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Archive for the ‘Early Paintings’ Category

Can’t get my mind organized this morning, can’t seem to want to focus on any one thing. Had a lot of ideas for the blog but just lacked the desire to follow through so I am just going to play a song this morning accompanied by a tiny painting from back around 1995 called Harlequin. I always smile when I come across this piece.

The song is a favorite of mine, Dead Flowers, from the Rolling Stones and their 1971 album, Sticky Fingers. But the version below is from the late great Townes Van Zandt. I can’t say that it’s better or worse than the Stones version but it’s one that I like very much.

So give a listen and I’ll try to get my act together this morning…

 

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Dragged out and looked over this older painting this morning. It’s from 1995 and is called Sky and Submission. It was a favorite when I did it and it still rings very true for me. The composition is sparse and it’s color is very delicate in nature– I had to adjust it a bit to make it show properly on the screen– but there is something powerful in it as a whole.

It reminds me of  the feeling of looking out at the ocean. Maybe for us who live and were raised inland, away from the seas, seeking the far horizon in our landscapes is the equivalent. Watching the roll of the land and how it comes up to meet the sky raises many of those same feelings, creating a sense of awe in us of the great power and vastness of the world and our own smallness in relation to it.

Funny the things a small bit of paint on a piece of paper can make one think. Worse things to think on a Sunday morning, I suppose.

This piece reminded me for some reason of a song I played last year about this time, Reign O’er Me, from The Who’s Quadrophenia, which has been performed several times in the last month as the rock opera it was intended to be, with full orchestration. Last month it was at the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC.

I spent the better part of the last hour watching videos shot by audience members from this show with tenor Alfie Boe singing the lead. Even with a handheld smartphone’s recording limitations, they really show the power of the music and the performers. I am showing Reign O’er Me and a personal favorite 5:15 from that show back in October. Take a look and have yourself a good Sunday.


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GC Myers Stranger (In a Strange Land) -

 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

Exodus 2:22

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I have been writing recently about some of the orphans, those paintings that make the rounds of the galleries and finally come back to me. The piece above is one of these orphans but it really isn’t. It’s mine alone, one of the rare pieces that I don’t think I would ever give up. Like many parents when looking at their children, I see much of myself in this painting.

Over the years I have periodically written about a group of paintings that were considered my Dark Work that were painted in the year or so after 9/11.   The piece shown above is one of these paintings. I very seldom consider a painting being for myself only but this one has always felt, from the very minute it was completed, as though it should stay with me.

It is titled  Stranger (In a Strange Land) which is derived from the title of Robert Heinlein’s famous sci-fi novel which in turn was derived from the words of Moses in Exodus 2:22, shown here at the top. The name Gershom is derived from the Hebrew words ger sham and means a stranger there. It is defined now as either exile or sojourner.

The landscape in this piece has an eerie, alien feel to it under that ominous sky. When I look at it I am instantly reminded of the feeling of that sense of not belonging that I have often felt throughout my life, as though I was that stranger in that strange land. The rolling field rows in the foreground remind me just a bit of the Levite cloth that adorned Moses when he was discovered in the Nile as an infant, a symbol of origin and heritage that acts as a comforting element here, almost like a swaddling blanket for the stranger as he views the landscape before him.

As I said, it is one of those rare pieces that I feel is for me alone, that has only personal meaning, even though I am sure there are others who will recognize that same feeling in this. For me  this painting symbolizes so much that feeling of alienation that I have experienced for much of my life, that same feeling from which my other more optimistic and hopeful work sprung as a reaction to it. Perhaps this is where I found myself and the more hopeful work was where I aspired to be.

Anyway, that’s enough for my five-cent psychology  lesson for today.  In short, this is a piece that I see as elemental to who I am and where I am going.  This one stays put .

Here’s a little of the great (and I think underappreciated) Leon Russell from way back in 1971 singing, appropriately,  Stranger in a Stranger Land

This is a repost of an entry from back in 2013 that has been heavily edited. 

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I’ve been revisiting a lot of very old work lately here in the studio, taking little walk down memory lane. Some of the memories  are pleasant enough with “oh, yeah, I remember that” coming up periodically in my mind. Some are  cringeworthy, making me glad I moved past that time. Some please me greatly and some make me smile. Such is the case with this  little piece done in 1994.

Called Rockin’ Billy, it was done quickly in crayons. It’s rough-edged and kind of crude but has movement. I think I was listening to a bunch of old rockabilly at the time. Johnny Burnette, Warren Smith, Jerry Lee Lewis, that kind of stuff– rough-edged and a little crude with some real movement.

But I am pretty sure that this piece was a direct result of Billy Lee Riley and his distinct guitar playing, especially in a couple of my faves from that time, Flying Saucer Rock and Roll and Red Hot. Every time I stumble across this piece I have to break out the rockabilly for at least a few songs and that’s how it is on this Sunday morning. Here are those two songs from Billy Lee Riley.

Oh, what the hell, let me throw in Johnny Burnette’s Rock Billy Boogie. I can see Rockin’ Billy dancing across the stage now. Hope this helps you have your own rockin’ good time today.


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I was going through my little treasure chest the other day. It’s an old square cardboard box filled with old experiments, failures, breakthroughs and other assorted oddities from my earliest days painting. I enjoy doing this because many of the pieces stimulate some of the same sensory triggers that drove me back when they were painted, back in 1994 and early 1995. Feeling that same sensation now creates an urgency in me, one that makes me want to get back to work so that maybe I can create that same feeling in this moment.

Motivation comes in many forms. It even rises from work that I felt was not good enough to show years ago. Over the years many of these pieces have grown in my estimation and I see now how they fit into my larger body of work and how they made the transformation from borderline fire-starters to things that I value highly today.

While I do see motivation in this sometime visitation to the past, part of me wonders if there is any value in going back and experiencing these pieces once again. After all, I have moved on since that time and can’t return to the point that produced that work. The nostalgia of it makes me forget the frustration that was present at the time that came from knowing that these pieces weren’t hitting the spot I envisioned, that there was much progress to be made in my work before it would satisfy me on a consistent basis.

So maybe going back serves little purpose. Maybe it prevents one from moving on to new paths, new ideas, new work. As aviator/author Beryl Markham wrote in her memoir, West With the Night:

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.” 

She may be right. But this morning I am looking back to a place I don’t want to return to in the present moment. I know I have to move forward, have to progress. These works now belong to a past that cannot hold me back from that formidable future ahead.

And they won’t. If anything, they make me want to be better…

 

 

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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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Four Front -2003

Yeah, you read that right, I’m willing to sell off some orphans.

Don’t worry, I’m not really a heartless bastard. I’m talking about a handful of my paintings that have shuffled around the country over the years and somehow found their way back to the studio. I consider these paintings my orphans.

A Time For Reflection-2002

There is a special small group of paintings that are accompanying me tomorrow when I head down to Alexandria for my Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery. They are primarily older pieces that, while I like having them around here in the studio, I would like to have a home where they can get the attention that I feel they deserve from fresh and appreciative eyes that look at them on a regular basis.

A home where they can do the job they were meant to do, to fulfill their purpose

Some of these paintings in their first trips through the galleries were saddled by framing that didn’t suit the work. Tow had thick, heavy frames and extra wide mats that created a distraction from the actual work and overwhelmed the images.

A couple are favorites of mine that just never caught the right person’s eye.

And a couple have been with me for so long that I can’t figure out why they’re still here. For instance, the painting at the top of this page, Four Front from back in 2003, falls into this category.

These paintings are only going to be there for my time in the gallery on Saturday and are specially priced. If they don’t find a new home, they come back to the orphanage–er, studio.

Look at these little guys and tell me that they don’t deserve a home to call their own.

You Can Win This Painting!

So, try to get into the Principle Gallery tomorrow, Saturday, September 16. The orphans will be on display along with new work from the studio. The Gallery Talk begins at 1 PM and concludes with a free drawing for those in attendance for the painting shown here, The Warmth of Breath. Plus, there are a few more surprises that I don’t want to divulge here.

I am anticipating a good time with good questions and a lively conversation so I am hoping you can take part tomorrow. I suggest getting there early for a good seat. Plus, you can take a look at my orphans. Look forward to seeing you there!

In the Window: The Vigil 2005

In the Eye of Grace- 2006

No Mail- 2010

Call to Waking- 2011

The Journey- 2006

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