Archive for May 3rd, 2023


GC Myers- 2023 Work in Process

If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.

–William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790 

I have just a few weeks of painting time remaining before I have to do final prep and delivery of my annual show at the Principle Gallery. This year’s exhibit, Passages, opens on Friday, June 9th, at the Alexandria, VA gallery that has hosted my shows since 2000, making this my 24th show there.

That creates a lot of history and experience to pull from, which has proved invaluable as I go through this always stressful process. The process itself is very much like the actual painting process for me. At least, much like one of the two processes I employ.

Let me explain for those of you who don’t know much about my work.

I paint with two very different processes. I began my career painting mainly with watercolor or ink. It was wet work and the process I developed for myself had me applying lots of wet paint then pulling off pigment until I reached the level of color and transparency that suited my needs. I call this my reductive process.

The reductive  process uses the whiteness of the surface as a light source and allows color to immediately shine brightly on that surface. It is a great process for the part of me that desires instant gratification. Once in the process, my job consists of maintaining that original brightness, to not allow any additions to dull the painting’s surface.

It requires a lighter hand than the other process which is a more traditional manner of painting. I call it my additive process because it consists of beginning with a blackened surface and adding layers of color until I reach my desired levels of saturation and tone. use those terms– saturation and tone– but it is not that easily defined. I should say I keep adding paint until some little inner voice tells me to stop, that there is a sense of rightness on the surface. 

This year’s show is almost equally divided between the two processes. Usually, it skews one way or the other, in recent years much heavier towards the darker based additive process. But this year I am finding it easier to transition between the two. Maybe it has to do with simplifying and comparing the processes in my mind.

The wet reductive process takes me to its peak quickly and I have to totally concentrate on keeping the painting at that peak. I have several unfinished pieces from this process waiting for me to return to them but they still have so much of that peak glow and shine that I am hesitating until I can fully devote my mind to them. It is a matter of preservation from the get-go.

The additive is more about persistence. It is a process that takes me through a kingdom of dullness at many points. The detail at the top is from a painting I am currently working on and is good example of this. Yesterday, I worked on this section for many hours and most of the time I absolutely hated it. Layer after freaking layer, my frustration continued to grow. There were several times when I truly felt like bringing out the black paint to cover the whole of it and restart. 

This is where the year’s of experience and knowing how each process progresses comes into play. I knew I had been through this part many times before. It is actually a part of the additive process. I know going in that it is going to be frustrating, that this is a matter of tolerating the dullness until the desired glow finally appears. I kept telling myself to go on, that I can make it right, that I can fix it.

And like most of the times in the past, I moved past the dullness and found the peak. 


Having these two processes — one of preservation and the other of persistence — is kind of like being bi-polar. One is high, one is low. One is about the initial thrill of color on the surface, about finding myself on a high peak and trying to not fall off. The other is about making your way to and clawing your way up to that peak.

Each has its own difficulties and challenges. I guess each matches up to the highs and lows that abound in my own psyche. I’m probably pretty fortunate to have developed the two together. I don’t know if one alone would have sufficed.

Who knows? Just rattling on this morning. Thanks to those of you who endured in reading this far. For those that didn’t– they can take a hike.

Better yet, let’s all take a hike. You guys go on ahead. I got work to do.

The show must go on, you know.

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