Video: Inspired by the Mississippi Delta, Clarksdale native paints wondrous wildlife

Grayson Wolf
Oxford Stories

Clarksdale native Bradley Gordon has always been captivated by the beauty of his surroundings. His fascination with nature inspired him to pursue an art career, one that has allowed him to showcase his work from Oxford to Tiawan.

Born into a farming family in the Mississippi Delta, Gordon has been around animals and nature his whole life. “I never had the traditional, normal childhood to where I rode bikes with friends in the neighborhood,” he said. “I was just in really close contact with nature.”

This connection nurtured what would become a lifelong fascination with the outdoors that would inspire Gordon to create beautiful pieces of artwork.

After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 2001 with a degree in art education, Gordon moved to Taiwan to become a resident artist at Scall Art Studios. In 2009, he spent a year in Japan, dedicating his time to music and art.

A year later in 2010, Gordon moved back to Mississippi and embarked upon a new chapter in his career, re-immersing himself within the environment that inspired him.

Gordon’s current studio resides in the small northern Mississippi town known as Water Valley. It’s hidden behind a cluster of trailer homes and other small properties, and its eclectic aesthetics reflect his creativity.

When one walks inside, they’re greeted by paintings of a bold tone, such as one of a majestic horse, and another of an alligator with his mouth wide open. “I started painting wildlife about 10 years ago, but I still have a landscape series as well,” he said.

Gordon’s interest in music is also on display, as his drum set takes up a bulk of the first room you walk into. He describes the creative process as first starting with a thought about “home” or his origins in the Mississippi Delta.

He thinks of the flat landscapes of sprawling farmland, or the various creatures that inhabit the Mississippi forest as possible sources of inspiration for his works.

Gordon describes the basic process of painting.

“I start with the canvas,” he said. “I either stretch it out or by one pre-made. I then create a base rough pencil sketch to get the proportions right, then a traditional under paint, in order to give the animal form.”

Gordon’s work is not only a reflection of the beauty of his surroundings, but of the enduring creative spirit of the many artists in North Mississippi. His work can be seen on permanent display in Cicada, one of the many art galleries in the Oxford area.

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