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Posts Tagged ‘Don Quixote’

GC Myers Sun CarvingOur internet  connection was down here for most of the day yesterday which was not really a surprise given the -19° on the thermometer.  Cold enough to make today’s puny 1° reading look appealing.  But because I didn’t have to focus on writing the blog I took the time to rearrange a couple of things in the studio, things that I often look at from my seat at the computer.  On the large stone wall that holds the fireplace in my studio there are three half-round stone shelves that hold several  wood carvings.

One is an inexpensive carving of Don Quixote that my sister gave me for Christmas when I was a kid and another is a beautiful carving of a crow from artist Don Sottile,  a talented sculptor from my home Finger Lakes region.  Then there are a few of my own carvings from the early 90’s, predating my first attempts at painting by a couple of years.  They are not nearly as well executed as Mr. Sottile’s work but they mean a lot to me, if only as a reminder that they were keys to a door in my mind that I was desperately trying to open at that time, one that would eventually lead me here.

I thought I would take this opportunity to rerun a blog entry about these pieces from back in early 2009:

GC Myers- Hank CarvingImmediately before I started painting in the mid-90’s, my form of expression was wood carving.  It was unpolished and rough but it provided the vehicle that I needed to spark further creativity.  Most were created with an inexpensive set of small chisels and scrap lumber, usually just pine boards leftover from projects.

Actually, the technique that is used in these carvings is linked very much to my earliest efforts at painting which consisted of a heavy layer of paint then removing the parts that didn’t belong leaving the desired image.  This is a technique that I use to this very day.

 

 GC Myers Poseidon CarvingThe thing that I learned most from doing these pieces is that I wanted to emphasize expression over technique.  By that I mean I did not want to focus so much on refining technique to obtain a very polished final product that the piece became more about craft and less about expression of emotion.  By doing so I realized the pieces would retain my own identity and idiosyncrasies.  It was my first real stab at creating a visual look and vocabulary of my own. 

I also took the idea of the work having a tactile feel to it.  The attraction of these for me was in holding them and feeling the wood and the weight of it in my hands.  When I first started painting I worked primarily on paper and I got this same feeling from the cotton of the watercolor papers.  It’s something that I also try to insert into my work today as well, through the use of texture and in the way I present the paintings.

When I look at these I’m not particularly impressed by them as art but I do appreciate them for the lessons they provided at a time when I needed guidance, lessons which I took to heart.  To me they are touchstones to a certain part of my life and as such are important to my development as an artist.

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Now that we’re in the Christmas season, I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite gifts I’ve received over my life.  There have been many that have had special meaning such as the typewriter, that I wrote of earlier, that was a gift from my parents in order to foster my writing ambitions as a teen.  Most are gone now but some still live with me.  This is one that does.

My sister, Linda, gave this to me many, many moons ago when I was 12 or 13 years old.  It’s a simple carving of  what is probably meant to be Don Quixote.  It doesn’t matter- it’s always been Don Quixote to me.

It’s not finely carved, probably made by a guy in some tropical foreign land where he knocks out 20 of these a day to earn a meager living.  Doesn’t matter.  To me, it’s a Rodin.  I’ve carried it with me through ups and downs and the wear shows on it.  A nick from his hat and a scratch here and there.  It broke in two at his ankles and needed mending just to continue standing.

And he does.

I view him as an inspirational icon, a constant reminder to dream beyond what is in front of you, to believe that you can exceed what others think is possible for you.  That you can be whatever you dream yourself to be.

To tilt at your own windmills.

And to remember that others believe in you.

Simple things and small gestures can have great effect.

Many belated thanks, Linda…

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stingray_deluxe I had an old friend show up at the opening of my show at the West End on Friday night, someone I had not seen in thirty years or more.  Near the end of the opening I looked up from a conversation and saw a familiar face grinning at me, a face that I knew immediately even with thirty years added.  It was Jim Langdon.  Jimmy.  Langoose.

Just seeing him triggered floods of memories from my childhood on Wilawanna Road near Chemung, NY, in the 60’s and 70’s.   It was, as I have said before, a different time and on summers mornings like today I would have been up and out of the house by eight o’clock in the morning, heading up the road on my faithful Huffy Stingray, looking for some sort of adventure.  My little Huffy was to me  like Rocinante,, was to Don Quixote- she wasn’t pretty but she took me to faraway (relatively) places.

The kids of that era had a much larger range to investigate and more freedom to do so.  On many days I would be out of the house by eight in the morning and not return until evening and might find myself many miles away in any direction, driving through all sorts of roads and traffic without helmets or protection of any sort.  We had no idea that there were even such things then.  I can’t imagine today’s children being given such leeway, such freedom to investigate life without the watchful eye of an adult always being present.  The freedom to make decisions on your own behavior and see the results, good or bad.  We probably weren’t as safe in many ways as today’s kids but we were more independent, more aware that there was a world outside the one that constantly revolved around us at home.  And I don’t think that’s a bad tradeoff. 

Seeing Jimmy instantly brought back those moments of adventure and fun and yes, sometimes danger and reminded me how much freedom one little golden stingray bike could bring to a kid.  I smiled like an idiot and we reminisced for a while.  Can’t wait to do it again.

Anyway, that’s that.  Now, you kids get the hell off  my lawn…

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