Thursday, February 14, 2019

Cold Dark Water: February on a Kayak


It’s been a while since I wrote perspectives from a kayak. The idea of kayaking just hasn’t seemed as fun with my son off to the army.

Yesterday was the first time I put the kayak on the car by myself and even with his tendency to call out every imperfection in my process: I missed him.



A windy February day and the lake at Daingerfield State Park was an atmosphere of dark water and high contrast ripples reflecting an overcast sky. I am deep in the middle of painting a series on water and I was inspired to study every element of the reflections.

What I love about kayaking is the silence and the sound of water rushing with every stroke of the paddle. Rich reds, yellows and greens of the lily pads were like abstract patterns begging to be painted. I know there will be more paintings added to the current series.




I listened to the birds in the darkening forest as the sun hid behind the clouds and moved closer to the horizon. I heard the nasal call of a nuthatch as it crept upside down on the tree trunks. There was a chorus of tree frogs that called constantly but it’s not simply the wonderful sounds, it’s the fact that I took the time to listen.

Kayaking usually ends up being an introspective time for me, a time to be still and listen to nature. This day was perfect for that, I caught one small pickerel and for the rest of the day I just floated on a dark mirror of mercury reflecting the trees and gray sky in monochromatic drama.

Very tall pine trees surround Daingerfield State Park; so it doesn’t even feel like a normal Texas lake. The trees shelter you from the wind and the experience of quiet and calm is something I’ve been wanting for quite a while.





The patterns in nature are so fluid and constantly changing form and color. It is my job as an artist to see how the eye sees for just a moment and inject that same pattern on a flat dimension while keeping the emotion and sense of space and time consistent.

I never get tired of watching water and it's many dimensions and intricacies. I am in awe of a slow moving stream or the torrent of a waterfall, it's capturing that feeling and the sound in a painting that is the hardest task.

To learn more about camping, fishing and kayaking at Daingerfield State Park go to https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/daingerfield


To see more images and upcoming paintings go to www.artbygordon.com. This blog will be moving to that address as I continue to grow the site.


















  

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Back to a Kayak After 2 years




How fast time flies, a year of selling insurance, a new car, a year of building an art and writing business and here we are out on the water again. It's been two years since I've been out on the water and I wish I could say it was smooth sailing.

First of all it was really hot. Probably one of the best mounts into the kayak but immediately that feeling of awkward anxiety. DId I mention it was hot, the heat that stays on you and drains you of any energy you had left after a morning in the Florida sun.

My son didn't seem to miss a beat but I was clumsy, broke the only lure off I had and had to get another from him, he was already in his Zen place. I know I wasn't prepared, I went through the motions of kayaking but didn't quite get into the zone.



The water still had that calming effect, the sounds and the smells soothed and kept me somewhat content. I did more enjoying being out there than fishing, again, I wasn't that well prepared.

I didn't even bring a fish clip which is very important just in case you catch a fish. I remembered the feeling of what I've missed so much. I got back to seeing water from the simplest and truest form and suddenly it was like no time had passed.

I will never be a completely agile, comfortable kayak enthusiast but I do realize why we started this in the first place; to be surrounded by nature, to feel the water move under you and watch the distance stream beneath you. There a beauty and freedom to getting out there and just enjoying the water.

I will be back with more posts shortly. Maybe I'll find a cool shady pond like one in Daingerfield. Stay tuned for more destinations on a kayak and sorry for my unintentional delay in getting back to the water.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Back to Where A Passion Began: Seeking Waterfalls



So many times I've been to Turner Falls in Davis, Oklahoma and never visited the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur,  just a few miles north and east on highway 7. I went, I saw, I was very impressed.

The first thing I noticed is the sound as you approach Little Niagara Falls. I remembered what I loved so much about waterfalls. There is a rhythm to water falling and rushing and that rhythm connects us to nature in a very necessary but intangible way.




I had to stop shooting and just sit on an exposed root to listen to the sound and take in all the richness of color and light. Unfortunately, the light wasn't quite right for most of my trip. 

After I had taken the tour of several waterfalls and was already overheated, the light changed. It is amazing to me how much light changes everything. The problem is we are forced to shoot on natures' timeline not ours. 




I remember driving with family on highway to the sun in Glacier National Park. Everyone assured me we'd get the shot on the way back but you know that never happened. Light changes, conditions change not within hours but within seconds, the image that shows itself so beautifully is gone.

This is why so many wonderful vacation snapshots turn out just okay-light is everything  and it creates a pathway for the viewer to experience just a glimpse of what you saw. Light leads the eye of the viewer, explains dimension and form on a 2 dimensional frame and contrasts light to explain temperature, place and distance.




I visited the waterfalls to reinvigorate my love and water. I wanted to get back to the passion of painting the many facets of water. Chickasaw is a beautiful maize of waterfalls, ice cold, spring fed water and great places to hike. I will definitely return. I will also do another post with more detail, this was more for my  passion and enjoyment and the reason I went in the first place. 



I forgot how much I missed the sound
No it’s the color
And the sound
Rushing fingers of blue and silver, like mercury
Beautiful and pure
I smell sulphur and earth
From somewhere deep 
I compare the dimensions of water
Like the many facets of people
So many faces, moods and colors to describe
I’ve come back seeking
The beauty of what captured me before
Those steps to the tops
Of the cascades
But I was young and full of wonder
I was intoxicated by the sound
And the green rushing waters
Seeping from the ground
She was there
And that meant everything…
Now I barely listen
Had to pause the shutter to keep my place
a rich green story
where I always lose my page
distracted
the heat
the sweat
and the beauty and peace
I barely remember
And I forgot what I missed
It was the sound
No the color
And the sound…

Sunday, May 20, 2018

My Secret Garden: A Place to Escape



North of Farmersville Texas the old quaint neighborhoods fade into long farm roads. Miles of empty space, small farms and cattle; it's a wonderful place to disappear.

I heard about Parkhill Prairie when I took a prairie tour at the Lavon Raptor Center on their first Saturday open house. The first few times I visited, it was cool and windy and beautifully quiet.




Hawks soared in a deep blue sky and crows called from distant perches against a backdrop of golden grasses that swayed adding to a symphony of natural sounds. I would sit on the stone wall and watch silently the distant hills and golden prairies, I had found my peaceful oasis.





Today was the first time I had walked through the green grasses and gardens of wildflowers, a perfect hot day, late spring. No cars, no people, just an explorer in my secret garden.





The crows have been replaced with the buzz of red-winged blackbirds and rich melodic notes of Dickcissel. The wind rushed through the willows and dragonflies buzzed about taunting me to catch a glimpse of their various colors, shapes and sizes.

It stirred so many memories as I walked along the edge of the several small ponds where cricket frogs and bullfrogs dashed into the shallows. My brother and I would always walk along streams looking for snakes, frogs and turtles, we were young explorers, naturalists.




Now I don't only notice the animals, it's the plants that demand my attention. Milkweed of several different species sway along with small mimosa like plants with pink fuzzy flowers, most I recognize, some are new and intriguing.

Since I've been collecting plants and wildlife gardening, my knowledge of different species has grown. I remember a trip to Tuscon where suddenly a whole new world of interest I became aware of.




I walked around several ponds, taking notes of the water for future painting, collecting notes on wildflowers and wild birds, it is my secret place and with every turn the willows blend into a green rich pasture.

The shade of the willows remind me of New Jersey, we had several giant willows where the orioles would nest in summer. The cool breeze across the prairie made the heat more comfortable and I enjoyed an afternoon of peace lost in Nature.




I will go back soon, by than perhaps summer guests will have picnics or barbecues but for now, it was all mine, an oasis to escape everything. Mission accomplished.
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