Archive for February, 2015

GC Myers Streaming Peaceful smHe who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with
the world.
    – Marcus Aurelius


This is a new painting that is  titled Streaming Peaceful, a  24″ by 36″ canvas that is part of a group of paintings that should be arriving today at the Just Looking Gallery in San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California.  This very much a signature piece for my work in form and content, a deep landscape under a gradated sky with the Red Tree holding central  focus.

But for me the central aspect of this piece is the placid feel that emanates from it.  It has a rich and supple feel that I find brings immediate calm as soon as my eyes lock on to the image.  Even at this moment as I write, there is an instant sensation as though I am releasing a deep breath when I shift my gaze upward on the screen to this painting.

And that sense of being near some sort of core of peacefulness is what I am looking for in my work, at least in my own personal relationship to it.  I have maintained this quite a few times over the years here that my primary personal goal in painting is not in mere representation, not in pure design or technical prowess.  No, what I want, my ultimate goal,  is to simply move myself with the work to an inner point where I am finally calm and at peace with the world.  For me, feeling that calming envelope surround me is all I truly seek in my work.

Everything else is secondary.

And  this piece hits that mark– for me.  I can’t speak for others.   We all seek different things and have differing reactions to art.  What others see or feel in this is their experience alone and that is as it should be.

But, like it or not, I am at peace in it.

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GC Myers A Consideration of Grace  2002The greatest happiness you can have is knowing that you do not necessarily require happiness.

–William Saroyan


This quote from William Saroyan caught me off guard when I came across it, mainly because it captured in a few words the lesson I had finally gleaned from years of  seeking this elusive beast called happiness.  And  a beast it was, a creature from mythology.  I had made it into a thing that had special powers and was like the Abominable Snowman— rumored to exist but seldom seen.

I discovered over time that this was a mistake.

I was picturing happiness as a once in a life thing, some sort of peak moment, when it was, in fact, just a small part of our being human.  The key in Saroyan’s short quote is the word knowing.  Once we begin to know who and what we are and are not, the need for peak moments subsides as we understand that there is a sort of happiness in the smaller moments of simply being.  It is not a gleeful, heart-pounding joy but a comfortable warm glow and an inner sense of satisfaction that often comes to you at what seems to be the most mundane of moments.

Stopping just now and looking out my studio window, for example.  A light snow is falling almost in time to Paul Desmond’s sax that is mingling with Dave Brubeck’s piano and I sip my coffee.  It is gray and almost gloomy but I feel this glow, this satisfaction in the moment.  It is not happiness as most might define the word .  It is just a moment of knowing that  I exist in the world,  that I am here to bear witness to the small wonders that take place around me in my small corner of the universe.

And that’s good enough.


I chose the painting at the top, A Consideration of Grace from back in 2002, because there is something like the feeling I am describing today in it for me.  Maybe it can be described as grace.  I don’t know…

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GC Myers Sun CarvingOur internet  connection was down here for most of the day yesterday which was not really a surprise given the -19° on the thermometer.  Cold enough to make today’s puny 1° reading look appealing.  But because I didn’t have to focus on writing the blog I took the time to rearrange a couple of things in the studio, things that I often look at from my seat at the computer.  On the large stone wall that holds the fireplace in my studio there are three half-round stone shelves that hold several  wood carvings.

One is an inexpensive carving of Don Quixote that my sister gave me for Christmas when I was a kid and another is a beautiful carving of a crow from artist Don Sottile,  a talented sculptor from my home Finger Lakes region.  Then there are a few of my own carvings from the early 90’s, predating my first attempts at painting by a couple of years.  They are not nearly as well executed as Mr. Sottile’s work but they mean a lot to me, if only as a reminder that they were keys to a door in my mind that I was desperately trying to open at that time, one that would eventually lead me here.

I thought I would take this opportunity to rerun a blog entry about these pieces from back in early 2009:

GC Myers- Hank CarvingImmediately before I started painting in the mid-90’s, my form of expression was wood carving.  It was unpolished and rough but it provided the vehicle that I needed to spark further creativity.  Most were created with an inexpensive set of small chisels and scrap lumber, usually just pine boards leftover from projects.

Actually, the technique that is used in these carvings is linked very much to my earliest efforts at painting which consisted of a heavy layer of paint then removing the parts that didn’t belong leaving the desired image.  This is a technique that I use to this very day.


 GC Myers Poseidon CarvingThe thing that I learned most from doing these pieces is that I wanted to emphasize expression over technique.  By that I mean I did not want to focus so much on refining technique to obtain a very polished final product that the piece became more about craft and less about expression of emotion.  By doing so I realized the pieces would retain my own identity and idiosyncrasies.  It was my first real stab at creating a visual look and vocabulary of my own. 

I also took the idea of the work having a tactile feel to it.  The attraction of these for me was in holding them and feeling the wood and the weight of it in my hands.  When I first started painting I worked primarily on paper and I got this same feeling from the cotton of the watercolor papers.  It’s something that I also try to insert into my work today as well, through the use of texture and in the way I present the paintings.

When I look at these I’m not particularly impressed by them as art but I do appreciate them for the lessons they provided at a time when I needed guidance, lessons which I took to heart.  To me they are touchstones to a certain part of my life and as such are important to my development as an artist.

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Holton Rower Pour PaintingI came across the video below recently of artist Holton Rower creating one of his paintings by pouring gallon after gallon of paint on to a central point, often over structures he has constructed  that create different effects in the movement of the paint. These gallons of paint flair out, creating  works with brilliant bands of contrasting color.  The larger pieces are quite striking.  There is also the performance aspect of his process that makes for entertaining viewing as you watch and wonder how each color that is introduced will affect the entirety of the piece.

Here’s a very short bio from Artsy:

Claiming, “I probably use more paint than anybody in the history of art,” Holton Rower, grandson ofAlexander Calder, is best known for his “pour paintings,” created by pouring up to 50 gallons of rainbow-colored paints over variously configured blocks and panels of plywood, and allowing it to spread and pool into textured, psychedelic compositions. He grew up surrounded by art and working in his father’s construction business, where he learned about the qualities of a range of materials. In his own studio, he experiments with many techniques and media, including sculpture, installation, and assemblage. In the early 2000’s, Rower began developing his “pour paintings,” which he equates to sculptures. Ranging from small- to large-scale, and appearing as vortexes or the ringed segments of tree trunks, they are records of control and chance, human ingenuity and natural forces.

Take a look at the video below.  You may find it interesting even if it’s not your cup of tea.

Holton Rower-The-Hole Holton Rower

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Blues Twilight Cover Richard BoulgerMost  mornings in the studio I will click on to the Pandora site for a little music while I write the blog.  Normally I will choose the  Chet Baker channel which is a blend of his music along with many others in a wide variety of jazz styles.  I find that it’s a great sound to drive my thoughts without overpowering them, energetic and moody at once.  Being able to step in and out of the music while I am thinking make it a great soundtrack to work by in the morning.

Listening to this has exposed me to a lot of artists and their music that were unknown to me beforehand.  Can’t say I know much about jazz or its history, primarily a few of the better known tracks from the legends.  But I try to keep an open mind and don’t turn myself off to it because of my own lack of knowledge, an attitude I hope a lot of folks who say they know nothing about art will maintain as well.  Try it on– maybe it will fit you better than you might think.

So, for this week’s Sunday music I chose a piece from a musician that was totally unknown to me not too long ago, Richard Boulger.  His horn work is beautiful and his compositions flow really well.  I heard this piece one morning and was totally taken by it and now find myself listening to it once or twice a day now while I paint.  It just fits me well.

Here’s Miss Sarah from Boulger’s 2008 album Blues Twilight.  Hope you’ll enjoy it and have a great Sunday.


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GC Myers- A Seat at the Table  smMan is a part of the world, and his spirit is part of the spirit of the world.  We are merely a peculiar mode of Being, a living atom within it, or, rather, a cell that, if sufficiently open to itself and its own mystery, can also experience the mystery, the will, the pain, and the hope of the world.

Vàclav Havel


The Red Chair normally represents memory for me.  Often it is the form of familial memory with the chair lifted by the branches of what seems to be its family tree.  But in this newer painting, an 18″ by 36″ canvas that I call A Seat at the Table I see it as being part of a larger family unit, as a piece of the entirety of the world and the universe.

Oh, it may only play a small part but it is a part nonetheless, a link in the chained mesh of all things.  It belongs.

It has a seat at the table.

And that’s an important thing to remember for each of us– that we do belong, that we play a part in serving to hold together this universe.  We are not universes unto ourselves however much it sometimes seem.  We best function in our parts when we seek to serve others and in some way strengthen our part of  this universal mesh.

So play your part and involve yourself in the world, in the universe.  You do have a seat at the table, after all.

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Traditions are lovely things- to create traditions, that is, not to live off of them… the great shapers do not search for their form in the fogs of the past.

–Franz Marc


Franz Marc- The Yellow Cow 1911

Franz Marc- The Yellow Cow 1911

I chose today’s quote from German painter Franz Marc because he was an influence for me early on.  Not so much in the style or subject matter that he employed but simply in the fact that he created work that stood out and was identifiable as his from across a gallery space.  This is basically what he is pointing towards in this aphorism–to not toil in the fields planted by earlier artists but to carve out your own space and work it in the way that suits and  best expresses you.

Franz Marc- Large Blue Horses

Franz Marc- Large Blue Horses

He is not downplaying the influences of the past.  Early in his career  Marc copied the works of other artists from before and contemporary to him, using it as a way in which to find an avenue of expression that meshed with his vision.  He did not want to remain a replicator but wanted instead to be a creator.  And that was the attraction for me.

There was safety and security in remaining in this symbolic field with others but it would often be as an anonymous member of a larger group, your furrow always directly compared to the furrow of those alongside you, your harvest compared to their’s.

Breaking away and heading out was risky.   You had to believe that in taking this leap of faith that you would be able to work your little spot in your own way away from others and produce a harvest that is uniquely appetizing to others in some manner.   But you might end up toiling in barren soil, creating crops that appealed to no one but yourself.  It was scary to think that your field might never expand but you were at least nourishing yourself.

This was the type of thinking that drove my work early on, fueled by looking at the work of Marc and others who veered from the traditions of the past in their times.

Unfortunately, Franz Marc only worked his fields for a relatively short time, dying in WW I at the Battle of Verdun.  He was 36 years old.  But his crop still lives on, surviving being labeled as degenerate art in the 1930’s by Hitler and the Nazi regime.

It is unique and his own tradition.

Franz Marc- The Waterfall 1912

Franz Marc- The Waterfall 1912

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Foreign Affairs mar Apr Cover 2015I have mentioned my niece, Sarah Foster, here in the past for her exploits as a talented dancer and choreographer in NYC. But she has another form of her talent that showed itself recently in her day job with Foreign Affairs magazine. That is that of a video editor.  The coming March/April issue of the prestigious magazine deals with the issue of race and has images of  the faces from a group of people from all races all set against backdrops that match their skin tones.

Sarah produced  a very fine video for the magazine explaining the backstory behind these images, which is the work of  Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass.  She  an ongoing and open-ended project called Humanae which has her photographing people of all races from around the globe.   So far over 2500 subjects on five continents have participated.

All are photographed in exactly the same circumstances– the same distance, the same light and exposure.  She then matches the color from their nose to the Pantone color system, an international standard for color matching, and makes the backdrop that color.   She then labels each with the Pantone code and number.   The result is a wonderful and powerful examination of how we define race by colors that really don’t exist.

Humanae Image of Angelica DassThe video feature a telephone interview with Dass ( shown here on the left–she’s Pantone 7522 C) who explains her project.  The video is a great accompaniment to it, giving you a taste of many images.

Great work.  Well done, Sarah!!

For more info on Angélica Dass and the Humanae Project click here.

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James Ensor Christs Entry Into Brussels in 1889I’ve been spending some time recently looking at the work of painter the Belgian painter James Ensor who lived from 1860 until 1949 in the seaside town of Ostend.  It’s not a name that you probably recognize and even seeing the work may not ring a bell for you.  I know that it didn’t for me.  But the work did excite me, especially given the context of the time in which much of it was created.   He began creating his visionary and sometimes macabre world in the 1880’s when the Impressionists were still taking shape.  Given the look and subject matter, it came as no surprise that he is considered a major influence on the Surrealists and Expressionists of later generations.

James Ensor Christs Entry Into Brussels in 1889 DetailBut it was new to me and captivated me at once, especially the piece at the top of this page , Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889.  It is a massive piece, over 8 foot tall and 14 foot  in length.  It is a Mardi Gras parade ( Happy Fat Tuesday, by the way– bon temps rouler!) of caricatured figures escorting Christ into modern day Brussels in 1889.  It is loud and aggressive and roughly painted, so unlike the prevailing style of the time.  Filled with energy, it is a treasure trove for the eye.

Here is the description from the Getty Center in LA where it now resides and is shown:

James Ensor took on religion, politics, and art in this scene of Christ entering contemporary Brussels in a Mardi Gras parade. In response to the French pointillist style, Ensor used palette knives, spatulas, and both ends of his brush to put down patches of colors with expressive freedom. He made several preparatory drawings for the painting, including one in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s collection.

Ensor’s society is a mob, threatening to trample the viewer–a crude, ugly, chaotic, dehumanized sea of masks, frauds, clowns, andcaricatures. Public, historical, and allegorical figures along with the artist’s family and friends made up the crowd. The haloed Christ at the center of the turbulence is in part a self-portrait: mostly ignored, a precarious, isolated visionmary amidst the herdlike masses of modern society. Ensor’s Christ functioned as a political spokesman for the poor and oppressed–a humble leader of the true religion, in opposition to the atheist social reformer Emile Littré, shown in bishop’s garb holding a drum major’s baton leading on the eager, mindless crowd.

After rejection by Les XX, the artists’ association that Ensor had helped to found, the painting was not exhibited publicly until 1929. Ensor displayed Christ’s Entry prominently in his home and studio throughout his life. With its aggressive, painterly style and merging of the public with the deeply personal, Christ’s Entry was a forerunner of twentieth-century Expressionism.

Looking at this piece sends my mind whirling and makes me want to break free of my comfort zone, to think outside of the box in which I have been comfortably residing for a while now.  It rekindles old ideas that have laid dormant, untouched, for many years and makes me wonder if I have the nerve to execute them now.  For me, this excitement to expand is true validation of the power and energy of this work.

Now to decide how to use that inspiration…


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GC Myers  Bring the Light smallThis is a new painting, 18″ by 18″ on canvas, that was finished a couple of weeks back  titled Bring the Light.  It features the Red Tree high atop a promontory  amid a sunburst of light, across open fields from two groups of Red Roofed houses, one still yet to receive the light.

It’s an interesting piece, one that has me studying it quite a few times a day here in the studio.  On one viewing, there seems to be a lot going on here but then  it begins to read simply  as three wavy bands of color– the sky down to the tops of the green-leafed trees then down to the purples and blues of the foreground.  The road acts as a connecting ribbon and the houses and Red Tree as staple-like connectors, all holding the piece together.

On another viewing, it appears more narrative, like a storyline crafted from the description in the first paragraph, and on the next viewing seems to be a study in depth into the picture, with multiple planes and receding lines.

It could be confusing but the central focus of the Red Tree framed in light pulls it together for me, creating a harmonious feel and unifying the many disparate elements of the picture.  That’s a role and a purpose that fits the Red Tree well in much of the work, this piece included.

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