Posts Tagged ‘internal landscape’

gc-myers-internal-landscape-2012I am really pleased to have this painting, The Internal Landscape,  as part of my show, Observers, which opens at the the Principle Gallery this coming Friday.  If you have read this blog over the last year you may recognize it as it was featured  here as it was in the process of being painted and was the centerpiece of my exhibition last year at the Fenimore Art Museum.  It is a very large painting, my largest by far to date, that measures in at 54″ high by 84″ wide on canvas and can really dominate a space.

I mean that in a good way.

I can’t recall at the moment what I have written or said about this piece in the past so I am just going to write a few lines that are my impressions of it.  Hopefully, some of these line up with those words from the past.

I think of this as a very musical painting, filled with  rhythmic lines and notes of color.  Where some of my paintings are musical  and are songs, some simple, this piece is more symphonic, comprised of multiple elements and themes running through it and coming together in  harmony.  Even the gathering of houses on the right side of the lake remind me of a chorus of voices.  The whole piece sings for me.

Of course, that may just be me.  I am a bit embarrassed in writing about my work in glowing terms but I do like this painting a lot and think it is a culmination of sorts, a milestone on this journey, one that I am really pleased to be able to hang at this show at the Principle Gallery.  I have been showing there for over 16 years  and this is my 14th consecutive annual solo show there so it means a lot to me to be able include this if only to show that the work has been evolving and growing over the years there.

It will be interesting to see it hanging in that space.  Hopefully, it will live up to my words…



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I’ve written here before about how I find the color blue an intoxicant.  When my nose is to the canvas and it is all that I can see, it has a way of making me feel that it is the only color in my world.  It’s a very satisfying and mollifying effect and, if I am not wary, I can find myself using blue tints to the exclusion of all others.  Because of this wariness, I try to only sporadically break out the blues.  But even with this watchful effort, I find the addictive pull of the color very strong in some pieces.  This new painting is such a case.

Called Blue Dance of Dawn, it’s a 10″ by 30″ canvas that employs two of my familiar icons, the Red Tree and the the Red Roofs.  They, however,  feel secondary to the predominance of the color blue here.  They serve as warmer counterpoints to the coolness of the blue and signify awakening  to me in this scene.  But the feel of this piece is dictated by the calm harmony of the blues.

I find this piece very placid with that  kind of satisfying effect that one sometimes has in the best dreams, that feeling of total understanding and acceptance of the universe.  That wonderful feeling that fades so quickly once you open your eyes and realize that it was only a dream, the details suddenly fuzzing over.  Maybe that’s what this painting represents– that idealized version of the world in those dreams just before we are awakened to the reality of the moment. That fleeting feeling of grace, seemingly within grasp then gone.

Let me think that over…


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It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
–Pablo Picasso
This short sentence from Picasso is  one of my favorite quotes.  It both makes me smile whenever I hear it and brings to mind my own struggles with recognizing my own creative voice, something that used to be a real internal battle in the early formative years.  There was always a pull between the craft side, as might be represented by Raphael in Picasso’s quote, and the side where one paints naturally and intuitively, as the child might.
 I knew I would never paint like a Raphael.   I never cared to tie myself to any one tradition of painting and wanted the liberty of free expression, the ability to freely display emotion, even in the most mundane scene.  Wanted my own voice, preferring the colloquial over the classical. Kind of like wanting to sing like Woody Guthrie versus singing like Pavarotti.  For as beautiful as Pavarotti’s voice might be I found a quality in Guthrie’s voice and songs that spoke more directly to me.  Native simplicity I suppose it might be called.  Over the years, my voice has evolved and there are pieces where there is often a bit of this native simplicity in the work that really pleases me, makes me feel as though I am somewhat painting in the way a child might.  Or at least in a way that might speak as well to children as it did to adults.
The piece shown here is such an example.  A 10″ by 30″ canvas, it is an extension of the work I have done recently, work that I have called internal landscapes.  Called Native Rise, it is painted very intuitively and speaks plainly.  It has an attractive harmony in its elements that lets it speak easily and be asorbed quickly – if you like this sort of voice.  For me, I see this piece as being very symbolic of my true voice,  how I see and express the world as I internalize it.  It is painted easily and in my own voice.   And like my own voice, it is far from perfect but tries to speak plainly.  And truthfully as to how I see my world.
At least, that’s the way I see it   It’s funny how much more difficult it is to describe  with words my own native painting voice, something that comes so easily on the canvas.  Perhaps one shouldn’t try…

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And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet, Act I, Scene V


I call this new painting Heaven and Earth.  It’s about 7″ wide by 35″ tall on paper and is very much in the same vein as the very  large painting that I recently completed and featured here, The Internal Landscape.  This piece features a nocturnal scene however with a deep blue sky punctured by the light of stars.

The title might refer, in a way, to the lines above from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where Horatio and Marcellus barge in on Hamlet’s conversation with the ghost of his father.  Horatio is a rationalist, philosophically, and to him  the idea of ghosts seems absurd so that when Hamlet asks him to swear to not  speak of what he has seenl he is mystified.  Hamlet then utters the lines — There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/ Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

I suppose this painting is saying much the same thing, that we live both in the world that we know and in a world of which we are unaware.  The stars above are, and have been, always with us but we know little of them, really.  The river  runs but we often know little of its journey and the roads travel to places we shall never see.  And around us at all times are radiowaves carrying voices and images from every corner of the globe, unseen and unheard.  And perhaps among all this  are the ghosts like Hamlet’s father, moving unnoticed by our eyes focused on that which we know and see.  Or, at least, are trying to know.

I guess the takeaway here is that there is often more than meets the eye, even when the scene before you might seem enough.

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Well, I am finished with the large canvas I started over three weeks ago.  It is the largest piece in size I’ve ever attempted by quite a bit at 54″ by 84″ which I often found intimidating at times, as I freely admitted here.  But that intimidation and fear faded over the weeks as the painting evolved, moving from the darkness in which it began to the vibrant brightness of the finished product.  This shift in tone mirrored my own shift in my feelings for the painting.  I began with a fearful anxiety that began to ease with each new layer of color added.  I began to feel a lightness in myself as the piece began to find its unity and rhythm and a sense of confidence when it began to start taking on a life of its own as it neared completion.

It was interesting  to see how its domination of the studio space changed.  At first, its size and darkness made it seem at times like a big canvas eclipse blocking out and absorbing all incoming light.  But near the end it bagan to have its own glow, seeming to give off more light than it absorbed.  Even after the large floodlight under which I work was turned off, its glow cut through the hazy darkness.  Those moments of seeing that really struck me and gave me a real sense that it was becoming what I hoped for it. 

 As the final strokes went on to the Red Tree that stands above the lake, bringing the piece into a state of completion, it began to move completely into its own realm, its own life.   I felt like a parent watching their child move out of their home and into their own life.  The  influence of the parent is evident but there is a point where the child moves on, no longer dependent on the parent.  It is a moment filled with both the joy of  pride and the sadness of loss. 

 Like this parent, I feel both of these emotions.  I am proud of how this painting has come around and grown into something strong and viable but sad that my time with it has come to an end.   Well, close to an end.  I will spend the next few months with it, making little tweaks here and there.  Nothing large.  Just a tiny  rounding of the edges here and a smoothing of the line there. 

I’m calling this painting The Internal Landscape.  I will discuss this at a later date along with some other observations about it.  But for now, I’m going to simply stand back and take it all in again.

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Not too long ago, I displayed a Chuck Close quote where he said that work is inspiration in itself, that by simply steadfastly doing  what you do will open up creative avenues to follow.  I frimly believe that and have experienced it on many occasions including just this past week. 

 As I have been documenting, I am working on a large canvas, which is nearing completion, by the way.  I showed, in a post last week, how I would cut the image into sections to weigh the strength of each area of the canvas to make sure that it had its own visual power to contribute to the painting as a whole.  I showed the two section from each edge of the canvas and concluded that both pieces stood up well as strong parts of the overall painting as well as compositions in their own rights. 

 In fact, the section from the far right kept me coming back to it.  I really liked the way it flowed upward with each piece interacting with those around it, creating a lovely harmony that really worked well, for my personal taste, at least.  It gave me a great sense of peace looking at it and I soon began exploring ways to make it work in a separate piece.

I felt a real sense of immediacy in creating something based on this and, searching the studio, realized I didn’t have any prepared surfaces ready in any dimension close to what I was seeing in my head.  There was a painting that was in a later state of completion, one that I had mentioned here recently.  It never really sang for me and had sat in a corner of the studio for quite  a long time, just waiting for me to give it the needed attention.  But every time I looked at it, I was less than inspired.  It just wasn’t working. 

 So, looking at it as a possible new surface to paint, it wasn’t a difficult decision to paint over  the image that had never really taken off for me.  It wasn’t a perfect choice, a bit smaller and narrower than the inspiring image, shown here to the left.  The original is somewhere in the 24″ wide by 54″ range whereas this piece is only 10″ wide by 30″ high, making it a much more condensed space in which to work.

  The resulting image is therefore different, which is as it should be.  It is inspired by, not a copy of, the original image.  For me, it flows in much the same manner and has the same sort of feel and harmony.  It works for me and having said that creates its own new sense of inspiration for other work to come.  Just like Chuck Close said– one thing leads to another.



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Left Side detail

In my last post, I wrote about how I was going over the large canvas on which I am currently at work, weighing the different elements against one another as I try to create balance in the composition.  It’s a large canvas, 54″ by 84″,  and there is so much more space to oversee, making sure that one area doesn’t so dominate the whole.  In a large horizontal landscape composition, if the one side is overly dominant, making the other seem weak or dull, the entire piece suffers  no matter how wonderful the strong area may be. 

  The right side with the heaviest grouping of houses  was very strong in the overall composition and I found my eyes always settling on the right side of the canvas.  There just wasn’t enough boldness in the sections to the left of center to counter the weight of the houses.  I wasn’t about to add more houses or elements so I decided to turn my attention to heightening the colors and contrasts on the left side, strengthening it so that it came closer to the right in weight.  I spent a day just going back in with colors that brightened the area and brought more attention to it.

Right Side detail

I decided to better see the strength of the different areas I would break up the canvas into sections on my computer. This would let me see their strengths without the influence of the surrounding areas and evaluate them as individual compositions.  The right side  (shown to the right here) was bright and strong with the houses just dominating the area.  But after making the changes on the left side ( the image above) I found that it had tremendous strength of its own and was equal in strength to the right, at least in my eyes.  The strength of the left side, for me, was in the weight created by the harmony of the colors and the elements.  In fact, looking at the left side detail above, I think that it could stand easily as a  really strong piece on its own.

Satisfied with this progress, I can now start to evaluate other parts of the painting and make the final touches that will hopefully pull it all together.

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I’ve been documenting the progress  that has been made over the past two weeks on a large canvas on which I’ve been been working.  It’s been a roller coaster of emotion for me as I’ve been working on the 54″ high by 84″ wide painting.  Sometimes I am completely satisfied, thrilled with what is unfurling before me, and at other times I am worried that it may not pop in the way I envisioned in earlier stages.  At the moment, I am closer to happy as the piece has started to come into full sight.

After beginning to bring more light to the sky, I have started adding color to the lake that dominates the center of this piece.  As I do so, I can better see tweaks that need to be made in some of the colors of the landscape around it.  Nothing big but small adjustments that bring it closer to completion. 

After coming to the still dark blue color as shown above, I decided that I wanted the color to be more dominant and added a light teal that really emboldened the whole composition.  I have to better photograph this so there is a bit of glare on the image below.  I also noticed that the sun is showing a bit harsher here, less warm than it actually is.  But this gives you an idea of what is there at the moment.

This painting pretty much dominates everything in the studio at the moment.  It’s big in size and visual impact and my eyes immediately fix on it.  There is still a ways to go but it’s coming closer to being the internal landscape that I envision.


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