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Archive for the ‘Painting’ Category

Some days reveal their moods pretty quickly. Today is one of those days– bone cold with a slate gray sky, the first dusting of this winter’s snow on the ground. Feels somber and a little sad, even mournful, just to look out the studio window. There is a group of deer milling around out there, moving with a slowness that makes me think they feel that same somberness, sensing that the good times of summer and fall are past and that ice and snow will soon be a constant for them.

One of the first songs I clicked on this morning fell right into this mode of feeling. It’s Down By the River from Neil Young. Released in 1969, it’s a song that has been covered by a lot of people and I was close to using a live performance of it by Norah Jones and Young but the original just has the right amount of anguished beauty for this morning.

The paintings I am including here are from back in 2009 and doesn’t really adhere exactly to the mode of this post or the song but something about it seems to fit. It’s   a small group of work that dealt with tightly clusters of red roofed structures hugging a a river or canal, often with no sky visible, just a jumble of roofs and buildings. It was work that I really liked and looking at it this morning while listening to this song brought forward a whole slew of concepts that I would like to soon pursue in this same vein, perhaps on a larger scale.

Anyway, give a listen and have a good day…

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I experience a period of frightening clarity in those moments when nature is so beautiful. I am no longer sure of myself, and the paintings appear as in a dream.

Vincent Van Gogh

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This painting, Resplendent,  which is now at the West End Gallery, reminds me very much of one of my favorite quotes from Vincent Van Gogh, shown above. Sometimes the beauty of nature sets everything right and wipes away the obscuring webs brought on by things we cannot control, creating a path for an expression of the effect from witnessing that beauty.

In my experience, these moments of clarity are accompanied by that uncertainty to which Van Gogh refers. It is not doubt, however. It is more like the recognition of losing conscious control to an outer (or inner) entity, one where all decisions have been made beyond your waking mind.

As in a dream.

The work at that point just comes seemingly on its own, as though it was meant to be or had a need to exist.

I know this a strained explanation. It’s such a nebulous thing, this act of creating something from what often appears to be nothing, that explanations and definitions often confuse more than clarify.

And maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe the very purpose of art is to make us aware of the mystery and uncertainty of this life. Maybe it shouldn’t be easily explained.

That being said, I will stop now. Have a good day– enjoy the mystery and beauty around you.

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Sensing the Unseen

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” 

― John SteinbeckTravels with Charley

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Omega Tree

Friday is the opening for my show, Sensing the Unseen, at the Kada Gallery. In my opinion, it’s a strong show with some interesting groupings within it. For instance there are several snow scenes, something I normally have done only once in a great while in the past. There was something different in painting these scenes this time however, something I can’t really identify except to say that these seemed more expressive right as the paint left the brush.

I really just enjoyed painting these. Finding the subtle colors in the white of the snow and sky was fascinating and rewarding. It just felt good as I definitely was immersed during the process.

Time is short today as I am delivering the show at the Kada Gallery, but I thought I would show the group of snow paintings together here. Come out to the gallery to see them in person. They always look better up close, in front of you, rather than on a screen.

Mystery of the Unseen

Through the Valley of Quiet

Cool Wonder

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“How can it be that I’ve never seen that lofty sky before? Oh, how happy I am to have found it at last. Yes! It’s all vanity, it’s all an illusion, everything except that infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing – that’s all there is. But there isn’t even that. There’s nothing but stillness and peace. Thank God for that!”

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

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There’s something about this new painting that has wonderful calming effect for me. I find it easy to ease myself into this piece for a few moments, leaving behind for that time all the worries and concerns that are eating at me.

When I was looking at this painting in the studio I felt like I was looking at an aquarium or a terrarium, something that was right there in front of me but separate from me, a world unto itself, a unique eco-system that exists only in that one place. But instead of seeing fish or reptiles or plants, this was a self-contained world of peaceful feeling- a placidarium.

So, that is the title– Placidarium— that I have chose for this 12″ by 12″ painting that will be part of my show at the Kada Gallery that opens this Friday. It’s a painting that I will be sad to see go – a working placidarium is hard thing to come by these days.

 

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You see, the point is that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.

― Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People

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This is another new painting that is headed to the Kada Gallery for my show, Sensing the Unseen, that is opening there on Friday, December 1. It is titled Resist the Dark and is 8″ by 24″ on canvas.

There are a lot of possible interpretations for this piece, the most obvious being to the current state of affairs in this country and the resistance of many citizens to the actions of this administration as they seek to strip away many protections– financial, environmental and regulatory– that seem to only benefit the wealthiest of us and leave many of us vulnerable to the whims of large corporations. You may not feel this way– and if not, I both envy and pity you– but many folks feel like this country is living under a dark cloud at this point and without resistance it will only get darker.

This resistance to an impending darkness is the most obvious reading of this piece but it can also be taken to a more personal level, one where each of us has to stand our ground again the darker impulses we see being played out every day. We cannot personally fall prey to feelings and actions borne of hatred and prejudice nor can we stand idly by while others act out their own hatreds and prejudices.

Each of us is a barrier, a dam, against the baseness and incivility that is always ready to flood over us, if given the chance. There have been breaches in the dam as of late, these darker aspects getting bolder and stronger. It grows because it is allowed to do so, because many find it easier to accept the darkness rather than stand firm and shine their light into it.

Don’t let that darkness become your darkness.

If each of us stands our ground, even when it seems we are alone in doing so, the darkness will recede and return to the far corners where it has lived in anonymous shame for so long. And that is the only place where it should exist, which is still more than anything that thrives on hatred, fear and prejudice deserves.

Okay, that’s enough for this Sunday morning. Here’s a song from the 1960’s from the late, great pianist/composer Vince Guaraldi who you most likely know from his iconic music for the Charlie Brown specials. You most likely will hear a lot of his music from  A Charlie Brown Christmas this holiday season. Unlike some holiday music, I never get tired of hearing his stuff. This song is not a holiday song however. This song, Cast Your Fate to the Wind -which seems to fits this painting- was released in 1962, winning the Grammy for Best Jazz Composition, and has been recorded many, many times by other artists. It’s a nice way to kick off a Sunday morning.

Give a listen and have a great day. And resist the darkness…

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But I believe above all that I wanted to build the palace of my memory, because my memory is my only homeland.

Anselm Kiefer

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I came across this quote from artist Anselm Kiefer and it immediately struck a chord with me.

There is always a nagging question running through my mind about the purpose of my painting, at least for myself. The why behind the what. And this brief quote seemed to capture some of what I have been thinking about that.

While I am attached to the area in which I live, a place that my family has been in for about two hundred years now, I have come to feel that the landscape in my paintings is my real homeland. It is a construct built from memories and imaginings, a place that feels real but allows for exaggeration and embellishment.

When I visit real places from my childhood, I only see them briefly as they really are in the present. Then they revert to the image drawn in my memory–my real and only homeland. The body of my work is in a way a palace of that memory, a residence for what I am, was or will ever be.

I call the painting shown here, The Palace of My Memory, of course. It is 12″ by 6″ on panel and is part of my show, Sensing the Unseen, that opens in Erie’s Kada Gallery next Friday, December 1. I am excited by this show and am looking forward to seeing it all together on the walls of the gallery. Hope you can make it.

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GC Myers- A Small SerenityWe are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? 

― Swami SatchidanandaThe Yoga Sutras

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I call this new painting, A Small Serenity. It is a tidy 6″ by 12″ canvas that is part of my show, Sensing the Unseen, at the Kada Gallery which opens next Friday, December 1.

It’s a small and simple piece but it has a lovely feeling of tranquility in it, one that far exceeds its humble size. If anything, its dimensions enhance its sense of serene quietness.

And perhaps that is how a contagion of serenity begins, as a small seed within ourselves. A tiny feeling of peaceful tranquility that grows then bursts from us, radiating outward to infect those around us and hopefully through them to others.

And on and on and on.

The cynical part of me knows that such a plague of joy is improbable but looking at this little painting for a moment gives me the serenity to hope and ask,“Why not?” What harm could be done in being kind and calm or in wearing a smile? As the late Swami Satchidananda says above, a smile costs nothing.

So, let’s start this plague today. Shouldn’t we all feel free as birds?

 

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