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Posts Tagged ‘Joni Mitchell’

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“In the midst of a thousand clouds and countless waters
there is an idle person.
By day, he roams the green mountains,
at night, he returns to sleep beneath the cliff.
Quickly, the seasons pass
in serenity, with no worldly bonds.
How joyful! What does he depend upon?
Quiet, like a large autumn river.”

― Hanshan

Translated by Peter Levitt, The Complete Cold Mountain: Poems of the Legendary Hermit Hanshan

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Quiet. Like an autumn river.

This sounds pretty good this morning.

Little thinking and little writing.

Just flow. And be.

Just to pass on a little knowledge this morning, Hanshan was a legendary Chinese Buddhist monk who is thought to have lived as a hermit in the 9th century. Little is known of his life or if he even truly existed but there is a group of of several hundred poems attributed to him that were written on the rocks of the region in which he is purported to have resided.

Another factoid: Jack Kerouac dedicated his book, The Dharma Bums, to Hanshan.

Okay, enough with the thinking this morning. Back to being a cool autumn river.

To that end, here’s a favorite, River, from Joni Mitchell.

Be the river and have a good day.

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Joni Mitchell- The Mountain Loves the Sea- watercolor 1971

Over the years, I have often been asked about influences on my work and I often list several artists that I feel pushed me in certain directions. Then I also point out that there have been influences that fall outside of the painter mode. For example, literature, poetry and film come immediately to mind. Then there’s pop culture such as cartoons and comics, television and so much more. I’ve mentioned that there was a Coca Cola tv ad back in the 80’s that featured saturated colors– reds and golds– that stuck in my mind for years before I began painting.

There are so many contributing sources of inspiration.

I mention this today because as I was looking for a piece of music to play this  morning, I came across the old Joni Mitchell album from 1974, Court and Spark. It was a great album, one that I loved even as a teenage boy. I had not listened to it in years but each of the songs was imprinted in me by this time.

I also hadn’t looked closely at its album cover for many, many years though it was a beautiful cover, cream colored with a small watercolor painting, The Mountain Loves the Sea, that Joni Mitchell had painted a few years before, tastefully in its center. It had a simple elegance that I recognized, again even as a teenage boy. But it was just one of those things that, because I had seen it so many times before, I didn’t look with any attention at all.

But I looked closer today at the painting in the cover’s center and was surprised at how much my own work sometimes held echoes of this little painting. I would never thought of Joni Mitchell as an influence beyond her music but looking at this little image made me rethink that.

Maybe it was just one of those little things that push you without your knowledge in one direction or another. Influences that you internalize and can’t recognize or name until you come face to face with them. We all have them, those small things we take in and blend together to make us who we are.

I am glad this was one of those things for me. So, let’s give a listen to the title track from Court and Spark.

Have a great Sunday.

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River

Didn’t really want to write anything today and was listening to some music this morning. This song came on so I checked to see if it had played  recently on the blog. After all, it does have a holiday theme, in a mournful sort of way. Found that it had been a number of years and liked the post that accompanied it so I decided to repost it along with the song. Have a good day.

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There are some pieces in my studio that will always be with me, some because they are very personal pieces, virtual parts of my memory. Others because they are somewhat lacking and I wouldn’t want them out in the world. Then there are some that stay simply because I want them here. The painting below is one of those. It hangs above the large windows at the front of my studio and probably will for some time to come.

It is painted on a piece of our old upright piano, the lid that opened on its top. It’s about 8″ tall by 62″ long. You might think that this painting is about the heavy clusters of Red Roofs but for me this is a piece about escape. That cool blue ribbon of water that cuts through this painting, shown only in snips, is freedom to me, a rushing current to carry me away from the noise and chaos of the gathered village. Or better yet, I could become the river and move easily and forever– hopefully– through the land, joined with the other waters of the world.

I find myself thinking a lot when I look at this piece, which I do most everyday as it is mounted above the large window in my studio. It gives me pause and makes me think about being quiet internally, stilling the spinning wheels.

But most of all, it makes me wish I was that river.

I call this piece Wish I Was a River, sort of after the Joni Mitchell song, River. However, her chorus goes “ I wish I had a river…”  Maybe I’m being greedy here but I want to be the river, just running through and in the winter, frozen over and seemingly still while continuing to flow below. If Joni wanted to skate away on my icy surface, that would be fine with me.

Here’s the song from Joni Mitchell.

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GC Myers- Breathing RoomOctober and the rampant heat of summer is finally letting go.  There’s a little color coming into the trees but it seems muted against the slate grayness of the clouds that are bringing us some much needed rain.  The change of seasons seems to be upon us and soon the green of the grass will be a bleached beige and the green clad trees will shed their leaves exposing the bone grey structures of the trees.  Color fades and everything takes on a the colors of the earth– shades of gray and brown.

This can make many folks a bit melancholy as they wistfully long for the sun and light of those longer summer days.  They want to flee the somber tones of the landscape around them.  They get the urge for going.

I understand this feeling.  But I more often than not find myself relishing this change of season, the more essential feel of this time of year.   I think the somberness of the colors outside the studio help me express the colors I am seeing inside and allows me to use my own urge for going in a constructive manner.  I believe that piece at the top is a good example.  It’s called Breathing Room. and is an 18″ by 24″ canvas. It could easily be called Urge For Going  as the path moves through a deeply colored foreground toward a light-filled and expansive horizon.

That, of course, brings us to this week’s Sunday morning musical selection.  It’s a very early version of Urge For Going from Joni Mitchell.  This is taken from a Canadian television program, Let’s Sing Out, that ran from 1963-1967.  It was broadcast from various Canadian college campuses and featured many folk performers of the day.  Joni Mitchell first appeared on the show in 1965 using her maiden name, Joni Anderson.  This particular performance using the more familiar Mitchell is from October of 1966 at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario.  I think it’s a beautiful rendition of the song, especially for a fifty year old television clip.

So give a listen and consider your own urge for going.  Have a great day.

Oh, the painting, Breathing Room is part of my upcoming show, Part of the Plan, which opens October 29 at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA.

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black-crowI normally wouldn’t repeat an earlier post on a Sunday morning, the time I usually reserve for a little music.  But I wanted to replay this song from a few years back and liked the post that went with it.  Plus, it gives me a chance to update it a bit as well.  So, here it goes:

One of the benefits of having my studio located in the woods is the opportunity to watch the wildlife from a fairly close perspective.  I have known all manner of animals over the years, from the mother raccoon and her kits that took up residence for a short time in the roof of my first, more rustic studio further up in the woods, and the everpresent deer that often nap  in the shady lawn outside my studio windows to the coyotes and bobcats that I have captured on my trail cam and have ran across in person, as well. 

I get to see how the animals interact, how they break down into family units and establish order.  How they survive the elements and their habitation among us humans.  Their survival instinct is powerful, a hard thing to see at times but powerful, nonetheless.

Over the years I have witnessed many deer with legs that have been broken, most likely from a misstep or an encounter with a woodchuck hole.  I am always amazed at their ability to persevere and prosper.  There was a doe several years ago who came around with a front hoof dangling, completely broken away from the leg above.  Eventually she lost the hoof completely, leaving a stump.  But it didn’t stop her.  She actually had 3 or 4 fawns over the next few years and it was only when she walked slowly to feed that you recognize that she was missing a hoof.  In full flight, she moved as fast as  the other deer and managed to evade predators and hunters for years.

I currently have a black crow that haunts the pines in front of my studio.  He came to my attention early in the winter.  I saw crow tracks in the snow that went from the studio all the way down the long driveway, about 1/5 of a mile.  I couldn’t understand why a crow would walk throught he snow when he could fly.  This went on for several days until I finally caught a glimpse of him, ambling up the drive.  It was a badly damaged  wing that hung off of his back to one side.  He would walk and hop with real determination and was seldom alone.  There was normally a group of crows that accompanied him, cawing to him from the trees above and sometimes coming down to walk with him.  I got the idea that they sometimes let him know what was ahead or behind, acting as his eyes in the sky.

I thought about trying to capture him and get him to an animal rehabilatation specialist such as the unit at Cornell University but he was always quick to spot me and would disappear into the woods with surprising speed.  He was even aware and suspicious  of me when I watched him from my front windows. 

His mobility has improved over the past six months.  He hops quickly and to my surprise has developed the ability to take flight for moments at a time.  Not for very long distances but enough to carry him to low branches of the trees from where he can hop to higher branches.  Once he reaches the top he will glide, without flapping his wings, to a point quite a ways down the drive from where he will commence his walk/hop.

I really admire his grit and evident intelligence.  I have gotten into the habit of putting out for him  the poor small rodents that my studio cat, Hobie, captures and kills in the woods around the place, laying them at  my feet proudly as gifts on a daily basis.  I have watched him and his kin find these small gifts  a number of times and I think he understands the gesture.  Doesn’t make him any less wary of me but that’s okay.  He gets an easy meal and I get to see that the mice and moles go back into the big circle quickly.  Win/win.

Update: The crow continued his rehabilitation to the point that he was nearly indistinguishable from the others.  He was able to fly with immediate lift and his wing only drooped a bit more than the rest.  This return to normal function allowed him to range further away so that I eventually lost track of him.  Whether he is still alive, I can’t say.  But his ability to survive and prosper through what could have easily been a deadly injury was really inspiring.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for crows.

Here’s a really nice rendition of Joni Mitchell’s song Black Crow from Diana Krall.  Just right for a Sunday morning.

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GC Myers- Wish I Was a River smThere are some pieces in  my studio that will always be with me , some because they are very personal pieces, virtual parts of my memory.  Others because they are somewhat lacking and I wouldn’t want them out in the world.  Then there are some that stay simply because I want them here.  This piece is one of those.

It is painted on a piece of our old upright piano , the lid that opened on its top.  It’s about 8″ tall by 62″ long.  You might think that this painting is about the  heavy clusters of Red Roofs but for me this is a piece of escape.  That cool blue ribbon of water that cuts through this painting, shown only in snips, is freedom to me, a rushing current to carry me away from the noise and chaos of the gathered village.  Or better yet, I could become the river and move easily and forever– hopefully– through the land, joined with the other waters of the world.

I find myself thinking a lot when I look at this piece, which I do most everyday as it is mounted above the large window in my studio.  It gives me pause and makes me think about being quiet internally, stilling the spinning wheels.  But most of all, it makes me wish I was that river.

I call this piece Wish I Was a River, sort of after the Joni Mitchell song, River.  However, her chorus goes “ I wish I had a river…”  Maybe I’m being greedy here but I want to be the river.  Maybe I’d let her skate away on me.  I don’t know.

Here’s the song from Joni Mitchell.

 

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One of the benefits of having my studio located in the woods is the opportunity to watch the wildlife from a fairly close perspective.  I have known all manner of animals over the years, from the mother raccoon and her kits that took up residence for a short time in the roof of my first, more rustic studio further up in the woods, and the everpresent deer that often nap  in the shady lawn outside my studio windows to the coyotes and bobcats that I have captured on my trail cam and have ran across in person, as well. 

I get to see how the animals interact, how they break down into family units and establish order.  How they survive the elements and their habitation among us humans.  Their survival instinct is powerful, a hard thing to see at times but powerful, nonetheless.

Over the years I have witnessed many deer with legs that have been broken, most likely from a misstep or an encounter with a woodchuck hole.  I am always amazed at their ability to persevere and prosper.  There was a doe several years ago who came around with a front hoof dangling, completely broken away from the leg above.  Eventually she lost the hoof completely, leaving a stump.  But it didn’t stop her.  She actually had 3 or 4 fawns over the next few years and it was only when she walked slowly to feed that you recognize that she was missing a hoof.  In full flight, she moved as fast as  the other deer and managed to evade predators and hunters for years.

I currently have a black crow that haunts the pines in front of my studio.  He came to my attention early in the winter.  I saw crow tracks in the snow that went from the studio all the way down the long driveway, about 1/5 of a mile.  I couldn’t understand why a crow would walk throught he snow when he could fly.  This went on for several days until I finally caught a glimpse of him, ambling up the drive.  It was a badly damaged  wing that hung off of his back to one side.  He would walk and hop with real determination and was seldom alone.  There was normally a group of crows that accompanied him, cawing to him from the trees above and sometimes coming down to walk with him.  I got the idea that they sometimes let him know what was ahead or behind, acting as his eyes in the sky.

I thought about trying to capture him and get him to an animal rehabilatation specialist such as the unit at Cornell but he was always quick to spot me and would disappear into the woods with surprising speed.  He was even aware and suspicious  of me when I watched him from my front windows. 

His mobility has improved over the past six months.  He hops quickly and to my surprise has developed the ability to take flight for moments at a time.  Not for very long distances but enough to carry him to low branches of the trees from where he can hop to higher branches.  Once he reaches the top he will glide, without flapping his wings, to a point quite a ways down the drive from where he will commence his walk/hop.

I really admire his grit and evident intelligence.  I have gotten into the habit of putting out for him  the poor small rodents that my studio cat, Hobie, captures and kills in the woods around the place, laying them at  my feet proudly as gifts on a daily basis.  I have watched him and his kin find these small gifts  a number of times and I think he understands the gesture.  Doesn’t make him any less wary of me but that’s okay.  He gets an easy meal and I get to see that the mice and moles go back into the big circle quickly.  Win/win.

Here’s a really nice rendition of Joni Mitchell’s song Black Crow from Diana Krall.  Just right for a Sunday morning.

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It’s always a little disconcerting to come across someone, a performer or artist, that is well on their way to a brilliant career yet remains completely off your own radar. That’s how I felt the other day when I saw a segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show, where a reporter, Bill Flanagan,  was talking about music to give this holiday season.  He talked about the new box sets from the big names then he talked for a brief moment about a 21 year-old British singer/songwriter named Laura Marling who he said, “ Is not only wiser than her years – she’s wiser than MY years.”

He also said that older listeners would hear echoes of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen and that young listeners would hear the voice of a new generation coming into its own.

Pretty high praise.  I decided I had better check out this person.

Wow.

I was knocked out.  There were tons of videos out there and going through several, I couldn’t find one that wasn’t verging on brilliant from this very young looking girl with a sad, detached blankness on her face.  You could hear traces of the artists he mentioned in the easy phrasing of her lovely voice which made it somewhat familiar but there was indeed something new in her synthesis of what she had absorbed in  her very young life.  Something well beyond her years.  It was all just wonderful, even the music from her earliest album released just days after she turned 18.  I couldn’t believe I hadn’t stumbled across a talent this big before now.

But thankfully, I have.  As I said, there is a great number of her  songs out there online and I have yet to find a clunker.  Here’s a newer song called Sophia.  I was captured by the line from its chorus–… I am wounded by dust… 

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