Archive for October, 2009

Dr. Witty on Monster Movie MatineeWith Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, my mind switches back to past Halloweens and all the things that go with them.  Part of my normal Saturday routine growing up was to be in front of the TV at 1 o’clock to watch Monster Movie Matinee, a show out of Syracuse that ran for a couple of decades and showed classic ( and not so classic, as the years went by) horror and sci-fi movies.

It was a great kitschy broadcast.  It would start with the camera panning in over an obvious model of an haunted-type mansion on a hill as eerie monster movie music played.  It was hosted by Dr. E. Nick Witty (I think this is supposed to be funny but it eludes me) and his assistant, the wretched Epal. Epal on Monster Movie Matinee You never saw anything of Dr. Witty but his long emotive fingers.  His voice was kind of a bad Bela Lugosi copy that played perfectly for this type of show.  Epal, played by the station’s longtime weatherman who also played other characters (his character, Salty Sam, introduced me to Popeye cartoons) on a number of other shows, was covered in rough-edged scars and wore an eyepatch.  He seemed to constantly erode as the years passed.

They had storylines that they used as they introduced the films, little vignettes that ran from week to week.  Goofy stuff but fun.  They let the movies they showed be the real stars and I saw most of the greats through them.  All the Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolfman movies were in regular rotation in the early years mixed in with a plethora of lower quality, monstery B-movies, which kind of took over in the later years.

215px-Creature_from_the_Black_Lagoon_posterI remember one wet and dark Halloween Saturday back then spending the afternoon watching one of my favorites with Dr. Witty and Epal.  It was The Creature From the Black Lagoon.  It was a movie that was shown at least a few times a year so it became part of the kid memory bank.  It was the story of a group of geological researchers sent to explore a fossilized skeletal claw-like hand found up the Amazon where they encounter the Creature, a rubber-clad Gill-Man who makes repeated attacks on the research vessel, finally abducting the babe girlfriend of the main scientist.

Originally in 3-D in the theaters, was a pretty stylish 50’s monster movie.  Pretty good quality, actually.  The Creature was a great costume, very sleek and somewhat believable- at least to the kid sitting on the couch with the Fig Newtons.  It had nice underwater photography of the Creature gliding after his prey and also had great sound and music that really enhanced the story.  It wasn’t the scariest but it kept you involved with the story.   I always felt more of a connection with the Creature than I did with the crew of researchers and actually felt myself kind of rooting for him at times.  Much like King Kong, he seemed sadly alone.

That wet and dark Saturday many years ago seems to come to life now whenever I think of the Creature or Halloween, for that matter.  I remember the light.  The smell of that living room. Funny how certain things, even the smallest trivialities, imprint on the memory  when coupled with something important, as Halloween was to a kid.

Today I’m thinking of that day and that lonely Gill-Man and Dr. Witty…

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GC Myers 2009I had a little glitch today and wasn’t able to post anything earlier.  It seems in an earlier post I had written about how I was missing the work of cartoonist Gary Larson and his wonderful  The Far Side series.  In doing so, I had illustrated my post with four of his cartoons that I had found at other blogs and websites online.

Even though I was effusive in my praise of the work, this was a breach of Mr. Larson’s copyrights.  The people in the syndicate that represents his work contacted WordPress and effectively froze my blog.  I was finally able to once again use my blog after deleting the images.

I should know better.

I was surprised at the long arm of his protective team, never thinking I was doing any harm or violating anyone’s rights.  But they ferreted me out, among the millions and millions of sites out there.


Anyway, I’m on the right side of the law.  At least for today.  We’ll see about  tomorrow.  Stay tuned…

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clooney-staring-at-goatsThere are a few movies that I’ve been looking forward to and am finally seeing some ads for on the tube.  One is The Men Who Stare at Goats starring George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey. It’s based on the 2004 Jon Ronson book of the same name that was an accompaniment to a BBC documentary on some of the odder aspects of US military intelligence.  Things like psychic warfare and mind control.

It looks like a very funny flick.  Clooney and Bridges have both shown great comedic chops in the past, particularly in Coen Brothers’ films, and look to do the same here.

Another film that I am looking forward to seeing is The Road.  Well, I guess I’m looking forward to seeing it.  Dreading it may actually be the better description to how well I really want to see this film, based on Cormac McCarthy‘s sparse, bleak tale of a father and his young son trying to find warmth and safety in an end of the world scenario.  It’s a dark story that plays on primal fears with little room for hope.  Like much of McCarthy’s work.

Like many books being translated into film, The Road could very well be a bust as a film.  I am afraid they will clutter the story with too much backstory instead of focusing on the simple father-son relationship of the two main characters.  McCarthy told the story with beautifully pared down prose that said everything but not too much.  He lets you fill in your own nightmare.  If you’ve read some of his other work ( No Country For Old Men and the Hieronymous Bosch-like Blood  Meridien leap to mind) you’ll know what I mean.

So, of the two I expect one to make me laugh and one to depress me, either from disappointment or from its portrayal of the abyss of hopelessness.  Now that’s good stuff…

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GC Myers 2009I wrote a few days ago about how I am often mystified by the meanings of my paintings and how I this makes me glad that I still have the need to paint.

I thought about that after I hit the button to publish that post.  I have often heard artists say they had to paint, as though it were some sort of exotic medical quandary.

Paint or die.

It always kind of bothered me when I heard this, as though these guys were saying they had some sort of predestined calling.  Like they were prophets or shamans that the world, without their visionary paintings, would spin out of control.  It just always sounded a little pompous to me.

So when I wrote that it made me twitch a bit.  Maybe I’m the pompous ass here.  It certainly is in the realm of possibility.

But I find myself kind of standing behind what I said.  I do need to paint.  It’s not some call to destiny.  It’s not to transmit some psychic message to the world.  It’s more a case of me needing have a form of expression that best suits my mind and abilities.  Painting just happens to fill that need.  If I could yodel, I might be saying I need to yodel.

But I need to paint.

I need to paint to try to express things I certainly can’t put in words, things that awe and mystify me.  I need to paint to have a means to a voice.

I need to paint just to remind myself that I am alive and still have the ability to feel the excitement and joy from something that I have created.  I need to paint to feel the surprise of exceeding what I felt was within me, to go into that realm of personal mystery within and emerge with something new.  I need to paint because it has given me the closest thing I know to answers to the questions I have.

I need to paint because it is one of the few things that I’ve done fairly well in my life.

Would I die?


I’d adapt and find something new but it would be hard to find something that would suit me as well.  So I guess I do need to paint after all.  Call me a pompous ass.  I don’t give a damn- I’ve got work to do.

The piece above is a new painting.  It’s a 12″ by 24″ canvas and I’m still working on a title.

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GC Myers 2001Running a little late this morning, getting work ready to be delivered next week, and I check the stats for this blog to find that it’s hit and passed the 500,000 hits mark for this year alone.  I’m kind of stunned because when I started this blog last year I was struggling to get 100 hits in a day and the idea of a half million views seemed kind of ridiculous.

Now, I realize that all of these hits are not real readers.  I do submit, on a daily basis, to a blog-surfing engine, Alphainventions, that generates tremendous traffic from all over the world.  Many of these folks have never heard of my work or blog and simply stop because they are attracted to the images at the top of the post, which is a good thing for someone whose work is based on visual imagery.  Many will only stop once or twice but many become regular readers.

So, what does it mean, this 500,000 number?  I don’t really know.  I guess there is a certain validation of the power of the visual image.  I can get a pretty good idea of the reactive power of a painting by how many people respond to it on the blog, so in that way it’s useful to me.

But beyond that, it’s probably just another number, albeit a fairly large one.  I’m going to think about this today while I plug along in the studio but first I think I’ll listen to a little Leonard Cohen.  Here’s his Tower of Song

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Burn Away the DarkI have discussed before how I translate my paintings for myself.  I have often described the blowing red tree I sometimes use as being symbolic of sacrifice or giving of oneself to something larger than oneself.  Or I have said that it could symbolize the sending out of something into the universe.  A message.  A prayer.  A hope or desire.

But there is another that I may have missed.  This new painting reminded me of what it might also stand for.

The flame.

It has the look of the flame and reminds me of the fire of thought, wisdom  and creation.  The flame that illuminates, chases away the darkness.

The flame of reason.

That’s how I immediately read this painting as it came to its completion.  It has a real feeling of underlying darkness and the way the tree sat with the light breaking over the horizon really enhanced the feeling of the tree as a flame, burning away the dark.

I’ve been spending a lot of time the last few days looking at this 16″ by 20″ canvas.  There is a real, active sense of hope in this painting, a feeling that reason can endure and prevail through dark times.

Let’s hope…

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the_queens_noseThe Day I Got My Finger Stuck In My Nose

When I got my finger stuck up my nose

I went to a doctor, who said,

“Nothing like this has happened before,

We will have to chop off your head.”

“It’s only my finger stuck up my nose,

It’s only my finger!” I said.

“I see what it is,” the doctor replied,

“But we’ll still have to chop off your head.”

He went to the cabinet and took out an axe.

I watched with considerable dread.

“But it’s only my finger stuck up my nose.

It’s only a finger!” I said.

“Perhaps we can yank it out with a hook

Tied to some surgical thread.

Maybe we can try that,” he replied

“Rather than chop off your head.”

“I’m never going to pick it again.

I’ve now learned my lesson,” I said.

“I won’t stick my finger up my nose –

I’ll stick it in my ear instead.”

Brian Patten

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TV JohnI was taking a shower yesterday when a scent filled my nose.  It was an odd yet familiar smell, a bit like gunpowder wafting from the barrel of a gun.  It wasn’t something that I had anticipated and I don’t know where it came from but I was suddenly reminded of TV John McKeever, a character from the BBC series Hamish MacBeth that ran several years back.  That’s him in the photo.  The show was the story of a quirky,small Scottish village and its constable, Hamish MacBeth (played by Robert Carlyle.)  It reminded me of a Highland version of Northern Exposure except that it had more drama and mystery, a whodunit with a bit of humor.

One of the main characters was TV John McKeever,  so named for having been the first in town with a TV, who was more or less MacBeth’s deputy.  He was a tall, mysterious character with a bit of clairvoyance.  He had experienced a premonition of his own death and knew that his death would be imminent when he would smell  a particular scent of pomade, which is a hair gel of sorts.  Think of the Dapper Dan cans in O Brother Where Art Thou? This was a recurring plot point in the series.

So there I was in the shower, thinking of TV John and the smell of pomade that would be to him the smell of death, and I began to wonder, “What if this scent I now smelled was my smell of pomade?”

What if today were to be my last day on this earth?  How would I live it?  If I were able to scan back through this last day, as though the day were a movie viewed through my eyes, what would I see?  Would today be a good day to carry with me as my last day, filled with images that meant something to me?

All this was within a flash of seconds and I found myself realizing that I was taking so much for granted around me.  I was not stopping, if only for a moment, to take in the way things really appear around me.  To take in the grandeur of the trees of the forest that I walked through every day.  To look up at the stars on a cold autumn night and see the way the stars and planets change position in the sky.  To see how a squirrel races through the limbs of the hickories around my house.

Simple things.  Things that I simply forget to take notice of on a regular basis.  But things that give texture and depth to my life, things of which I would want to take notice on that day when the smell of pomade wafted into my nostrils…

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And the New Day Approaches...This is another new piece that I’m calling  And There is a New Day…  It’s a 24″ by 30″ canvas and is in the obsessionist style that I have been primarily focusing on lately, which is closer to traditional painting than the usual style I have used for the past 13 or 14 years.

I really like the feel of this painting.  The underlying texture is such that it really allows the darkness to show through while still bearing lighter paints above.  This texture also gives a slightly ragged edge on the lines, which really alters the overall look.  It gives it a less controlled feel.  It reminds me , in a way, of some examples of German Expressionism and American Modernism of the  early 1920’s.  This piece still is more controlled than many of the pieces that it brings to mind but still has the give and take of light and dark that I so admire.

The theme of this piece is a familiar one for me.  There is sense of being caught in a pause, waiting for the onset of something.  A new day.  A new wind.  A new path.  In this case, it is light of the new day breaking over the horizon.  I like the way the light breaks into confetti-like dabs of color.  It creates a real vibrancy, a sense of movement forthcoming that is spreading over the sleeping village.  The houses have no windows or doors, as is usual for such pieces of mine.  I sometimes think the absence of the doors and windows symbolizes sleep in my paintings but I’m not really sure if that’s all I really see.  There are other times when I think they symbolize a general inward turning, an introversion where there is no awareness of the outside world.  Sometimes, I just think I like the look without the windows or door.

I like that there’s a little mystery in that interpretation, even for myself.  The excitement in painting for me is in not knowing what will emerge.  The day that I know how everything in one of my paintings will turn out or be translated will be the last day I need to paint.

This painting makes me glad that I do still need to paint…

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Wild Side of Life

Bobcat photo hi litedI wrote about seeing a bobcat or lynx a few weeks ago near my studio.  I was pretty excited because it was so much larger than I had expected, not the slightly oversized housecat that I had been led to believe it appear to be.  As the weeks passed I began to have doubts creep into my own memories of the event.  Maybe it wasn’t that big.  Maybe I was just overstating for effect.  I’ve done it before.

Maybe I was one of those people, key witnesses to a crime, who swear they’ve seen a large, dark assailant only to find out later that the person wasn’t so large or so dark.

I was afraid of a failure of observation.  Seeing more than was there.

So, I decided to set up a scout camera, used by naturalists and hunters to covertly photograph natural settings.  These cameras have motion sensors and film both single images and video.  They also have infrared flashes for night settings that flash without alarming the subject.

I set mine up in a patch of woods near my studio, a  relatively young thicket where I last saw the cat pass through and decided I would leave it there for a few days without checking it.  I really didn’t expect much.  Maybe a few of the family of deer that reside on my property.  Maybe a coyote or a raccoon.  Who knows?

So I picked up the camera on Saturday morning about 10:30 and went to check it out at the studio.  At first I thought there was nothing, just wildly swinging pictures of me trying to attach the camera to the tree as the motion sensor went  off.  Then I noticed a night photo that I first thought was empty.  Probably a breeze blew a leaf across the sensor.  Then in the corner I noticed a head.

Bobcat Night hi liteA cat’s head.

There was my bobcat.  There were the tufted ears.  But I couldn’t get a sense of scale or size.

But he was there.  I checked the time and it was two days previous, just past midnight.  I thought that was about all I would probably get but it was enough for me.  I had an image of him, at least.BobCat small walk

But then in the next photo, a daytime photo, there he was again, going under a hanging branch.  I could immediately see the scale and size of him.  He was as big as I had thought.  He was a substantial cat, much larger than I had anticipated a bobcat being.  This shot was of him walking away and the next he was turning slightly to go around the bend in the path so I could see him even clearer, could see that he was as thick and heavily muscled as I had first thought when I saw him in my driveway.  That’s the photo at the top of the post.

The time said 9:26 of that very morning, only an hour before I retrieved the camera.  I went back out and was able to measure him in relation to the hanging  branch and the several branches on the ground.  I figure he’s between 20- 24 ” tall at his shoulder (just above my knee) and between 40-44″ long.  Pretty good size.  He was quite a bit bigger than my beloved Maggie, a shepherd-husky that we had many, many years ago.

Now I know this is no big deal.  There are plenty of big cats out there.  Probably those of you who have mountain lions in your area are not impressed.  I understand that.  I’m just thrilled that I was able to observe this creature and do so with some accuracy.

Hopefully, I’ll see him again…

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