Gordon did not begin painting portraits until into his seventies after fifty years as a Computer Scientist. Because he was born colorblind, he had always avoided anything that required an understanding of color – and that included art. Still, he was fascinated by and curious about those who were able to produce works of art. In more recent years he sought opportunities to talk with artists and he frequently asked them whether a colorblind person could paint portraits. Until a few years ago he always got the same answer: “No, it’s not possible – you must know color to paint people.”
In 2008 Gordon met an artist who explained that a colorblind person could produce monochromatic art and was shown expertly created pencil and charcoal drawings by this artist. Gordon immediately bought several art books and set about teaching himself to draw. For the next year he practiced doing pencil portraits by copying photographs and greeting cards.
Early in 2009 Gordon was still drawing portraits in pencil when he enrolled in a short drawing class where he was introduced to charcoal drawing and to pastel painting. The second pastel work he painted was of Mark Twain, white pastel on black paper. He entered this painting in a People’s Choice exhibit. The painting won first place and has since gone on to win other first place awards. In 2011, his black and white pastel portrait of Teddy Roosevelt earned Best in Class, Best in Division and Best in Show awards at the Nevada County Fair. (To see these and other of Gordon's Art Awards, click on AWARDS at the bottom of this page.)
Since 2009 Gordon has created more than 100 portraits. Early in 2010 he began teaching himself to paint with acrylics. Gordon continues painting portraits and has worked to learn something about color and color mixing -- disciplines he had always resisted. He is still unable to see or to differentiate many colors but has been able to paint portraits by using colors that are not natural. In these, Gordon avoids real life colors and tries to represent faces in interesting yet different ways.
In 2012, Gordon discovered he could achieve a physical third dimension in his portraits by inserting common building screws into a panel of plywood, adjusting the depth of each screw then painting the heads of the screws. A typical three dimensional portrait of about 20 x 24 inches requires more than two thousand screws. These portraits have received a lot of attention and have been described by others using words such as "stunning" or "amazing" or even "wonderful." To view images of these fascinating works of art, click on 3-D PORTRAITS below.
In all of his paintings, Gordon has created a style all his own, a style that does not require normal color vision. He paints portraits in either black and white or in vivid colors that reach beyond real life -- and they range among a variety of subjects including children, actors, celebrities, bicyclists, presidents and even classic automobiles.
Gordon says he is excited about painting and loves experimenting with painting techniques that are new. He spends time almost every day at his art and plans to continue to expand his knowledge and skill in creating art.