All posts by artiststevel

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.


Birds-Seeking Peace and Purpose: A Creative overcomes Anxiety through 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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Up From the Canvas: Getting 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.


A Blast from the Past: First Published on 12/12/12: Sunflowers: Inspiration

Inspiration : Evening Sunflowers
Sunflowers on Fence
This is a large pastel inspired by the image of a single light illuminating an upstairs room at a nearby townhouse in Rowlett-actually the scene was pretty much unchanged only simplified.
I felt a feeling of haunting when I first saw it. I wanted the viewer to question the scene-who’s in the room?-there is a mystery about a window in the darkness. The sunflowers brings your attention in and lead your eye along the fence.
Sometimes images create themselves and all the artist does is capture what they see-parts of the scene are simplified or exaggerated for the effect and to control the eye of the viewer and how they perceive the scene.
What is obvious to the artist is not always what the viewer will see-they make their own impression from the image and hopefully a hint of what the artist inspiration remains in the final rendering.
Below is the second in the series, again a very large pastel. Each of these include plants that are my favorites in the garden, the sunflower and the passionvine-each are symbolic in their own right and although I don’t often paint flowers, the ones I choose tend to be significant to me-either I have them in my wildlife garden or they have a symbolic meaning to them.
The passionvine represents Christ, although there is nothing specifically religious about the bottom painting, I like the passionvine for its uniqueness and symbolism.
I still feel like both of these will probably be revamped as paintings. My initial image of the bottom pastel was originally darker and the passionvines stood out larger and more vibrant. I kind of got lost in the clouds, I will paint probably a smaller version of it with larger flowers, a less awkward smaller house and a late evening time frame.
The following images are more sunflower paintings that have been created since this initial group of paintings.

Blogger article on Sunflower Painting

Here are some photographs of the sunflowers, both in my garden and on the road.

Portraits: The Flyfisherman

The Flyline
Pensive II
Study 2

I strive to capture not the whole image of portraiture but instead a glimpse of a moment, the snapshot to a spectator

What interested me was the light, how the shadows are the most important aspect of the image. I like backlit photography, it gives the subject a feeling of mystery.

I try to edit as little as I can as to not alter the moment. This series of photography shows the intensity and joy of the fisherman, an enthusiast absorbed in his art form.

2018_a Very Productive Year

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Original photography by artbygordon and text by artbygordon-image from Lake Ray Hubbard

It’s been a productive year but it’s also been very stressful. Chasing after your passion can be very intimidating, it is not the norm and it doesn’t fit into the stereotypical life.

Many times you are out on the limb but actually you are doing what you always said you would: daring to embrace the extraordinary life. The freedoms I have experienced this year have allowed me to find great bits of nature all around the DFW area.

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Puddle outside in April: Original photography by Artbygordon

2018 I feel like I have truly found my niche. Nature has always been my inspiration but I am find more options for not only the light interaction but abstract patterns. April brought the rain and I was out finding images to capture.

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Original photograph from Parkhill Prairie in Blue Ridge by Artbygordon

I have truly become a solo hiker and have spent much time finding excuses to go back to the places where I used to run insurance appointments. It is a liberating feeling to be able to photograph and explore alone and having much time to reflect on what exactly a photo by Artbygordon looks like.

I am increasing my interest in finding light in the bleakest days. There is no time or place where the richness of light speaks to me than when it is unexpected.

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I finally made it to the Frank Buck Zoo. I’ve also had many trips to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Parkhill Prairie, Sulphur River and the Caddo Grasslands in northeast Texas.

Every place I visit I find new nature subjects and learn more about their habits. I watched cliff swallows dig for mud on the sulphur river and watched them build their nests while I searched for fossil Belemites.

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Sulphur River from the river bottoms, original photography by artbygordon

This whole year has been a learning and growing experience for me, staying up to date with video, graphics and even 3D imaging, I continue to grow my craft while exploring avenues in Photography.

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I Illustrated my first children’s book with R.L. Clayton. I have also worked with a local leader to get her marketing materials for her new church she is gathering: It has truly been a blessing as I continue to grow my small but loyal group of clients.

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Ennis Bluebonnet Festival original photography by artbygordon

I got back to the Bluebonnet trails in Ennis and the bluebonnets were quite amazing. It’s amazing how many people go down to see the spectacle, the hardest task was not to let the people steal the show. It was a wonderful afternoon.

April and May were busy as I continued to work freelance while traveling to places to gather photography. The brand is growing and I am developing the look and feel of the site.

The one thing that has never changed and will never change is my interest and passion for nature. It is my solace and keeps me grounded. I am planning on traveling much more in 2019.

Featured image


A Great new Direction for Artbygordon: Rebirthing a Brand

A group of paintings and how they came to be.

Sporting art: kayaking and water art

I am a kayaker and much of my study of water has come from my time kayaking. The experience of emerging in nature, the silence and calm of the water, the many moods of the sky and the beauty and depth of reflections in the surface of a still lake.

I will start adding a new post and new information about old and new paintings. I’ll include the medium, size of the painting, availability of prints and commission work.

As new posts are added, the homepage will reflect the new images and new or old reintroduced paintings. I am grouping paintings into subject matter which is sporting art, original oils of water, original pastels of water and artwork of the night sky, both of which are my specialties.

I will have added options for new paintings and services and new posts will introduce a new or updated service or group of paintings.

kayakers, an introduction to a new direction for Artbygordon.
aPaintings of kayakers

Iris: The First Highlight in the SPring Garden 2020

The Iris is one of the easiest plants, it grows, doesn’t necessarily flower, but when it does-it can be quite dramatic. It rises from the garden before all the other plants have even sprouted.

The purple flowers are from plants that have been sitting in an old pot forever-I’ve only seen them flower once in several years but this year-there are 9 separate flowers.

This will definitely be a series of paintings I am planning. I love the way the light catches the fragile blooms. It is light we seek in painting and photography and this flower delivers it so perfectly for the camera.

I also like the almost abstract parts of the flower, when like touches the pedals, it creates a whole new dimension to the image. Even the buds create their own interesting design almost like a pupae that turns into the butterfly.