Archive for March 9th, 2015

GC Myers- Secret of All TriumphsPerseverance, secret of all triumphs.

–Victor Hugo


Sometimes sticking with a piece that is in trouble pays off.  The painting shown at the top, a 20″ by 20″ canvas that is yet to be titled, was started several weeks ago.  All of the major forms, including the deep blue sky, were blocked in the transparent colors that I use in my wet or reductive work–that is where the paint is put on thickly then absorbed off of the surface until it reaches a tone that fits my eye.  But it just didn’t ring out, had an awful flatness that just made the whole thing dull.  The colors in the foreground were muddied and blah.

I looked at it for weeks.  Actually, I didn’t look at it that often because it just didn’t have anything to pull me to it.  I got to the point that I avoided looking at it at all.  Finally, I decided to scrap the whole thing.  Paint it over in black and start with an empty slate.

Tabula Rasa.

So I took it down into the basement of my studio where I do apply my gesso and do other sloppy work.  I pulled out a thick brush of black paint and slapped it across the sky and worked it back a few times.  The strokes didn’t go into the lower sections of the painting, remaining only in the sky.  I stopped and took in it for a second, the black brush poised to swat across the center now.  The contrast of the black against the colors made the fields pop a bit, gave them a little life.

Just a little.  Maybe there was something there, a flower that could blossom if I just stuck with it a little longer.

So finished the sky in black and in a few days brought it back to the easel.  Each stroke of color that went against the black surface of the sky brought it more and more to life.  When the sky was close to being finished, I went back into the lower fields, glazing them with new layers of color that took away some of the dullness that had plagued them.  The sky had a pop now and the lower fields were catching up to it.  But the central field between the curved horizon and the large mound on which the Red Tree would stand was still an awfully dull green that sucked the life from both the top and bottom.  A sucking vortex.

Maybe this wasn’t going to work after all.  One element so out of kilter could kill the entire thing, break its fragile life force.

After a while I thought that the black had worked so well in the sky, why not break it out in that central field.  Go completely in a different direction with it– make it a red field that would pop in the center of the piece and give contrast to both top and bottom.  Instead of sucking life from it, it would now give it life. And sure enough, it brought everything together.  Even before the trees made an appearance, it was ebbing with life. And when they did appear, it felt complete and alive.  All that I can ask of it.

Now I can’t stop looking at this piece that once made me grimace.  Perseverance pays off in the end, as it usually does.

PS:  Now that I look at this piece after writing this, I believe I will title this painting Secret of All Triumphs. Thanks for the inspiration, Mr. Hugo.

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