about.

My First Blog and Marketing Artwork-So Many Things to Learn

How do you start blogging about art? How do you explain a process that you have been so involved with for so many years it feels like second nature. I would venture to guess that you would blog about the change from conventional art, painting and pastels to the
Creation of art through the computer and the marketing of art through the internet.  I recently launched my website, www.artbygordon.com,  something I had been talking about for many years and I was so happy to finally complete a task-I tend to procrastinate and I have so many different ideas for writing, poetry, art and photography, half the time I write them down and they never get completed. Starting to blog was something that has been on my list for a long time as well.
So the process starts with a website that is by all counts awkard-inconsistencies in fonts,
Lack of search engine keywords which is just as well for now as I  am trying to clean up the site and perfect the appearance before I start spreading the word. I have learned more in the last few days of working with the HTML code and editing the Meta tags and it seems every time I think I get the idea I learn something else. I don’t believe you spread the  word or market artwork by just spreading it to friends, I believe it’s a start as word of mouth is important but how do you spread the site to people that want to buy art or even learn more about you as an artist. I have learned that launching the site is such a small step in marketing and the information I am picking up will be instrumental in how I market and show my artwork. Some ideas on the horizon are an interactive gallery, a poetry blog and a photography page and I know that when doing all of these processes I will learn more from the process itself.
I have been on a bit of a break from painting which I think makes it a good time to market what I have already created but more than selling art and marketing the art is learning about the process of marketing. I will venture more into the social media aspect and actually learn more about the people that would want to buy art. I will, in the near
Future, have an art show whether it be online or at a festival and I will blog and tweet and post with the idea of seeing where I get the most interest. I tought myself to paint and believe that is how I learn the best. Doing web marketing is just another growth process
And over the next few months I will describe the options I’ve learned about social media,
Google tools and the process of what I hope will eventually be effective self marketing of my painting, photography and writing. I am excited about the prospect and hope to gain followers with interest. I guess we’ll just have to see.