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Posts Tagged ‘Early Paintings’

I’ve written about some of the orphans,  as I call those paintings that find their way back to me eventually, never finding a permanent home after showing in most of the galleries that show my work. Fortunately, it’s a fairly small group so I can recall most of the details about each of these pieces, even the older ones. But the painting above has been floating around in my space like a mysterious satellite for so many years now that I have lost all recollection of it.

In fact, I can find nothing about this painting in any of my files. No title. No numbering or date. No photos.

Nothing.

It has been living in a horrible frame that I would be embarrassed to show in public, one that I tried to transform by adding layers of gold paint. That was a bad idea. It made the whole thing, painting included, look absolutely awful. I am relatively sure I never exhibited this painting as a result of how it looked in that terrible frame. At least, there are no records of it being shown.

It’s a 16″ by 20″ canvas and I think that it is from around the year 2000. I say that because it doesn’t have my normal layers of textured gesso under the paint and it is done in oil paints rather than acrylic, which would have been from that timeframe.

I had avoided this painting for years in the studio. I kept it facing away in a small stack against a wall so that I wouldn’t be forced to look at the monstrosity it was in that frame. But recently, curiosity had me pull the piece out. I tried to separate the painting from the frame in my mind but the stink of the frame still overwhelmed me.

If I was going to actually see that painting I had to take it out of that frame.

And I was pleasantly surprised when I did that. Oh, it’s not like I found a lost masterpiece. But freed from the shadow of the unsightly frame, I recognized that it was a good piece, one that would definitely fit within the tone and scope of my work from the time in which I believed it was painted.It wasn’t ugly at all. In fact, I began to grow quite fond of it in its liberated state.

It was like turning over a photo that has been face down in a drawer for years and seeing something that surprises you in a pleasant way, reconnecting you with something you had pushed deeply into the recesses of your memory.  It’s that image that has been hidden for many years where you get to see it anew with a different perception based on personal growth and change.

It’s the same image from the same time but you see it differently.

So I brought it out into my painting space and I look at it now and again. And it pleases me to know this orphan once again.

 

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GC Myers- Exile-MartyrI’ve been looking at my Exiles series quite a bit  lately.  From the mid 1990’s, it’s a highly personal series of faces and figures that kind of act as a landing spot for me to place my rawest emotions during trying times.  The piece shown here is titled Martyr and remains an enigma to me, mainly because I have never had thoughts of martyrdom for myself.  But I have been looking at this quite a bit because of a recent request that I revisit this painting at some point in the future.

The person who requested this sees the body and musculature of this figure as an extension of the landscape and when I look at it with that thought I very much see what he means by that.  I had never thought of it in those terms and it strikes a real chord with me so I am excited to get to his request at some point soon.

Plus he would love to see it in tones of blue.  How great would that be?

Anyway, here’s a bit more that I wrote about this piece here many years back:

This is another painting from the Exiles series of the mid 90’s, titled Martyr.  

As I sit here right now, I am at a loss for words to describe this piece.  While there is overt religious symbolism, for me it is not about that.  It is about self-sacrifice, giving everything for the benefit of others.  

But there is also an element that has to do with fear.

When I look at the torso of this character I see it almost as though he has had his skin removed, baring the muscles beneath.  For me, this translates as one being afraid of the consequences of exposing what lies inside.  In my mind, this martyr has been punished for showing who he truly is.

Maybe I’m describing paranoia.  Maybe it’s a form of agoraphobia or just introversion.

I don’t really know.  

It’s funny that this piece that has hung above my desk for many years still perplexes me and eludes definition.  I’m sure that one would expect to know exactly what was meant when I painted this but quite honestly, when I started this piece I had no idea where it was going.  Even when the figure neared completion I was still scrambling for the true meaning.  The elements that seem to from a crucifix were not present and weren’t even contemplated at first.

So the piece remains an enigma.  Personally, I like that.  It gives me a sense that the piece is beyond the obvious which is what I hope for all my work.

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GC Myers- A New Mantra 2001

One of the galleries representing my work contacted me this weekend asking for some info about some paintings that had been sold there many years ago.  In doing the research for the info, I had to scan through some old slides and early digital images of work from that time.  The painting above just stopped me in my tracks, as it has several times in the past.  All I could think is that I would love to see where this painting is now.   It’s a very large piece and it would be interesting to see how it feels in its environment.  

I had forgot that I had written about this painting five years ago and found that the post spoke about a question that oddly didn’t arise at Saturday’s Gallery Talk.  I thought it would be interesting to share that earlier post:

I came across this painting from 2001 just this morning, one that had slipped off my radar some time ago.  It wasn’t in the studio for long and sold very quickly so I didn’t get to ponder over it for an extended period.  It is titled A New Mantra and  is 31″ high by 51″ oil painting wide on mounted paper.

I do remember painting this piece and how it hit every goal I had for it from the first moment I started on it.  It came so  easily that it felt as though it truly fell out of me, with not  a bit of struggle at any point.  I also remember just being extremely pleased with how this showed in its final state.  It was large and airy yet it had a real up close presence.  To me, it was how it must feel to have the secrets of the universe whispered mysteriously in your ear.

It just felt powerful, whiich is probably why I was so surprised at seeing it again this morning.  How had it slipped out of my mind when it immediately rekindled such strong feelings upon seeing it again?

I don’t know that there is any real explanation.  I know there are other pieces out there that will do the same for me, including many paintings from the earlier years when my photo-documentation wasn’t as thorough.

I can think of one painting that I have often used in Gallery Talks as an example in an account of how some work flows easily while others are a struggle from the first brushstroke.  This particular painting was done after a month of working on a series of paintings that resulted in a commissioned piece.  After delivering that commission,  I went into the studio one morning about 5 AM and a pretty large painting just fell out of me.  I mean that in an almost literal sense.

It was about 40″ square and it was painted without any contemplation or hesitation and with incredible speed. I remember how the paintings of the past month had served as practices or rehearsals for that very moment in time.  Every movement was really from muscle memory, moving without prompting.  The conscious thought process was hushed and in the background.

Two hours later and it was practically done.

I  tell people who asked how long it took to paint a piece that this painting didn’t take 2 hours to paint.  It took over a month and those prior paintings were dress rehearsals of a sort.  It couldn’t have happened without those other pieces building up to it.

To my dismay, that is a piece for which I can’t find an image.  But I will keep looking and hopefully, if I find one, I will feel as I did about once again finding A New Mantra.

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GC Myers-The Incantation 1994I was going through some old images the other day and for some reason I always settle on this image shown here, an old piece from my earliest painting efforts over twenty years back.  I call it The Incantation.  At that moment a news station was on the TV, with its incessant and seemingly never-ending  coverage of the presidential primaries.

So much is said yet there seems to be so little substance in it that it turns into just words uttered.

Nonsense or an incantation, of sorts.

In my mind, the connection was made between this image and the song below, Hoodoo Voodoo from Billy Bragg and Wilco, based on unpublished lyrics from Woody Guthrie.  Guthrie had  several songs with nonsensical lyrics, often written for his children. I like this version– it spans that gap nicely between nonsense and incantation.

Actually, I think Sarah Palin quoted many parts of this song verbatim during some of her speeches, most notably her recent ones while stumping for Donald Trump. As I said: nonsense and incantation.

Give a listen and read along.  Hopefully the next time you’re held under a spell cast by the talking heads on one of the news networks, this song will start playing in your mind.  Nonsense is the only defense against their incantations.

Hoodoo voodoo, seven twenty one two
Haystacka hostacka, ABC
High poker, low joker, ninety-nine-a-zero
Sidewalk, streetcar, dance a goofy dance

Blackbirdy, bluejay, one, two, three, four
Trash sack, jump back, EFG
Biggy hat, little hat, fatty man, skinny man
Grasshopper greensnake, hold my hand

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka-chooky-choo-choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now

Momma cat, Tommy cat, diapers on my clothes line
Two, four, six, eight, I run and hide
Pretty girl, pretty boy, pony on a tin can
I’ll be yours, you’ll be mine

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka-chooky-choo-choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now

Jinga jangler, tinga lingle, picture on a bricky wall
Hot and scamper, foamy lather, huggle me close
Hot breeze, old cheese, slicky slacky fishy tails
Brush my hair, kissle me some more

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka chooky choo choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka chooky choo choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now
Kissle me now

Brush my hair
And kissle me some more

Kissle me some more
Kissle me some more

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GC Myers- Moses ( I Supposes)Sometimes when I am walking over to the studio in the morning I will have a song stuck in my head.  Sometimes it is one that I recently heard, something from the radio.  But sometimes it’s one that just springs deeply from the past, something I haven’t thought of in some time.   That’s how it was this morning.  And thinking of that song linked me to a small painting that I did many years ago.

They just fit together in my mind for some reason.

The song was It Ain’t Necessarily So, the great song sung by the slick drug dealing Sporting Life in George and Ira Gershwin‘s Porgy and Bess.  Just a fantastic mix of sound and wordplay.

For some unknown reason, when I hear this song this old piece from over 20 years ago always comes to mind.  It’s a piece that I did very quickly, not really knowing what I was trying to paint.  It just sort of popped out and  I remember calling it Moses( I Supposes).  There was something about this piece that I have always liked. Maybe it’s the I-don’t-give-a-damn way way everything in it is painted, from the giant hands down to the giant feet.

It’s just a personal favorite that somehow always springs to mind when I think of this song.  Maybe because Moses is mentioned in a verse in the song–

Lil’ Moses was found in a stream
Lil’ Moses was found in a stream
He floated on water
‘Til Ole’ Pharaoh’s daughter
She fished him, she says from dat stream.
I don’t know for sure but I enjoy the combination.  I was going to play one of my favorite versions of the song, the one from the Simon Rattle directed version from the Glyndbourne Festival with Damon Evans as Sporting Life but I opted for the great Sammy Davis, Jr. version from 1959.  Have a great day and remember– not everything isn’t necessarily as it seems to be.

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GC Myers Exiles-Bang Your DrumThere are several upcoming projects  on the burner for this year, which I will reveal in the near future.  One of them has me going through a lot of images and writings from the past. It is sometimes painful and sometimes a pleasant surprise.  I came across this blog post from several years back  that I thought was worth sharing today while I get back to these projects. From February of 2009:

This is another piece from my early Exiles series, titled Bang Your Drum.  This is a later piece, finished in late 1996.  

Initially, I was a bit more ambivalent about this painting compared to the feeling I had for the other pieces of the Exiles series.  It exuded a different vibe.  For me, the fact that the drummer is marching signifies a move away from the pain and loss of the other Exiles pieces.  There is still solemnity but he is moving ahead to the future, away from the past.

Over the years, this piece has grown on me and I relate very strongly to the symbolism of the act of beating one’s own drum, something that is a very large part of promoting your work as an artist.  

For me and most artists, it is a very difficult aspect of the job, one that is the polar opposite to the traits that led many of us to art.  Many are introverted observers of the world, passively taking in the world as it races by as they quietly watch from a distance.  To have to suddenly be the the motor to propel your work outward is an awkward step for many, myself included.  Even this blog, which is a vehicle for informing the public about my ongoing work and remains very useful to me as a therapeutic tool for organizing  my thoughts , is often a tortuous chore, one that I sometimes agonize and fret over.  Even though my work is a public display of my personal feelings, this is different.  More obvious and out in the open.

There’s always the fear that I will expose myself to be less than my work.  The fear that people will suddenly discover the myriad weaknesses in my character that may not show in my paintings, forever altering their view of it.  The fear that I will be  revealed to be, as they say, a mile wide and an inch deep.  

But here I stand with my drumstick in hand, hoping to overcome these fears and trusting that people will look beyond my obvious flaws when they view my work.  Maybe they too have the same fears and that is the commonality they see and connect with in the work.  Whatever the case, there is something in the work that makes me believe that I must fight past these fears and move it forward, out into the world.

What that is, as I’ve said before, I just don’t know.  Can’t think about it now– I’ve got a drum to pound…

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Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.
–Thomas Hardy
*********************

1994 Bottle Factory - GC MyersI came across a group of work the other day and realized that they were from a week almost exactly twenty years ago when I had worked on them.  For instance, the piece above was done twenty years ago yesterday.   The sheer idea of twenty years passing seemed fantastic in the moment.  So much has happened and so many things changed over that time yet I still feel new in what I am doing, still feel like the person who looked with wonder at the painting above.

GC Myers the-heights 1994There have been only a few moments, most in the last year or so, when this passing of time has fully sunk in and I feel as though I am a veteran at what I do, feel as though I am what might be termed an established artist.  Maybe seeing these pieces will cement that feeling in place.

Looking at them, I can see my  confidence burgeoning in my work as I began to better understand the materials I worked with and how to control them.  It was all about learning control at that time.  At the time these were painted I was still torn over how and what I would paint.  I still didn’t fully understand the importance of personal vision and was only trying to harmonize forms and color in a pleasing way.   The  work still captured emotion but it was simply a by-product of being immersed in the process so deeply that it could not help but reflect what I was feeling internally.

As I said, I still feel very much like that same person from twenty years ago.  Outside of my marriage, this is the only thing that I have stuck at for so long and that is probably due to the ever-changing  and constant sense of newness and wonder it produces.  That same feeling that I felt years ago when I painted these is still felt today when I work on something new.  Thankfully, that is one thing that has not changed.

GC Myers factory-view 1994

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