Friday, September 21, 2018

Parkhill Prairie in Late Summer: Craving Peace and Silence


The golden grasses of the prairie are gone replaced by rich greens and yellows. Stands of milkweed and several species of sunflower have given up their seeds. It's quiet, the dickcissels have left their nesting sites and even the hawks aren't soaring quite as much as they did just a few months ago.

The late summer pause, you can hear the prairie humming with heat, taking a deep breath beneath a pale August sky. A breeze blows a stem of a sunflower with a hint of September approaching but the heat still overpowers.

I couldn't sit for fear of chiggers among fresh cut grass so I walked silent, desperate to be present. You can go to the most quiet place and still feel overwhelmed by thoughts and worries. Today I struggled to listen to that inner voice and it was a challenge.


Nature has always been my connection to God but these days I feel like I'm sitting in a quiet room throwing my thoughts and fears into an empty sky. It's not by any means his fault or absence-I know it's all mine. I'm trying to stay present and take stock in all the ways God has and continues to bless my family and me but sometimes the absence of feeling is  hard to get beyond.

The silence in this prairie should find me awake and alive but my inner child sleeps and I can't reach him. I know this will pass, I know depression is a cyclical thing that comes and goes, comes and goes again but the older I get, sometimes it's hard to realize the truth I already have realized for so many years.

God is my constant and I know he has a plan-foolish are we, children of God who seek to flip the pages, to control the story of our lives. Anxiety is that feeling of a lack of true faith and a need to get a glimpse of the ending, God has his plan and I must wait patiently for the time and the purpose.




Monday, September 10, 2018

A Dark Blue Field


A sad blue landscape, how can you leave me here in autumn rain
alone again...
you realize my dilemma
I made my bed and I lie in it
room in disarray, mind and thoughts decay
sunflowers on worn stems
staring at the ground
the clouds are surrounding my head
I'm drowning but no one can see
staring out of a glass contained,
it's me
I feel no colors, I know no warmth,
even the act of creation seems pointless
this will end, I know it will end
the depressive dares to question
when...

Intricate stems disconnected, yellow flowers and rich royal blue
shadows of green beneath the gray
I have felt the warmth of sun
but I can't feel the rain
even the sound escapes me
nothing soothing to this state
driving through the broken landscape
they dissected all of our childhood scenes
even the gaurdian is threatened
their grubby steel machines
devouring everything
and I drive alone
no turtles to save on the old dirt road
no interest
all the same
black tart streets with pointless names
its progress they say
but all the landscape is shrunken and gray
I want to be whole again
to feel joy again
the depressive voice dares to question
when

I know the pointless hours
I know the empty field
and the blackbirds in swarms
like scraps of black paper across a field
I know the dark landscape
the burned soil
it climbs into my eyes
and makes everything dark
I've driven against the wind
out in a field
seeking silence and peace
wondering, praying
when will this darkness
the depression
cease...

Remnants of Nature: Lessons in a Forest



Remnants of Spring

I've been here before, the remnants of spring cling to weathered stems. Nature teaches us lessons and everything we need to know is in the garden and is explained with the season, we just need to open our eyes.

After the joy and beauty of color fades, there is a grayness, a serious tone as purpose supersedes beauty. Wisdom is the seeds that perfect ways to travel from the stem with definite intentions for next spring. Wind works with rain and the cycle is complete, some even work with the winter frost: we could learn much from such observations both about our own vanity as well as fortitude and purpose.

There is a natural beauty in age and decay. Humanity creates the unnatural fear and morbidity of death, in nature, it is all for a purpose. The seeds wait for the warmth of spring that will rise from the garden next season with the same spectacle and an innate hope.




Purple: Faith is a Flower in My Garden

Purple is a supernatural color. It should be the color of the sash of a royal bumble bee, as it flies magically against the laws of science and nature. That's the beauty of nature, it doesn't conform to our expectations and yet it aligns with the basics of logic and reason in its own right.

There are more secrets in nature than answers-man's greatest flaw is the pride in his certainty of what he thinks he knows. Nature constantly breaks borders, pushes past weed barriers and outlives the pesticides and when man perfects his war on nature-nature is patient and changes to meet the challenge.

One job of the creative is to learn the language of nature and describe it. We have the wonderful challenge of seeing beyond our own eyes and thinking past our limitations of thought and reason.



An Oakland State

This morning I walked the streets and remembered Oakland. The light drizzle of rain was cool and it felt like pins and needles on my skin. I could smell remnants of crepe myrtle and magnolia, I noticed all the overgrown lots and flowers of bindweed clmbing the fences.

The landscape had a cool blue tint and the clouds conspired in the distance and I was at peace. I remembered walking the streets and realized I rarely enjoy it like I do there and the reason was not only the wonderful company of a dear friend but the fact that nothing was going on. Sometimes we just need to stop and listen.

The summers in Texas are often too hot to really enjoy much other than sweating and feeling out of breath. Today I decided from now on I would stop and see, enjoy every aspect of the moment. It was a wonderful morning.



Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Loneliness Project: In Pictures Part I



It is the absence of something, most of the time something we took for granted for a long time before we realize it's gone. The swing settles in the family tree and only a random breeze will wake it from its slumber.

I remember the cool green grasses and clothes blowing across the long lines of rope making shapes and patterns like ghosts. I remember the simplicity of a great blue sky and a child's mind full of opportunities.

There are so many times we fall off the swing, we skin our knees and assume that no one is coming with the clean washcloth or the gentle encouraging voice; we grow up. We become self-sufficient, we are taught to ignore the swing, the green grass and the great blue sky as if they were just childhood foolishness.

We barely realize they're gone but the child inside us still yearns to stop, to seek comfort, to search with an explorers heart for wonders among the grass and secrets in the woods.

It is this loneliness, missing a child that always found time to play, to look up to the sky in search for something great. How I miss the swing and the tall willows throwing viridian shadows, I consciously aspire for my own resurrection.




The green lawn, the red and white shed before it was an eyesore, back when it had a purpose. We would have family dinners in the backyard, the kids would take orders and there was a barbecue fired up, it was summer.

I remember a large gathering of people, usually Easter, after church we'd sit outside. It was back before mosquitoes became the deadly creatures they are.

I remember plastic chairs and long white plastic table clothes, laughter and drama-it was a family gathering after all.

Now the family is scattered to multiple states. Many of the members I remember are dead, some still live near the same town but we are all separate.

I miss the bond of family, even if what I remember wouldn't match reality. I"m sure there was more tension among them but I was young. I had the privilege to grow tired of having guests.

I would love to sit in my Aunt Ann's kitchen listening to the old woman with stories and small talk. I would enjoy sitting in the living room with all the men watching sports and talking trash but time moves on and we don't realize the connections or their significance in our lives.



The Precarious State of Loneliness

There are so many more like me...but we are all separate,

How uncomfortable it is, longing for contact
and yet unable to fathom its joy
To seek solitude while aching for connection
it's the most difficult state as nothing seems to feel comfortable
time is slow and yet fast and random simultaneously
I have lived here
I have driven a long road, alone, missing others
and yet insistent on my own solitude
is it the soul's nature of knowing its own state
but curious for another?
Fear keeps us
separate.
Awkward we are souls in transition.
I forced my way through loneliness
until I grew comfortable with myself
it was only then that I could fathom
interaction
and it's joyful conclusion...



The colors of humanity
ebb and flow just like the seasons
but they are to be shared
not squandered
our voices are like the fleeting colors of autumn
how they linger among the tangled limbs
to grow as a wonderfully colorful
landscape
they become stories among grasses
ghosts in the shadows
until they settle on stones
and sleep like whispers...

we were never meant to be alone
we are all notes in a beautiful song
so when did we stop singing?

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Intricacies of Light: A Second Skin


Joy is a child's unique expression of the world. The intricacies of faith, hope and seeing with honesty and simplicity restores some of that beauty the world teaches us to abandon.

A creative must bridge the gap between being an adult, realizing and abiding by wisdom and seeing past that which is discernable. It is only than that we realize our innate simplicity and can allow the child to coexist with the adult.

No one ever chooses to be ordinary or common but often safety is what keeps us reasonable and comfortable. It is tearing away the skin, with as much violence and tension as it would literally seem that we find our new self and the rejoice of our child inside that never died but was only sleeping.



The summer rages through breathless days, cicadas buzzing in yellowing fields, the sunflowers giving up all of their sweetness and color. A heavy haize taints a blue sky as the birds scavenge for anything that's left alive.

The heat breathes in and out like a beast from a forest. Seeds settling to the parched earth, all that can be done, is done. Even the normally chatty wren or the raucous mockingbird keep themselves in check.

Only the young birds, bluejays and cardinals hop from dried up nests desperate for the promise of seed, the sunflower complies.

I watch every day unfold like a novel I've almost memorized. The morning breeze, cool and insistent that the sun is on its way. The crows in garbled conversation speaking in tongues, arguing like old men on the street corner.

The nearby roads and even the highways hold their breath. It's 9:AM, the stillness stirs the birds from hidden roosts. Squirrels chase eachother with jobs to do before the sun burns away the hues of the sky.

As afternoon unfolds, the highways start breathing, a heavy breath of cigarette smoke, car exhaust and the dust from deserts of Africa-the sky turns yellowish and gray. The cicadas are insistent, sighing as if disgusted with summer-the heat is inevitable and none of us have any breath left.

I've watched this scene again and again, I longed for the evening when all sounds are hushed. When all the cars have gone back to their homes, where everything is calm again.

It will happen again tomorrow until summer loses its battle and like the blooms of summer sunflowers-Summer will relinquish its breath and we will all take a deep sigh, a sad but necessary breath and a sweet goodbye.





Just a glimpse, but I can barely remember what it looked like before. Near signs that insist no littering, there are piles of trash, families, big loud families, walking along a crowded road where no one seems able to go the speed limit.

It's hot, even the promise of the waterfalls don't offer much. If you could see the full view of the photograph you would see a crowd of people in a hot, murky pool, the water is not really hot but it might as well be.

I went there with a purpose, I wanted to get some background information for a painting I'm reviving, I'm getting back to water, trying to see what I used to see. I am still left to guess on the details.

This place is nothing like I remember, there are crowds of people, herds of families carrying floats and chairs-they all look exhausted. The water is yellow instead of its normal blue and greens, it's so murky you can't see beneath the surface.

There are tents on concrete, families on the edge of grass and road, instead of being more relaxed I am more tense and exhausted from the heat.

I'll go again, but not until summer is over. I will wait until nature revives its original state-some of the trash will remain but at least the crowds will shrink, maybe than I will get the details I need for the painting.



No one remains inside, that stone wall seem useless at best. There is no glass hiding the self, no locks, no mechanism to deny access.

Nature embraces the soul. It's warm enticing arms become a fortress given away. The self erupts, becoming the truth it needs to be. I am eager to know my second skin, to realize the possibilities of hope, of tomorrow embraced with fingers reaching from paradise to insist that I was here and I am still alive.

My window is open, my doors wide, I hope to allow the possibilities, people, goodness to meet inside.






















Monday, July 30, 2018

A Love of Color: Nature in Purest Form



This series started with blue jay feathers-the blues were so rich against a gray background. In our busy lives we often ignore the simple things and when our eyes open to the beauty and simplicity of color and texture more of our soul comes to life.

This clarity and consciousness of form and color is where the artist lives. A sensitivity to colors that create mood and texture, we creatives are vessels that the outside world works through to become a force.

If our eyes and our souls are awake and alive we suddenly start to notice every richness of nature that is present in everyday life.



The flower is usually realized when it is first born, that first spectacular bloom but the colors change and often even intensify even after the bloom has gone past its initial purpose. Quite suddenly images in the neighborhood began to appear as obvious as watching the spectacle of a sunset.





Plants discarded in the alley become rich colorful works of art. The cools of purple jumping out of the warmth of dead leaves, it is an amazing experience when the mundane becomes something more beautiful and that is the job of a creative, to find and create something beautiful from the ordinary.





Friday, July 27, 2018

Third and Final in Series: The Swallows



The first painting is calle the painbirds. I got the idea from Sparklehorse-Good Morning Spider and added the passionvine because they are symbolic in much of my writing, I also collect them.

The lake is a simplified Lake Ray Hubbard and most of the focus was on the bridge and the storm in the distance. This painting started in my house in Sachse and sat on the easel, as many paintings do, for more than a year.

I finally finished it in a day in 2016 I think. Immediately following this painting was the Swallows in Sunset, not much to tell although I think the water area is from a scene in Florida. The same process, it started out on my easel and stayed unfinished for several months.




The next painting is finally completed. It is called the Celebration, it was inspired by watching Lake Ray Hubbard finally fill again. It was after the drought and the swallows were all around the bridge in celebration. I started it in 2016 or so and never finished it until just yesterday afternoon.

The problem with getting attached with a painting in the beginning stages is you lose confidence to go beyond your original feeling of success. It is part of my series of water studies, getting back to the basics of water and why I started painting it in the first place.

It is the smallest of the three paintings and has the most swallows. The bridge with all the nesting swallows was further inspired by a trip to North Sulphur river where the swallows were flying around the bridge and many were even swarming picking up the mud to create their nests.








Sunday, June 24, 2018

Why Can't I Just Paint?



My studio is too hot,  I want to be outside where it's too hot, I have a dog, I have a son, I want to go somewhere; so many reasons why I don't paint. I realized today though something more difficult to get past.

I realize there is necessary discipline in painting, writing and any other creative endeavor but the question today is what if you're just not there yet? I cleaned the studio, and was able to see the previous paintings, there are so many things that have changed and continue to change in how I see and how I want to show what I've seen.



There is another stumbling block, the purpose in painting, I've always said I'd prefer not just paint a landscape with no feeling. There are so many intangible feelings that seem to haunt me and those are the core of what I want to show.

There a darkness, a loneliness, a separation that all seem to follow my work. It seems lately there is perhaps a bit more, too much time alone working as a traveling sales person I guess. Now I have the insight of being alone and feeling content in being alone but there is still that feeling of unease that I feel and want to show.




My painting has gone from very dark, more realistic and than bright, rich and fun, now I feel I've jumped back to dark but there is something else that I want to say and that seems very cryptic at the moment.

In this recent sitting, I realized I want to get back to painting night and water with the skill and clarity of older works and yet with some sort of intangible light I've only recently realized. This light I think is from being immersed with photography lately.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Rediscovering Subject Matter with a Mature Eye


On the wall of my studio are two paintings of waterfalls from the Cascades in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It's a series of paintings from a very special time in my life, I had just gotten married and enjoyed an idyllic honeymoon in New England.



It's in the Cascades where I became obsessed with waterfalls. The sounds, the colors and the depth and clarity of water, they became a common theme in my paintings. When we are younger we see through eyes untainted by expectations or attempts to suit style or current trend.




Since the original series there have been several that I believe now became more expressionistic which is fine but I believe I left something crucial out of the mix.

It is always an artists job to decide what to leave in and what to leave out. What is too realistic or to abstract and what feeling is intended for the viewer: all go into the final product of creating something from nature.




Today I went to the Park Hill Prairie. I wanted to study the pristine water and get back to the basics of how water interacts with its surroundings, weather and its angle from the viewer.

I redefined what it is about water that I love and aim to share with the viewer is the intangible coldness one can imagine, the depths and mystery of its many layers and the simplicity of the mirror.




Just like creating a rose with droplets of dew-the final realistic image is much more simple than one would first think. It's the simplicity of the rendering that keeps the viewers eyes imagining the depth and the feeling of the surface.

I am excite about getting back to the canvas and reinvigorating my passion for nature and the intricacies of water. Stay tuned.



Thursday, May 10, 2018

Subject Matter: The Emotion beneath the Layers of Paint (part 2 of 4)


I am more focused on the atmosphere of my paintings rather than a specific place. Although many paintings are from real places, my intent is to convey how it feels to be there, the feeling of cold breeze or dark shadow.

I like the tension between figures and the tension between the painting and the viewer. Some of my paintings have been described as otherworldly, a feeling like something is just not quite right.

I am haunted by nature and the mystery that exists, the silence in the evening or the quiet before a storm. I believe if an artist can make a viewer feel an emotion when looking at a painting, it's the difference between creating an attractive painting or an emotional tool.




There is an intangible and often cryptic voice in every painting I create. It is how the act of painting can touch the viewer, make them feel something that is more than the surface of a canvas.

I want the viewer to come away from my painting with a feeling they're not quite sure of, or a memory they can connect with. I want the viewer to make their own experience of my work.



For more artwork see www.artbygordon.com
Next Subject Matter: The Night Sky

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Why I Paint and What is My Intention in Painting?: The Simple yet Complex Act of Creativity



Why Paint? A Simple Question with so Many Answers: The simplest answer is the intense joy of creating something from nothing. Imagine a place that you see in a dream, it's beautiful, you don't want to leave but you wake up and it's gone; painting allows the artist to capture that place and when it becomes real there is nothing like the feeling.

Another feeling is when there is no specific, concrete image but instead a feeling or an idea that you have that becomes a form, something you can choose to explain or leave as its own voice. There is an absence of any stresses and distractions and the mind and body find a sync that I've never found doing anything else.




What would you like the viewer to see or experience?: The Many Goals of Creating: The pure enjoyment of being creative is tempered with the discipline of getting it right. The ability to see and capture reality too perfectly or to say something without over explaining it.

Artists are navigators, we bring our viewers in and show them what we see or feel. We allow them a glimpse of our expression and than we relinquish all control as the viewer makes the image or the journey their own.



For me, that is the highest complement, when someone gets your cue within an image and brings their own feelings and memories to make the painting their own. The artist has created a living image that evokes emotion or feelings and it is no longer a two dimensional image, it is a tool that evokes emotion, brings thought, soothes or frightens.

Frightens is an odd verb to attribute to painting but some of my paintings come from a place of depression or discomfort, I would rather a person feel frightened or uncomfortable rather than feel nothing. 


I want my feeling and intent in creating to become something that the viewer feels and understands in their own terms. To paint and evoke an emotion is like speaking in a different language than anyone else and having a stranger understand your language. That is the magic of creating art.

My next Installment will be on subject matter: Why do I paint the two special aspects of nature and how it became my style and intent.





Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Creativity: A Vision of a Growing Inspiration


Every thing we do as creative people adds to the tools we use. If we observe nature, do yoga, get in touch with our inner selves or just take the time to learn, we are always growing as artists.

I have recently been unable to paint, I stare at paintings I've already started and nothing happens. It's amazing and dramatic the feeling of sitting in front of what is a foreign entity.

Months or even years ago, I did an underpainting, nothing has happened since. I was inspired once but now it seems I push paint around and have no idea of what direction to take.

Recently, I have photographed much more than painted. I have used discipline to keep shooting even when the inspiration was missing. Suddenly the most mundane image becomes something special, I believe, like a muscle, it is the creative mind practicing and expanding.

Here are a few recent images that have inspired me. I am planning on creating an E-book with all of the images of the 365 day photo challenge and making it available free to subscribers.



I will be adding poetry to the images that will explain the creative process and why I took the photograph in the first place. I will be adding the images and the words as it progresses, would love to have opinions and what would interest my readers in not only reading but what photographs they like.


As I said, there was a purpose for all these lessons and suddenly without any warning, I am painting again with a new passion and excitement. The amazing thing is the change and how seeing the image becomes markedly different.

Suddenly the image that seemed like someone elses' painting for months now has all the directions written out. My brush knows where to go, what colors go where and very suddenly I know exactly what needs to be done. After getting away from the painting you start to see some hidden strokes and techniques that I would never consciously think of and yet in the frenzy of painting everything makes perfect sense.

I can't even explain how exciting a feeling it is and how quickly the work becomes when suddenly you have a new view of the whole process. Very soon, I will be sharing the latest and they will be available on the website as well. Stay tuned and I would love any feedback. Thanks




Thursday, February 8, 2018

Isolating Light: Fire Captured in a Crystal



It started out as an idea, a still life subject I was experimenting with but it turned into something more interesting. I found light in a quartz crystal and it started a series of experimentations that was as fun as it was enlightening.


I've always had an interest in geology and have been a rock hound for as long as I can remember. In the trips my son and I would plan we would include a mineral adventure; we've panned for topaz in the hill country and dug for diamonds in Arkansas. I'm still planning a trip to Georgia for amethyst.

There is something about a crystal; the way the light touches the facets or the smooth texture of each face. I was interested in capturing the essence of the color and light of each rock. 



I bought these amethyst years ago because I thought they were interesting. I planned on putting them in a tank or doing something interesting with them for a long time.

The first time I shot them I tried to capture the colors and richness of the deep purples. It was when I introduced the quartz crystal that I noticed the exquisite light that was glowing inside it with the setting of the sun.




Much like a sunset changes in color and intensity so does a still life that is lit by the outside light. As the last bit of sun grew more intense the light radiated from the crystals and the light made the colors even richer.



Sunday, February 4, 2018

An Artist in Chaos: Growth of a Discipline


When we are young, we develop habits, some good, some not so good. I have every excuse to be disorganized as I'm creative and it's a creative trademark but I have seen what happens without organization and a game plan. You push paint around....I"m gonna trademark that one of these days-maybe a book, Yes, a book.



Pushing Paint Around: I've always talked about times of fermentation and I still believe in it although I believe discipline and organization can help in two ways.
 • When the inspiration strikes you are ready and available to work instead of fighting with obstacles and disorder. Disorder is something that is very agitating in a moment of inspiration. I have experienced the feeling of being ready to shoot an amazing photograph but your equipment was either not taken care of or something you needed wasn't available in the chaos.

• I think the disorganization keeps the holding pattern longer and prolongs the feeling of fermentation. I realize that as an artist, things inspire me regularly, my life and surroundings should be uncluttered and available to realize the inspiration of light, of objects, of nature.

• Disorder can depress and confuse the already cluttered mind. So many thoughts stream through becoming dried dead leaves on the bottom of a great flood instead of the light and the colors that dance on the surface of the water. How many thoughts and ideas have been lost due to clutter and chaos?


Stop Playing: Start Doing, No Excuses: I pride myself on the ability to be honest with myself about my shortcomings. There is no way to change or improve if certain parts of your personality are set in stone. I quit smoking many years back and one thing I never did is say, I'm a smoker and that's the end, I was always open to quitting and eventually I did.

I have a lot of disorder in my life, I don't take care of my things the way I need to. I could use the excuse of being an artist and having a chaotic mind but I"m continually insisting I can improve.



Discipline: is the ingredient in a cake that makes all the ingredients rise and be a cake, it is the binding that keeps the creative endeavor on track. I plan on one day having an agent but until than I need to discipline myself to be the best I can. Discipline and organization are two qualities I will use to take a life time of pushing paint into a career that I can be proud of.

Honesty: is what allows you to perfect what ever you are doing. The initial ego and excitement of creation can overshadow your subject. I have painted many portraits and animal images that at the time I was quite proud of but later saw them closer to reality.



Honesty and humility is the only way I know to get to the next level of this craft. I don't think an artist ever arrives at a place where they are an artist and that's that. It is a continual growing process and the image you are supposed to create is very illusive and changes with age. I have just recently started to see glimpses of the image I have sought for so many years.



Self-Reflection: This can really include all of the above but there can be no growth and success without self reflection and there can be little self reflection without quiet. A place, a time to be present to truly take stock in the work you've done and the work you will do, this is how an artist breaks forward and become what they are intended to be.



Teaching Painting and the Gallery Critique: I don't think art has ever been meant to be an isolated craft, I'm not saying creation is not an isolated and personal act but I do feel it needs to not be in a bubble. For me, art is something that needs to be interactive, the viewer must react or it is a beautiful tree hidden in a forest. It is still as beautiful and every bit important but it doesn't speak to anyone.



I want my viewers to react, to feel something and that charge of chemistry between the viewer and a piece of art creates a relationship that begs to be available and shared. I want what ever I create to be taken as a personal memory, a cherished thought or idea that connects deeper than the surface. The viewer nor the artist really needs to know the reality, it is that intangible and mysterious interaction that makes great art.



I have gained more from teaching art and receiving critiques from galleries than I have ever received from simple words of encouragement. You burst the bubble, you get out of what is comfortable and understood and you explore not only your own reasons for creating but how they are taken by the novice and the expert, it is a wonderful disruption of what you see is common or ritual.



I went into my studio this morning and started organizing. I felt like I was digging through some one's attic and finding perhaps a past life that has been waiting to be discovered. Suddenly the ideas became more clear, the abstract made more sense and the true need for discipline jumped out as if I was saving an artist from their own chaos. Stay tuned for a lot of work.....

Check back with www.artbygordon.com for new artwork, writing and photography.