I have counted 65 bird species in my backyard, many of them just visitors, I am in the process of collecting photographs of each species. If you build it they will come.
People would say my very small yard is a bit of a jungle, especially my son, but it’s the reason so many birds have found food, shelter and even nesting space in and around my yard.
I have families of wrens, chickadees, cardinals, a pair of downy woodpeckers, a whole large family of very large bluejays that put up with my presence and a family of squirrels.
Besides the birds, there are also more than 35 species of butterflies. I am in a very small way creating an oasis for wildlife which I photograph, paint and write about-it’s kind of a symbiotic relationship.
My goal now is to photograph each species of birds, butterflies and in the near future the plants I grow to attract them. I do not use any pesticide, herbicides or any other sides to keep them safe and allow a safe haven for a small piece of wildlife to thrive….and they are thriving.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Subtle for a moment and just as quickly gone
the true colors of leaves
and we see the extraordinary in the mundane
beauty in the ordinary.
Rich autumn colors come inside
bringing warmth to a silver
I cling to color
as the landscape turns gold
last remnant of flame
It’s sad to see its wings
how many miles
last winter it hung
others of its kind
and it belonged
waiting to make the trip
only to lay on the concrete
spent The final shaft of light
the final stained glass
a remnant of spring
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Artbygordon: Original oils on canvas, Original pastels on paper celebrating the beauty and mystery of nature. Water and night skies are my specialties.