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Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

 

I came across this post from about 4 years ago and it made me take pause to think.  Sometimes in the course of living day to day, we often lose sight of the bigger picture that is our own life. We often focus on small things, little tasks and minor grievances, causing us to take for granted whatever good fortune that we may have experienced. I find that this is true in the weeks before a show when I am buried in my work. And I think that it  must seems especially true for most of us in these crazy days that we are going through as a nation.

So, today, instead of worrying and burying myself in angst, I am going to focus on the ways in which I have been so fortunate and allow myself to enjoy it, to be happy. Here’s what I wrote four years back:

There is but one success– to be able to spend your life in your own way.

— Christopher Morley, 1922

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I was contacted a week or two back by a man who had given me a great opportunity as an artist in my early years, a large commission that gave me the confidence to make the leap to painting on a full-time basis.  We had not seen one another in many years but he had seen some of the recent publicity about my work and he reached out to me, wanting to congratulate me and see how things were going in general.

For me, it was an opportunity to offer him the gratitude I felt he deserved even though it had been fifteen years since he had worked with me.  The years had clarified how large his decision to use my work meant to my career. So we talked for a bit, me thanking him and him telling me how proud he was of my work and of his ability to have seen something in it in those early days.  It was a nice talk and, after agreeing to get together soon, he put a  final question before me that gave me pause.

Are you successful, Gary?”  he asked.

I wasn’t sure what he meant by successful and the possibilities ran through my mind.  Was he talking about being a financial success?  A critical success, one based on notoriety?  Or was he asking if I was simply happy, satisfied by my life?  It suddenly seemed that success was such a relative term, that one person’s definition of success might not even begin to satisfy the next person’s requirements for it.

But my own?  What was success for me? In the flash of that moment, I tried to put this all together  and determine what the word meant to me.  I thought for a split-second of success being determined by money and fame but settled quickly on my own self-satisfaction as being the determinant of what I might define as success.  I knew in that moment that there would always be those who will make more money, gain more fame and influence than me.  But I also knew that even with more of these things I would be no more  satisfied with the life I was leading–  I do what I want  and I am able to do it on my own terms.  The image came to me then of those times when I am walking through the woods between my house and my studio and I stop and look around, thinking that I am more fortunate in this way than I ever dreamed of in my early years.

I knew in that flash that this  feeling of that satisfied moment in the woods was success for me.  I told him that yes, I was successful, more than I had hoped for.

I have thought about this conversation a number of times.  I still have fears and anxieties, still aspire for more in my career.  But it’s those moments of feeling truly fortunate to do what I do, feeling that warm glow of satisfaction in my life if only for a few seconds here and there each day, that define success for me.

I think back to a few weeks ago when I spoke with a group of high school students and I hope that I gave them  some idea that this is what success is– that if they can set their own  expectations and find satisfaction in these, they will be successful.

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The new painting shown here is a 9″ x 12″ canvas and is titled The Question. It is included in my solo show, Truth and Belief, which opens June 2 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. 

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Talking to Kids

I spoke with a group of  about 60 third grade students on Thursday at the Big Flats Elementary school.  Earlier this year, their art teacher, Joanna Martinec, had used my work in some of their lessons and they were excited to learn that I lived in the area. Ms. Martinec sent me an email with some images of their work and a list of questions that they had asked. I offered to come and speak directly to the kids to answer their questions.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I don’t deal with a lot of kids but I have to admit that it was a lot of fun.  The kids were totally engaged, well behaved, and very responsive.

One of my favorite moments was when I was telling them about how I was about their age when I first thought about wanting to be an artist and that one of my main reasons was that I didn’t feel like people ever heard what I was saying.  I asked if any of them ever felt that way, that nobody listened to them, and they answered with a hearty “yes“, almost every single one of them in unison.  That brought back my own memories of being in their position so many years ago, about wanting to be heard and to be taken seriously.

I felt really connected to those kids at that point and wanted to really hear all of them.

I did a short demo of my wet method which was not as effective as I had hoped, mainly from a logistical standpoint. It’s just hard to show it well to a large group.  We had a camera that sent the images to a large screen but it just didn’t show as well as I would have liked and I wasn’t adept at using it. But I was able to do a couple of things that got some ooh’s and aah’s and I think the kids ended up liking it anyway.

We finished up with a question and answer period.  I’ve done many gallery talks over the years and understand how hesitant and self-conscious people– by that I mean adults– are in asking questions.  There was none of that with this group. The kids’ hands filled the air and they followed up with great questions and fun comments about what they liked or what they were doing with their own art. We had to stop because of the time but about half of the kids still had their hands in the air to ask questions.  If it had been possible, I would have stayed and answered every single one of their questions.

It was so much fun talking with these kids and hearing their views and their questions.  They had awareness and understanding with an openness that was without cynicism.  That’s a refreshing combination.  It was very inspiring for me.

I think I may have found my target audience.

Thank you to the teachers and the staff at the Big Flats Elementary School for having me and to Joanna Martinec for doing such a great job with your kids. I had a great time and hope the kids did as well.

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GC Myers- Balance (Known/Unknown)We have to balance the lineality of the known universe with the nonlineality of the unknown universe.

Carlos Castaneda
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I am calling this new painting Balance (Known/Unknown).  It is a 14″ by 32″ canvas and will have a slightly different edge detail that I will shown at a later date.

The Carlos Castaneda quote above just reached out to me when I was looking at this piece. The Red Tree here seems to be standing at the edge of the known, the terrestrial world that is defined here with earthy color, solid forms, and dark lines– the lineal universe.  Beyond it the non-lineal universe beckons, represented by a nebulous sky and a sun that acts as an unblinking eye.

It all is very much a metaphor for the purpose of art and that is to act as an intermediary between the known and the unknown, the go-between for that which is of our five senses and those things that go  far beyond those senses.

Things that we feel in an emotional sense.

And that is what art often does, putting the deep feeling of that which we cannot see onto those things that we do see.  It makes the intangible tangible.

That said, I like this new piece and have been enjoying my time with it. Every day I find a new angle within it that gives me pause, that excites me, and sets me thinking. And that is all I hope for in my work.

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GC Myers- Canyon of DoubtsCreativity requires introspection, self-examination, and a willingness to take risks. Because of this, artists are perhaps more susceptible to self-doubt and despair than those who do not court the creative muses.

Eric Maisel

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This new painting, 8″ by 10″ on panel, is called Canyon of Doubts. For me, it represents the navigation that takes place in the creative process as the artist tries to get past the formidable obstacles of self doubt.  Doubt often throws up barriers that has the artist asking if they are good enough, if they have the talent, training, and drive to create true art that speaks for them to the world. Doubt makes them fear that they are out of place, that they don’t belong, that every other artist has more right to create than them.

Doubt keeps the artist seemingly boxed in with no apparent way forward.

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Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.

Kahlil Gibran

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I’ve been trapped in that canyon many times. I’ve thought many times that there was no way out, that the fears posed by my doubts were the realities of who and what I was.

I have always felt alone with my doubts.  Words of encouragement from others often felt hollow when I was lost in those canyons.  They didn’t know how steep the walls of doubts seemed to me or how inadequate, how ill-prepared I felt in that moment.

The only option that seemed available to me was to trust that I could somehow fight my way out of those daunting canyons. It would mean mustering every bit of talent, every ounce of energy, and a sustained belief that I deserved to have my voice rise from out of  those canyons. It was matter of  either having the faith in my own value as human to find my way free or withering away in a canyon of doubts.

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Your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become criticism.

Rainer Maria Rilke

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I still find myself in those canyons. I still find myself periodically looking up at the walls that surround me and wonder if I am talented enough, strong enough, or even entitled to escape them.

But I now know that there is a path through them, one that is well worn with my own footprints from my past journeys in that shadowed place.  I know that, even though it is lonely and seemingly unbearable in that moment, I don’t have to be trapped in that place of doubt.

I’ve traveled this path and there is indeed a way out.

It takes time and effort and devotion.  It takes the belief in yourself, forged from past experience, that you will make the right decisions and not be trapped in those walls.  It’s in having the faith that when take a wrong turn, when you make a mistake, that you will recognize it and get quickly back to the path that sets you free.

At the moment, I may well be in that canyon still but I have the moon guiding me and its light shows me where the canyon ends.

And then I will be free once more.

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Kids Stuff!

3rd-grade-gc-myers-landscapes-1-smOne of the great benefits in my job is that I occasionally get to hear from kids who like my work.  For example, last month the Principle Gallery forwarded a lovely note from a young girl from Arlington, Virginia who declared herself a big fan of my work.  She told me about how she likes to draw the trees in her backyard and how she hoped to be able to show me some of her art at some point.

I can’t tell you how happy that little note and its simple affirmation from a little girl I have never met made me feel on the day that it arrived. Maybe it’s because I trust kids’ eyes and their instinctual reactions.  They don’t like something because someone thinks they should like it– they just like it because they like it, because there is something in it that they see as clearly speaking to them, not needing explanation or translation. It’s as though they are not aware of their lack of knowledge and, as a result, see with a pure, unadulterated vision.

And that is exciting to me.

The latest incident came earlier this week when I received an email from a local elementary school art teacher, Joanna Martinec at Big Flats Elementary.  She said she had introduced her 3rd grade class to my work as a way of teaching them different elements of composition in art.  They were especially taken with my Archaeology series with its hidden underground artifacts and created their own versions of it.

She forwarded two photos of the collected pieces that I am sharing here. I couldn’t be more happy with this work and love them all. In fact, there are a couple that have effects and feeling that I would love to capture in my own work. Just darn good stuff!

The kids were also pleased to know that I was both alive, local and self-taught.  She sent me a list of questions from the kids that I found to be very insightful and inquisitive, much more in depth than I expected. We are trying to arrange a time for me to talk to the kids and answer those questions in person.

I am looking forward to that and to seeing some of these pieces up close. Thanks, Joanna, for passing them on to me– they made my day!

3rd-grade-gc-myers-landscapes-2-sm

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GC Myers- The Eye of ImaginingAll human accomplishment has the same origin, identically. Imagination is a force of nature. Is this not enough to make a person full of ecstasy? Imagination, imagination, imagination. It converts to actual. It sustains, it alters, it redeems!

Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King

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It converts to actual.

Those four words sum up the power and potential of the imagination.

Our dreams, our hopes, our desires– they all take place in our imaginations. There these concepts begin to take shape and create their own paths forward. It is in the imagination that those first tenuous steps take place that transform mere thought into reality.

Every worthwhile thing we have ever done and every aspiration we will ever have is a product of the imagination.

It is the seat of all humanly power. And it is ours if only we use it.

Dare to imagine.

I think that is what I am seeing in this new painting, an 18″ by 18″ canvas, that I call The Eye of Imagining. It’s about dreaming.  About transforming that which we know and see into a form that better suits our hopes and desires.

It’s about reminding ourselves that the only limits to our potential come from not dreaming, in not allowing our imaginations to run freely.

This throttling down of one’s imagination is something of which I am as guilty as anyone.  I often find myself compromising my dreams, making them smaller and less challenging because of self doubt and a lack of confidence.

And this lack of imagining makes me feel smaller as a person.

We need to dream.

We must dare to be the person we imagine ourselves to be. Dare to imagine that.

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The post below, from early 2012, is a favorite of mine.  The idea that each individual has their own unique strength and quality–their own lever, if you will– is what I see as the basis for my work. This post also serves as a reminder that there is never an obstacle too large or a foe too powerful that can’t be moved with the proper lever. I think it’s something we should think about during this time.

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Give me a place to stand, and I will move the Earth.

Archimedes

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This is actually a condensed and long accepted version of  Archimedes‘  words.  It was really about the power of lever in physics.  He actually said: Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand  and I will move the Earth.  But the lever has been dropped over the 2200 or so  years since he lived and has come to signify something more than a statement about physical mechanics.  It is an almost existential statement about the power of the individual in changing the world.  The small somehow defeating  the overwhelming forces set against them.

David versus Goliath.

The biblical David’s lever was his intelligence and the sling and stone that he used to offset the lever of the Philistine’s size and strength in order to take down the giant.  Every underdog has somehow identified a strategic advantage that has enabled them to triumph against all odds.  Something that plays to their own strengths and magnifies their greater opponent’s weaknesses.

What is the lever you will use to move the Earth?

I call the painting above A Place to Stand after these words of Archimedes.  It is a new piece that is a 24″ by 30″ canvas that is a very simple composition that relies on the juxtaposition of the single Red Tree set against a powerfully set sky that seems ready to overwhelm the diminuative tree.  Yet, against all the elemental force  of wind and weather that  the sky can muster, the tree perseveres.  It uses the flexibility of its trunk and limbs to absorb the wind and its bark protects it against the heat and cold.

It stands alone, without protection for all the world to see. Yet it stands. Just standing where you are with resolve is sometimes a lever powerful enough to change the world.

Perseverance is often its own victory.

Persevere.

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