Archive for January, 2023

Day’s First Color

GC Myers- Day's First Color sm

 Day’s First ColorAt Little Gems, West End Gallery

This first glance of a soul which does not yet know itself is like dawn in the heavens; it is the awakening of something radiant and unknown.

–Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

I’m a morning person, an early riser, which means I know the dawn a bit. First rays of sunlight through the trees. Long shadows. Black and deep grays transforming into greens and browns.

First color of the day comes and with it the possibility of the new and the unknown. Every dawn offers the chance for the revelation of something fresh and exciting, something unseen and not thought of before that first sunlight crept through the trees.

Maybe something that changes everything.

Of course, most days don’t fulfill that promise. But the dawn, at least, offers one the chance to experience that awakening of something radiant and unknown.

And that’s all I am asking– just that chance.

That breaking dawn and the possibility accompanying it is what I see in this new piece at the top, Day’s First Color. It is 6″ by 6″ on paper and part of the annual Little Gems show that opens next Friday, February 10, at the West End Gallery.

Now, it’s time to make use of that chance.

Teaser_&_the_firecatHere’s a song from Cat Stevens from his 1971 album Teaser and the Firecat. I played the hell out of that album when it came out, with this song, Morning Has Broken (which is an early 20th century hymn), Peace Train, and Moonshadow, among others. I was also greatly attracted to the artwork on the album cover which was painted by Cat Stevens. It has a naive quality and use of color that has probably influenced me in ways I haven’t recognized or acknowledged until recently. We all take in many things and synthesize them quickly, often not realizing how much they contribute to our whole.


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Edvard Munch-- Starry Night 1893

Edvard Munch– Starry Night ,1893

When seen as a whole, art derives from a person’s desire to communicate himself to another. I do not believe in an art which is not forced into existence by a human being’s desire to open his heart. All art, literature, and music must be born in your heart’s blood. Art is your heart’s blood.

–Edvard Munch, Manuscript (1891)


Things to do this morning so I am leaving it at that.

However, I am adding a piece of music at the bottom from a composition, 4 Themes on Paintings of Edward Munch, from contemporary composer Anthony Plog. This piece from the suite is based on the painting at the top of the page, Starry Night, and is written for trumpet and organ.

That’s it. You’re on your own from here…


Edvard Munch- Anxiety, 1894


Edvard Munch– The Dance of LIfe, 1899

Edvard Munch- Melancholy

Edvard Munch– Melancholy, 1894

Edvard Munch Evening on Karl Johan Street 1892

Edvard Munch– Evening on Karl Johan Street, 1892

edvard munch vampire- love and pain -1895.

Edvard Munch– Vampire: Love and Pain , 1895

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The Scarecrow

GC Myers- Unafraid

Unafraid— At Principle Gallery, Alexandria

“All the same,” said the Scarecrow, “I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.”

“I shall take the heart,” returned the Tin Woodman; “for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.”

–L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

Do you sometimes wonder which Wizard of Oz character might best sum you up?

Would it be Dorothy or the Scarecrow, the Tin Man or that Cowardly Lion? Or might it be the Wicked Witch or Professor Marvel?

Or a Flying Monkey?

Got to admit, I have seen aspects of all of these varied characters in myself. Sometimes there is Dorothy’s innocence, the Scarecrow’s lack of brainpower, the absence of a heart like the Tin Man, the false bravado of the Cowardly Lion, the mean-spiritedness of that Wicked Witch and the Con Man patter of Professor Marvel.

Maybe that’s why the story of Oz has resonated for so long with audiences– we can readily identify ourselves in some way with each of those characters.

Even those Flying Monkeys.

That leads me to this week’s Sunday Morning Musical selection, The Scarecrow, from British folksinger June Tabor, accompanied by a favorite guitarist, Martin Simpson, whose music I recently featured here. This song has a wonderful atmosphere and feel. It matches up well with the small painting above.

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Island of Honor

GC Myers- Top O' the Heap sm

Top O’ the Heap— At Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA

Honor is like an island, rugged and without a beach; once we have left it, we can never return.

–Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, Satires (1716)

Some days after reading the news, I feel like we have left that island. Like we have left behind all honor, respect, and benevolence.

All virtue left behind on that island.

And as the 17th century French poet Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux— a man regarded as being honest and generous in his time– points out, once we left that island of honor, we can never find our way back.

We might find our way to other islands but without honor, they offer little but bare sustenance and a harsh life.

Much like Van Diemen’s Land.

There is a group of folk songs called Van Diemen’s Land which refers to the onetime name of the island now called Tasmania. Off the coast of Australia, it was named for the Governor-General of the Dutch east Indies who had sent Abel Tasman on the exploration that brought the island under the Dutch flag in the 1640’s. In the 1800’s, the island became the site of British penal colonies for the most difficult British convicts that were transported to Australia. About 40% of the transported convicts ended up in Van Diemen’s Land at some point.

I think that honor can be regained with time, honesty and a commitment to good acts. I have been contacted on this blog over the years by some lovely folks who live in Tasmania and they certainly seem to prove the point that we are not permanently bound to our pasts.

The history must always remain there however of only to serve as a reminder to always inhabit on to our island of honor.

There are many versions of the song from all over the Bristish Isles with widely varied lyrics, sang from the point of view of those either on their way or already in place on Van Diemen’s Land. I am playing a more contemporary version from U2 today, that the band wrote about the John Boyle O’Reilly, the leader of an 1864 Irish uprising after the Great Famine. He was banished to Australia for rebelling against the government.

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Color My World

9923107 Color My World sm

Color My World, 2023

The mind is like a richly woven tapestry in which the colors are distilled from the experiences of the senses, and the design drawn from the convolutions of the intellect.

Carson McCullers, Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941)

I like this idea of the mind being a tapestry formed by a weave of the sensuous and the intellectual.

Feeling and thought.

Color and pattern.

I wonder if the key to the mind is in maintaining a balance between these two, the warp and weft of its tapestry?

Balance is no doubt the answer, as it is in most things.

That is what I see in this new small piece (2″ by 4″ on paper) that is headed to the West End Gallery for its upcoming Little Gems show in February. Called Color My World, I view it as being about leading a life that weaves together thought and feeling.

For me, it has that balance. A fine and strong weave.

Here’s a song from Chicago that provided the title for this little gem. I haven’t heard this song for many years now but it was one of those tunes that seemed to be on the radio all the time when I was growing up in the early 70’s. If you’re of that era, you know what I mean.

Here’s Color My World.

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Henri Matisse -the red studio

Henri Matisse- The Red Studio

You study, you learn, but you guard the original naïveté. It has to be within you, as desire for drink is within the drunkard or love is within the lover.

― Henri Matisse

I can always turn to Henri Matisse for something interesting, either in his work or in his words. While he was prolific in his painting there is also a wealth of quotes, interviews and essays from him that give insight into a warmly wise and giving spirit. I will admit that there are painters whose body of work more readily excite me but the words of Matisse never fail to provide inspiration and reassurance when I am seeking some form of validation of what I am doing.

For instance, he speaks of maintaining one’s own original naïveté as one learns and grows as an artist. That rawness and the natural sense of excitement that comes with it, is something I have also felt was important to maintain even as my craft has grown. I see the raw energy of naïveté as the blood that gives a painting its life force, that allows the viewer to see past the improbabilities and imperfections and see the beauty and truth being presented.

Maintaining that naïveté is much more difficult than you might think. One part of that is constantly battling against the proficiency gained through years of practice. The work becomes too polished or too real, too attached to the visible.

Too much of the outer world.

Naïveté require one to trade the reality of the world shared with everyone else for that reality contained within yourself, trusting that this inner world, imperfect as it is, will have a commonality that might speak to similar inner worlds among some of those who view it.

And that brings us to another favorite Matisse quote, below. The link to the universe he mentions is very much the same thing that links one’s inner world to that of another. At least that’s how I see it. This seems like a good spot to end this. Have a great day

We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe.

― Henri Matisse

I have some things to get to this morning, so I am replaying a post from several years back. I’m adding a song that has to do with keeping that naïveté. It’s I Don’t Want to Grow Up from Tom Waits. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Seems like folks turn into thingsThat they’d never wantThe only thing to live forIs today…I’m gonna put a hole in my TV setI don’t wanna grow upOpen up the medicine chestAnd I don’t wanna grow upI don’t wanna have to shout it outI don’t want my hair to fall outI don’t wanna be filled with doubtI don’t wanna be a good boy scoutI don’t wanna have to learn to countI don’t wanna have the biggest amountI don’t wanna grow up

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GC Myers- EyeSpy

EyeSpy, 2023

Paranoia strikes deep,
Into your life it will creep.
It starts when you’re always afraid.
Step out of line, the men come and take you away.

– For What It’s Worth, Stephen Stills, 1966

Don’t know if this new painting is about paranoia even though I chose a line on paranoia as the subject for the opening quote. Actually, I might not know what this new small piece means at all.

Maybe it is paranoia, feeling as though there are eyes everywhere, always watching you.

Or maybe it’s more playful, like the childhood game– I spy with my little eye…

Or maybe it’s about the unity of life, about how there is an animating force in all life forms, places, and things.

Or maybe it is little more than a reminder of how I have always tried, beginning in my childhood, to find the shape of eyes and faces in everything I looked at– clouds, the folds of drapes, the leaves in the trees, the pattern in wallpaper, etc.

I just don’t know why this piece fell out at this time and guess it doesn’t really matter in the long run. It has amused me, spooked me, brought back memories and made me think. All I can ask of any piece.

This small 4″ by 4″ painting, EyeSpy, is headed to the West End Gallery for their Little Gems show, opening February 10.

Since I used some lines from the venerable Stephen Stills/ Buffalo Springfield song, For What It’s Worth, to open this post, let’s hear a version of the song from bluegrass icon Del McCoury and friends. Good stuff…

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Frida Kahlo - what-the-water-gave-me 1938

Frida Kahlo- What the Water Gave Me, 1938

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.

–Graham Greene, Ways of Escape, 1980

The creative urge is a survival skill.

Graham Greene knew it.

Probably my only quibble with his words is that they are so specific, citing only writing, composing and painting. The creative urge extends well beyond those fields.

I have had so many people tell me at openings or gallery talks that they are not creative. I always try to ask what they do then try to get them to see the everyday creativity that is often overlooked and underpraised.

Surviving life requires the creative urge.

Virginia Woolf knew it.

When Woolf walked into the River Ouse with her coat pockets filled with stones to end her life in 1941, she felt that she could no longer create. The mental illness that had plagued her life made it impossible for her to concentrate, to read and to write. She had lost her means to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear that, as Greene pointed out, is inherent in the human situation.

I don’t mention Woolf’s death meaning to be a downer this morning. It’s actually an intro to the song below, What the Water Gave Me, from Florence and the Machine. She took the title of the song from the Frida Kahlo painting of that name shown at the top, painted in 1938. The painting, which Kahlo described as being biographical, was on the cover of a book about symbols that was near at hand when Florence was writing the song. She was also writing about the watery demise of Woolf.

I guess the point here is to hope that you recognize the inherent creativity it took to get you to this point in your life. I know from firsthand experience that life can be a hard road and it takes more than a little creativity to endure the rough parts. You might not write or compose or paint but if you’re reading this, I bet you have much more creative power than you know.

I hope you can see and appreciate that.

Okay. I have work to do– my own form of therapy. Here’s the song.

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Ring of Fire

GC Myers- Rings of Fire series 2023

Ring of Fire #6

Love is a burnin’ thing
And it makes a fiery ring
Bound by wild desire
I fell into a ring of fire

I fell into a burnin’ ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, the ring of fire

–June Carter Cash, Ring of Fire

I wrote about this new group of work earlier this week, saying that I wasn’t sure if I would ever show them publicly. In the interim, after discussing it with Jesse at the West End Gallery, I decided to at least show a few of them in the upcoming February Little Gems show if only to see how people react to them.

I anticipate that the reaction will be similar to a series from a number of years ago, Outlaws, featuring figures brandishing handguns, often in a position where they appeared to be looking through a window. Some folks saw these figures as threatening, as though they were predators looking into a home from the outside. Others saw them as being terrified characters in a defensive position inside with threats outside that window. It acted as a sort of Rorschach test of the viewer’s perception of the world.

I see the same sort of response for this group though there is not the incendiary inclusion of a handgun here. I don’t expect an overwhelming embrace of these characters. I am sure most will see them as either tragic, sad figures or some scary, evil beings. I don’t know that there is another way to see them.

This might end up being just a vanity project and I’m okay with that. There are usually unforeseen benefits in these projects, often coming in a change of perspective or process that finds its way to my other work. It’s often just the shaking up of things that matters. And I think this does just that for me.

My hope is that they make people stop and look, both at the figures as they are and at the way in which they are painted. They are done solely with a very small brush, a liner that produces small marks and slashes of color. The marks in these pieces are the real point of these pieces for me, providing energy and form to them.

I have changed the title of this series. I am simply calling it Ring of Fire rather than Season in Hell or Season of Fire. That, of course, is taken from the classic Johnny Cash song written to him by his wife-to-be June Carter when he was still married to his first wife. It also refers to the inclusion of distant fire in each of these paintings, a symbol of both hell and destruction. On the more positive side, the destructive forces of fire often lead to new growth and new ways of being.

As Hermann Hesse wrote in his novel Demian:

Whoever wants to be born, must first destroy a world.

I am simply numbering the individual pieces in this series, something I don’t normally do. For instance, the piece shown above is titled Ring of Fire #6. For this series, I wanted people to form their own titles for these figures rather than be too influenced by my personal take on them. I am showing six pieces from this series in the Little Gems show.

It’s an obvious choice for this week’s Sunday Morning Music. It would be too easy to play the Johnny Cash version with its great Mariachi horns that we all know so I thought I’d give you a choice of two other versions. One is from the song’s creator, June Carter Cash, in a tribute to her husband after his death. It is as the song should be. The other is from the pioneering Southern Cal punk band Social Distortion. This song has been a staple in their repertoire for decades.

Different but, like most great art, the song transcends many lines.

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Rumi/ The Tavern

GC Myers- And Dusk Dissolves sm

And Dusk Dissolves – At the West End Gallery

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.

Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.

We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That’s fine with us. Every morning
We glow and in the evening we glow again.

–Rumi, The Tavern

On a quiet Saturday morning, just going to share what is perhaps the best-known work from Rumi, the renowned Persian poet/scholar/mystic who lived from 1207 to 1273. Though his life ended about 750 years ago, Rumi’s words and observations have a feeling that is beyond time, always feeling as though they are applicable in the present moment.

Here’s a nice reading of the poem for those of you who prefer to hear the words.

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