Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Yesterday, we observed the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp near the end of World War II. an event which made clear the horrors that the Nazis had perpetrated on the Jews and other groups. One of the survivors of Auschwitz was Viktor Frankl, who went on to become an eminent psychiatrist and author.

His book, Man’s Search For Meaning, is one of my favorite books, one that brought more insight to the world of those who lived through the Holocaust. The lessons from it also helped me through the tough times in my life. The post below from several years back discusses the lesson of that book.

I urge you to read the book. You can even listen to the entire audiobook freely on YouTube. I have included it at the bottom along with a video presentation that gives a brief synopsis of some of the takeaways from the book. It’s short and well done. There is an ad for the Great Courses which takes up the last minute but it’s worth watching.

++++++++++++++

GC Myers- The Moment's Mission 2011Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity.

——Viktor Frankl

**********************

The words of Viktor Frankl, the WW II concentration camp survivor who went on to greater fame as a psychotherapist and author, seemed to ring true for this square painting after I finished it. I saw the Red Tree here as one that finally saw its uniqueness in the world, sensing in the moment that with this individuality there came a mission that must be carried out.

A reason for being. A purpose.

I think that’s something we have all desired in our lives. I know it was something I have longed for throughout my life and often found lacking at earlier stages. I remember reading Frankl’s book, Man’s Search For Meaning, at a point when I felt adrift in the world. I read how the inmates of the concentration camp who survived often had  a reason that they consciously grasped in order to continue their struggle to live. It could be something as simple as seeing the ones they loved again or finishing a task they had set for themselves. Anything to give them a sense of future. Those who lost their faith in a future lost their will to live and usually perished.

At the time when I read this, I understood the words but didn’t fully comprehend the concept. I felt little meaning in my life and didn’t see one near at hand. It wasn’t until years later when I finally found what I do now that I began to understand Frankl’s words and saw that I had purpose in this world as a husband, an artist and a person of feeling.

We are all unique beings. We all have unique missions. The trick is in recognizing our individuality and trusting that it will carry us forward into a future

+++++++++++++


Read Full Post »

GC Myers- Listening to the Muse

**************************

I thought I would rerun the blog entry below that first ran in January of 2015. It might be the only piece of advice I truly feel comfortable in giving to aspiring artists in any discipline. Plus, it can be applied to everyone in their lives even if they aren’t engaged in creative endeavors because, at its base, it’s not just about making things, as much as it might seem at first glance. It’s about an attitude of being proactive in altering the world around us in what we see as being a positive manner. It’s about seeing something that doesn’t fully satisfy you and taking action to change that.

Moreover, at its root, it is about determining the person we want to be and moving consciously towards that goal.

Take a look and decide for yourself:

 

I spent quite a bit of time this morning looking at the image of the painting above, Listening to the Muse. It’s part of my show at the Kada Gallery [That show opened in December of 2014] which is in it’s last weekend there. This painting really captivates me on a personal level and reminds me of  a thought that once drove me forward as a younger painter. It’s a thought that I often pass along as a bit of advice to aspiring artists:

Paint the paintings you want to see.

Sounds too simple to be of any help, doesn’t it? But that simplicity is the beauty and strength of it.

For me, I wasn’t seeing the paintings out there that satisfied an inner desire I had to see certain deep colors that were being used in a manner that was both abstract and representative. If I had seen something that fulfilled these desires, I most likely would not have went ahead as a painter. I wouldn’t have felt the need to keep pushing.

It was this simple thought that marked the change in my evolution as a painter. Before it, I was still trying to paint the paintings that I was seeing in the outer world, attempting to emulate those pieces and styles that already existed as created by other artists. But it was unsatisfying, still echoing the work of others, forever judged in comparison to these others.

But after the realization that I should simply paint what I wanted to see, my work changed and I went from a bondage to that which existed to the freedom of what could be found in creating something new. For me, that meant finding certain colors such as the deep reds and oranges tinged with dark edges that mark this piece. It meant trying to simplify the forms of world I was portraying so that the colors and shapes collectively took on the same meditative quality that I was seeing in each of them.

In my case this seems to be the advice I needed. But I think it’s advice that works for nearly anything you might attempt.

Paint the paintings you want to see.

Write the book you want to read. [Toni Morrison said this very thing at one point]

Play the music you want to hear. Make the film you want to see. Cook the food you want to eat. Make the clothes you want to wear.

Make the world in which you want to live.

Simple.

Now go do it.

Read Full Post »

Yves Tanguy – Indefinite Divisibility – 1942

*******************

I found that if I planned a picture beforehand, it never surprised me, and surprises are my pleasure in painting.

–Yves Tanguy

*******************

Thought we’d start the new year with a quick look at the Surrealist painter, Yves Tanguy. I can’t say I know a lot about Tanguy, who was born in Paris in 1900, raised in Brittany and died in Connecticut in 1955. He first was attracted to painting in 1922 after seeing a Giorgio De Chirico painting in the window of a Paris art dealer as he was riding a passing bus. He jumped off the bus and went back to study the painting. That was the experience that set off his career.

But with the little info I could quickly glean, I found that we shared a few similarities. One was coming to painting with little training. I consider myself basically self taught and, while he had did some sketching before his brush with De Chirico’s work, Tanguy basically set out on his career as a painter with no formal training. His self taught style developed quickly and was recognizable and celebrated within several years.

He also practiced automatism in his work, which is just a more formal word for having no real plan as you start a painting. I actually didn’t know there was a word for this though I’ve been practicing it for decades now. Much like he said in the quote at the top, I also take great pleasure in the surprises that come from working this way. There’s a form of revelation in working this way that I can’t get when beginning a piece with a predetermined outcome.

Tanguy also described the effects of his automatism this way: The painting develops before my eyes, unfolding its surprises as it progresses. It is this which gives me the sense of complete liberty, and for this reason I am incapable of forming a plan or making a sketch beforehand.

I understand this completely.

He also said: I believe there is little to gain by exchanging opinions with other artists concerning either the ideology of art or technical methods.

I hate to admit it but I kind of agree with this. Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy talking with other artists, hearing about their experiences and their breakthroughs. But I don’t really like to talk about my own process or my ideology with other artists. Oddly enough, I am more likely to do this with a group such as at a gallery talk. There, I feel like I am simply describing what I do and not giving advice or direction, which I dislike giving to other artists.

I think art comes from having an idea of what one wants and needs to get from their art as well as their individual knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses as applied to technique and materials. I can’t tell someone what they need from their own art or how it should make them feel. Nor can I tell them how they will better understand what they know about the paints or tools they use. I can give little ideas but they must gain their own insights through their own experiences.

I’ve often said there is no right or wrong in art and this hesitancy to exchange opinions is just an extension of that. What might be right for me or Yves Tanguy might not be right for another artist.

Okay, I know there is a that can be debated here but I am tired of even talking about this right now. Let’s just look at few Yves Tanguy paintings, okay?

Yves Tanguy- The Sun In Its Jewel Case – 1937

Yves Tanguy- There, Motion Has Not Yet Ceased – 1945

Yves Tanguy – Azure Day – 1937

Yves Tanguy – Mama, Papa Is Wounded – 1927

Yves Tanguy – Promontory Palace 1931

Read Full Post »

****************

“Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou must bleed for me.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gifts: An Essay

****************

I came across this essay, Gifts, from Ralph Waldo Emerson which is actually a practical guide to gift giving and receiving, well suited to the time in which it was written in 1844. I particularly like the line that states that rings and jewels are but apologies for gifts.

I have never looked upon a gift as an apology for not giving more of myself but when I really closely I find there is truth there. It is so much easier, so much less revealing to not truly give from ourselves and to simply go to the shops (or online these days) to acquire what often amounts to a poor symbol of what we might really feel for the person receiving that gift.

We’ve become accustomed to accepting these apologies because it excuses our own apologies to others. It’s to the point that we don’t know how give of ourselves nor do we know how to accept or acknowledge a gift that is really a true portion of the giver.

How do you do that? How do you bleed for someone else? Is it in the words of Emerson, as he continued after the quote above: Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing. This is right and pleasing, for it restores society in so far to its primary basis, when a man’s biography is conveyed in his gift…?

I don’t know.

I used to think that giving my paintings were like giving a piece of myself. It certainly fits in with Emerson’s words as he used just that as an example. It certainly seems like it is a piece of the person creating it.

But is it any more than a different sort of apology? Maybe an apology for not giving of my time and self to people directly? An apology for keeping my distance?

Sometimes I think that’s true. But there have been times when I have been given something made by another and I certainly don’t look at it as an apology in any way. I am just touched that they took the time and made the effort to even think of me in any way.

For example, I received a Christmas card from a friend whose two daughter drew red trees inside the card. That is as precious as any gift I could have received.

So where does that leave us?

I don’t know.

I am just thinking out loud this morning. Tomorrow I might look at this and ask myself what the hell I was thinking. You can never tell.

Bottom line: You can’t go wrong by truly giving of yourself. Bleed for someone, okay?

 

Read Full Post »

Wyeth/ Balance

******************

It’s all in how you arrange the thing… the careful balance of the design is the motion.

-Andrew Wyeth

******************

I read this quote from the late Andrew Wyeth then looked over a large group of his work, examining each piece with these words in mind. I could really see the importance of the placement of the elements in his work, how it was the characteristic that truly defined his work. It was this that gave his work a poetic feel.

His use of negative space is masterful, the empty areas taking on an important role in the overall feel of the work. Placing the central character, the focal point of the picture, in any in any other spot would change the whole piece, would make it feel less.

It would feel off balance, at least in the form that Wyeth defined it. That balance is his signature.

And I think that is true for many artists. This idea of balance and motion makes up the artist’s eye. Every artist has a slightly different way of seeing things which creates their own unique visual voice.

Myself, when I feel stuck or blocked or feel that I have painted myself into a creative dead end, I look back at older work. It is often the balance and motion with the composition that affect me the most. It serves as a reminder to not lose sight of this idea of balance, to not focus too  much on other parts of the painting that, while important, may not have as much effect on the overall impact of the piece.

Balance in the design creates motion. Good advice from Mr. Wyeth.

Read Full Post »

******************

Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

–Albert Einstein

****************

This Einstein fellow is a pretty smart guy.

Simplification, harmony and opportunity could be ingredients for any recipe to success in any field but I think they apply particularly well to the creative arts. I know that I can easily apply these three rules to my own work.

For me, its strength lies in its ability to transmit through simplification and harmony. The forms are often simplified versions of reality, shedding details that don’t factor into what it is trying to express.

There is often an underlying texture in the work that is chaotic and discordant. The harmonies in color and form painted over these create a tension, a feeling of wholeness in the work. A feeling of finding a pattern in the chaos that makes it all seem sensible.

And the final rule–opportunity lying in the midst of difficulty– is perhaps the easiest to apply. The best work always seems to rise from the greatest depths, those times when the mind has to move from its normal trench of thought. Times when it has to find new ways to move the message ahead.   The difficulties of life are often great but there is almost always an opportunity or lesson to be found within them if only we are able to take a deep breath and see them. These lesson always find their way into the work in some way.

Thanks for the thought, Mr. Einstein. I hear good things about you.

*****************

This post ran here several years ago. Just thought I needed a reminder of what I should be doing.

 

Read Full Post »

Ablaze

***********************

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.

–Albert Schweitzer

*********************

One final reminder here at the end of a week based on giving thanks. Don’t forget those folks who have inspired, encouraged, assisted, paved the way, opened the door, gently pushed, opened our eyes, morally supported and lifted us up.

They are the spark that sets the inner fire burning.

Hope your fire is ablaze.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: