Artist Advice: Russell Gordon, Oil Painter

Russell Gordon is a contemporary American oil painter. He has kindly taken the time to write an article for YAM, showing insight into his artistic process alongside some of his brilliant works. You can read the full article below.

"Mother of Pearl," by Russell Gordon

How far can you go in this life as an artist? Can you carve out a living? Are you ready? The answers are 'as far as you want', 'yes', and 'maybe.' Young artist, you have so much you want to do, big new dynamic projects, murals, designs, collaborations, installations, intimate studies and the distillation of creative sensibilities that will rock the Art World. Maybe. Or maybe you just like sketching in your sketchbook, observations and notations from your life, your daily forays into the world, your quiet personal artistic journal; a chronicle of things you see and imagine unlike any other.

"Find that window of time, day or night when you can work completely uninterrupted and utterly absorbed in that state of mind called 'flow'"
"The Beholder," by Russell Gordon

Either way you have found a language in which to express yourself. And that is a gift most people don't have. Or at least don't cultivate. But like any innate gift it's really a tool and one which you'll want to hone carefully. Discipline (noun). Discipline (verb) as if you were an Olympic athlete. Those medals do not come easily. Get up late. Stay up early. Find that window of time, day or night when you can work completely uninterrupted and utterly absorbed in that state of mind called 'flow.'

Ralph Waldo Emerson's words, "He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety," will make more sense when you are dissolved utterly in your passion for art. Self-consciousness and doubt disappear (as they must) and time stands still but when you are young it is your infinite resource.  Work hard and grind, grind, grind. Woodshed unapologetically


"White-Throated Sparrow & Birch," by Russell Gordon

For a precious while all that will matter is the arc of your development as an artist. Ironically, failure equals growth. You will encounter walls. And you will break through them in your own way and at your own unique pace. Visit museums when you can. Copy the masters from the originals when you can. It takes a few hours to learn to paint but years and years to learn to draw. So draw a lot.


"Nest and White Yarn," by Russell Gordon

You've resources to study the masters (whoever you deem them to be) that no other generation or cohort in history has ever had... Chiefly the internet. You can also explore art collections of the world, major and minor from a laptop or mobile device. You can pinch and zoom and scroll for details digitally that would have had you pressing your nose into a masterpiece and getting yelled at by a security guard in the physical world. But don't neglect or dismiss that physical world either since that is where your inspiration will likely come from.

"Tulips and Shell"

You have the power to make something in this world that did not exist before. That is remarkable in itself. Sometimes you'll be your own worst critic but hopefully that voice isn't too harsh. After all you only want to be the best artist you can be without compromising your voice. And don't forget to enjoy yourself. At the end of the day the creative process, any creative process, is best an expression of desire. So, share your desire. 




"Ambition," by Russell Gordon

All images Copyright © Russell Gordon 2020

You can find more of Gordon's work on his Instagram, @russellwgordon

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