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Archive for September, 2017

Dark Crossing Replay

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GC Myers 2013“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.”   

-Leonardo Da Vinci

 

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I’ve been working on a number of pieces lately that start on a black base of paint, rising from the darkness as each subsequent layer adds more and more light.  I still think of this additive  process as being a form of sculpture, one that starts with a flat surface and builds out in contours that give it definition and texture.  Each layer of paint is like adding clay to the supporting armature of the sculpture.  It’s a process that is hard to pull away from when I immerse myself in it. There’s something about seeing the colors grow more and more vibrant on the surface that becomes mesmerizing.  I guess that’s why I often refer to this work as obsessionism.

This small experiment, a 10″ by 12″ piece on paper,  is in this vein.   It’s one of those pieces that I’m just not sure about because I like it but I’m not sure if I like it for what it is or for the experience, the obsession of the moment in painting it.  Like a parent looking at something their child has done and wondering if they like it because it is truly good or simply because it was done by their child, their flesh and blood.

Sometimes I can finish a piece and it instantly stands apart and on its own, complete and independent.  Ready to move on like a young person proclaiming their emancipation from their parents.   Other times, there are pieces that cling closer to me, perhaps too attached to yet  stand on their own, at least in my eyes.  Because I am unsure, I become more protective of these pieces because they do feel more personal, more of me.

It’s a hard thing to describe, this uncertainty in a piece, especially when it feels objectively right.  Can a parent ever fully take out their own subjective view of their offspring and see them objectively as they really are?

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Trust/ A Replay

I am out of the studio today, leading the workshop I’ve mentioned in recent posts. I wanted to replay a post from several years back that carries thoughts that I want to bear in mind today, as advice to both myself and those in the workshop. As an artist, it’s about listening to advice and learning to trust your own instincts. As a teacher, it’s about giving guidance in a way that allows the student to apply it in a way that still allows them to recognize their own individual voice. 

I am going to try to keep this in mind…

GC Myers Early Work ca1994I came across this little piece recently.  It’s a small watercolor on paper that was done in 1994, while I was still developing my own voice and before I began showing my work publicly.  It’s not a great piece of work and will always just live its life in my little treasure chest, a box of early work, experiments and other pieces, many of which just aren’t up to snuff.  But this little painting always has meaning for me, providing a lesson in trusting your own instincts as well as weighing the words of guidance given to you.

You see, I had another artist around this time critique my work.  He was a professional artist with years of experience and I trusted his judgement, wanting any feedback that would help me narrow my quest for an individual voice.  On this particular piece he told me that it was sorely lacking, that the figure needed to be more accurate in its depiction, that people would not respond to this kind of rendering.  I  wasn’t positive in his advice but I hesitatingly took it to heart and avoided figures for many years and even to this day hear his words when I consider a figure in my work.

I consider it a huge mistake on my part and wonder what my path might have been had I discounted his advice at that time.  I mistook him for a guide on the creative path to my own voice but what he offered was a route that took me to where he himself was headed.  His guidance was purely subjective, linked to his own vision of how the world looked and should be depicted.

His road was not mine.

Over the years, I have become resistant to listening to others when they begin to tell me what my work should be or where it should be headed.   I also am hesitant in giving advice for the same reason– our destinations may not be the same.

It may not be much but this little piece is a symbol of the trust I now have in my voice and intuition.  It is a constant reminder that it is up to me as to how I use the advice given by those posing as guides on the path.  In this way, this painting is priceless to me.

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I was going to write about the amount of idiocy we have to bear every day. There are so many examples from which to choose. I could write about the fact that there is a humanitarian crisis taking place among our citizens on hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico but it took a silent and respectful protest in the form of kneeling NFL players that triggered a strong response in the form of all sorts of kneejerk, moronic responses from the American public at large.

Or I could write about the fact that the majority of these same fools who are so insulted by a silent protest against racial injustice don’t even know that Puerto Rico is a U. S. Territory and that its people are U.S. citizens who are in a dire situation.

There have been stupid times throughout history, that is a certainty. But to be so enmeshed in a time filled with day after day of idiocy, disinterest, distraction, disinformation, misinformation and pure unadulterated self interest is a little hard to take.

So, when I saw the new trailer for the upcoming Wes Anderson film, Isle of Dogs, I let out a great sigh of relief.  I loved his other stop-motion film, Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name. This film seems to have many of the same characteristics as that film– quirky humor, whimsy, pathos, clever dialogue, great stop-motion animation and a lot of joy. It might not seem like joy but it’s there.

So, I have something that will hold my hopes until March of next year when the film comes out. Until then I can bear a little more idiocy. I hope you can as well. Maybe while you’re waiting, you can take a minute and check out how you can donate or somehow assist the efforts to help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.

Do something positive for someone else.

Here’s that trailer:

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I often stumble across the work of Alfred Kubin, an Austrian printmaker/illustrator/writer who lived from 1877 until 1959.  It’s hard to look away from his imagery as much as it sometimes may make you wish to do so. His work is often associated with the Symbolist  and Expressionist movements but it has an oddness that is distinctly its own.

Macabre and creepy may also describe it.

But it has an appeal that makes the imagery seem as though it is from a dream, familiar yet odd and distant, making you want to know the what and why of what you are seeing. As though it has some personal relevance and meaning for you.

There is not a large amount of info in his bio and his work is yet to claim universal acclaim. He lived his life in Austria, lived through both World Wars and during the second, even though his work was labeled degenerate art by the Nazi regime, was allowed to continue making art in the small 12th century castle that was his home for the last 50+ years of his life.

He also wrote a few things including a book, The Other Side, which seems to be the literary equivalent of his visual work. It is considered dark and prophetic, as it was written in 1909, of the coming World War and turmoil that would embroil Europe. It was said to be greatly admired by writer Franz Kafka, whose own work the book is often compared. I can see that comparison just in the visual images.

But like many from the past, Alfred Kubin is an artist you may not know. Nor may you like seeing his work. But it is compelling in many ways and I think you will want to at least take a look. Here’s a video of his work along with some of his images. Judge for yourself.
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Don’t have much of a chance this morning to write a proper post. Busy in a good way. But I came across this image above from the late painter Romare Bearden who lived from 1911 until 1988. I was going to say African-American painter as it does in most of his biographies but that kind of bugged me in the same way that bios often point out that an artist is a woman. Seems like they are creating a distinction and putting them into a sub-category for no reason at all, especially when the person in question is creating great work.

So I am just calling Mr. Bearden a painter.

And a fine one at that, one whose work always jumps into my eyes. Just plain good stuff.

Anyway this image has been sticking in my mind for about a week now and I thought it would be a great companion to some music for this Sunday Music by the one and only B.B. King. Especially since the central figure in the painting looks a little like B.B. King. I somehow have only played one song by him in all these years on this blog and it is definitely time to correct that oversight.

I came across his Live at the Regal album as a teenager and it just destroyed me. It was a live performance from the Regal Theater in Chicago from 1964 and it is one of the great live recorded performances ever put down on vinyl, regardless of genre. It just reels and rocks and is filled with classic after classic tunes from B.B., Lucille–the only guitar whose name you probably know– and a band that kicks it big time. As with Romare Bearden’s painting, it’s just plain good stuff.

Take a listen to the great Sweet Little Angel and have yourself a good–no, a great– Sunday.

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Windows

 “A house without books is like a room without windows.” 
― Horace Mann

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For many years now the houses in my paintings have had no doors or windows. People often comment on this and ask why that is. But there was a period of time in the early 2000’s when there were a group of pieces that had houses sporting windows and a few doors.

The houses in these paintings had a different feel than my typical houses. They seem warmer and more human, less anonymous and less inward turned. These houses with windows most likely fit the quote above from the 19th century American educator Horace Mann, appearing to be open to the world, outward looking and conscious of and at peace with their place in the world. Most likely, there are shelves filled with books and inquisitive, reasoning people in those houses.

The presence of these windowed houses often changes the focus of the painting. Take for instance the piece at the top, Riverspirit. The Red Tree perched on a mound above the river would normally be the center of this painting’s attention.  But in this iteration, the windowed cottage takes centerstage. The emotion of the piece is directed from the point of view of the house rather than the Red Tree, strong as it might be.

It was interesting putting together this small group. The similarities in warmth and contentedness is striking. I found myself personally drawn to these pieces and wonder why more windows don’t find their way into my current work.

Maybe they will soon but for now I will enjoy these pieces for bit longer.

Heartland

Where Serenity Dwells

Where Chaos Ends

Streaming Nostalgic

The Strangest Dream

Story’s End

 

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There are a lot of things swirling around in my mind this morning, most of them well outside my little inner world of color and form. But distant as they are they all have reverberations that shake my safe haven. For instance, there is the pissing match taking place between two spoiled, erratic, impetuous egotists that imperils the safety and stability of the world. I’m talking, of course, about Kim Jong Un of North Korea and that other guy from America.

Or take the impending senate vote on healthcare, the Graham-Cassidy bill. It is a total trainwreck of a bill, one that will strip coverage from those who can least afford to lose it and one that is opposed by literally hundreds of professional groups representing doctors, nurses, patient advocates, insurers and those seeking to fight deadly diseases such as the American Cancer Society. The scoring on it thus far has been atrocious and there is scant evidence of it having any positive effect yet it still somehow has a chance of passing mainly to people (and I use that term lightly here) like Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa who said in a call with the Des Moines Register:

“You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered. But Republicans campaign on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign.That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”

So, he is saying that, despite the fact that he knows how egregiously this bill affects millions of citizens now and in the future or how it is being recklessly rushed through the process, it is more important to just pass something so that he can tell a small group of core supporters that they did something. Even something so damaging and senseless that many of those same supporters will no doubt be hurt deeply by this action.

I don’t think that will go into the textbooks as a prime example of statesmanship.

I didn’t want to write about this crap this morning. It’s too maddening but it can’t be ignored. We have done that for far too long, letting those who have been paying attention take over the writing of the script that we are all forced to play out.

So, while I am angrily paying attention I found myself focusing on the painting above from the late Will Barnet, who died in 2012 at the age of 101. It’s an earlier work of his titled Old Man’s Afternoon from 1947. I just loved the rhythm and color of it. Plus, it immediately took my mind off those things above.

Maybe it will work for you. Plus, to accompany it, here’s the song Colours from Donovan from way back in 1965. It can’t be over 50 years old, can it. Geez…

Have a great day.

 

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