openhouseforbutterflies18 ruth krauss and maurice sendakI really like good children’s books.  The good ones read as well for adults as they do for the kids, speaking in simplified terms about universal themes,  Sometimes it’s just refreshing to see a simple truth not hidden beneath a mountain of adult garbage.

Most of us know Maurice Sendak for his classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are and many others but he was also a very prolific illustrator for other author’s books.  Early in is career, he had an eight year collaboration with Ruth Krauss (1901-1993) who is considered a giant in the children’s book genre although many of us probably are not aware of her work.  Her editor, Ursula Nordstrom, described the appeal of her books in the 1950’s in a way that sort of describes why I believe I like kid’s books so much:

Krauss books can be bridges between the poor dull insensitive adult and the fresh, imaginative, brand-new child. But of course that only will work if the dull adult isn’t too dull to admit he doesn’t know the answer to everything. Krauss books will not charm those sinful adults who sift their reactions to children’s books through their own messy adult maladjustments. That is a sin and I meet it all the time. But there are some adults who don’t sift their reactions to children’s books through their own messy adult maladjustments and I guess those are the ones who will love and buy Krauss.

Maybe they are bridges between the dullness of our adult minds and the openness and flexibility of our child’s mind.

I came across one of their books, Open House for Butterflies from 1960, and found many of the images charming and timeless.  Beautiful bridges.

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GC Myers- Until the Sea Shall Free ThemAll the Men will be sailors then, until the sea shall free them…

Leonard Cohen, Suzanne


I call this new painting, a 7″ by 5″ piece on paper, Until the Sea Shall Free Them, which is taken from the lines of the Leonard Cohen song Suzanne.  The song’s sound, pace and feeling really jibe well with what I see in this piece so I felt taking the title from one of its lines was very fitting.

This is one of those pieces that has a composition that I connect with on an emotional level before it actually says anything to me on an conscious or intellectual level.  In other words, I like it before I can figure out why.  And there is something very satisfying in that.

And mystifying.  I generally want to know the why behind something.  But sometimes it is just better to enjoy the now and forget the why.  And that is what I am doing with this painting.

Here’s Suzanne from Cohen.


John Singer Sargent El JaleoSunday morning and I am in need of a little kick.  Maybe a little flamenco music?  There something in the energy and precision of the music and the dance that makes it invigorating while still feeling calm.  And that seems right this morning. Just want I want and need.

Sargent_John_Singer_Spanish_Dancer Study for El JaleoFlamenco always reminds me of El Jaleo, the huge  ( it’s about 8′ by 11′ in size) masterpiece shown above  from John Singer Sargent. that hangs in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  The very large painting at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum in Washington, shown here on the right, is actually a study for the dancer in El Jaleo although I think most people who see it think it works very well as its own painting.

If we’re going to have some flamenco this morning I think we should hear from the late great Paco de Lucia, king of flamenco guitar and one of the great guitarists of all time.  Here he is a year or two before his death in 2012 with his Buleria por Solea, the buleria referring  to the 12 beat rhythm of flamenco.  Enjoy and have a great Sunday as your Thanksgiving holiday winds down.


GC Myers- BetweenA man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover through the detours of art those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.

-Albert Camus


These lines above are from an essay, Between Yes and No,  written by the French Nobel Prize-winning writer Albert Camus.  It basically states, in sometimes grim detail, his belief that art “exalts and denies simultaneously.”  In short, truth is generally somewhere in the middle, never absolutely in yes or no.  Yes or no is generally an oversimplified view.

While I may not fully understand all the subtleties of Camus’ essay, I do fully agree with the premise as I see it in my own simplified way.  I think that art communicates best when it contains both the yes and the no— those polar oppositions that create a tension to which we react on an emotional level.  For example, I think my best work has come when it contains opposing elements such as optimism tinged with with the darkness of fear or remorse.

Yes and no.

I guess it’s this thought that brought the title for the new piece ( 4″ by 4″ on paper)  at the top which I call Between. Simply put,  I see it as the Red Tree being torn between the nebulous  desire of the Moon’s promise set against the security of its earthly home, represented by the patchwork quilt-like look of the surrounding landscape.  Between the unknown and known.

Somewhere in between the yes and the no…

Be Thankful

Thornton Wilder Gratitude QuoteAnother Thanksgiving and  it might seem that it would be hard to find much to be thankful for in this turbulent world with its endless cornucopia of anger, hatred, intolerance, injustice and inequality set out for our consumption each day.  With a diet of so many negatives it would be easy to forget that one simple thing that truly feeds and sustains us– gratitude.

Recognizing and acknowledging those things that make us happy is such a simple thing yet we somehow lose sight of it.  I know my life feels so much more complete when I see how I am made happy by the light that the full moon casts on our evening walk.  Or in the way my studio cat, Hobie, runs to me with an audible purr when I enter in the morning. Or in watching the deer play and stroll through the studio’s yard, one or two sometimes stopping to stare in at me through the window.  Or in the songs of the birds in the woods.

Or in something so simple as a stranger returning a smile and a hello as they pass by.

Just little things that we sometimes overlook in the crush of the world.  But things that are important in our real connection to the world.  So today set aside your fears and anger and whatever else eats at you on a regular basis and try to think of those people who make you happy, those moments that might bring a smile or a tear and anything that gives your life fullness.  It’s not always easy but life ain’t too bad.

Here’s one of my favorite songs.  I know it makes me happy even when I am strolling along and can’t get its chorus out of my head.  It’s Be Thankful for What You Got from William DeVaughn from back in 1974.  Have a great Thanksgiving.

GC Myers- Signet of Eternity-smallI was driving yesterday morning on the highway that cuts across the lower part of western New York State, just above the Pennsylvania line.  It’s always a quiet ride with little if any traffic on the long stretches of the very rural and sparsely populated country.

It allows for the mind to wander a bit.  Sometimes, in those moments, I will take some time and look around, wondering: What is here that might stick with me if somewhere down the road today my life were to end?  I found myself taking in the beauty of the very human lines of the the  hilltops set against the blue sky  as the sun make the frost on the trees shimmer in silver.

Something very perfect in that simple but ethereal moment.  This morning this reminded me of a post from several years ago that dealt with just such moments, one that I am running again today:

This is a new piece [note: this was 2010] that I am calling Signet of Eternity, taken from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian writer/poet.  There’s a great sense of the eternal in this smallish ( a 4″ by 14′ image) painting on paper.  I find it very calming, very soothing, with its clear, cool colors and crisp line work.  There’s a simplicity and delicacy in this that hints at how fleeting and fragile are the the glimpses of eternal forces we are fortunate to witness in our lifetimes.

I know that sounds pretty metaphysical but I’m just talking about those moments when all the forces of the world present themself before you in an almost perfect harmony and there is a moment of stillness.  Clarity.  As though the world has chosen to reveal its purpose to you for those few precious seconds and in doing so has taken away all the weight of everyday life.

I thought about that yesterday as I trudged, head down, through the woods between my home and my studio.  I stopped on the path suddenly and looked around.  The trees were so graceful and  I caught sight of  the trunk of a tall shagbark hickory.  I let my eyes follow it upward to the powerful arms of branches that seemd to plead to the blue patch of sky above.  It was a grand moment and I thought about how often I traveled that path with eyes fixed on the ground before me.  How many times had I let the thoughts and worries in my head carry me without seeing past these things of beauty?  These signets of eternity.

Here is Tagore’s poem:

The day was when I did not keep myself in readiness for thee;
and entering my heart unbidden even as one of the common crowd,
unknown to me, my king, thou didst press the signet of eternity upon
many a fleeting moment of my life.

And today when by chance I light upon them and see thy signature,
I find they have lain scattered in the dust mixed with the memory of
joys and sorrows of my trivial days forgotten.

Thou didst not turn in contempt from my childish play among dust,
and the steps that I heard in my playroom
are the same that are echoing from star to star.


Casting Spells

GC Myers- Spellbound

“Be hole, be dust, be dream, be wind/Be night, be dark, be wish, be mind,/Now slip, now slide, now move unseen,/Above, beneath, betwixt, between”

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book


This new painting has a feeling of magic for me, the feeling of an incantation being cast out into the dark of night.  There’s a sense of wishing in the way the Red Tree postures beneath the moon, asking whatever force that moves the moon and brings the light to cast a spell and bring about some sort of change.

Perhaps a spell is nothing more than wishes spoken aloud and defining that gnawing desire inside ourselves.  After all, once we know what we truly want we begin to shape the world subtly, and often unwittingly, so that these wishes might be fulfilled.  And sometimes, if the belief behind them is strong,  these spells become reality.  But many other times the spell is lost in the ether of time and space and they  never come to be.

Such is the nature of spells.

I am calling this piece Casting Spells.

For this Sunday Morning Music, I thought this song  would be the right accompaniment to this painting.  It’s a version of I Put a Spell On You, originally written and performed by the inimitable Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.  This version is from  another true original, the late great  Nina Simone.  Great version.

Have a great Sunday and watch out for spells–they’re floating all over the place out there.


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