Archive for January 15th, 2023

Friend of the Devil

GC Myers- Seasons of Hell ?

             Seasons of Hell (?)

I ran down to the levee
But the Devil caught me there
He took my twenty dollar bill
And he vanished in the air

Set out runnin’ but I take my time
A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight
I just might get some sleep tonight

Friend of the Devil, Grateful Dead

As I have mentioned earlier, I’ve been cleaning up my studio. Throwing out junk that piled up over the past couple of decades. Some of it is stuff whose format and use is now outdated. Some is just stuff who I thought might someday prove useful. Twenty years has proven that it is has not been useful at all except to clutter up the place.

I ended up with a huge pile of 4″ x 6″ sheets of photo paper. I used to buy packs of HP printer ink that would include these large packs of this photo paper and while I seldom used it, I could never bring myself to just throw it out. But now I was facing a pile of hundreds, if not thousands, of sheets of this paper with no intent of printing photos on them.

Yet I didn’t want to just throw them out. I began to wonder if I could employ them somehow in my work. Maybe use them to create a series of small pieces like the ones I have periodically done for myself over the years. These are usually done quickly and with short slashy marks, starting with one quick slash then inevitably turning into the same faces that populated my Multitudes series of a few years ago. Faces that have been with me my whole life.

Occasionally, there have been bits of profanity scrawled on these pieces. It’s a kind of release, a scream into the void.

Maybe I could do something similar with these sheets of photo paper, if only for myself?

Season of Hell no. 1 sm

        Seasons of Hell  (?) No.1

I started by putting a quick layer of black watercolor paint down. Then, after they black has dried, a quick mark. It was the beginning of a nose. Slash followed slash and a nose, brow and face began to emerge.

In the moment, I decided that there would be at least the whites of the eyes in these figures. The faces of the Multitudes series had black voids for eyes, which gave them a more masklike appearance. That’s how I have come to see them– as being masks rather than faces. Having the whites of the eyes allows the face to show more thought and emotion.

I wanted these to be done with quickness and not a lot of thought. I wanted them to feel instinctive rather than studied. Coarse, not fine.

To that end, I decided in the moment to have a simple line of fire in the background for this piece and all the ones to follow. Simple yet compelling, an element that the figures could react to. It gave this first piece a sense of doom, like a character trapped in Hell, or at least his own form of Hell.

It worked for me. I immediately attached the title of the Arthur Rimbaud book of poetry, A Season in Hell, to the series. While I like much of it, I am an overly enthusiastic fan of Rimbaud’s work and didn’t see or desire these pieces tied to his work. But that title speaks volumes on its own. Rimbaud, who died in 1891 at the age of 37, wrote this book when he was 19 and never wrote any more literature after the age of 20. A Season in Hell has been very influential with artists and poets over the past century.

I ended up compromising and referring to these pieces as the Seasons of Hell. There are 15 of them right now and I am sure there will be many more before I move past this. I don’t know what will become of them. This post may be the only time I show any of them. They might be just for me or for someone in the future after I am dead and gone. Maybe someone will be cleaning out the detritus of my studio and come across a box with 100’s of these faces staring out at them. Maybe they will mean something to that person or maybe they will just get a glimpse before chucking them into the dumpster.

Who knows?

I like creating them and for now, that is enough. I get the feel I am liberating both them and myself in the process. The benefit is that this sense of liberation transfers to my other work. We’ll see where that goes as well.

For this Sunday Morning Music, here’s the Grateful Dead with their classic Friend of the Devil. The guys in these new pieces are undoubtedly familiar with the song. And the Devil.

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