Posts Tagged ‘Early Painting’


GC Myers  -Siesta 2001No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters.

-George Eliot


I came across this older piece from back in early 2001.  I remember this piece, an 18″ by 26″ painting on paper called Siesta, very well.  I recall being conflicted on this piece.  On one hand, I liked it very much for its simple construction and the ease with which it seemed to evoke its emotion.  But there was a part of me that felt it was too contrived or too thought out– it was just trying too hard.

Or so it seemed at the time.

But with fifteen years between us, I began to just look at it just as it is.  The things I liked about it then I liked just as much now.  Maybe more because it has a simplicity and ease that I now know is a very hard thing to capture.  I find myself being less bothered by the subject, by the idea of the sun hanging as a disc from the tree limb.  It just doesn’t seem too matter to me now in this piece.  It’s like the positive parts far outweigh what I once felt were negatives.

And that goes to the quote at the top from George Eliot.  Our perceptions and interpretations change as we ourselves change with age and experience.  I often run across my own work that I either liked or disliked at one point.  But time finds me now feeling very much different about some of these pieces.

And there  are some about which I feel absolutely the same, good or bad.  Maybe it’s that some things just don’t change or maybe it’s that I have to age and grow a bit more.

We’ll give that a shot.

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GC Myers- Railbirds 1994This is an older painting of mine from back in 1994.  I was in the transition from trying to simply replicate the work of others to developing my own visual voice.  I wasn’t sure where it would go from there and didn’t even have an idea of how to proceed.  I just painted and painted, letting each piece be the guide for the next.  Sometimes it brought forth breakthroughs and sometimes not.  But this time and this work still brings back that excitement of the unknown that was so present in that time.

This little piece is a favorite of mine from that time and is painted in a more traditional watercolor style that I was dabbling in at the time.  It is titled Railbirds and depicts a scuffle between the inhabitants at the rail of a horsetrack.  Perhaps there was a dispute over a mislaid wager or which jockey looked sharpest in their colors.  Who knows?

I spent an inordinate time as a kid at the race track, reading the Racing Form and drinking way too much Coke.  One summer, my father and I were at the track on average 3-4 times a week.  It was a time when a 13-year old kid could lay wagers at the betting windows without any questions and I would often act as a runner for bets, including my own.  I learned a lot of lessons there.

First, that I was lousy judge of horses and a pretty mediocre gambler.  But more importantly, it was a laboratory and showcase for human behavior and it stirred in me the beginnings of a realization that I didn’t want to spend my life in that way.  I saw lives that were heavily addicted to gambling and alcohol and it seemed like such a waste of time in what even then seemed like a too brief lifespan.  There were very unhappy, angry and greedy people there, always on display and they made an impression on me.

Maybe these lesson and these people formed the darkness that I use as a base for my work.  I often think it is the contrast between the underlying darkness and the overriding light of my work that sometimes makes it effective, makes it feel hopeful without being pollyanna-ish.

I don’t know for sure.  But I do look at this piece quite often in the studio, studying its rhythm and flow while thinking of those times, good and bad.

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GC Myers Early Work ca1994I came across this little piece recently.  It’s a small watercolor on paper that was done in 1994, while I was still developing my own voice and before I began showing my work publicly.  It’s not a great piece of work and will always just live its life in a bin of experiments and other pieces that just aren’t up to snuff.  But this little painting always has meaning for me, providing a lesson in trusting your own instincts as well as weighing the words of guidance given to you.

You see, I had another artist around this time critique my work.  He was a professional artist with years of experience and I trusted his judgement, wanting any feedback that would help me narrow my quest for an individual voice.  On this particular piece he told me that it was sorely lacking, that the figure needed to be more accurate in its depiction, that people would not respond to this kind of rendering.  I  wasn’t positive in his advice but I hesitatingly took it to heart and avoided figures for many years and even to this day hear his words when I consider a figure in my work.

I consider it a huge mistake on my part and wonder what my path might have been had I discounted his advice at that time.  I mistook him for a guide on the creative path to my own voice but what he offered was a route that took me to where he himself was headed.  His guidance was purely subjective, linked to his own vision of how the world looked and should be depicted.

His road was not mine.

Over the years, I have become resistant to listening to others when they begin to tell me what my work should be or where it should be headed.   I also am hesitant in giving advice for the same reason– our destinations may not be the same.

It may not be much but this little piece is a symbol of the trust I now have in my voice and intuition.  It is a constant reminder that it is up to me as to how I use the advice given by those posing as guides on the path.  In this way, this painting is priceless to me.

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GC Myers-  With All Possibility smThis is a painting of mine from a number of  years back, a 16″ by 20″ canvas titled With All Possibility.  For the past several years it has hung in a back room of my studio but has remained a favorite of mine.  It’s part of a group of paintings of mine that is often referred to as the Dark Work which refers to the dark ground on which they’re painted and deep and dark  primary colors of the surface.  This work started in the months after 9/11 as we struggled as a nation to find footing.  This work was my emotional response at the time.  The work never gained the favor of my more typical work but I have always believed that it has something real in it, something that expresses a base emotion with genuine truth.

That’s why I probably give this work a go in the studio  every so often, painting new pieces to see if I still see something in this style.  This particular painting was part of  such a revisit back in 2007.  I thought at the time that this was a strong piece of work and, having had it around for a few years now, still believe so.  But it never raised any interest in its limited visits to a couple of galleries so I tried to figure out if  there was  fault in it.

Sometimes this is the case in some paintings, where I will have strong feelings over a piece that just doesn’t click with anyone.  I may be seeing something that is not visible in the surface of the work– an inspiration or even my own memory of the painting  process– which affects my judgement of the piece.  After some time, I will begin to see this and begin to see that my judgement of it was tainted, that I was not seeing the painting as it really was and, as a result, was missing real flaws in it.  Flaws that deprived it of the life that I thought I was seeing  when in fact I was only sensing my memory of the creation of it.  A big difference.

But looking at this piece, I still felt there was something real, something strong.  The forms, the colors, the textures– it all seemed to work in a rhythm of simple harmony with focus and depth.  Everything I look for in my work.  What was wrong?

It didn’t take long to figure it out.  It was my presentation of the work.  The frame.  At the time of this piece, I tried a very short-lived experiment with some gold-leafed frames, wide flat mouldings with a more classic  style.  I was trying to have the frame add weight to my work and it was a huge mistake.  It was not in any kind of sync with my work and it even went against my own personal rule which always has the edges of my work, on paper or on canvas, exposed.  I have only had a few pieces over the many years where the edges are covered and even those few still nag at me.

But here was this piece in this frame that would be more suitable for a more traditional pastoral scene in oil, its edges trapped under the gold-leafed rim.  It was all wrong.  How could I have not seen this long ago?

I unframed it and I immediately felt so much better, like a weight was lifted off my chest.  Liberated from the golden bindings of that frame, the painting seemed as strong and as vibrant as I had  thought .  I had been trying to present it as something that it was not and in the process had shaded its reality from the viewer.  It now sits without a frame and, if it ever leaves the studio, will have a proper presentation– edges exposed and ready to fly free.

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