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GC Myers- Deluge



There’s a lot to be done here in the studio this morning. I was under the weather from my second dose of the covid vaccine didn’t get much done yesterday. It wasn’t anything severe, just a general tiredness and a lousy achy feeling that was just enough to keep me from wanting to dig deep into my work.

And I find that if I am off enough that I am not able to fully commit, the work never seems to go anywhere. I end up spinning my wheels, ultimately ending up feeling frustrated and maybe even a little angry on top of feeling physically ill.

Time has taught me that it’s better to just ride it out and start fresh the next day.

And here we are. I feel good now, even refreshed, and eager to get at it. But since it’s Sunday morning, let me share a piece of new music from a favorite of mine, Rhiannon Giddens in collaboration with her partner Francesco Turrisi. The song is Waterbound.

The song reminds me of the painting at the top from a number of years back, Deluge. I am working on a piece that is similar in theme but am not ready to show it yet so Deluge will have to fill the bill this morning.

Off to work for me now, folks. Feels good to feel good again.



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GC Myers-  October Sky sm



I am currently in the midst of painting for my annual June show at the Principle Gallery and am in what I believe is a pretty good groove at the moment. I was thinking about how I view my work at these times, about how it is about how I am painting rather than what I am painting. It reminded me of this post from a few years ago that shows closeup details of the painting’s surface. These details are actually how I see my work most of the time, especially when in a groove. And probably as much as I see them as a whole. Made me think this post was worth revisiting.



I was looking for something to play this morning and put on this album, Blues Twilight, from jazz trumpet player Richard Boulger. I’ve played a couple of tracks from this album here over the years.

While the title track was playing I went over to over to a painting that hangs in my studio, the one shown above. It’s an experiment titled October Sky from a few years back that is a real favorite of mine. I showed it for only a short time before deciding that I wanted it hanging in the studio. I never really worked any further in the direction this piece was taking me. Part of that decision to not go further was purely selfish, wanting to keep something solely for myself, something that wasn’t subject to other people’s opinions.

A strictly personal piece. A part of the prism that doesn’t show.

I look at it every day but generally it is from a distance, taking it in as a whole. But his morning, while the album’s title track played I went and really looked hard at it, up close so that every bump and smear was obvious. And I liked what I was seeing, so much so that I grabbed my phone and began snapping little up close chunks of it.

It all very much felt like the music, like captured phrases or verses. Each had their own nuance, color and texture and they somehow blended into a harmonic coherence that made the piece feel complete.

It’s funny but sometimes when I am working hard and in a groove that takes over from conscious thought, I almost forget about those things that I myself like in my work because I don’t have to think about them in the process of creating the work. Looking at this painting this close made me appreciate the painting even more, made me think about it in a different way than the manner in which I now used to seeing it.

Guess it’s a good thing to stop every now and then and look at what you’ve done, up close and personal.

Here’s Blues Twilight from Richard Boulger. Enjoy the music and take a look at the snips, if you so wish. But definitely have a good day.





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Victorian Easter Cards



Thought for this Easter Sunday I would simply share a few Victorian Easter cards to go with an appropriate musical selection for the day. Much like the Victorian era Christmas cards I’ve shown here before, The Easter greeting cards from that time sometimes had a creepy edge to them or at least some sort of inexplicable sensibility that is lost on modern audiences. Take a look below and see if they make sense to you. 

Maybe next year I will share some strange photos of people dressed as Easter Bunnies posing with kids, like I have done in the past with some unsettling photos of Santas. The odd thing is that most of the creepiest Easter Bunny photos don’t seem that far in the past. A little too creepily recent for my tastes.

For this Sunday morning musical selection I am going with a song that is very on the nose for my devout friends out there. For those of you who do not observe the religious aspects of this day, it still is worth a listen. It is Sam Cooke, after all. It’s Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord) backed up The Soul Stirrers, the gospel group with which he started his illustrious career. 

Sending you Easter Greetings, maybe in the form of a chicks or bunnies wearing Pickelhauben, those old German military helmets. Seems like small animals were more militaristic then than now. Go figure.





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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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Folk Blues- LeRon's Yellow Guitar -GC Myers 1994



This morning, I thought I would combine another old piece with this week’s Sunday morning musical selection. The painting above is one of my earliest pieces, completed in early 1994.

It was at a point before I had what I considered then and now to be a breakthrough with my work. I was still working with watercolors solely and using them in as close to a traditional manner as someone who is self-taught can. I still find the qualities of that medium really appealing and use many of them– in a manner that is adjusted to fit the way I think– in much of what I call my transparent work with inks.

This piece was titled which meant that I saw something in it that deserved a name. That’s one way I judge some of this earliest work. There are some pieces in my files that don’t have titles which means that while I may like the piece or see something of value in it, I don’t feel it is complete and whole.

I think I saw this piece as being whole even though at the time I didn’t feel it was good enough to exhibit. Maybe it wasn’t that I didn’t think it was good enough, maybe it was more that by the time I was showing my work a year after this my work had changed, moved away from this style.

It’s titled Folk Blues/ LeRon’s Yellow Guitar. It certainly has flaws but there is much in it that I like.

Anyway, thought this would pair up with an old blues tune written and first recorded in the 1920’s, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out. This version is from early blues artist Scrapper Blackwell who is an interesting case.

Blackwell was born in South Carolina in 1903 and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana as a child. He built a cigar box guitar and taught himself to play, becoming a performer in the Indy/ Chicago areas as a teenager. Around this time he met and partnered with pianist Leroy Carr. In the late 1920’s until around 1935, the two were very successful as songwriting and recording artists. One of their best known songs was Kokomo Blues which was later transformed into the song most of us know as Sweet Home Chicago.

The duo lived pretty large at that time with lots of drink and partying. However, Carr died from physical complications from this lifestyle in 1935. Blackwell floundered for a couple of years before dropping out of the musical scene altogether. He settled into an obscure life in Indianapolis as a manual laborer in an asphalt plant for the next 20 years. In the late 1950’s he reemerged as a musician, recording several albums of his early blues over the next few years. The song below was recorded during this period and is pretty poignant in that at that time he truly knew the highs of stardom and the lows of poverty and obscurity.

His renewed career was taking hold at a time when the blues were undergoing a revival in the early 1960’s when he was shot and killed while being mugged in an Indy alley in 1962. He was 59. As a result, his influence in the blues revival never really extended out to the wider audiences that other blues artists were able to tap into in the mid 1960’s. Most of you have most likely never heard of Scrapper Blackwell.

This is a really nice recording of an old blues song. The kind of song LeRon at the top would feel right at home with. Give a listen to Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.



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GC Myers- The Sky Is Always the Sky 1995 sm



There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables



Thought I’d share another older piece, one that also never found its way out of the studio. Some times the reason they stay with me is obvious and other times not so much. This small piece falls in the not so much category.

It’s from mid 1995, not long after I first started showing my work publicly. Across the bottom of the piece of watercolor paper on which it is painted is the title The Sky Is Always the Sky along with the date it was painted in 1995.

Looking at it now, I can’t figure out why I felt it wasn’t worthy to show at that time. I am actually pretty pleased to be able to show it now. It has much in it that I wish would show up in my work now, twenty five years later.

For example, its utter simplicity and the gracefulness of its linework. Well, my definition of gracefulness, anyway. There’s also the way the layers of color go together so well with the grainy pigments of the cobalt blue settling into the shallow pits of the paper above a sepia underlayer.

Looking at it, I realize that many of the changes that took place in the following years in my work were material related. A few years after this I went from employing traditional watercolors in my work to acrylic inks. The difference is that the inks have a more and finer pigments which make their colors more explosive, more impactful. There is a difference in the more subtle aspects of the watercolors that is hard to replicate with the inks. This piece is an example, at least by my analysis.

Another difference was that I also began using a gessoed surface a few years later which also brought dramatic changes to the work. The positives of using gesso outweigh not using it for me but the beauty of cotton watercolor paper and its tactile appearance is undeniable.

The other difference was that the brushes I was using at the time were  wonderful Winsor & Newton round brushes that have long since been discontinued. These round brushes had a different brush profile than almost any other round brush I have been able to find since that time. I use a round brush almost all the time in my wet work even when a flat brush might sometimes be a more obvious choice. I like the organic quality it gives the work and the linework it produces. Brush choice has a big impact on how the work appears and I am still trying to find brushes that have the same qualities as those old W&N brushes.

Anyway, looking at this old piece again so closely gives me inspiration, makes me want to revisit those elements that make it work so well for me. We’ll see

Here’s an old Chris Isaak song, a favorite that is centered around a particular blue sky. It’s the tone I would like for this piece. Here’s Blue Spanish Sky.



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GC Myers- After PartyTurn out the lights, the party’s over
They say that, ‘All good things must end’
Let’s call it a night, the party’s over
And tomorrow starts the same old thing again

–Willie Nelson, The Party’s Over



 

This is a new small painting that is going to be part of my annual solo show at the Principle Gallery in  Alexandria, VA. This year’s show is called Between Here and There and opens Friday, June 4th.

This might be an odd choice to be the first piece shown from this year’s show. It’s called After Party and is one of those pieces I often do mainly for myself. Actually, most of the work I do is for myself first.

But this and others like it might be even more so. They just really satisfy some need inside of me, something that wants to come out.

Plus, they usually make me smile or sigh. I know that this one did both.

I am not going to get into what I see in this for myself. I would rather you have your own interpretation on this one.

I will say that I immediately thought of the old Willie Nelson song, The Party’s Over, that he wrote way back in the 1950’s. A lot of us remember Dandy Don Meredith wailing it during the early years of Monday Night Football ( with Howard Cosell) when the game’s results seemed inevitable. I have been listening to a remake of this old classic as done by the Atlanta-based group Manchester Orchestra. They employ the basic structure and chorus of the song but add a bit to the song. Some may not like the idea of toying with another’s song but I think it works well here and I kind of like it for this painting.

Give a listen, if you like.



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If you can’t dig this, you got a hole in your soul– and that ain’t good.

–John Lee Hooker



On some Sunday mornings, the day I always choose a song to feature, it’s a struggle trying to find what i consider is the right song for that morning. I want it to reflect how I am feeling and maybe set the tone for the rest of the day. 

This morning I was in the studio at 5:30, wanting to get an early jump on my day of painting. I began looking for a song that I though might match with the painting above, River Angel. I thought of a couple of other songs with river in their titles but when this song clicked in my head, I knew it was the one.

River Deep, Mountain High as sung by Tina Turner in 1966, produced by Phil Spector. He was crazy and dangerously despicable but, man, he made some great records. Immortal recordings.

This is one of those.

It only takes about 30 seconds for Tina to reach full emotional intensity. And she never lets down from point on. It just roars and soars above the high mountaintops.

I just love this recording. My day feels like it off to the races already. Like the late great John Lee Hooker says at the top– If you can’t dig this, you got a hole in your soul– and that ain’t good.

Hope you dig it.



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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



I was looking at the piece above early this morning. It’s been with me for a long time and I sometimes take it for granted and don’t take the time to engage with it. But this morning I looked at it longer than I had in some time, reconnecting with what it has meant to me. Maybe it was because it’s near that time of the year when I get to indulge a guilty pleasure with my annual viewing of The Ten Commandments, the campy biblical epic from Cecil B. DeMille that always runs on ABC during the week before Easter. Or maybe it’s that the pronunciation of the Hebrew word ger which means stranger sounds the same as the shortened version of my name that my family often used for me growing. I don’t really know but thought that it would be appropriate to share a post about it that has ran a couple of times during the many years this blog has been around.



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, painted sometime in early 2002. 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 which means stranger or temporary resident and sham which means there. Together Gershom 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 saw myself as being 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



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GC Myers- Far Away Eyes



Seems like a recurring theme lately with me starting most posts by saying that I am busy and eager to get to work. That’s actually a good thing for me. That eagerness to get to it is something that is not just there. It is cultivated, a result of previous actions. It usually means I am doing the right things (at least, for me) in my creative process.

So, while I wish I were willing to spend more time writing this morning’s post I am glad to want to get to my work.

But I wanted to share the painting above, Far Away Eyes, that is currently at the West End Gallery. I wrote about this piece last July and rereading that post reminded me of the struggle that I had with it. It was one of the first pieces I worked on during the early days of the pandemic. I had no momentum, no energy, little inspiration nor any eagerness to be at work. My mind was wholly distracted.

This piece though fought with me and made me work. Made me shut out the outer world for a time so that I could focus my mind on it, to become part of it.

To put it plainly, it didn’t come easy. That’s probably why this piece resonates so strongly with me. I think we all appreciate those things that make us struggle, that make us be at our best. We might be frustrated and demoralized during the battle but the result, the overcoming, makes us forget that. I know that the struggle in this piece had slipped my mind until I read the post that was written soon after this painting was completed, when the battle was still fresh in mind.

I now appreciate it for what it is, the force it possesses and not for what it provided in its creation.

As it should be.

The title for this song  was borrowed from an old Rolling Stones song from their 1978 Some Girls album. I didn’t mention it in the original post about the painting because I didn’t think the song itself fully lined up with the piece but its title did. But now, I’m not so sure.

Give a listen and you decide.



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