Tag Archives: nature

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

 

Illustrations using Adobe Illustrator

 

Purple Passion vine illustration using Adobe Illustrator

I have been illustrating in Adobe Illustrator for many years and after a many parts and end equipment I thought it was time to expand my subject matter. How I actually started working in the high-tech industry doing technical drawings and the occasional illustration was by showing an image of a green tree frog to a potential employer. It was the first attempt at illustrating using a PC-the program was Arts and Letters Jurassic Arts and the tools were basic at best.

I have since worked in Micrografix Designer, Corel Draw even freehand and finally the standard adobe products-Illustrator and Photoshop. After writing about the life of a goldfish I decided to illustrate the image instead of using a photograph and what follows is how I approach illustrating in Illustrator.

My first and most basic process is just getting the shape and basic colors and tones down. This is the fastest part of the illustration. I will usually follow the lines of color and shadow and create layers of light that cover up layers of shadow.

Image 1-basic form

After I feel the overall form is correct I will layer the colors again almost like the rings of a tree-you overlap each color with the form that overlaps it. You will notice every change and try to process it as if there were multiple layers of shapes that make the final form. I try to use as little gradients as they can tend to be contrived-if I do use them they need to be very subtle.

The second figure shows a minimal change from the first. Basic overlaying of colors that allow the background to show through and adds depth to the illustration. Detail is not as important at this point as there will be overlying of details and softening of edges after this stage.

Image 2-overlays of colors-layering for effect

The third step is where all the details begin taking shape. Again hard edges are overlapped

with lighter softer edges. At this stage I need to realize the overall texture and the best

way to create a subtle dimensional feel to the image.

Image 3-overlaying two

By the third step the most intricate color and details become the major focus. I start cleaning up the basic shape and making sure all the proportions are right. The lines and detail is severe at this point because with the next step I will use the brush to merge the shapes to form a subtle more photographic image.

The final step is actually using brush strokes to overlap the hard edges of the previous step. Light and shadow overlay the original details and blocks of colors with varying degrees of opacity allows for more subtle effects.

Final step before creating background

After finalizing the details and colors of the fish I create a background. I don’t want much detail in the background so brush work and simple heavily feathered images create a backdrop that strives to not fight with the image of the goldfish.

Finished product using Adobe Illustrator

This was a previous post from blogger and I though with the new illustrations for R.L. Claytons’ first children’s book Penelope the Pooting Spider-I thought it was appropriate to share the article on techniques for illustrating with Adobe Illustrator.

We started with the cover and the interior was a watermarked version of the cover with characters highlighted on each page.

 

I added illustrated versions of the animals from illustrator but the cat and the field was created by hand with pastels and then photographed and adjusted for color and texture.

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.

 

The Watchman: Red Tailed Hawk

This image was inspired from the East Texas Roads, I was selling insurance. I got to enjoy a lot of mileage and gathered a lot of inspiration for paintings.

I finally got a chance to paint. It was a stormy afternoon as you can see from the remnants of a swollen stream in the distance.

I got more information and sketched more on a trip to Hagerman where there are always hawks patrolling each fence row. There are a  lot of red tailed hawks and I consider them the watchmen of the meadows and fields.

Oil on Canvas 2018 ArtbyGordon

Finishing Paintings: A New Series Finds Closure

This painting was inspired by a ride in East Texas. I liked the grouping
of the drakes and the females looking on. It was a quick snapshot that turned into a long process of capturing a cool autumn day.

Since I started the painting, there have been many starts and stops. I have also had several times studying mallards at a local park to get the personality and eyes right on the males.

I aim to capture that relationship between characters in nature. When I go and study the ducks, they always know I’m there, they just keep their comfortable distance.

I was also aiming for the dark colors of autumn but the warmth of light on the reeds and the shiny green heads of the males. This is the first in the series, tomorrow I will have another I just finished: A hawk from a fence near Hagerman Wildlife Refuge.

Drakes

Texas Gardening Part 3: The Spectacle of the Candlestick Plant: Senna ALata

Senna Alata: The candlestick plant has a strange and dramatic flower and is a host plant for several sulphur butterflies. You will need to give this plant some room because it grows out of its boundaries but the display is stunning. No questioning why they call it a candlestick plant as the blooms look like tall yellow candlesticks.

Another aspect of this plant is that it’s so easy to grow, very little watering and I’ve never fertilized any of my plants. After the  flowers are exhausted, the seeds are very abundant. You will see many seedlings the next season or two.

This is the visitor you can expect, the caterpillar of the cloudless sulphur. Every year I get a few of them and I’ve had this plant in my garden every year for probably the last ten years.

Another senna that looks much like the candlestick plant is the Popcorn Senna (Cassia didymobotrya). This plant also attracts the sulphur butterflies and looks like a paler version of the candlestick plant but it also smells like its name suggests.

Makes great photographs.

Candlestick plants love the heat and I don’t think I have ever watered them. In the evening they close up their large mimosa like leaves and the whole plant looks like its praying. I will always have them in my garden and am in the process of selling their seeds as well.

The whole reason I started wildlife gardening was to attract wildlife to my garden and being able to photograph the cloudless sulphurs, clouded sulfurs and several cabbage whites that come for the nasturtium, my work has been rewarded and I love to be able to photograph the plants and butterflies as well.

Nature photography of the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center birds of prey

Every visit to the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center in Lucas, Texas is  a chance to learn more about raptors and the Blackland Prairie. What always strikes me is the fact that young children already know about terms like diurnal and nocturnal and are interested in learning more about the birds.

It makes me hopeful for the future that the youth is already interested and engaged in wildlife preservation. Families walk the prairie with naturalists and are taught the significance of the Blackland Prairie and why it needs to be preserved.

You learn about each bird and their stories and you see how each has their own personality.  Today was a particularly beautiful sunny spring day and I can’t think of a better place to spend an afternoon.

If  you get a chance, you need to visit on the first Saturday of each month and if you can volunteer, I’m sure they could use an extra set of hands.

Unfortunately a common theme is human imprinting. People mean well but most don’t know how to take care of wildlife and usually the consequences are not good for the bird.

If you find an injured bird, leave it to the experts. If you are in doubt leave the bird where it is and allow nature to take care of itself. 









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.









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