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Waterbound

GC Myers- Deluge



There’s a lot to be done here in the studio this morning. I was under the weather from my second dose of the covid vaccine didn’t get much done yesterday. It wasn’t anything severe, just a general tiredness and a lousy achy feeling that was just enough to keep me from wanting to dig deep into my work.

And I find that if I am off enough that I am not able to fully commit, the work never seems to go anywhere. I end up spinning my wheels, ultimately ending up feeling frustrated and maybe even a little angry on top of feeling physically ill.

Time has taught me that it’s better to just ride it out and start fresh the next day.

And here we are. I feel good now, even refreshed, and eager to get at it. But since it’s Sunday morning, let me share a piece of new music from a favorite of mine, Rhiannon Giddens in collaboration with her partner Francesco Turrisi. The song is Waterbound.

The song reminds me of the painting at the top from a number of years back, Deluge. I am working on a piece that is similar in theme but am not ready to show it yet so Deluge will have to fill the bill this morning.

Off to work for me now, folks. Feels good to feel good again.



Fly Over



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Wasn’t going to write anything this morning. Words just don’t seem to want to come. Recently, I have been thinking in shapes with dreams that have me working on puzzles that involve shapes and forms. The neat thing is that in the dreams I sometimes solve them with a logic that seems much better than the one I possess in waking hours.

If only I could dream while I’m awake.

Oh, wait, I already do that.

I thought I would instead share two pieces that I did over a few days back in 2017 based somewhat on the Aboriginal art of Australia. I am a fan of that work and wanted to try to consciously incorporate some of its elements in my work. That led to these two pieces.

I never showed them in any public forum and the one below, a 12″ by 36″ piece on panel hangs in a bedroom/storage area here in the studio. I never felt they were enough of mine, that they were too derivative of the Aboriginal work. And that’s not fair to either of us.

Plus, as a result, they never fully fit into my body of work or, at least, in a way, that felt natural or organic to me. I would always see them as Aboriginal based and maybe a little too forced.

But the funny thing is that I always enjoy looking at these pieces when I do so without taking my own bias into account. The textures, rhythms, and colors create a reaction that satisfies me in some way.

Makes me want to fly. Not way up in the clouds. Just a couple of hundred or so feet in the air so that I could see the rolls and rhythms of the land in bit and pieces. There used to be an ultralight that would periodically fly by on its way to a seldom used airstrip down the road. I would see the pilot– is that what they’re even called?– as the putt-putt sound of his small engine reached my ears. He seemed to be hanging in the air in a lawn chair strapped under a wing as he chugged along at considerably less than supersonic speeds. Looked to be about 45 MPH to my eye.

I always envied that guy.

But I never wanted to do that because I knew I would surely suffer some sort of hypnotic state while staring at the ground and the patterns. Most likely, I would just end up putt-putting my way into a bloody face plant with the ground while in such a stupor.

I’ve done that before, from a ladder at a mere 16 feet or so. I still periodically see the wet earth racing up to meet my face. Once is enough and I don’t really feel the need to do it from a higher point. Even so, there are moments when I yearn to fly low and slow, to see the fields and farms and streams and ponds lay out beneath me.

So I imagine. And dream. And paint.



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Ickle Me



Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too.

I have a lot on my plate this morning so let’s just listen to the late Shel Silverstein sing his song/poem, Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too, from his marvelous book of children’s verse, Where the Sidewalk Ends. Like most of Silverstein’s stuff for kids, it’s a blend of word rhythms and nonsense that just works. I have probably watched this short video a dozen or more times over the years and it always holds my interest

I love kids songs and literature. Don’t know what that says about my mental development but I am not going to worry about it. When I was putting this together I thought of another really simple kids song from Woody Guthrie that I am going to stick on here. It’s his Grassy Grass Grass. My thinking is that with our spring weather finally taking hold that anything that urges the grass to grow and things to green more is a good thing. Plus it has a nice drum rhythm to start the weekend.

So, give a listen to a couple of simple ditties for the kiddies this morning. What can it hurt? In the meantime, I’ll get to my day. Some new work coming in the next few days so check back in.





The Country

GC Myers- 2018 FingerpaintingLiving in the country, especially on the edge of the forest, makes one aware of their proximity to critters. There are deer and raccoons and squirrels and skunks and coyotes and bobcats and birds of all shapes and sizes.

But mainly living in the country makes you aware of the presence of mice in this world, how they live so closely to us, hovering nearby almost like little brown and gray shadows. Sometimes you hardly see them at all but they leaves traces that speak of their existence, often a hole chewed in a box or a bag in a closet or in the basement. Or those little hard nuggets on a shelf or table. I once had a mouse that had walked through a tray of wet paint that I had inadvertently left out overnight and walked across the edge of a piece I had been working on.

Little blue paw prints meandering around the edge of the surface. Hope they liked what they saw.

All these things occur here in the studio. At such times, I look over at Hobie, my studio cat who was once a known hunter of great renown, and ask her if she has been doing her job patrolling the mice population. She just looks away without an ounce of care for my concern.

I wonder if she has a secret pact with the mice now. After all, the gifts she once laid at my feet– poor mice, chipmunks, birds, and snakes– have ceased altogether.

They slowed considerably after she made the transition from stray cat to part-time outdoor cat to fulltime studio cat. But they did continue. I would sometimes come into the studio and there would sometimes be a sad prize waiting for me in front of my desk chair or at the base of my easel. Hobie would saunter over as if to proudly say, “See what I did for you while you were gone?”

But that doesn’t happen now. Actually, there are fewer traces of my little rodent housemates lately. Maybe the several feral cats who have taken up recent residency around our place have effectively shut down their runways in and out of our place. Maybe. But I doubt that even a terrible trio of hungry cats could completely stop the smart and versatile mice that I know so well. Their little brains work better than some folks I know.

I am sure they are still there. I don’t mind to be honest. Not that I am thrilled by the evidence they leave behind. So long as they don’t bother me, I can coexist with them.

Not everyone can. I used to work with a lady who proclaimed that her home had no mice at all. She lived in an old house near the river so I knew the idea that that critters somehow weren’t taking advantage of a warm place to live and eat was foolishness. I would just laugh at her and tell her that she might not see them but they were there.

She would let out a shiver and say that no, they were not there. I guess she had to say that for her own peace of mind but I know that somewhere in that old house, in the attic or basement, there is a meeting going on right now where all the mice are discussing the best places to eat in that house.

The reason I bring this up this morning is that I came across an animation of a poem by former Poet Laureate Billy Collins that is abut this subject. It’s called The Country. I never worried about my boxes of matches before but this has me wondering. Take a look.



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I am currently in the midst of painting for my annual June show at the Principle Gallery and am in what I believe is a pretty good groove at the moment. I was thinking about how I view my work at these times, about how it is about how I am painting rather than what I am painting. It reminded me of this post from a few years ago that shows closeup details of the painting’s surface. These details are actually how I see my work most of the time, especially when in a groove. And probably as much as I see them as a whole. Made me think this post was worth revisiting.



I was looking for something to play this morning and put on this album, Blues Twilight, from jazz trumpet player Richard Boulger. I’ve played a couple of tracks from this album here over the years.

While the title track was playing I went over to over to a painting that hangs in my studio, the one shown above. It’s an experiment titled October Sky from a few years back that is a real favorite of mine. I showed it for only a short time before deciding that I wanted it hanging in the studio. I never really worked any further in the direction this piece was taking me. Part of that decision to not go further was purely selfish, wanting to keep something solely for myself, something that wasn’t subject to other people’s opinions.

A strictly personal piece. A part of the prism that doesn’t show.

I look at it every day but generally it is from a distance, taking it in as a whole. But his morning, while the album’s title track played I went and really looked hard at it, up close so that every bump and smear was obvious. And I liked what I was seeing, so much so that I grabbed my phone and began snapping little up close chunks of it.

It all very much felt like the music, like captured phrases or verses. Each had their own nuance, color and texture and they somehow blended into a harmonic coherence that made the piece feel complete.

It’s funny but sometimes when I am working hard and in a groove that takes over from conscious thought, I almost forget about those things that I myself like in my work because I don’t have to think about them in the process of creating the work. Looking at this painting this close made me appreciate the painting even more, made me think about it in a different way than the manner in which I now used to seeing it.

Guess it’s a good thing to stop every now and then and look at what you’ve done, up close and personal.

Here’s Blues Twilight from Richard Boulger. Enjoy the music and take a look at the snips, if you so wish. But definitely have a good day.





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Comforter

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But there is a greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question. Eternity is in the present. Eternity is in the palm of the hand. Eternity is a seed of fire, whose sudden roots break barriers that keep my heart from being an abyss.

The things of Time are in connivance with eternity…

― Thomas Merton, “Fire Watch, July 4, 1952”



I had been looking for an image that would match up well with the lines above from the late mystic monk/theologian Thomas Merton when thought of this newer piece. It is titled Comforter and is part of my upcoming June solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

The title feels self-evident in the painting with its shades of blue that are underlaid with layers of magenta that give it a warmth that I finding comforting. The warm light of the moon also has a calming effect and the patchwork effect of the fields speaks directly of a comforter.

As I said, the title speaks for itself.

But Merton’s passage adds a layer of spiritual comfort. It comes from an epilogue for his book The Sign of Jonas and details one of his first duties as a novice monk performing a fire watch. It entailed walking through the monastery in the early hours of the morning making sure that all was well, that no accidental fires or water leaks were taking place. It was a task filled with silence and vigilance but also one that offered comfort in the knowledge that all was well.

And that seems to fit with this small painting. The Red Tree seems to be overlooking all while pondering its own existence, its own purpose. And in doing this silent duty, it finds comfort.

Another passage from Merton’s essay seems applicable as well:

And now my whole being breathes the wind which blows through the belfry, and my hand is on the door through which I see the heavens.  The door swings out upon a vast sea of darkness and of prayer.  Will it come like this, the moment of my death?  Will You open a door upon the great forest and set my feet upon a ladder under the moon, and take me out among the stars?

Perhaps the Red Tree is looking for that ladder under the moon.

I think I will think on that some more. In the comfort of silence.

GC Myers- From a Distance  2020

“From a Distance”- At the West End Gallery



Wanted to just share a poem and an animation of it that features it being read by the poet, Gregory Orr. I chose this one because of a line in it — No purpose but what we make— that made me think about the nature of purpose. We often speak of finding purpose in ourselves but is it something to be found? Or might it be something that we create for ourselves, something that we actually choose?

I have to think on that for a bit. In the meantime, please take a look at the short reading of the poem.



This is what was bequeathed us

This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
And, leaving,
Left to us.

No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.

–Gregory Orr (b. 1947)



Easter Greetings

Victorian Easter Cards



Thought for this Easter Sunday I would simply share a few Victorian Easter cards to go with an appropriate musical selection for the day. Much like the Victorian era Christmas cards I’ve shown here before, The Easter greeting cards from that time sometimes had a creepy edge to them or at least some sort of inexplicable sensibility that is lost on modern audiences. Take a look below and see if they make sense to you. 

Maybe next year I will share some strange photos of people dressed as Easter Bunnies posing with kids, like I have done in the past with some unsettling photos of Santas. The odd thing is that most of the creepiest Easter Bunny photos don’t seem that far in the past. A little too creepily recent for my tastes.

For this Sunday morning musical selection I am going with a song that is very on the nose for my devout friends out there. For those of you who do not observe the religious aspects of this day, it still is worth a listen. It is Sam Cooke, after all. It’s Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord) backed up The Soul Stirrers, the gospel group with which he started his illustrious career. 

Sending you Easter Greetings, maybe in the form of a chicks or bunnies wearing Pickelhauben, those old German military helmets. Seems like small animals were more militaristic then than now. Go figure.





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Hip Harp

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I am in a bit of a rush this morning but wanted to play a bit of music. I came across this piece a number of years ago and it popped up again on my site yesterday. It was Pawky from the late jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby, who is considered one of the most unjustly under loved jazz greats of the 1950’s. Probably a little anti-harp bias. The harp just doesn’t have the built in cool factor of a sax or a trumpet.

I went to YouTube and began playing the 1959 album, Hip Harp,  that it was from and went to do some little chores around the studio this morning.

I really enjoyed having it on. There was something easy in it, something where it would one moment move into the background or hold your rapt attention without losing anything in the listening.

I am not sure I am explaining this  in the way I think I am but that’s going to have to suffice. The word pawky is a British word that means shrewd, tricky or slyly humorous and this piece fits the meaning. This song has a kind of 50’s jazzy, witchy feeling, like it should have been in the soundtrack of the movie Bell, Book and Candle, the 1958 film about modern day witches in Greenwich Village, starring Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak and Jack Lemmon. But it was not in the film though I think the title theme poaches elements from this song a bit.

Give a listen. Great music to work to.



Good Thievery



“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

― Jim Jarmusch, MovieMaker Magazine #53 – Winter, January 22, 2004 



GC Myers - Early Work 1994A friend of mine has picked up his brushes and is attempting to try his hand at painting. He sent a message saying that he was kind of copying my work and hoped that it was okay with me. I told him that it was perfectly fine. In fact, it was expected and maybe even necessary for someone to “borrow” from others.

That’s how I started painting, after all. For example, this watercolor from back in 1994 is my take at that time on the work of Georgia O’Keeffe. Some of you may see it immediately and some may not. I know that’s all I see when I look at it.

I liked this piece at the time but knew that it wasn’t enough of mine to really show. I hadn’t transformed it enough, hadn’t proclaimed it with my own voice.

To be honest, I didn’t fully have my own voice yet. But doing pieces like this and others that were derived ( a fancier way of saying stolen) from the work of others helped me get there.

Borrowing” is a big part of making art. Like filmmaker Jim Jarmusch states above: Nothing is original.

You first take, but then you add your experience, your perceptions, your own way of expression to make something that is something all its own even though it may have the DNA of others within it.

The idea is to get to a point where you have transformed all your stolen ideas into something that is singular and honestly your own.  Something beyond what you first recognized in the work of others.

That’s good thievery.

 

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