Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Early Paintings’

In the entry here last week where I wrote about old works I had discovered hidden away in my old studio, I mentioned that I had found that the old studio was deteriorating quickly in a visit to it last year. The roof had been breached and the pilings were beginning to fail at that time but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it was after year of exposure to the elements.

In that post I failed to mention that when I was in the studio that time I had also uncovered some other old pieces. As I scanned the damage, I went to a tall counter in the corner that was covered in debris from the collapsing ceiling and roof. Under it was a large cardboard box filled with scrap matboard. I dragged it out and discovered that behind it was a group of plywood panels bundled together.

I pulled them out and turned them around to see their surfaces. I recognized the work immediately. They were from around 1998 up to perhaps early 2000. I had bought a bunch of scrap lauan plywood from a bin at my local hardware store. They were all about 16″ by 36″ and I had sealed them with a wood primer/sealant–Kilz I believe it was– and then a layer of gesso. I had done a bunch of work on this material and many had turned out very well, making their way out of the studio and into galleries. Almost all had found homes.

But this group of four for some reason never made it out of the studio. Don’t think I ever showed them publicly, actually. And looking at them now, I can’t figure out why. Even though they showed some damage from their time under that wet counter– for example, the piece at the top shows some dark spotting on its surface that I have yet to address– these seem like strong pieces from the time frame in which they were created.

I like these four pieces. Maybe its my own personal nostalgia more than an objective evaluation of the work that makes me feel this way. For myself, I can sense the excitement I felt at the time in which I was creating this work, that feeling of discovery in each new piece. Each individual block of color seemed to have its own feel, its own voice and each piece had its own lesson to teach me.

Each day then seemed filled with new discoveries. It was an exciting time for me and I felt like an open conduit, the work pouring easily through me.

It’s a bit different now. The work doesn’t flow endlessly through my conduit now. It comes in surges, fits and starts. But it still surges on a regular basis. Most likely, the experience of having done this for so many years and the knowledge I have absorbed has tempered my response but I still feel giddy excitement and still discover new things within the work and its processes on an almost daily basis. And that is a good thing.

Maybe that is the purpose of this work now– to remind me what it was that I desired and needed to pull from my work then.

And now.

 

Read Full Post »

Finisterre is a peninsula at the westernmost point of Spain. In Roman times, it was thought to be the end of the known world.

Thus the name: finis/end + terre/land.

Finisterre.

It is also the title of a lovely song from English folk singer June Tabor that I am featuring for this week’s Sunday music. Very atmospheric.

The accompanying painting at the top is a piece I came across this past week in an old sketchbook from back in 1994, when I was just starting to paint. I hadn’t seen it in some time and was pleased that it had aged well, that it had a completeness that was not the norm for the work I was doing at that time. The rest of the sketchbook, for example, is filled with landscapes that are cringeworthy enough that this piece seems out of place.

I chose it to accompany this song because it also has an atmospheric quality, one that speaks of open space and emptiness. Pauses and the quiet rush of the wind through the grass. It might not be Finisterre but it feels like it might be the end of the world for someone.

Have a good Sunday.

Read Full Post »

My annual show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia, opens on Friday, June 7th. This year is my 20th solo show there, something that seemed out of the realm of possibility when this run began with the first Redtree show back in 2000.

Nothing seemed guaranteed at that time.

I was still a fairly new artist at that point, showing my work publicly for barely five years with the last two years as a full-time artist. Still had that new artist smell. I understood that the Principle Gallery was taking a chance on me and that this show was a great opportunity for me as an artist. Solo shows in great galleries don’t just come to artists on an everyday basis and the success or failure of such a show could dictate how my career moved on from that point. I knew that all too well.

I remember my trepidation in the months before that first show as I prepared for it. I was operating in abject fear of my own failure was having trouble visualizing what success this show would even resemble. My final goal for the show ended up being that I simply hoped to not be embarrassed.

Fortunately, it turned out to be very successful. That led to the next year and the next and so forth. There have been varying degrees of success with the shows along the way but one thing that seldom changes is the absolute fear of failure that comes with each show. So, here I am, twenty years in, and still feeling that same ball of anxiety in my gut. If anything, it might even be worse because I see this as a personal landmark of sorts. I want it to be a show worthy of twenty years invested by the gallery.

I’ve been looking at some of he work from those earliest Principle Gallery shows, trying to see similarities and differences between the work then and now. To see how it has changed, to see what has been gained and lost. One that struck me this morning was the piece above from 2001 called Symphony to Joy. It’s a piece with what I would term great organic appeal. I mean that it in the sense given by the linework within the piece and the way the colors and forms play off one another. It just seems very natural.

Maybe I shouldn’t try to explain such things.

But what I am looking at is how I can regain that natural feel, that organic sense present in the painting. Twenty years of painting have straightened some lines, taken some spontaneity out of some color choices, and softened some rough edges. Experience and knowledge has taken the place of the urgency of the pure emotion found in these early pieces.

I sit here this morning anxiously wondering how to find a way to merge the experience with that emotional urgency. Hope I can figure it out before June 7th.

Read Full Post »

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.

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: