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Posts Tagged ‘GC Myers’

GC Myers-  October Sky sm



I am currently in the midst of painting for my annual June show at the Principle Gallery and am in what I believe is a pretty good groove at the moment. I was thinking about how I view my work at these times, about how it is about how I am painting rather than what I am painting. It reminded me of this post from a few years ago that shows closeup details of the painting’s surface. These details are actually how I see my work most of the time, especially when in a groove. And probably as much as I see them as a whole. Made me think this post was worth revisiting.



I was looking for something to play this morning and put on this album, Blues Twilight, from jazz trumpet player Richard Boulger. I’ve played a couple of tracks from this album here over the years.

While the title track was playing I went over to over to a painting that hangs in my studio, the one shown above. It’s an experiment titled October Sky from a few years back that is a real favorite of mine. I showed it for only a short time before deciding that I wanted it hanging in the studio. I never really worked any further in the direction this piece was taking me. Part of that decision to not go further was purely selfish, wanting to keep something solely for myself, something that wasn’t subject to other people’s opinions.

A strictly personal piece. A part of the prism that doesn’t show.

I look at it every day but generally it is from a distance, taking it in as a whole. But his morning, while the album’s title track played I went and really looked hard at it, up close so that every bump and smear was obvious. And I liked what I was seeing, so much so that I grabbed my phone and began snapping little up close chunks of it.

It all very much felt like the music, like captured phrases or verses. Each had their own nuance, color and texture and they somehow blended into a harmonic coherence that made the piece feel complete.

It’s funny but sometimes when I am working hard and in a groove that takes over from conscious thought, I almost forget about those things that I myself like in my work because I don’t have to think about them in the process of creating the work. Looking at this painting this close made me appreciate the painting even more, made me think about it in a different way than the manner in which I now used to seeing it.

Guess it’s a good thing to stop every now and then and look at what you’ve done, up close and personal.

Here’s Blues Twilight from Richard Boulger. Enjoy the music and take a look at the snips, if you so wish. But definitely have a good day.





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GC Myers- Take Off Your Shoe ( Stay a Little Longer)



Been working lately on a group of interior scenes that are part of my June show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. I showed one this past week called After Party and it set the tone for this group with the sloppy disheveled look of a room after the party is over.

There are many things I like about these pieces. One is the fact that they can seem humorous while still seming quietly mysterious and even pensive or somber. I like that dichotomy. Maybe that’s because I have often seen humor in some of the more serious moments of my life.

It’s often a short ride from crying to laughing.

Another of the things I like about painting these pieces is their rough edges and slightly askew perspectives. I paint these pieces with slightly larger brushes than needed which gives them the softly sloppy look that appeals to me.

Like much of my work, these pieces are not planned out. I just start in one spot and see what builds out from that first mark on the surface. I make a mark then reassess and add another then reassess again, weighing the balance of the composition as well as the balance of the colors and contrasts.

It’s like juggling where you are always readjusting with each toss of the ball and with each new additional ball thrown into the mix. Maybe that is what I should call myself–paint juggler.

This piece is a small 9′ by 12″ canvas and is called Kick Off a Shoe ( Stay a Little Longer) which is a tip of the hat, in a way, to the old Bob Wills Western swing classic, Stay All Night ( Stay a Little Longer). Below is a version of that song from Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, who have for many decades kept the spirit of Bob Wills’ music alive with their own brand of Western swing. Always sure to get your toes tapping.

Give a listen and get up and dance a little. Maybe kick off a shoe and stay a little longer. What’s stopping you?



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GC Myers- The Sky Is Always the Sky 1995 sm



There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables



Thought I’d share another older piece, one that also never found its way out of the studio. Some times the reason they stay with me is obvious and other times not so much. This small piece falls in the not so much category.

It’s from mid 1995, not long after I first started showing my work publicly. Across the bottom of the piece of watercolor paper on which it is painted is the title The Sky Is Always the Sky along with the date it was painted in 1995.

Looking at it now, I can’t figure out why I felt it wasn’t worthy to show at that time. I am actually pretty pleased to be able to show it now. It has much in it that I wish would show up in my work now, twenty five years later.

For example, its utter simplicity and the gracefulness of its linework. Well, my definition of gracefulness, anyway. There’s also the way the layers of color go together so well with the grainy pigments of the cobalt blue settling into the shallow pits of the paper above a sepia underlayer.

Looking at it, I realize that many of the changes that took place in the following years in my work were material related. A few years after this I went from employing traditional watercolors in my work to acrylic inks. The difference is that the inks have a more and finer pigments which make their colors more explosive, more impactful. There is a difference in the more subtle aspects of the watercolors that is hard to replicate with the inks. This piece is an example, at least by my analysis.

Another difference was that I also began using a gessoed surface a few years later which also brought dramatic changes to the work. The positives of using gesso outweigh not using it for me but the beauty of cotton watercolor paper and its tactile appearance is undeniable.

The other difference was that the brushes I was using at the time were  wonderful Winsor & Newton round brushes that have long since been discontinued. These round brushes had a different brush profile than almost any other round brush I have been able to find since that time. I use a round brush almost all the time in my wet work even when a flat brush might sometimes be a more obvious choice. I like the organic quality it gives the work and the linework it produces. Brush choice has a big impact on how the work appears and I am still trying to find brushes that have the same qualities as those old W&N brushes.

Anyway, looking at this old piece again so closely gives me inspiration, makes me want to revisit those elements that make it work so well for me. We’ll see

Here’s an old Chris Isaak song, a favorite that is centered around a particular blue sky. It’s the tone I would like for this piece. Here’s Blue Spanish Sky.



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I was looking at some more old small paintings, stuff from before I ever showed my work in public. This piece from late 1994 always jumps out at me. It has a title written below the image (cropped out in the photo above) that says Lester’s Place. I don’t really know why I called it Lester’s or to who or what the name might refer. 

There’s something about this little piece that I really like. Maybe it’s as simple as its colors. Maybe it’s the sense of place it evokes for me. Or the mystery of its narrative.

I don’t know. 

And I don’t think I need to really know. I just like it for whatever reason. The funny thing is that I often think of this old John Lee Hooker song, Rock House Boogie, from the mid 1950’s when I look at this piece. This shack has the same sort of roughness and emotional coloration of this song. I can imagine someone in 1954 stumbling upon this after hearing years of music from groups like the Four Freshmen and the Modernaires on the radio. 

It’s hard driving beat and sharp snapping guitar riffs would most likely create a sense of revelation or one of bewilderment and maybe even terror.

For me, even twenty years later, it was revelation.

Now, that beat has me wanting to get to it for the day. Give a listen and get to your own day.



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GC Myers- After PartyTurn out the lights, the party’s over
They say that, ‘All good things must end’
Let’s call it a night, the party’s over
And tomorrow starts the same old thing again

–Willie Nelson, The Party’s Over



 

This is a new small painting that is going to be part of my annual solo show at the Principle Gallery in  Alexandria, VA. This year’s show is called Between Here and There and opens Friday, June 4th.

This might be an odd choice to be the first piece shown from this year’s show. It’s called After Party and is one of those pieces I often do mainly for myself. Actually, most of the work I do is for myself first.

But this and others like it might be even more so. They just really satisfy some need inside of me, something that wants to come out.

Plus, they usually make me smile or sigh. I know that this one did both.

I am not going to get into what I see in this for myself. I would rather you have your own interpretation on this one.

I will say that I immediately thought of the old Willie Nelson song, The Party’s Over, that he wrote way back in the 1950’s. A lot of us remember Dandy Don Meredith wailing it during the early years of Monday Night Football ( with Howard Cosell) when the game’s results seemed inevitable. I have been listening to a remake of this old classic as done by the Atlanta-based group Manchester Orchestra. They employ the basic structure and chorus of the song but add a bit to the song. Some may not like the idea of toying with another’s song but I think it works well here and I kind of like it for this painting.

Give a listen, if you like.



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If you can’t dig this, you got a hole in your soul– and that ain’t good.

–John Lee Hooker



On some Sunday mornings, the day I always choose a song to feature, it’s a struggle trying to find what i consider is the right song for that morning. I want it to reflect how I am feeling and maybe set the tone for the rest of the day. 

This morning I was in the studio at 5:30, wanting to get an early jump on my day of painting. I began looking for a song that I though might match with the painting above, River Angel. I thought of a couple of other songs with river in their titles but when this song clicked in my head, I knew it was the one.

River Deep, Mountain High as sung by Tina Turner in 1966, produced by Phil Spector. He was crazy and dangerously despicable but, man, he made some great records. Immortal recordings.

This is one of those.

It only takes about 30 seconds for Tina to reach full emotional intensity. And she never lets down from point on. It just roars and soars above the high mountaintops.

I just love this recording. My day feels like it off to the races already. Like the late great John Lee Hooker says at the top– If you can’t dig this, you got a hole in your soul– and that ain’t good.

Hope you dig it.



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And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

Exodus 2:22



I was looking at the piece above early this morning. It’s been with me for a long time and I sometimes take it for granted and don’t take the time to engage with it. But this morning I looked at it longer than I had in some time, reconnecting with what it has meant to me. Maybe it was because it’s near that time of the year when I get to indulge a guilty pleasure with my annual viewing of The Ten Commandments, the campy biblical epic from Cecil B. DeMille that always runs on ABC during the week before Easter. Or maybe it’s that the pronunciation of the Hebrew word ger which means stranger sounds the same as the shortened version of my name that my family often used for me growing. I don’t really know but thought that it would be appropriate to share a post about it that has ran a couple of times during the many years this blog has been around.



I have been writing recently about some of the orphans, those paintings that make the rounds of the galleries and finally come back to me. The piece above is one of these orphans but it really isn’t. It’s mine alone, one of the rare pieces that I don’t think I would ever give up. Like many parents when looking at their children, I see much of myself in this painting.

Over the years I have periodically written about a group of paintings that were considered my Dark Work that were painted in the year or so after 9/11. The piece shown above is one of these paintings, painted sometime in early 2002. I very seldom consider a painting being for myself only but this one has always felt, from the very minute it was completed, as though it should stay with me.

It is titled  Stranger (In a Strange Land) which is derived from the title of Robert Heinlein’s famous sci-fi novel which in turn was derived from the words of Moses in Exodus 2:22, shown here at the top. The name Gershom is derived from the Hebrew words ger which means stranger or temporary resident and sham which means there. Together Gershom means a stranger there. It is defined now as either exile or sojourner.

The landscape in this piece has an eerie, alien feel to it under that ominous sky. When I look at it I am instantly reminded of the feeling of that sense of not belonging that I have often felt throughout my life, as though I was that stranger in that strange land. The rolling field rows in the foreground remind me just a bit of the Levite cloth that adorned Moses when he was discovered in the Nile as an infant, a symbol of origin and heritage that acts as a comforting element here, almost like a swaddling blanket for the stranger as he views the landscape before him.

As I said, it is one of those rare pieces that I feel is for me alone, that has only personal meaning, even though I am sure there are others who will recognize that same feeling in this. For me  this painting symbolizes so much that feeling of alienation that I have experienced for much of my life, that same feeling from which my other more optimistic and hopeful work sprung as a reaction to it. Perhaps this is where I saw myself as being and the more hopeful work was where I aspired to be.

Anyway, that’s enough for my five-cent psychology  lesson for today.  In short, this is a piece that I see as elemental to who I am and where I am going. This one stays put.

Here’s a little of the great (and I think underappreciated) Leon Russell from way back in 1971 singing, appropriately,  Stranger in a Stranger Land



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GC Myers- Rest Stop sm

“Rest Stop” – Currently at the West End Gallery



A man must find time for himself. Time is what we spend our lives with. If we are not careful we find others spending it for us. . . . It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?’ . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one’s time—the stuff of life

― Carl Sandburg



This painting, Rest Stop, which is at the West End Gallery in Corning, is a favorite of mine. It might be in the colors or textures, those elements that often reach out to me, but it’s more likely because it’s message speaks clearly to me.

We all need to periodically stop the busyness of our lives, if only for a few moments. A short spell to pause everything and appreciate where we are in the present, to ponder how we came to be there, and to imagine where the future will take us.

An interlude to see how the past, present and future exist within us.

That’s the message I get from this painting. Now, doing such a thing is another animal altogether. For many of us, just stopping everything seems an impossibility. Or many may think such a thing is simple foolishness with no real purpose. Or some might feel that the prospect of actually thinking about anything, especially anything to do with their own life, is too tall a task.

But for some of us, these moments of ponderance are a necessity. They simply make life bearable. They create reason and meaning in a world that often seems to lack both. Those are the moments that define purpose at times when we need to know there is indeed purpose.

I get all of this with a glance at this painting. And I think that’s why I place so much stock in this piece– it speaks volumes with a so little effort. That’s the opposite of my writing or any form of expression with words.

Even this short re-examination of this painting is a form of pausing, of reflecting on what is now, what was then and what will will be. And maybe that’s the purpose of this piece and of art, in general.

Got to think about that…

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Brilliant Determination



If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.       

– Samuel Johnson



Running this post below from back in 2009 because I am working on a new painting and am eager to get at it. It’s one of those piece where the first few forms painted set it off perfectly and it begins to come to life immediately. These kind of pieces are sometimes both the easiest to paint and the hardest because there is always a fear that I will somehow make it go bad and lose all that beautiful potential, all the life that is already coming through. But every day in the studio is not filled with enthusiasm like this. It is often hard and I am filled with doubts most days. It seems like I have been waiting for the last twenty years, long before the post below, for the next shoe to drop and my career to evaporate before my eyes. But I keep on keeping on despite that and that’s the theme here. – March 2021



I’ve been thinking about determination a lot lately. There are times when nothing seems to come easily and it seems like there are any number of things that would be more enjoyable than struggling forward with your chosen endeavor.

But in the end you force yourself ahead. There’s a greater satisfaction in struggling with that which you have chosen and feel is meaningful than in doing something that means little to your inner self even though it is easier and, in many cases, more entertaining.

This is something I keep in mind when I’m in the studio. There are many days when nothing comes easily, every stroke is like lifting a heavy weight and inspiration seems to have left the building long ago. In these moments self doubts begin to stir and I seriously wonder if I have reached an end to my creative life. It’s like a dull pain that seems like will be with me forever and there are points I want to stop.

But I remember that this is the path that I chose to follow.

With that recognition I am reminded of other times when I have been at this point before and I know, I just know, that if I steel my mind and force myself to move ahead, one small step in front of another, that I will come to a point where all this forced energy builds and builds and suddenly breaks free.

In this moment of release, everything suddenly seems effortless and inspiration is everywhere. It’s like going from the dark depths of a stifling mine to the top of a cool mountain. And the memory of the toil that it has taken to reach this point fades into the distance.

Until the next time.

And that’s where determination is needed once more.

 

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“Greenie’s Barn”– GC Myers, circa 1994



And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.

― Meister Eckhart



The magic of beginnings

That is such an elegant phrase. Poetic. Leave it to Meister Eckhart, who last showed up here just a week or so back. 

The advantage of these using these short maxims is that they can often possess meanings apart from those that were intended by the original speaker. Meister Eckhart was most likely talking about some sort of religious awakening or changing one’s life in a positive manner.

I don’t really know.

But I am pretty sure that the meaning I attach to his adage might divert from his own.

For me, the message in it rings true in regards to going back to look at work from when I was first painting, when I was just gaining a toehold on whatever direction my painting might go or what form it might take. It was a time of finding voice, as I have said many times here.

It was also a time that possessed the magic of beginnings.

It’s that time when there is a blank slate before you and you are standing there with the few tools that you have brought with you– your own experiences, your observations of the world, some desire to create something of your own, an affinity for the visual, and maybe a little time spent doodling in the columns of newspapers and journals.

But beyond these things, you are a clueless, empty vessel. Everything is new. Every day is at least one new lesson learned. Each new piece has some sort of revelation, pointing out those things that resonate and those things that most definitely do not.

Every new stroke or color was an epiphany, like discovering the “open sesame” that unlocked the door that opened to new and wide horizons of possibility.

It truly felt like magic at the time.

Now, it still feels like magic– at times. Sometimes I find myself feeling like the wizened old magician who has pulled his rabbit out of his hat day after day for twenty five years. Yeah, it’s still a great trick for those who haven’t seen it before but it has lost the thrill for the magician, has lost that excitement that came with first learning that trick, on first wanting to display his newfound feats of magic to a crowd.

So, I sometimes go back and look at these old pieces from that time, those pieces that represent the magic of beginnings for me. And I almost always find something that I have lost over time, a small thing that somehow was set aside through a conscious choice or simply forgotten.

And finding these little things reignites that magic that came in the beginning. It changes my perspective, allows me to get out of the ruts of time that have been blocking my vision.

There is inevitably something from these forays into the past that I bring back with me to the present. A reminder to do something a bit different than the way I have fallen into the habit of doing it over a long period of time. Maybe even something as basic as how I start each new painting. These old pieces may not be gems in their own rights but they have raw material whose potential I can use.

But more importantly, they have the magic of beginnings within them.

And that is what I am seeking anew…

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