Archive for November, 2016

Discovery/Joan Miro

In a picture, it should be possible to discover new things every time you see it. But you can look at a picture for a week together and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.

–Joan Miro

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I wasn’t planning on featuring another older blog post.   But in recent days I have realized that some of the struggles I am going through in the studio are very similar to those I experienced in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in late 2001 and through 2002.  My reaction to those attacks and the the current state of the country has been very similar.  

But there are differences between now and then.  How these will come out in the work is still to be seen.  It seemed in 2001 our angst was a matter of simple light and dark.  Right and wrong.  But the situation now is much different.  It is almost Kafkaesque in its absurdity.  Truth has become a matter of perception and belief rather than factual evidence.  We are no longer facing a darkness from some outside force.  

Instead we find ourselves in a tangle of lies, disinformation and misinformation.  Deeply divided visions for our future.  A giant Gordian knot of our own darkness.  And like the Gordian knot, the solution to undoing this tangle may come from an unlikely person or source.  A unique strategy that involves thinking outside of the box.  Or the stroke of a sword.

While I have yet to act on this impulse, I am seeing my coming work,  much like I did in 2001, in darker tones.  Deeper shadows.  And like that earlier “dark work” the focus and strength of the work will not be found in the oppressive nature of the darkness.  No, it’s strength will hopefully arise from the hope found in the light that will be there.

And there will be light.

This is from back in 2008:  


A Journey BeginsMy work had a dramatic change for a while in the months after 9/11.  Like everyone, my worldview shifted that day and this was reflected in my work.   It became darker in appearance and tone,  a bit more ominous in feel.   A lot of this had to do, technically, with the way the pieces were painted.  I was using a dark base and adding color in layers on top of this base, slowly building up my surface.  Much like painting on black velvet.  Normally I start with a white base and add layers of colors, taking away color as needed to achieve a desire effect.  As I pulled paint off the surface, the light base would come through and give the picture plane a glowing presence.  My normal technique is basically a “reductive” style whereas this new work in 2002 was “additive”.

Being untrained, these are terms I’ve adopted to sort of describe what I see as my technique.  They work for me.

Night TranceThis new work was not nearly so optimistic in feeling as my previous work.  People were a bit slower to embrace it and I wasn’t surprised at a time when our nation was still reeling.  But it was a true expression of how I felt at that time and I remember my time at the easel with these pieces as being very trance-like.  I would start a piece and have a hard time stopping. A virtual intoxication of color.  Or maybe more of a refuge in the scenes.  I don’t know.

Since the public was a bit more lukewarm to this group , which the galleries call “the dark work”, I have several of these pieces still and I am still both excited and calmed when I look at them.  They are rich and bold and very still in nature.  They may be dark but I still think there is hope in these paintings but it’s a wary type of hope.

And in the end, hope is hope…

In the Flow

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Silence Speaking/ Redux


It’s hard to believe that I have been writing this blog for over eight years now.  It’s become part of my process and provides me with a place where I can go into greater detail about the work as well as receive instant feedback.  The post below was written about this time seven years ago when I was still unsure about the value of the blog to my work.  

GC Myers-Graceful Living 2004Silence is as full of potential wisdom and wit as the unshown marble of great sculpture. The silent bear no witness against themselves.

—Aldous Huxley


I’ve been scratching around in the studio for the last few days.  Straightening up a little, putting things in their places.  Taking inventory, as it were.  Seeing what materials I have on hand and what I’m short on.

I do the same with the creative side of my mind.  I take this time, as I’ve noted in the past, to look back at the year and the body of work I’ve created over this period.  What have I done?  What is strong and what needs to improve?

One thing I’ve done in the past year is the continuance of this blog.  It’s done far better than I ever expected as far as readership and it has become a big part of my morning in the studio.  The feedback has been great and  I’ve taken a lot from the comments and e-mails received as a result of this blog.

But I still worry that this provides too much information about a subject, painting, that often communicates best without words.  I still fear that the impact of my words and thoughts will never add up to anything near the sum of my painted work and, as a result, a seed of doubt will be planted.  A doubt that makes the viewer question their own view of the work.  If I speak and write and eventually expose all my flaws and deficiencies, will the work still stand up?

As Huxley said, the silent bear no witness against themselves.  There’s much to be said for that.  Maybe the silent artist allows the narrative surrounding their work to form on its own, to grow beyond what they themselves may be.  I can see that in some cases.

But I’ve found that I’ve always wanted to control the narrative around my work.  To not let it be spun out of my hands.  So I talk and write.

For better or worse…

The inventory goes on.

November, 2016: You can see that I was still debating whether this writing would overexpose my personal flaws and deficiencies to the detriment of my work.  Looking back now, I have reached the conclusion that this hasn’t injured perceptions of the work– my flaws are evident in the work even without my writing about them.  I’m good with that.  And any worries I had about controlling the narrative of the work have also been unfounded.  I can push it in certain directions but ultimately the narrative is formed between the work itself and the viewer’s mind.  

As it should be…

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the-who-wont-get-fooled-againI started off this morning at a very different place than where I finished when I began looking for this Sunday morning’s musical selection.  I started watching videos from Long John Baldry which somehow led to Neko Case which even more oddly led me to Oscar Peterson and Count Basie.

It was all good and fine but it just wasn’t right yet and I found myself watching a video of The Who‘s Love Reign O’er Me from Pete Townsend‘s reworking of their classic rock opera Quadrophenia in 2015 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall.  It featured British tenor Alfie Boe singing Roger Daltrey‘s part.  It still didn’t quite come up to the original as far as the intangibles– raw emotion and Daltrey’s vocal authenticity– are concerned but it is still very good and musically powerful.  I mean, it’s the Royal Philharmonic– how can you go wrong with that?

But this just made me want more of that fire that The Who just seemed to ooze when they were at their apex.  And one song seemed to fit these times so well and fell perfectly into my own feelings at the moment– Won’t Get Fooled Again.  I don’t think I need to say anymore.  I also threw in the newer version of Love Reign O’er Me below.  Give a listen and have a good day…

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9913217-fragments-sm“All there is, is fragments, because a man, even the loneliest of the species, is divided among several persons, animals, worlds. To know a man more than slightly it would be necessary to gather him together from all those quarters, each last scrap of him, and this done after he is safely dead.”
Coleman Dowell, Island People


It’s been hard finding footing lately in the studio.  It’s been hard to just get started on most days.  There are plenty of factors that play in to this, some external and some internal, some that I can control and some I cannot.  But the end result is the same: I am left feeling fragmented, broken into shards that don’t want to reassemble easily in the form of my work.

I am not worried however.  This is not the first time I’ve felt so fragmented nor will it be the last.  I know that I come apart at times and have to bide my time, just continuing to try to put myself back together so that I may uncover what I know is waiting there for me.

It’s there. It may seem an awfully long way away but I can see it and I know that while it may take time and much effort, I shall be together with it again.

The painting above is a piece that has been with me for a while now.  One of the orphans that come home to reside for a bit.  I wrote about it last year when I thought I might change its name to Dimming of the Day but it still remains under its original title, Fragments, in my mind.  And I suspect it will stay that way.

This painting is based very much on this feeling that I am experiencing at this moment and when this feeling emerges, I often think of this painting.  There is darkness and distance here.  The space between the Red Chair and the house has a certain weight that makes me feel as though there is something more than physical distance at play here. The sky, a confetti-like blend of thousands of little fragments of brushstrokes that gave the painting its title originally,  represents, for me at least in this piece, the world falling out of harmony.

Dark, distant and coming apart.

Yet despite that I find this painting very comforting.  I think that goes back to what I said above, that I know this place well from past experience .  I know how to navigate it and know that the distance is not so great nor the darkness too deep.  And I know that the parts are still in place to come together again in the future if I simply exercise patience and don’t give in.

It’s funny how that works.  I walk by this painting several times a day in the studio and it’s often without a thought as my mind is preoccupied with something else.  But every so often I stop before it and suddenly all of these feelings flood back on me when I look closer.  I’m glad it works that way, actually.

Here’s a nice version of the Richard Thompson song whose title, Dimming of the Day,  I was thinking about renaming this painting.  It’s a strong yet tender version from Tom Jones.  Have a good day…

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Thanks Giving

pooh-and-piglet-original-eh-shepard-drawingPiglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


Remember that every tiny heart holds little space for hatred but has an infinite amount of room in it for gratitude.

And love.

And compassion.

Wishing you all a peaceful and quiet Thanksgiving Day…

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Was That Me?/ Redux


This is a blog entry from this day back in 2010.  I came across it this morning and thought it fit my mood for this morning.  Must be something in the date…

gc-myers-red-eye-2010As machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.
——Ernst Fischer 


I’ve wondered about the concept of perfection for some time  and quite some time back came to that conclusion that perfection is not a human quality, that we are defined by our imperfections.  That’s somewhat what the quote above says.  When I read it, it struck me at once but I had never heard of the writer, Ernst Fischer.  Looking him up, I found him to be an Austrian Marxist writer who waved the banner for Stalinist policies for many years but in his later years ( he died in 1972) came to regret his past.  His memoir of his life began with a chapter that was titled Was That Me?, indicating his astonishment at looking back and seeing the phases he went through in his life.

I think most of us could start our own memoirs with that same first chapter title.  I know I could, even though I feel that I am very much the same at the core now as I was in my earlier days.  My actions were not always consistent with that core, however.  I was, and am,  a walking exhibition of flaws, imperfections.

As are we all.

Maybe it’s when we begin to align our actions to what we are at the core that life begins to appear become easier to swallow and our imperfections become less evident and not worn on our sleeves for all to see.  I’m not talking about trying to acquire perfection.  No, I mean that we just try recognizing the flaws that make up each of us and accept them.  Life is in toleration- of others as well as of ourselves

Please bear with me here.  One of the problems of doing a daily blog is that I often post things as though I were writing them in a journal, unedited and just as they fall out of the mind.  They are not always fully realized thoughts or ideas and will soon be questioned in my own mind,  like reading an old journal written when much younger and wondering , “What was I thinking there?” or “Was that me?”  You hope that, as we age and gain experience, that this is a less frequent happening in our lives.  But writing in this public forum, forcing out words each day, it sometimes reappears.

One’s imperfections become apparent.

Phew!  I don’t know what I just said here and I don’t really want to reread it so I’ll let it hang out there for now, flawed though it may be.

The piece at the top is a tiny painting, 2″ by 4″, that I call Red Eye.  For some reason unknown to me at this point, I felt it fit this post.

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This painting is one of those pieces that somehow found its way back to the studio after making the rounds at several galleries.  I’m not always surprised when one does make its way back to me but this one kind of surprised me.  There’s just a lot that I like about this painting.  So I will enjoy it for a while longer for myself.  Here’s what I wrote about it a few years back.

GC Myers- Passing CloudOptimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
-Helen Keller


Who can speak more about optimism than Helen Keller?

I still struggle to get my mind around how she persevered to overcome blindness and deafness.  Such a remarkable thing.  It makes me question my own strength of character, makes me wonder how I would respond if similar circumstances.  I wonder how well known her life’s story is to the younger generation, outside of the tale of her early years with the woman, Anne Sullivan,  who taught her how to join the world as portrayed in the play and movie, The Miracle Worker.  That drama, while marvelous in itself, doesn’t reveal the great influence that Helen Keller had through her life as an activist and inspirational speaker.  She is a pretty amazing case, to say the least.

That brings me to this  little piece, a new 12″ by 12″ canvas that I call Passing Clouds.  There’s a lot of joy, a lot of bright-eyed optimism in this painting, both in the process of painting it and in the final product.  It’s one of those pieces that I truly enjoyed every moment that I worked on it and never felt a twinge of doubt about the strength or validity of it.  It felt in rhythm with the first brushstroke and every subsequent move was made with complete confidence.  That’s a rare thing.  Usually there is a struggle at some point.  But occasionally things come together and a painting like this flows out with complete ease.

No, there are no clouds hanging over this one.  Just floating by…

I wanted to include a version of Irving Berlin‘s classic song  Blue Skies, one of my favorites.  But as I searched  I came across this different song  with the same title from Tom Waits.  I had forgotten this song that I hadn’t heard in many years but it immediately came back to me.  Just a lovely small song, perfect for a lovely small painting.

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sharon-jones-photo-credit_jacob-blickenstaff100 days, 100 nights, to know a man’s heart/
And a little more, before, he knows his own


Lost in the hubbub of the news this past week was the passing this week of soul singer Sharon Jones at the age of 60 from pancreatic cancer.  Releasing her first record when  she was 40 years old, she made an abbreviated but very bright arc with her career.  Backed by the Dap-Kings, Jones had a truly soulful voice, one that will be missed.

Looking for something of hers to play for this week’s Sunday Morning Music, I thought that one of her biggest hits would be appropriate for the times in which we are living.  It’s 100 Days, 100 Nights.

It’s a powerful song with a simple premise, as the lyrics at the top attest– a person shows their true self in a relatively short time.  I think most of us would agree to that.  I thought this really applied to the early days of the president-elect’s transition.  He has staffed his transition team and pick cabinet members that are beginning to show his true heart.

And it ain’t that different from the heart he showed us on the campaign trail, folks.  Did you really expect him to change?

He’s chosen primarily white men who have long histories of racist, misogynistic, nationalistic, xenophobic and homophobic words and actions. These are not men whose positions have evolved on these things.  They are there to put Trump’s words into action.  He told us who he was on the trail and he’s sticking to it now.

There are many of you out there who say that your vote for him was not a vote for those beliefs, that they are not yours, that you are not racist or homophobic or xenophobic.  I take you at your word and know for a fact that many of you are not those things.  But you must realize that your vote was a tacit endorsement of all those things right down to the nastiest little dig.  You chose and found acceptable the entire candidate who proudly wore those badges and when he follows up on doing the things that he said he would do, even the ones you thought were not to your liking, those actions belong to you.

And when you say that if he tries to strip away our rights you will stand with us, I need to know at what point do you step forward to protest?  There were plenty of Germans in the 1930’s who were not Nazis and didn’t hold any of the racist beliefs of the party.  But they also didn’t step up in protest and went along with the crowd.  They became the crowd and soon there was no place for protest, no one willing to hear a voice in dissent.  And we all know how that ended.

One of the scariest things I’ve read in the last few days was an article that stated two leading economists have stated that Trump’s economic plan could succeed in a big way.  I am not scared of his success, it’s just that under this scenario it would be an explosive growth that would be very short term and very, very costly in the longer run, perhaps four or five years.  The deficits would explode and it would all end with a huge crash in our economy, one perhaps rivaling or even exceeding the levels of the Great Depression.

That’s Depression with a D.

That in itself is scary.  But the part that truly alarms me is that in the time of this short term growth, say four years, Trump would gain popularity and wider acceptance.  The economic growth would distract the attention of the wider population from the fundamental changes to our society he would be enacting.   When our pocketbook is doing well we don’t want to pay attention to how the rights of others might be faring, the vast corruption that may be taking place, how the environment might be suffering or that our first amendment rights may be eroding.  And possibly so much more.

Our distraction will be our undoing.

And the president-elect is a master of distraction and diversion.

So while we usually judge a presidency by its first 100 days, I think we can begin Trump’s from the moment they declared him the winner of this election.  We’ll soon know his heart.  Sing it, Sharon.  Have a good day.

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Yesterday I wrote about how the truth, particularly as it applies to the news, has become a subjective item.  It seems to be more about how we feel about something rather than what the facts provide. This in turn allows falsehoods to become accepted as truth in the eyes of some despite all evidence to the contrary.  It’s an unfortunate scenario that may have already affected us  and may create awful consequences at some point in the all too near future.

But you can’t judge the facts like you’re judging a piece of art.  The facts should not be affected by how you feel about them or whether you like or dislike them.  They stand as they are.  Can you imagine being innocent and on trial?  All of the evidence and testimony proves your innocence but you are convicted because the jury felt that you were nonetheless found guilty.  The jury just didn’t like something about you.

Unfortunately, that’s not that far-fetched an analogy.  

I thought I’d run the post below from a few years back that talks about how the emotional subjectivity is appropriate in art, where your feeling is as important as the facts.

Painting is a blind man’s profession.  He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.

–Pablo Picasso


I love this quote from Picasso.  I think that is what all art really is– an expression of  feeling.  Emotion.  I know my best work, or at least the work that I feel is most directly connected to who I truly am as a human being, is always focused on expressing emotion rather than depicting any one place or person or thing.  At its best, the  piece as a whole becomes a vehicle for expression and the subject is merely a focal point in this expression.  The subject matter becomes irrelevant beyond that.  It could be a the most innocuous object,  a chair or a tree in my case.  It doesn’t  really matter because the painting’s emotion is carried by the painting as a whole-  the colors, the texture, the linework, the brushstrokes, etc.

In other words, it’s not what you see but what you feel.

I think many of  Vincent Van Gogh‘s works are amazing example of this.  They are so filled with emotion that you often don’t even realize how mundane the subject matter really is until you step back to analyze it for a moment.  I’ve described here before what an incredible feeling it was to see one of his paintings  for the first time, how it seemed to vibrate with feeling, seeming almost alive on the wall.

It was a vase of irises.

A few flowers in a pot. A floral arrangement.  How many hundreds of thousands of such paintings have been created just like that?  But this Van Gogh painting resonates not because of the subject matter, not because of precise depiction of the flowers or the vase.  No, it was a deep expression of his emotion, his wonder at the world he inhabited, inside and out.

I also see this in a lot of music.  It’s not the subject but the way the song is expressed.  How many times have we heard overwrought , schmaltzy ballads that try to create overt emotion but never seem to pull it off?  Then you hear someone interpret a simple song with deep and direct emotion  and the song soars powerfully.  I often use Johnny Cash‘s last recordings, in the last years  and months before his death, as evidence of this.  Many were his  interpretations of well known songs and his voice had, by that time, lost much of the power of his earlier days.  But the emotion, the wonder, in his delivery was palpable.  Moving.

Likewise, here’s Chet Baker from just a few months before his death.  He, too, had lost the power and grace of youth due to a life scarred by the hardship of drug abuse and violence.  But the expression is raw and real.  It makes this interpretation of  Little Girl Blue stand out for me.

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