Posts Tagged ‘Cemeteries’

Gravestones, Early and FolkI have always been attracted to cemeteries, which is probably why they have been popping up in several of my recent landscapes.  Even as a child, I found the stones in cemeteries irresistible.  There were several old family plots around our home, small groupings of  stones set in the edge of the woods where early settlers in our area were laid to rest.  Most had death dates, when you could make them out on the weathered slate, that dated from around the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

One small plot across the road from us was reportedly the family of a coach driver that had resided in the home that had once been attached to an old stone chimney that still stands there to this day,  almost like a monument in itself.  It was rumored that the family had been killed in an Indian massacre, although I believe it to be just that– a rumor.  I found the small graveyard tucked on the edge of a forest hidden from the road a very serene place.  It had a calming  air around it that I found appealing, even as a child.  Plus it played to the imagination, the stones conjuring up the names of those  that I would try to envision and bring to life in my mind.

This fascination has carried through my life.  I am always eager to walk in cemeteries, to look at the stones and read the names.  I sometimes wonder, as I walk through with a name on my lips, if that name has been spoken in years.  I somehow imagine that I am conjuring their spirit, their memory of their life,  back into form by virtue of simply saying their name.  It seems like their is a power in this simple act, even if is a mere act of respect.

Grave, Lion GardinerAs I have done more and more genealogy, this interest has continued as well.  There are numerous sites where I have found images of  ancestors’ graves.  Some are unique, like this elaborate monument to Lion Gardiner that was designed by architect James Renwick, famed for his design of St. Patrick’s Cathedral  in NYC, when Gardiner’s body was re-interred in 1886.  Others are crudely simple, a slab of stone with the name crudely carved with what looked to be a nail.  Many have no stones at all, which I find sad because there will be no possibility that someone will walk through the graveyard one day and read their name aloud.

Eleazer Mulford- Lindley NYThere’s a great site online that has the entire Farber Collection available for viewing.  The late David Farber and his wife, Jessie Lie Farber, were even more enthralled than I am with cemeteries.  They amassed a huge collection of images of the sculpture and carvings on early American graves, most dating before 1800.  It’s a treasure trove of imagery and a great site to spend a few moments browsing, especially if you have anything like my interest in how cemeteries relate to our history.

Read Full Post »

GC Myers WIP 2013This the piece I showed earlier in the week, a 24″ by 48″ canvas started last weekend.  As you can see by the image to the left, the composition of the landscape has filled in and the sky has began to take shape.   I have laid in several layers of brushstrokes in the sky but probably won’t go back into it until I do more on the landscape below.  The landscape will set the final tone and feel for the sky and I need more color in it to fully be able to read it.

I sometimes question whether I need to have as many layers of color in the sky because  often in the final surface you can’t even discern any of these layers.  For example, there is a layer with  numerous strokes of violet in the sky here that you probably can’t make out in the picture above.  When this piece is complete, you may only be able to see a tiny  hint of  violet at any point in the sky.

Could I skip that layer and several other similar layers?

Sure.  It may not make a bit of difference to the casual observer.  But for me, it is an integral part of the process, a  slow development of the depth and complexity of the color that I am seeking, a color that I won’t know until it finally shows itself.  That little touch of violet is necessary for me, an important step that, if skipped, would have me thinking that something was amiss in the picture.

DSC_0011 smLeaving the sky, I begin to lay in preliminary colors for the landscape, a variety of blues and greens for the trees and a brownish  putty color for the houses and a bit of red for the roofs. It’s always exciting at this point because the color begins to bring real shape and life to the landscape.  As  each house comes to life with a little color as I work across the canvas, it is like there is a wave of light moving over it.  The whole surface begins to feel animated.

DSC_0014 smAfter that layer, I begin to lay in the surface of the landscape with a multitude of colors, weighing each block of color  as I place it  to get a sense of how it fits into the rhythm of the whole.  I begin to put on what may or may not be final touches on some of the houses, slashes of white that glows on the canvas.  I really am beginning to feel the direction of the painting at this point and have a sense of where it may finish, starting to think how I will handle the blackness of the lake.

GC Myers WIP DetailI know that this sounds goofy and I can’t really explain in any coherent manner, but there’s a good feeling around this painting at this point.  I like it’s strength and think it will show dynamically in its final state.  I really like it so far and like a few of the details in it that are new to my work.  For example, this scene has a small church graveyard  with a road circling it as it overlooks the lake.   Although I sometimes reference death and the past in my work and have a great personal fondness for graveyards, I have never actually portrayed a cemetery in my work.  But I really wanted to show it as part of the community of this painting.  It somehow tempers the piece for me.

So, while the painting is beginning to take shape, there is still a ways to go before I can sit back.  I am still trying to see what the final focus of the piece will be, what will give me a name that fits it.  Perhaps I should ask you for some help.

Shall we have a Name That Painting Contest?


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: