Monday, April 22, 2013

I have sketched this image out so many times and have added and subtracted from the original idea. My main focus for this image is the depth, the road takes you back into the sunrise. Its a scene I see all the time as I drive around the country in north Texas.

It was a hard transition from New Jersey to Texas, the landscape is totally different, I have had to find beauty in things that are different from where I grew up. As you can see no water and no night sky which have both become my specialties over the years. I wanted to concentrate on the details in the foreground and let the viewer be able to get lost in the sky and the field in the background.

Even the colors are a bit of a departure from my standard work, this series is kind of a jumping off point as I am trying to enlarge the scope of what I paint and not be bogged down by not being as familiar with the image or techniques but the payoff has been a fresh spontaneous approach to my painting, the closest I have ever painted to en plein air. I have really enjoyed this new series and feel like it is a stepping stone to what I am really interested in painting and perfecting. Stay tuned, many new and different images are already finished and about to be revealed. Thanks for reading.

Detail of Sunflowers

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Turner Falls, Oklahoma,

This is the beginning of the new series, it was started immediately after the first waterfall from the previous series, or really at the same time. It has taken several changes of form, I really wanted it to be more clear water but it turned more into reflections and darker areas of water. I tried to allow the viewer the feeling of the different colors and textures of the water finally ending in the waterfall in the distance.

I think this was a bit more impressionistic than some of the previous waterfalls and unfortunately the image and viewing of the original was a bit more distant than the previous moon scene which was painted immediately after seeing the scene. This is the second in the new series of paintings-there are actually about twenty new images on their way to being published. 

This scene was envisioned while fishing for trout with my son at Turner Falls Oklahoma, it was originally sketched and sat in the studio unfinished for quite a while. It was finished at the same time or a little after the image of Petit Jean in Arkansas.

I am in the process of creating an interactive gallery-I will send out invitations to followers and friends with images of the paintings  and  an invitation to check out the gallery. The gallery will start out with previous paintings that will be available on the website-you will walk along a gallery of paintings and be able to move along the gallery and if you want to see more detail of any of the paintings you will be able to click on the image to get to a closer view. This gallery will eventually turn into a gallery where I can get photographs of sculptures from other artists and paintings from other artists and the gallery will have all kinds of techniques and information on the artist and the work-the only thing that will be missing is having a person coming by and telling you not to touch the paintings. It's a multi-purpose idea-other artists can gather to check out each others framed paintings, there will be input available for change of scenery or style of gallery-just a fun interactive artist project-we'll see how many people will get involved.
Previous Painting of Petit Jean artbygordon,com 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

This is from my recent trip to Lake Murray Oklahoma. Late in the evening my son and I watched the stars looking for shooting stars. What amazed me the most is the silence that was so distinct that evening as if the earth had taken a deep breath. You have not other option but to be amazed at how small and insignificant you really are in the universe. The experience made me want to learn about all the stars so just as I did with botany I could not only see stars but really observe them because with knowledge forms interest and with even a limited interest of a subject we look deeper and notice more than the casual observer.

The main idea of this painting for me was to keep it quite simple. If you look at the stars there are several different layers of stars from the tiniest hints of blue and greenish stars to the larger stars that blink in and out of the image. I slowly worked up the glow of each set of stars, some I would blend back into the sky and others I would define-the final result was the fact that the stars twinkle in the viewers eye as some stars appear and the focus goes to other stars, I think it is the first time I intentionally did each star and attempted to create depth in the blackness-the thing about the scene that struck me was the immenseness of space and how the stars had so much space around so I started with them as a focus for the image. The water was left simple although there is more detail than can show on the image I included, I'm still working on perfecting shooting such a dark image.

I want the viewer to feel the silence I felt and the mysterious quiet that was overwhelming to me that evening. I hope this might inspire others to learn about the stars, go camping with your kids or simply look up at the sky at night for just a moment and be still.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Draw what you see, not what you think you see

I was talking to another artist today and we talked about illustration and drawing. We talked about how to draw or illustrate well and I tried to put the process to the simplest form. I remember when I was in drawing class they would have us either draw blind contours or draw the image upside down to fool the brain into drawing what it sees and not try conscious or subconscious to fill in the gaps with logic.

The conscious deciphers the images it sees. It will fill in much of the blanks and make assumptions of temperature, texture and distance, a conscious image of what it sees with cues of what it remembers. The problem with drawing an image is that most of the time the conscious naturally takes over the process and draws what it thinks or assumes it sees and not what it actually there. Some aspects of depth and texture might need to be exaggerated by the artist to convey the distance or texture since we transfer a three dimensional image that is real to a flat image that is obvious to the brain that it has no depth and no actual temperature. These visual cues are how the artist or the photographer captures the illusion of the image and explain to the viewer what they should expect of the image, these cues will hopefully be subtle but that is up to the artists style and intention.

An aspect of photography is directly related to this process of explaining to the viewer what they should feel or see when they see a flat image. On one of our trips I explained to my son that the reason his photograph seems flat and bland compared to what he saw is the fact that he left out the visual cue that would explain what he saw. The camera automatically is trying to create an even grey value of the image, mix this with the fact that there are no cues to explain distance and most point and shoot cameras shoot with a wide vantage point-the image is destined to be flat and bland unless the photographer adjusts and creates the cues needed to convey the space-the palette of the artist is not much different than the artists'; proportion, value and change in texture all explain to the viewer what they are seeing ad how it should be interpreted by the eye and the brain-the illusion of a sweeping canyon or the endless ocean scenery, even though the image is a flat, non-dimensional image. Once he used images for proportion and adjusted how the camera saw the value of gray-suddenly he had a photograph he was proud of.

Beside the basic loss  of depth and dimension the artist has to work with, the fact that the conscious is trying to fill in what it thinks it sees which means the actual image is not capture correctly but is almost like the very abridged version of  a novel where all the main ideas are left out. My best example of this is the rendering of droplets of water-on first notice you would over complicate the process and yet the image is very simple- a block of dark color that the droplet is on and a transparent area that is lighter than the object, add a highlight of light and the droplet is complete. As artists we must capture what we actually see instead of allowing our brains to ignore the actual the eye sees and fill in the blanks with a conscious attempt at seeing.

A challenge- go and look at a field that is on a hill and try to explain why the hill looks like it descends-how would you capture the image and explain that the field dips down when all you have is a square flat image to work with. Another great example would be to look at a road and capture it in a view finder-realize that  miles are capture within a square that is very small-what makes the road appear to be long and expanse when it fits within a small area when view through a viewfinder. Looking at a landscape this way will help in drawing and photography. I hope this was helpful.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Prophetic Dream

The last post about dreams really resonated with people and this is in response to one of the comments I received. The idea of dreams being prophetic is something we can all debate. The feeling after the dream and the feeling you have when the dream memory is processed is what I focus on. If you describe the feeling of a ghostly presence anyone can explain the coincidence about the feeling but it's the feeling we get in our gut, the chill you get is what separates just coincidence from feeling. It is hard to explain to someone unless they experienced it.

I had a dream that was very dramatic at the time but didn't effect me with a strong feeling until years afterwards. I had a dream I was in a hotel with my spouse, the rooms were all white and the hallways were long and polished. I went outside by myself for an unknown reason but when I walked outside a great wave came and consumed me, I woke as the water dragged me out of the entrance of the hotel.

Again- nothing dramatic although it did have a feeling as that we feel when you fall in a dream. Many years later, my son was in the hospital and my spouse and I were in the white room and the long polished hallway was outside-the memory of the dream did not clarify itself until I walked outside, beneath a drainage area there was a torrent of water- a rushing sound of water and a flood plain that had been inundated with the recent rain. This is when the memory was accessed and the insignificant dream made itself known-the hospital was the hotel with the white rooms and the polished hallways. The rushing water was the waves that took me and the being lost and consumed by the wave was the feeling of having a son in the hospital very sick.

So here is todays' challenge- Have you ever experienced a prophetic dream? Did the dream come true and how was the feeling of the prophecy? We should all have fun with this one. Thanks again for reading. Again feel free to follow the blog and post pix and words on my facebook page-

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Next Best Thing to En Plein Air

En plein air (French pronunciation: ​[ɑ̃ plɛn‿ɛʁ]) is a French expression which means "in the open air," and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, which is also called peinture sur le motif("painting on the ground") in French.

I have recently started painting soon after initial inspirations, the spontaneousness of my work is actually almost like painting from life. Today I saw a tree in a field that was surrounded by puddles reflecting the rain, I started a painting this evening and the movement of the paint and the clear intention was as if I was painting from a photograph or on site.

I realize that I have gotten into a habit of sketching out an image and than putting it aside for what turns into years. The images from the previous series have a soft edge to them and a lack of details where the series I am working on now is more detailed and the idea is more on point. In this particular process I have been able to start a painting and finish it within a short matter of weeks instead of years as the ideas are so close to me that the painting pretty much paints itself.

I have felt a great immediacy of the image, it literally barely waits for the underpainting- and I am less likely to stall lost in details. I am more in control of the places I need detail and more methodical in the place that need less detail-creating work so quickly after the inspiration is something that is leaning me toward actually trying En Plein Air-something I have only done a few times-one time on the Appalachian trail, I painted the view of the Delaware River, I definitely intend on doing more on site painting but for now-the immediacy of painting from recent memory is the next best thing to En Plein Air.

More info on En Plein Air painting.

Artist Known for their Plein Air painting:

John Constable,
Gustave Courbet,
Edouard Manet,
Claude Monet,
Edouard Degas,
Auguste Renoir,