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Archive for November, 2016

Discovery/Joan Miro

joan-miro-nocturne
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:  

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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

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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

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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

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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 

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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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