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Truth and Belief

The last few details are getting done and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am talking about the final preparations for my show that opens next Friday, June 2, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. These last days before I deliver the show are always hectic but also exciting in that the whole of the show becomes apparent in its finished state. Seeing how the different pieces play off each other, enhancing and reinforcing their individual strengths, is invigorating for me especially when the show reaches that level of satisfaction I am seeking.

And I feel this show reaches that level easily.

The name selected for this show is Truth and Belief.  It is also the title of the painting at the top of the page, which is 16″ by 20″ on panel. I have written a number of times here about how the chasm that has been widened in recent times between what is true and what is believed by so many people has preyed on my mind. It seems that while the truth may set you free, unfounded belief is a bear trap that holds you in place, unable to move or see anything beyond your current viewpoint. Even though you’re told information that would free you from that trap, you refuse to place any belief in it because those who set your current trap have instilled a sense of fear in you that there is a bigger trap waiting just beyond what you can see.

So you stay in your bear trap and, despite the pain, you continue to hold onto what you believe. And hope that it is true so that one day you might be free.

I don’t know if this analogy works. It’s early.

But I do think this painting works. I see the Red Tree on the hill in the distance as being Truth and the nearer one being Belief. Truth stands on higher ground overlooking everything, including Belief. It can see all. Belief has a more limited point of view but it feels like it can see everything it needs. It feels like Truth, in its own way.

But there is distance between Truth and Belief. You have a ways to go from Belief until you reach Truth.

But it’s a journey that must be made.

A Little Press

The other day I received the new Summer issue of Acrylic Artist magazine that hits the newsstands and bookstores on June 6.  It contains an article featuring my work and how I arrived at my “signature style.”

I have to say that I am pleased at the way it came out. Writer Zack Hatfield did a great job transforming our interview into a well written article covering ten pages along with numerous images. Many thanks to Zack and the editors at Acrylic Artist for being such pros and for a job well done.

The magazine is available at newsstands on June 6 but if you would like a copy you can order a print or downloaded copy by clicking on the magazine cover shown here on the right.

Reboot

Truth and Belief, opening June 2 at the Principle Gallery, will be my 18th solo exhibit at the gallery. That’s a long enough time span to see the differences and changes in the work. Some of these come about because of technical changes and some come from conscious decisions. Some are evolutionary and I can see how a concept grows when I compare the shows from the different years.

But throughout the entire time I can honestly say that the work always reflects my emotional state at the time. I definitely believe that is the case for group of work in this show.

The changes of the past nine months or so, personally and in our political scene, have had an effect. I find myself needing to withdraw into the work, need the colors and shapes that I find in them.  Need to find a source of light that I can head toward.

Need to have something to believe in that I know is true.

If nothing else, my work represents that sense of truth for me. And that is how I am viewing the work in this show. It feels earnest, real and true.

Now, I remind you, that this is my opinion, my view of what I am seeing. You may not see those things at all and that’s fine and good. To tell the truth, I don’t care. I think that’s why I like this group of work–it was done specifically for me, to comfort me, to ease my anxieties.

It satisfies my very real needs.

If someone else sees something of value in it, great. If not, at least I have been true to myself. And that, at this point in time, is most important to me.

I call the painting above, a 12″ by 6″ canvas, Reboot. For me, it represents the upheavals that take place in our world and in our lives and how we ultimately deal with them, how we reset our course.

Ship of Fools

Race the LightSunday morning. It’s quiet which I like immensely. Early mornings are my favorite time, when there are fewer people stirring, fewer yahoos who feel it is their right and profound duty to create as much sound as they can in order that the universe might know they are alive. Those rare times when traveling, I like to get up early and prowl the streets of wherever we might be, taking in the landscape and buildings in a much quieter setting. The few people who are there are either early morning folks like myself who gladly soak in the quiet or they have somewhere to go and are still quietly dazed from being dragged from their bed.

Either way, they don’t make much noise.

I wish I had more time to prattle on endlessly but even though it’s Sunday, it’s still a work day for me.  And a very busy one at that as I continue my prep work for my show that opens in less than two weeks. Still so much to do but I am enjoying seeing it come together. I find it exciting to revisit each piece as I frame them, seeing things that may have slipped my mind since I put the touch of paint to them and set them aside.

Take the painting above, a simple 6″ by 12″ piece that revisits a boat motif I have revisited a number of times over the years. My challenge when doing that is to find something new within a narrow compositional parameter with but a couple of elements and little space to add more. The new has to come in the form of color and strokes and texture. And I think this piece, Race the Light, feels new and different than its predecessors. It has its own oomph, its own life and it draws me in anew.

So, in keeping with the boat theme for this week’s Sunday morning music I am going back to some 1980’s music and a song from World Party called Ship of Fools. The song was used in a much different form, much darker and menacing, near the end of the most recent episode of the great TV series Fargo. But the original is a good tune, a great bit of 80’s music. Plus the video is really of the time which sometimes might inspire a chuckle.  The lyrics may pertain to today and tomorrow as much as they did 30 years ago.

You be the judge. Enjoy and have a good day.

 

 

Really busy this morning as I try to wrap up everything for my Truth and Belief show that opens June 2 at the Principle Gallery. As it always is at this point, a week from delivering the show, there is still a lot to do including what seems like a million little, nit-picky details, those small touches that I find make a big difference.

So this morning I am just throwing out a lovely short video of the paintings of pointillist painter Georges Seurat set to the music of Vivaldi.  Both always strike me as rock solid so I figure that you can’t go wrong either way. It’s a good and relaxing way to kick off an overly active Saturday.

So take just a few minutes and relax in the relaxing colors of Seurat and music of Vivaldi.

Have a great day.

 

I came across this post from about 4 years ago and it made me take pause to think.  Sometimes in the course of living day to day, we often lose sight of the bigger picture that is our own life. We often focus on small things, little tasks and minor grievances, causing us to take for granted whatever good fortune that we may have experienced. I find that this is true in the weeks before a show when I am buried in my work. And I think that it  must seems especially true for most of us in these crazy days that we are going through as a nation.

So, today, instead of worrying and burying myself in angst, I am going to focus on the ways in which I have been so fortunate and allow myself to enjoy it, to be happy. Here’s what I wrote four years back:

There is but one success– to be able to spend your life in your own way.

— Christopher Morley, 1922

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I was contacted a week or two back by a man who had given me a great opportunity as an artist in my early years, a large commission that gave me the confidence to make the leap to painting on a full-time basis.  We had not seen one another in many years but he had seen some of the recent publicity about my work and he reached out to me, wanting to congratulate me and see how things were going in general.

For me, it was an opportunity to offer him the gratitude I felt he deserved even though it had been fifteen years since he had worked with me.  The years had clarified how large his decision to use my work meant to my career. So we talked for a bit, me thanking him and him telling me how proud he was of my work and of his ability to have seen something in it in those early days.  It was a nice talk and, after agreeing to get together soon, he put a  final question before me that gave me pause.

Are you successful, Gary?”  he asked.

I wasn’t sure what he meant by successful and the possibilities ran through my mind.  Was he talking about being a financial success?  A critical success, one based on notoriety?  Or was he asking if I was simply happy, satisfied by my life?  It suddenly seemed that success was such a relative term, that one person’s definition of success might not even begin to satisfy the next person’s requirements for it.

But my own?  What was success for me? In the flash of that moment, I tried to put this all together  and determine what the word meant to me.  I thought for a split-second of success being determined by money and fame but settled quickly on my own self-satisfaction as being the determinant of what I might define as success.  I knew in that moment that there would always be those who will make more money, gain more fame and influence than me.  But I also knew that even with more of these things I would be no more  satisfied with the life I was leading–  I do what I want  and I am able to do it on my own terms.  The image came to me then of those times when I am walking through the woods between my house and my studio and I stop and look around, thinking that I am more fortunate in this way than I ever dreamed of in my early years.

I knew in that flash that this  feeling of that satisfied moment in the woods was success for me.  I told him that yes, I was successful, more than I had hoped for.

I have thought about this conversation a number of times.  I still have fears and anxieties, still aspire for more in my career.  But it’s those moments of feeling truly fortunate to do what I do, feeling that warm glow of satisfaction in my life if only for a few seconds here and there each day, that define success for me.

I think back to a few weeks ago when I spoke with a group of high school students and I hope that I gave them  some idea that this is what success is– that if they can set their own  expectations and find satisfaction in these, they will be successful.

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The new painting shown here is a 9″ x 12″ canvas and is titled The Question. It is included in my solo show, Truth and Belief, which opens June 2 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. 

This new painting is titled With Sanction of the Moon. It’s a 10″ by 20″ canvas that is part of my solo show, Truth and Belief, that opens in a little over two weeks on June 2 at the Principle Gallery.  The show seems to be coming together really well with so many of the paintings pleasing me in surprising ways. This piece kind of symbolizes that aspect of the show.

It’s a painting that has been in process for a long time.  I think I started it in the autumn of last year but set it aside soon after so that it was one of those pieces that are propped against a studio wall where I glimpse at them a number of times on a daily basis, trying to ascertain where they might head later in the process.  Its early stages had given it some potential that I thought would emerge eventually but it just wasn’t talking to me.

There is a certain point in my process where the painting has what I would call a dull phase.  When it first goes down on the canvas it rides the initial energy that comes from the composition and the thought process behind that. But in the subsequent steps that energy lags a bit and there is a point where the paint seems to go dull and flat. I have at that point lost the vigor of the initial composition and am fixated on the surface so that when the paint goes flat I lose a lot of my inspiration.

Now, having done this for many years now, I anticipate this stage in the progress of many of my paintings.  It doesn’t worry me when the paint looks listless at that point because I know that each subsequent layer will bring back the life that seems lacking and will reawaken my energy source if it goes as I hope. That’s always a thrilling moment for me, when a piece is reinvigorated in this manner. The initial excitement that comes with the composition comes back in a big way and the painting feels new again.  That flatness is instantly forgotten, as though it never took place.

This piece seemed trapped in that flat stage for a long time for me and I began to wonder if it might make more sense to paint it over and restart on something new. But I could never do that to this piece. I was convinced that there was something there worth preserving, something that would emerge that would be far beyond what I was seeing in the moment.

So I bided my time until a week or so ago. I was in a nice groove with my painting which gave me confidence to dive into this piece with the hopes that I could find its hidden potential. The flatness faded quickly and it was soon in a state that pleased me greatly. It had a voice and life of its own. I had to shake my head that I had doubted it in the first place.

Paintings like this, where I lose then rediscover them much later, are often my favorites.  I’m not saying that they are better paintings. Maybe because they require more conscious thought and effort, unlike those pieces that sometimes just fall out almost on their own, paintings like this remain deeply etched in my memory.

I think I will take another look.

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