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Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

I wrote an entire entry just now for this blog and, after reading it over, I decided to chuck the whole thing. Just didn’t hit the mark, didn’t feel right.

Sometimes it’s better to just go back to square one than try to cobble together something that is rickety from the start. Or just do something altogether different.

So, this morning I am just going to say ‘To hell with it’ and play a song that soothes me in some small way.

It’s a Lou Reed song, Sunday Morning, from his days with the Velvet Underground in the 1960’s. The late model/singer Nico, best known for Andy Warhol transforming her into a Pop Art icon, does the vocals here but you can hear Lou’s voice in her vocals.

It has that familiar Velvet’s drone that I think gives it that soothing quality I am looking for this morning. Plus, this is kind of a neat video.

Have a good Sunday, okay?

 

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I have posted This description of one of the process for one of my paintings, followed by a short video showing its evolution from start to finish, a couple of times over the past nines years.  I thought it might be a good time to revisit it as there are many new readers who may not be familiar with how my work comes together. I paint in two distinctly different processes, one being a reductive process where I put paint on the surface then remove much of it and this process that is additive, with layer after layer of paint building up. Here’s what I wrote in January of 2011:

I worked on a new piece the last couple of days, a large canvas that is 24″ by 48″. I had already gessoed the canvas with a distinct texture and applied a layer of black paint. I had vague ideas of where I thought the painting might go from a composition standpoint but knew that this was only a starting point in my mind. Like most of my paintings, the finished product is often drastically different than what I imagined at the beginning. As I paint, each bit of paint dictates the next move and if I don’t try to force in something that goes against these subtle directions given to me by the paint the piece usually has an organic feel, a natural rhythm in the way the different elements go together. A cohesion of sorts.

Knowing I wanted to use a cityscape in this piece, I started in the bottom left, slowly building the city with geometric forms and rooflines in a red oxide paint that I use to block in my composition. I prefer using the red oxide because it gives a warmth under the layers paint to come that shows through in small bits that are almost undetectable at a quick glance. 

At this point I still am unsure where the painting is going. I have thoughts of filling the canvas completely with the cityscape with the smallest view of the sky through the buildings but am not married to this idea. The paint isn’t telling me enough yet to know. But it has told me that I want a path of some sort- a street or canal- through the composition. I make room for one near the center before starting on the right side with the buildings there. I go back and forth between the right and left sides as I build the city, constantly stepping back to give it a good look from a distance to assess its progress and direction. 

 At a point where the city is nearing the halfway point on filling the canvas, I decide I want this piece to be less about the cityscape and more about how it opens to the open sky beyond it. I extend the road that started at the bottom and twist it upward, terminating it at a bend in what will be now a field beyond the city edge. The sky, though still empty, is pushing me ahead, out of the city. The piece has become about a sense of escape, taking the street from the cityscape and heading upward on it towards the open fields and sky. Painting faster now, another field with a bit of the road appearing is finished beyond the first lower field. I have created a cradle in the landscape for the sky to which I now turn my brush.

There’s a certain symmetry at work here and I decide I want the central focus of a sun in this composition. I roughly block in a round form, letting it break beyond the upper edge of the canvas. I pay little attention to the size of this sun except in its relationship to the composition below it. My suns and moons are often out of proportion to reality but it doesn’t matter to me so long as it translates properly in the context of the painting. If  it works well,  it isn’t even noticed.

I finish blocking in the sky with the red oxide, radiating the strokes away from the sun,  and step back. [The video below basically begins at this point in the process] The piece has began to come alive for me and I can start to see where it is going. The color is starting to fill in in my mind and I can see a final version there. This is usually a very exciting time in the process for me, especially if a piece has a certain vitality. I sense it here and am propelled forward now, quickly attacking the sky with many, many brushstrokes of multiple colors. working from dark to light. 

There are layers of a violet color in different shades that are almost completely obscured by subsequent layers. I could probably leave out these violet layers but the tiny shards that do barely show add a great depth to the flavor of the painting for me and to leave them out would weaken the piece in a way. 

I have painted several hours on the sky now and still have a ways to go before it reaches where I see it in my mind. There are no shortcuts now. Just the process of getting to that final visualized point. But it’s dinnertime and my day is now done. I pick up and step back to give it one final look before I head out into the darkness. This is where the painting is at this point, where I will start soon after I post this:

GC Myers Process jan-2011-pt-2 In the blog post with the final version I then wrote:

Above is the tentatively finished version of the painting I started earlier this week, a 24″ by 48″ canvas that I am considering calling Escape Route. I showed the first few steps of the painting process on this blog two days ago, ending with the sky being near finished and the composition blocked in. I’m not going to go into all the steps and decisions that went into completing this piece. Instead, I put together a short film that shows the painting evolving to the finished product.

I will say that the final version is much different in many ways than I first envisioned with the first strokes of red oxide that went on the canvas. Each subsequent bit of color, each line that appeared, altered the vision in my head just a bit, evolving the piece constantly until the very end of the process. Even the last part, where I inserted the treeline that appears on the farthest ridge, was not seen in my mind until just before the decision to proceed with them was made. I decided to go with this treeline to create a final barrier for the road to break past on its way upward toward the sky. A final moment of escape.

This painting has given me a great sense of satisfaction after finishing it. I spent much of the late afternoon yesterday just looking at it and taking it in. I don’t know if it will translate as well on the computer screen but this piece has substantial size at 24″ by 48″ which gives great weight to the blocks of color from the buildings and the light from the sky. There is a sense of completeness here that I could  only struggle to explain, but as I said, brings me great satisfaction. I feel as though the evolved painting has exceeded what I imagined when I first started this piece. While I can’t fully explain that, it is all I can hope for from my work.

I will spend some more time over the next several weeks looking at this painting, determining if anything should be tweaked or altered.  A highlight added here, a line made crisper there. But as it stands, it feels as thought it has taken on its own life and I will probably leave it alone as it is.

 

991143 Escape Route 2011

And here’s the video, only about a minute long, that shows how the piece came about.

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GC Myers- Night Comes On

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I went down to the place where I knew she lay waiting
Under the marble and the snow
I said, Mother I’m frightened, the thunder and the lightning
I’ll never come through this alone
She said, I’ll be with you, my shawl wrapped around you
My hand on your head when you go
And the night came on, it was very calm
I wanted the night to go on and on
But she said, go back, go back to the world

Leonard Cohen, Night Comes On

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I finished the painting above earlier this week, a 20″ by 20″ canvas piece that really spoke to me as I was painting it. All the time I was working on it, I had a song running in my head– Here Comes the Night from Them, the Northern Irish band of the 1960’s that featured Van Morrison. Great song with a memorable chorus that really seemed to align with what I was seeing in this piece. Here Comes the Night was the title I mentally attached to this painting while working on it.

But after I was finished with the painting and spent a few days looking at it in the studio, something about the title gnawed at me. For some unknown reason Here Comes the Night as a title just didn’t feel right any more. But I knew there was something in this painting that jibed with a song in my mind, some song that used night in its title and resonated with me personally.

I strained for a couple of days going through night songs that came to mind but none of them were right. It was one of those times when you come across the right answer you will immediately know it.

That time came early this morning. I came into the studio with the title Night Comes On stuck in my mind. I was pretty sure it was from an old Leonard Cohen song that I hadn’t heard in years and had mostly lost in the mossy mire of my brain. But as soon as I put it on, the lyrics flooded back to me, reminding me that it was a song that always cried out to me whenever I heard it.

I knew immediately that it was the right choice. And not just for the lyrics.

While listening to the song and looking at the painting, I realized that the sky and the moon in this painting related directly to a dream that I had several years ago. I am hesitant to share the dream, as its personal and there’s a small superstitious part of me that fears I will weaken the power of that dream if I tell it aloud.

I will say that it came to at a point where I was filled with uncertainty, especially about my place in this world as an artist. I was in between my two annual shows and felt absolutely worthless and creatively impotent. I felt hopelessly paralyzed.

But one night this dream came to me with sense of great calmness and a wisdom that I most certainly never knew in my waking life. I was instantly soothed, my immediate worries evaporating. In the years since it appeared, this dream has remained a source of calm when I am stressed out. This dream marked a change in how I saw myself and what I do. A change that brings with it a calmness and acceptance.

There is something in the sky of this painting that is pulled directly from that dream. I didn’t see it until I heard this song this morning and then that was all I could see. It gives me chills– in a good way.

Here’s the Leonard Cohen song. Time for me to go back to the world.

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Sitting down by my window
Honey, looking out at the rain
Sitting down by my window, looking out at the rain
All around that I felt it
All I can see was the rain 
Something grabbed a hold of me
Feel to me, oh, like a ball and chain
Hey, you know what I mean that’s exactly what it felt like
But that’s way too heavy for you, you can’t hold them all

Big Mama Thornton, Ball and Chain

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Sitting here this morning, watching the rain outside the studio window. Got much to do but find myself just watching the rain and the deer shuffling around the yard. It’s gray and misty with an air of sadness. Brings to mind the opening lines of Ball and Chain, a Big Mama Thornton song that Janis Joplin immortalized with her performances of it, most notably one from Monterey Pop in 1967.

Here’s that performance. There’s a part around 3:28 in that shows the late Mama Cass Elliott in the audience, totally transfixed by the performance. I think she knew that she was witnessing something special.

Take a look, give a listen and have yourself a day. You can choose whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. Myself, I’m going to watch the rain a little bit more then get to work.

 

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“Breakout” Currently at the West End Gallery

Not much to say here today.

This week marks the last chance to see my Moments and Color show at the West End Gallery. The show ends this coming Friday, August 30.

My Icons & Exiles show will hang until September 20 at the Patterson Library Octagon Gallery in Westfield, NY. There will be an Art Talk there on Thursday, September 12 at 6 PM.

I am in the process of getting ready for my 17th annual Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. It takes place on Saturday, September 21, beginning at 1 PM. I am looking for a prize to give away that equals the 1970 Gremlin from the West End Gallery talk earlier month. This is going to be a tough task.

I thought I’d play a video this morning to kick off the week with some energy. It’s a video of Led Zeppelin from 50 years ago, in March of 1969, playing live in a Danish television studio. This was just after the release of their first album. In another video from this session you can see the small audience file in and sit in a semi circle around the band. There are maybe 50 or 60 people, at best. And they played like they were in front of a full arena. It’s a great but long performance, over 12 minutes long, but the first couple of minutes are definitely worth a look. Have a good day and here’s How Many More Times.

 

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Before the Gallery Talk

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Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me around
I feel numb, born with a weak heart
I guess I must be having fun

The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground, head in the sky
It’s okay, I know nothing’s wrong, nothing

David Byrne, This Must Be the Place

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I was looking for a piece of music to play for this week’s Sunday morning music that kind of jibed with the experience of yesterday’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery and I came across the lyrics for This Must Be the Place from David Byrne and Talking Heads. Had to laugh because the first two stanzas, shown above, described my feelings about it perfectly.

I certainly begin every talk feeling that home is where I want to be.

I feel like I am picked up and turned around for examination.

Certainly feel numb and a little vulnerable, a little weak of heart.

But I guess I must be having fun.

That’s just the first stanza. I don’t have to paraphrase the second. It’s spot on as it is.

Many, many, many thank you’s to everyone who came out to yesterday’s Gallery Talk. You were a fantastic group.

And an exceptionally large on. We brought in extra chairs but by about twenty to one, when the talk was to begin, all of the seats were filled. A lot more folks came in after that  and had to stand. We may have to bring in bleachers and a warm up act for next year’s talk!

But it was the folks that were there yesterday that made this talk successful and, dare I say, fun. It was a wonderful mixture of people, young and old, new faces and familiar faces. They asked great questions, overlooked my gaffes, laughed at the right times and made me feel like I was having a casual conversation with some friends over a lunch table. That is a remarkable thing for a guy who would always rather be in his studio alone.

But yesterday, for that hour or so, in that gallery with a large group of friends to talk with, it certainly felt like that must be the place. That’s a gift to me and I can’t tell you how appreciative I am to receive that gift from all who were there yesterday. Thank you so much.

Going to be hard to top this year’s talk but next year, but we’ll try. I promise someone will get that Gremlin next year!

Here’s a great performance of This Must Be the Place from Talking Heads. Have a great day.

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Busy this morning getting ready for two events–this coming Saturday’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery followed quickly in the next week by the opening of my Icons & Exiles exhibit at the Octagon Art Gallery at the historic Patterson Library.

There’s actually a lot to do for both events, even the Gallery Talk where you might think that I just show up and talk. Sometimes it sure seems that way. But I do try to organize my thoughts, to establish some sort of theme that kicks off the thing in a positive way. And for me, that is work.

So, today I am showing a piece, The Attuning, that has only been shown once. It had been in a gallery’s flat files for many years and I do not think and I do not think was ever shown fully presented in mat and frame. It probably only came out of the file a few times over the years. It appeared on their website and its colors appeared a little severe to my eye. That was how I judged the piece for all those years. It became a lesser piece for me.

But when I saw the actual piece again for the first time in six years, I realized how wrong my judgement had been. Yes, they were strong colors. But my original photo editing had skewed it away from its reality. The actual painting felt so much different than the image I had seen online. It was, in fact, much more nuanced and subtle than I had been seeing it in my mind through the years.

I saw it in the way I no doubt saw it when it was created.

I have reedited the image and it feels closer now to the reality of the painting. Glad it was able to change my mind.

That brings us to the music for this Sunday morning. It is When Your Mind’s Made Up from Irish singer/songwriter Glen Hansard. This is from Once, the 2007 film that Hansard starred in and for which he won an Oscar for his songwriting. It was later turned into a hit Broadway musical. This song was my favorite from the film, where it was performed with a backing band in a recording studio. There, the song built and built with the band coming to a large crescendo. I came across this live performance with just Glen Hansard and thought that it couldn’t possibly match the version with the band.

I was very wrong. Glad it was able to change my mind.

Give a listen and have a good day. Hope to see you next Saturday at the West End Gallery for the Gallery Talk beginning at 1 PM. Check out yesterday’s blog entry to see the painting you could win there. Plus, a few other things that I’m not going to discuss here.

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