All posts by artiststevel

Milkweed, Chess, Social Media – LIfe Lessons

Milkweed, Chess, Social Media – Life Lessons
Milkweed-Chess-Social Media: A pastel from the Desert

Milkweed-Chess-Social Media:

The pastel is a new pastel but the original inspiration was from a cross-country trip to California in 1989. I have two previous pastels of the same area and still have not captured the image I remember.

Often a picture takes a while to form, much like learning certain processes. I am self-taught in most of my creative endeavors and it has taken many years to perfect my vision, technique and the ability to capture perspective.

I have not been painting lately, in fact today I tried painting a cardinal Christmas ornament and it was a futile attempt. I believe the in-between time of mental block or lack of creativity is when we are in the valley of the learning process.

First we receive the information, next we digest it, when using the newly found logic, it is awkward and what is usually second nature becomes difficult because of the learning process.

Only after the knowledge and technique becomes second-nature does it turn into instinct instead of learning, this is when we have accomplished understanding.

Playing Chess: Learning Curves:

I have been playing chess and have been losing terribly to even players with smaller ratings and yet I lose miserably. I believe it is because the knowledge of new moves and understanding has to be perfected in the mind before it becomes second nature.

FIrst you question, then you experiment with what you think is the answer and only after the answer is engrained in your instinct is it actually a learned process.

Some of the best lessons are learned from failing, trying again, failing again and only then realizing the process. I have been growing Milkweed from seed, first I failed with the seedlings until I learned what was killing them, than I failed the secondary plants that grew from the seedlings-I am just now realizing the process and understanding the why’s and how’s of gardening from seed, milkweed can be quite finicky.

Learning is a process, it can’t be rushed, it must be met with patience and a desire for the final outcome. Once we understand our failure, only then can we find the greatest success.

Creativity Craves Discipline

Creativity / Discipline – both have a symbiotic relationship – I’ve never been skilled at  paint by numbers nor coloring books. Staying in the lines was always so limiting, I was creative.

In elementary school, teachers allowed me the privilege to have lousy handwriting, afraid of stifling my creativity. This freedom has proved to be counterproductive.

When I started my career, I had to create lines, lots of lines that overlaid perfectly to separate images in yearbooks. I was forced to conform to the discipline of rules and that was a good thing.

Creativity needs discipline to keep tasks on track, to keep the vision from losing direction and to maintain the artists’ attention.

There are three stages of creativity from my experience:

  1. The initial Inspiration: I see it, I want to say something about it, this can be in reality, dreams or just completely from imagination. What follows is often varying degrees of time where the image develops.
    In my writing, it’s even worse-the story often becomes over a great amount of time and the story tends to explain itself. I am usually only given clues to what may happen.
  2. First Sketch / Underpainting: I create the underpainting or often a sketch in a notebook. This stage can literally last for years if nothing else shows itself clearly. I have so many notebooks filled and underpaintings hanging  on the wall.
  3. The Final: A shift occurs, suddenly all the images that were not clear find clarity. I believe that with discipline this process can be shorted as attention needs to be focused but this is just a theory.

There is a magical  state that occurs in the center of creating  and that is when I know where every dab of color is supposed to go, it’s like paint by numbers without the lines. When observing a painting afterwards, there are often lines and highlights that are completely intangible to the artist but that is the magic of completely disappearing into a work.

 

Connection is Not Simply Seeking Attention it Should Seek Mutual Success

Why join a group? The Perks of a Collective

– Be a part of a artist or writers guild? There are good reasons we seek to be connected and it’s not always self-serving.

We Have the Answers – Sometimes We Just Need to Collect Them

Every business avenue or decision we make has had someone seeking the same answers. We all fail, fall down and get up with more wisdoms to carry along our journey.

Instead of learning from our mistakes, with all the information that is out there, we can learn instead from others mistakes and maybe save time and money in the process.

https://ntbca.org/   A Non-Profit who works with Dallas Businesses and Local Artists.

Artist Round In Rockwall

We Have Less Credibility If We Go Alone

The news travels pretty quick these days as does information. You tell two friends and they tell theirs, suddenly you have influence, people believe you have something worth saying.

Get a group to buy in on the same ideas and values and you have a union that is mutually beneficial for all.

A great place to connect with for art promotion

Artpromotivate.com

Share Good Content, Get Good Content

I believe if you share good content and help others with their problems, they are more likely to be available to help you with yours.

We are so much more of a collective of individuals, each bringing our own ideas from unique experiences, a team can not only do more than an individual can, they can share from experiences and perspectives you may not even have thought of.

My Experience with SEO, Social, Etc.

There is a time to seek professionals and pay them what they’re worth. Unfortunately, often capital can be a deciding factor but we as creatives should be doing our creative work, not marketing-each is a full time job.

Learn from Masters, Surround Yourself with People Who Know Things.

You can learn much if you surround yourself with people who are smarter than yourself. Give them tasks, make sure they are as invested as you are and you have a business that will grow and benefit all involved.

Bad Timing can turn out to be just what you needed.

Bad Timing – Would you buy a new car and go on a trip if you knew you were about to lose your job? Probably not the best financial decision but a timely decision in retrospect.

The truth: there is never a good time to make a change as much as there is never true security in working for anyone. There will never be a good time to go off the grid, to experience life, to take chances.

My situation was a total ignorance of my tenuous position but it allowed me to go out and take a wonderful trip that made me realize exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: travel.

I have always travelled with my son or with family. As my son was growing up and finding his own path, I had a sneak preview of mine. Traveling alone is quite liberating and a metaphor for making your own decisions, choosing your own path and breaking out of the norm.

I went to visit a friend in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I learned about carry-on luggage and what they don’t tell you about buying a cheaper flight and found myself in God’s country.

To be out there, with only time, your own thoughts and decisions, it is a recipe for truly finding your peace and joy and the scenery was pretty spectacular as a stellar bonus.

Since than, I’ve lost my job, got an insurance license, sold insurance for ten months, quit my job with nothing but my own skills and a will to succeed to define the future.

2 Years now and I’m still here, starting an already growing business and finding my path in this life….sometimes the universe, God for me, shakes you from your safe state and gives just a glimpse of the future.

You can choose to ignore your passion or allow the future to clumsily break through the barriers of your own safety. Make decisions, choose your own path and faithfully let the future become where your purpose truly lies.

 

Original Pastels on Paper in the works

Original pastel on paper – I’ve been doing a lot of pastels on black strathmore, but there is something missing, the darkness makes the colors pop but the light from pastel on white creates a light that shows through. Each process has it’s own plus and minus.

The wren on a rain barrel is a painting from an idea that has been waiting for more then thirty years to be finished. The original was on a large dark underpainting that turned into an autumn scene.

Dark purple background where leaves were supposed to be falling on water instead became the backdrop for a forest and then a log in a small stream. The idea went into the redevelopment stage and  has been silent for many years.

Wren on rainbarrel -  Original pastel on paper
Wren on rainbarrel – Original pastel on paper

The reason for the original idea, which didn’t include the wren, was how the ghosts of past autumns rise and fall beneath the surface of the water. It is probably the reason I started painting water in the first place, like the night sky there is something mysterious about the two different planes that react-the surface, the darkness beneath and the light above.

The next pastel is still a work in progress-it is capturing light on the water and how the sun appears bluish beneath the white but there is no ability to look directly at it, I wanted the viewer to feel the feeling of squinting the eyes to look at the scene.

I want the light to be tangible and almost adds another dimension of temperature to a flat plane. I am still in the process of working the darks against the lights.

Original Pastel of sun on water
Original Pastel of sun on water

The last pastel is something I want to do more of. I liked the dark brown beneath and how the two figures jump out of the background. I love the way portraits force perfection, there is no good enough, it either resembles what you are seeing or it doesn’t.

My ability to see detail has improved and portraits are much faster than they have ever been with no initial sketching preceding the final image. Without the initial sketching for placement, it makes for a cleaner less overworked image.

A poem on the subject 

A Lesson In Art and Perspective

A Lesson in Art: Distance and Perspective: There’s a cavern in California called the Moaning Caverns. My son and I explored it on a trip to California,  when him and I were much younger. So what does the cavern have to do with a lesson in art and Perspective?

You can fit the Statue of Liberty-minus the pedestal- in the first and largest single cavern space in California but looking up you would never have imagined the space to be so large.

Lake Texoma: Distance and perspective
Lake Texoma: Distance and perspective

What is missing is perspective, large to small rocks, colors, etc-you know the distance is there but there are no cues to prove it to your eye. In creating art with depth, you also have no cues to explain  distance and allow the viewer to truly experience the space you’ve created because it is on a flat dimension.

Have you ever photographed a great expanse of a landscape and you couldn’t understand why the results were less than spectacular compared to how it  looked? It all has to do with cues that explain distance and perspective.

Pastel on Paper: Rowlett Texas
Pastel on Paper: Rowlett Texas

Art Lesson: Visual Cues act as Tools

In art you have several tools to explain to the viewer what you are trying to describe:

Color: The change in color denotes distance.

Value: The shades of color, intensity, etc. all show the viewer there is distance and gives the image its perspective.

Perspective: The eye sees images that get smaller as they sit further back into the distance, giving these cues give the viewer the dimension that is really just an illusion on a flat canvas.

Converging elements: To further support perspective-a line that moves through your image allows the viewers’ eye to go where you intend them to go and experience the image and the artists’ intention of space.

A work of art is much like an illusion a magician creates, the control and the process in which the Artist leads the viewer through the flat image will allow the viewer to experience a painting as it was intended.

HOMEWORK: Photograph an expansive landscape with no thought of perspective or color, etc. Next photograph the same landscape only instead choose  a dominant image to showcase and allow that image to lead the viewers eye into the photo-make a note of the difference in the final product and share your experience.

A day at Discovery Gardens Dallas: Pollinator Sale

Every year in the spring and autumn, I go to the Discovery Gardens in Dallas to buy my fair share of plants. This year, I bought mostly milkweed as I am starting a garden next year with milkweed and passionvines.

I enjoy wildlife gardening and much of what my art derives from nature and enjoying plants. I have always loved science and planting for wildlife while photographing and writing about them allows my art and science to merge.

Other photography by Artbygordon

Birds-Finding peace in nature.

Birds-Seeking Peace and Purpose: Finding peace in nature.
Cat and Bird

Birds-Finding peace in nature

Out of the cold, the remnants of melting snow,
The crackling of ice on pavement
a familiar sound of birds…

I was seeking peace,
doves above me, rise and fall
the sound of morning
and all I needed was peace

A Snowy Day with the Birds

I have been isolated for the last four days. I feel like my whole life is a reboot with snow and ice as the catalyst.

It’s embarrassing, a comparison of New York in the snow versus Texas, but this isolation is everything I needed to recreate myself or maybe, more like get back to the person lost in the turmoil of daily life.

Birds-Finding peace in nature
Birds-Finding peace in nature – Bluejay

The sound of toil on a telephone pole
the incessant builder,
digging a hole.

I was seeking purpose
nothing stops in nature, every Machine
says its so, I was desperate for purpose
with no specific place to go

How often do you listen to the sound of nature, the cracking of snow, the sound of birds, it is a simple, easy and yet so difficult for most of us. Our lives are filled with things that need to be done. 

Sometimes the greatest accomplishment is simply stopping long enough to listen, to hear our inner child. This is something I’ve been struggling with for many months.

Birds-Seeking Peace & Purpose: Finding peace in nature.

Birds-Finding peace in nature
Birds-Finding peace in nature

Birds-Finding peace in nature: Poetry

The richness of red in a winter landscape
remembered as a child, they call them a soul
seeking attention,

a high pitched chip as I walk home
the realization of joy, is knowing
we’re never alone
so why do we feel so, alone

I’ve been fighting depression for all my life, in the last few months, it’s been a constant. Even while I was doing what I love, going places and exploring the road, depression kept a hold on me.

This morning, the chore of walking the dog introduced me to my young self, a need I might have overlooked, the simple act of listening to the birds finds peace. The next obstacle or summit is probably joy-that has more to do with God than nature.

I was seeking silence,
I was wanting joy, a familiar soul
in the sounds of birds among the trees
a small child I used to know

Birds-Finding peace in nature
Birds-Finding peace in nature

Back to the Canvas

Back to the Canvas

Today I remember why it’s difficult to pick up painting. Many of the images I’m working on  are from a while ago, they’ve been slowly forming and the original inspiration is a bit foreign at the moment. Today I got back to the canvas.

I tend to start painting by pushing paint instead of painting from inspiration, it is obvious to my subconscious when I am not painting from the right place.

An image becomes clearer when my strokes become autonomous, I don’t have to think about what goes where. Compositions tend to create themselves.

Today, was hit or miss for a while and I fell in and out of the zone. I worked on several paintings and finally got my stride but I realize I have to have my space in order before I start, getting into that subconscious state is interrupted by chaos and disorder, something my writing often benefits from.

I am continually exploring and learning about the creative experience and how the brain processes. As long as I’ve been doing this, it always intrigues me with periods of block and then intense inspiration.

From a Canvas: Getting Back to Painting

From a Canvas: Back to Painting – I wouldn’t trade being creative for anything but there are parts that can be a curse if you approach them with the wrong attitude. I am writing a book about the process of finding happiness and contentment when brain chemistry has a mind of its own.

My biggest obstacle is knowing where to start.  Do you write poetry, prose, paint something or go disappear and photograph for a while-the problem is the desire to do so doesn’t always align with inspiration.

Lake at night

Creating without inspiration is like painting a wall, push the paint back and forth, end up with a solid color with no intricate shadows and detail-not exactly creative.

When the inspiration meets the desire, suddenly the paint does its own thing, you can be in another room if it weren’t for the hand being your vehicle for painting. The photograph finds its own light and models itself a composition that was already in place before you found it.

Even more interesting is how words create their own, without thinking of the right word or seeking a rhyme-it just writes itself. The feeling is euphoric and being unable to get into that feeling is where depression, mental block and so much frustration begins.

The way I handle this process is to realize you are exactly where you need to be at any given time, what needs to be written, painted, etc. has not formed yet. The panic you feel is you’ll never have that amazing feeling again and a hopelessness grows.

Realize depression, anxiety and frustration are all part of the process of discovering the next work and it will be already developed because through all the empty moments, it was slowly developing itself.

If you consider yourself just a lightning rod to the inspiration and a humble steward to explain that which might be as simple as a flower or something that could potentially change the world or at least the world of an audience that receives it, you may find hope in the darkness.

Tan Dog

I believe creativity is a great burden that we are given to explain things in a different way-there goes my humility, but I do feel we have a responsibility to be true to the vision, honest with its execution and without preconceive intention.

That which we create is no longer ours, it is the property of the viewer. The audience, will discover it and make it their own from their own experiences, I don’t believe the creative needs to explain their intention unless the viewer wants more background, art is in the viewers eyes.

City lights

It’s been a long time, I feel like I’ve been knocked down, floundering on a canvas, this is my moment of getting back, picking up my tools and describing what has been developing for far too long.