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Archive for the ‘In the Studio’ Category

GC Myers- To the Calling Moon  2021



Her antiquity in preceding and surviving succeeding tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.

― James Joyce, Ulysses



Well, the opening for my annual solo show at the Principle Gallery is tonight. And I am here in the studio, absent again this year.

Last year, though it felt strange in not being there, it felt necessary. Had to be done but it didn’t feel good to not be able to meet with people to talk and get some feedback about my work. But with another year of distant isolation under my belt, this year’s absence doesn’t feel any better.

In fact, it feels worse.

There’s a feeling of disconnectedness, as though I am way out of whatever loop there is surrounding my work.  Like I am some sort satellite like the moon in the new painting above from this show, To the Calling Moon. I am periodically visible but distant and not there most of the time. There’s more to be said about this analogy but I really don’t feel like going into right now.

This sense of isolation is accompanied by a sharp anxiety from the thought that what little control I had over how my work is perceived is even more diminished. I can’t be there as an advocate and explainer for my work, don’t get a chance to personally see and feel people’s reaction to it. To read faces and body language. It’s never quite the same getting second-hand feedback in that it’s impossible for others to fill in the nuances that I sometimes notice.

But the show must go on, even if without me again this year. I am very pleased on an emotional level with this show and hope that those who make their way to the gallery for this show tonight or later feel that way as well. It’s a show of ponderance as To the Calling Moon can attest.

I think this painting is a good choice for today. Like me, it’s a bit blue. Normally, I put myself in the role of the Red Tree in my work but in this case, I may be that moon– distant and silent.



The title of this year’s solo exhibit, my 22nd at the Principle Gallery, is Between Here and There. It opens tonight, June 4, 2021 at their King Street gallery in Alexandria, VA. You can view the show catalog by clicking here

Below is a favorite song of mine from Neko Case that seems perfect for this morning, both in subject and tone. Thanks so much.



 



GC Myers- To the Calling Moon Principle Gallery 2021 Catalog page

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GC Myers- Symphony Serene sm



O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

-Psalm 131, I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul



The painting at the top is titled Symphony Serene and is, of course, from my solo show, Between Here and There,  opening this coming Friday, June 4, at the Principle Gallery. The preview for the show is available by clicking here which takes you to the gallery site.

I have a lot of fondness for this piece and others like it that are spare and inward reaching landscapes with the broken sky, short-hand term that I use for the mosaic-like construction of the skies in these paintings. I believe its the peaceful nature of these pieces that does it for me. There is a serenity achieved in both the end result of the final work and in the process of painting it.

I believe I have spoke of this in the past but painting pieces such as this often have a meditative effect, one where the mind feels as though it is running on a parallel track, completely apart from the conscious. While working on these, everything but the surface in front of me feels blocked out and far away. My mind moves endlessly in and out of the composition, constantly balancing and weighing each individual block of color in a way that creates its own rhythm.

I barely notice but I am constantly sitting then standing then pacing back and forth before the piece. Without thinking, I often walk backwards across the room with my eyes fixed on the painting, sometimes stumbling over other paintings or lightstands in the process. I barely notice and my eyes seldom leave the painting when I stumble. 

Time slips away in the blink of an eye during the process and I will sometimes only stop when the phone rings, breaking the trance that I have been under for five or six hours. It’s only when I stop that I notice the fatigue in my eyes from being so locked in on the surface of the painting. But its a wonderful fatigue, one brought about by being totally in a serene place for hours, a place that I am creating in my mind and on the surface of the painting.

It’s as close to absolute calm and quiet as I ever get.

I wish I could explain it better. 

For this Sunday morning music, I am linking this painting with a choral piece from a favorite composer Arvo Pärt. This is from his work Da Pacem Domine, which translates as Give peace, Lord. This piece below is based on Psalm 131, I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul, which is shown above.

I am not a particularly religious person, as I have mentioned in the past. But there is something in certain sacred music of almost any religion that touches something in me, something more basal, more rawly attuned to the spirit than anything the liturgy and clerics of the churches have to offer. It reminds me of a book from the late 1970’s, The Dancing Wu Li Masters from Gary Zukav. He wrote about the similarities in the worlds of the spiritual and of physics. How theologians and religious scholars and theoretical physicists sometimes met and, stripped of the dogma of the theologians and the math of the physicists, spoke in very much the same terms about the same concepts. They found much common ground and agreement in concept and theory once they were far removed from the politics of their respective establishments.

I find that interesting. Anyway, here is Psalm 131 from Arvo Pärt as performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. For me, it matches up well with my Symphony Serene and is a fine way to start off what looks to be a gray cool day here.



9921029 Symphony Serene Catalog pg

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GC Myers- Under the Blue Moon sm



Now I’m standing in the wake of forty years
And from this prison I have broken free and clear
And I’m praying that the morning won’t catch me here

— Full Moon, Peter Bradley Adams



The small painting above is called Under the Blue Moon. It’s headed to the Principle Gallery for my annual show there which open June 4. This year’s show is titled Between Here and There and is my 22nd show at the Alexandria gallery.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 22 years since my first solo show at the Principle. So much has changed in the world. My work has also changed but it is an incremental thing, one that I would like to believe maintains a consistency even as it changes.

This piece is a good example of it, painted very much in the same style with a similar process to the work I was producing back at that first Principle Gallery show in 2000. But while it maintains its recognizable features, it has changed, with colors that are more intense and a bit more layered and complex. The suns and moons in my work have grown in size over the years, as a result taking on a more prominent role in the composition.

That’s definitely the case here. This piece just feels good for me with the colors and angles of the forms triggering a lot of different responses within me. It has a feeling of the vulnerability of a confession for me, the Red Tree standing in the wide open beneath the unwavering and all-knowing eye of the bluish moon.

What hasn’t it seen? What doesn’t it know?

Makes me wonder and that’s all I ask of it.

Here’s song to go with it. It’s from singer/songwriter Peter Bradley Adams, whose songs, which are classified as being Americana which is a term that says a lot without saying much about what the music really entails in subject or form.  I have just recently started exploring Adams’ work and this song felt right this morning. It’s called Full Moon.



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GC Myers- The Peaceful Silence sm

“The Peaceful Stillness”



I want to be quiet this morning. No, I need, not want, to be quiet this morning.

Need to be quiet.

It’s one of those days when I wake up in the dark of the early morning. My dreams, which evaporate as soon as my feet touch the cool floor, have somehow dashed any facade of confidence I may have been wearing and I am already a bit glum before I have even seen the first light of morning. I slip on my jeans that are covered with paint and as I slide my right leg in, my toe catches a small tear in the pant leg. For some reason, my jeans always tear in this same spot, just above the right knee.

But this morning my toe catches that tear and in the darkness I hear it rip even more. I feel anger and frustration layering on top the glum blueness I woke up with and I want to just let my toe rip the hell out the jeans then throw them across the room in the dark. And scream so hard that my diaphragm aches and my throat burns from the effort.

But I don’t. I restrain myself and just stand there in the dark stillness, taking a long breath of cool air. Then I calmly ease my leg into the torn jeans. My eyes adjust a bit to the dark and I can see out the window that morning light is beginning to sift through the trees. The sun will soon be up.

I tell myself there’s still time for hope. I just need to be quiet and let it find its way here this morning.

I make my way along the path through the woods to the studio and I feel much of the frustration and anger slip away. I am still a bit glum and blue but lying on the kitchen floor with my Hobie, the faithful and loving cat with which I share my space, helps. Her loud purrs of satisfaction are like an elixir. I am tempted to click on the news to catch up and immediately turn it off after about 45 seconds of it make my blood pressure tick up a few notches.

I need quiet but I need some music. I remember this piece from the great jazz pianist Bill Evans, Peace Piece. I put it on and its quietude and gentle tone bring me back. And the music keeps playing and I know I have dodged a bullet of sorts. My blue is okay now. It’s like an old grouchy friend who I know how to deal with.

I can manage this. All I need is some quietness, some light, some hope.

I am showing a new piece at the top, one that I call The Peaceful Stillness. It’s 18″ by 24″ on aluminum panel and is part of Between Here and There, my solo show at the Principle Gallery which opens on June 4.

I wasn’t planning on writing this blogpost for this painting but it seems to work with it. I know I felt an easing of my angst and frustration on seeing this painting. It mirrored my attempts to find that quietness within. So, while I should probably talk about the process or meaning or symbolism in it, I am going to let it stand as is this morning.

It did what I wanted it to do. No, what I needed it to do.

Here’s Peace Piece from Bill Evans if you need some help on your end.



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Fanny spoke her feelings. “Here’s harmony!” said she; “here’s repose! Here’s what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what may tranquillise every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.

― Jane Austen, Mansfield Park



GC Myers- Tranquilium smThis is a new painting that is included in my new solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4 at the Principle Gallery. It is titled Tranquilium and is 10″ by 20″ painted on an aluminum panel.

I have recently started painting on aluminum composite panels which are two layers of aluminum sandwiched over a polyethylene core. They are rigid, acid-free and extremely durable which means that a painting done on one of these panels should be long-lasting.

The durability and  stability of my work is something I have thought about since my earliest days as an artist. While I have no control over how my work moves into the future after it leaves my hands, I can at least give it a chance to survive while maintaining the look and integrity of the original painting.

I don’t know if my work will live on but if so, I want it to look as good as possible. I believe work painted on these panels have the best chance at doing just that.

Plus, I like painting on them, Every surface– canvas, wood panel, or paper– has its own feel under the brush. A stretched canvas has an appeal for me in that there is often a drum-like feel and cadence as the brush bounces off the taut surface. It adds to the meditative quality of the process. Paper has a softness that comes through even when it is covered with multiple layers of gesso.

Much like wood or masonite panels but far more stable and unaffected by moisture, the aluminum panels have a unmoving solidity that lets me know how my brush will react as it meets the surface. That helps for my process. I know what is going to happen at that moment. And that’s a good thing.

This piece, Tranquilium, has satisfied something within me. It has a stillness and placidity that feels timeless so it’s natural that I would like to think that it will live a longer life than my own. Hopefully, it has something in it, perhaps that which Jane Austen’s Fanny described above, that will speak to someone in the future as it does to me in the present moment. Lifting the panel with this painting, feeling its weight and solidity and the way the image comes off the surface, it certainly seems like it might.

I will never know but at least I am giving it a chance.

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GC Myers- In Retreat (Shelter)



When I flew over the Atlas Mountains in a plane, I realized that their formation-through erosion, geological dramas, the action of winds-was completely independent of our moral anxieties; man is in a kind of cyclone; he builds solid houses to protect and shelter his heart. Outside, nature is nothing but indifference, even terror.

― Le Corbusier, When the Cathedrals Were White



As I have written recently, I am neck deep in the  work right now as I prepare for my upcoming solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery. It opens on June 4 at the Alexandria, VA gallery that has graciously hosted my solo outings there for the past 22 years.

I am generally excited about each show as it nears but the anticipation to get this work out in the public, out in open air, feels even greater this year. Maybe it’s the events of this past year– a pandemic, an insurrection, the death of my father, a hobbled ankle that has constantly nagged at me, etc– but I felt somewhat distracted in my work over the past year or so. I feel that the work from this time was where I wanted it to be but it came with great effort and a focus that wasn’t always there.

The work from the past several months has been quite unlike that. I am in the midst of a great groove where I feel focused and locked in. It’s one of those rare and wonderful times where the work is coming easily, one piece throwing me instantly into the next, to the point where I will set aside a painting that is 3/4 complete so I can begin the next while the focus and rhythm is still resonating in my brain. I have several such paintings still awaiting completion around the studio as I sit here this morning.

It’s a wonderful feeling, one that I can’t fully explain to you. With this focus, the outside world is diminished, almost blocked out. The work becomes a sort of shelter, a retreat from the darkness and outrage of the world beyond my studio walls. Of the many benefits that being an artist offers, that might be the most valuable for me, the thing that keeps me afloat through thick and thin. The shelter of this work is a life saver.

So good to have it back. I only hope that the show lives up to the feeling. It’s at this point each year that I begin to worry that I am delusional, that my proximity to the work and the process makes me incapable of actually seeing it for what it is.

Contact intoxication, maybe?

But the benefit of being in such a groove is that the work engrosses me so much that it keeps me from fully fixating on this uncertainty. How it is received seems insignificant when it’s like this.

Now that’s the shelter I need.

This leads me to the small piece shown at the top, a 12″ by 12″ canvas that is part of the show, one of the first pieces completed. It set things in motion. It is titled In Retreat (Shelter) which only seems appropriate this morning. I could easily see that Red Roofed structure as my studio or myself as one of those Red Trees that seem to be seeking shelter behind it.

I am going to link this image and post to a song whose chorus has periodically entered my mind over the past 30 or so years. It’s fittingly titled Shelter and is from Lone Justice from back in the mid 1980’s. Led by vocalist Maria McKee, they were very hot for a few years but they couldn’t hold together long enough to reach the potential that so many saw in them. They disbanded in 1987 and Maria McKee went on to a solo career. I thought their two albums were very good and they were regulars on my turntable back in the day. But honestly, I haven’t heard any of their music for probably twenty five years though, as I said, the chorus from this songs pops into my head every now and then. It was produced and cowritten with McKee by Steve Van Zandt, who is known as Miami Steve with Springsteen’s E Street Band, Little Steven with his Disciples of Soul or with his Underground Garage Sirius show, or as Tony’s consigliere Silvio Dante on The Sopranos. You can hear his influence in this song.

Give a listen. Maybe it will help you find some shelter of your own or at least have its chorus pop into your head someday in the future.



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Esperanza Spalding Lest We Forget



Don’t have much to say this morning. To be honest, I am itching to get at a panel on my easel that is at that crucial point where it begins to fully take on life. The most exciting part of the process.

I was thinking about this the other day while working on another new painting. The initial phase of compositional layout was great but from there on it was kind of a slog. The more I painted, the more dissatisfied I was with how it looked. I thought at the time that in earlier points in my career I would have hung it up, just let it go and move on to something easier.

But I had experience now and knew that this awkward part was just how this sometimes proceeded. You had to persist and use your know-how to push it forward, trusting that the grace contained within it would at some point emerge.

That little bit of knowledge comforts me in those rough moments during the creative process. And the painting I was working on turned out beautifully, at least in my eyes. Full of grace and color and a life all its own now. 

All that I can ask of my work.

For this Sunday Morning Music, I am going with a song from the great Jazz singer/songwriter/bassist Esperanza Spalding off her album, 12 Little Spells, from 2019. On it, each song is devoted to a part of the human body. This song, Lest We Forget, is devoted to blood, how we are all united to one another and the earth and the stars.

Everything is written within us.

Anyway, it makes for a lovely way to kick off a Sunday morning, with a reminder we are related to everything and that have the ability to bring that grace to life if we simply persist.

Lest we forget.



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20210331_055939 The Memory of That Time sm



I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.

― Virginia Woolf, Diary, March 18, 1925



This new painting at the top is titled The Memory of All That and is part of my upcoming solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery. The show opens June 4, 2021.

This piece has held the feeling of deep memory for me since it was completed. Maybe it’s the burnished edge of darkness that runs around its perimeter, like looking through an old film cell that has aged and darkened. You hold it up to the light and the brightness from behind brings the central image to life once more while seeming to put the peripheral imagery in shadows. They’re still there, just not as distinct.

The Virginia Woolf quote at the top seems especially applicable here. I see the Red Tree taking on  the role of a being who returns to the their past, gazing at the old homestead. The memories that flood in take on an emotional feel that is often deeper and more pronounced than was evident at the actual moment being remembered.

The present is often incomplete. It sometimes lacks the context which comes from pertinent future events that add the emotional depth and flavor we feel when we later revisit it as memory.

I know that this is something I often see in my own memories. Even those that had emotion at the moment in which they occurred are often deeper and many times felt with completely different emotions upon recall. For example, take some incidents of the petulant anger of youth. I might remember the initial incident and anger but the memory now might contain a bit of embarrassment at my lack of self-control, naivete and wrongheadedness.

Or what might have been a fun moment then now contains feelings of familial love or even a sense of loss.

As I said, the present is seldom complete. And future events– changes within ourselves and in the circumstances our lives–will continue to change our memory of it.

That’s what I am reminded of in this piece. The Red Tree will grow larger and its perspective will change, as will the homestead and everything around it. Our memories sometimes seem like they are set in concrete but they often shift and change in ways that we barely perceive.

After all, we live in an impermanent world. Memory sometimes gives us the feeling of permanence, even though it may only illusory.

Okay, enough. I have lots to do today and its time to get to work.



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Fly Over



20210410_061518 sm



Wasn’t going to write anything this morning. Words just don’t seem to want to come. Recently, I have been thinking in shapes with dreams that have me working on puzzles that involve shapes and forms. The neat thing is that in the dreams I sometimes solve them with a logic that seems much better than the one I possess in waking hours.

If only I could dream while I’m awake.

Oh, wait, I already do that.

I thought I would instead share two pieces that I did over a few days back in 2017 based somewhat on the Aboriginal art of Australia. I am a fan of that work and wanted to try to consciously incorporate some of its elements in my work. That led to these two pieces.

I never showed them in any public forum and the one below, a 12″ by 36″ piece on panel hangs in a bedroom/storage area here in the studio. I never felt they were enough of mine, that they were too derivative of the Aboriginal work. And that’s not fair to either of us.

Plus, as a result, they never fully fit into my body of work or, at least, in a way, that felt natural or organic to me. I would always see them as Aboriginal based and maybe a little too forced.

But the funny thing is that I always enjoy looking at these pieces when I do so without taking my own bias into account. The textures, rhythms, and colors create a reaction that satisfies me in some way.

Makes me want to fly. Not way up in the clouds. Just a couple of hundred or so feet in the air so that I could see the rolls and rhythms of the land in bit and pieces. There used to be an ultralight that would periodically fly by on its way to a seldom used airstrip down the road. I would see the pilot– is that what they’re even called?– as the putt-putt sound of his small engine reached my ears. He seemed to be hanging in the air in a lawn chair strapped under a wing as he chugged along at considerably less than supersonic speeds. Looked to be about 45 MPH to my eye.

I always envied that guy.

But I never wanted to do that because I knew I would surely suffer some sort of hypnotic state while staring at the ground and the patterns. Most likely, I would just end up putt-putting my way into a bloody face plant with the ground while in such a stupor.

I’ve done that before, from a ladder at a mere 16 feet or so. I still periodically see the wet earth racing up to meet my face. Once is enough and I don’t really feel the need to do it from a higher point. Even so, there are moments when I yearn to fly low and slow, to see the fields and farms and streams and ponds lay out beneath me.

So I imagine. And dream. And paint.



dscn0027sm

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GC Myers- Take Off Your Shoe ( Stay a Little Longer)



Been working lately on a group of interior scenes that are part of my June show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. I showed one this past week called After Party and it set the tone for this group with the sloppy disheveled look of a room after the party is over.

There are many things I like about these pieces. One is the fact that they can seem humorous while still seming quietly mysterious and even pensive or somber. I like that dichotomy. Maybe that’s because I have often seen humor in some of the more serious moments of my life.

It’s often a short ride from crying to laughing.

Another of the things I like about painting these pieces is their rough edges and slightly askew perspectives. I paint these pieces with slightly larger brushes than needed which gives them the softly sloppy look that appeals to me.

Like much of my work, these pieces are not planned out. I just start in one spot and see what builds out from that first mark on the surface. I make a mark then reassess and add another then reassess again, weighing the balance of the composition as well as the balance of the colors and contrasts.

It’s like juggling where you are always readjusting with each toss of the ball and with each new additional ball thrown into the mix. Maybe that is what I should call myself–paint juggler.

This piece is a small 9′ by 12″ canvas and is called Kick Off a Shoe ( Stay a Little Longer) which is a tip of the hat, in a way, to the old Bob Wills Western swing classic, Stay All Night ( Stay a Little Longer). Below is a version of that song from Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, who have for many decades kept the spirit of Bob Wills’ music alive with their own brand of Western swing. Always sure to get your toes tapping.

Give a listen and get up and dance a little. Maybe kick off a shoe and stay a little longer. What’s stopping you?



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