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Posts Tagged ‘Kuwait City’

 

Helen Frankenthaler -Sirocco

Helen Frankenthaler -Sirocco

I received a nice letter yesterday from the American Ambassador to Kuwait, Douglas Silliman,  expressing thanks for the loan of a painting of mine to hang at their residence at the embassy in Kuwait City.  In describing  how they came to choose the works that hang there, he mentioned that one of the other pieces in the embassy exhibit was Sirocco from the late Helen Frankenthaler.

This really interested me because she was an artist whose unorthodox use of materials greatly influenced my own thoughts on how I worked.  It brought to mind a quote from her that I have used several times here in the past that expresses just this point.  One time I used this quote was from a post from over two years ago that I would like to rerun today, called Willingly Off Balance:

gc-myers-feb-2013-smThis is a new piece that I started over the weekend.  It’s a fairly large canvas, 24″ by 48″,  gessoed and blackened before I began to lay out the composition in the red oxide that I favor for the underpainting.   I went into this painting  with only one idea, that it have a mass of houses on  a small hilltop.  That is where I began making marks, building a small group of blocky structures in a soft pyramid.   A little hilltop village.  From there, it went off on its own, moving down the hill until a river emerged from the black.   An hour or two later and the river is the end of a chain of lakes with a bridge crossing it.  We’ll see where and what it is when  it finally settles.

I like this part of the process, this laying out of the composition.  It’s all about potential and problem-solving, keeping everything, all the elements that are introduced, in rhythm and in balance.  One mark on the canvas changes the possibility for the next.  Sometimes that possibility is limited by that mark, that brush of paint.  There is only one thing that can be done next.  But sometimes it opens up windows of potential that seemed hidden before that brushstroke hit the surface.  It’s like that infinitesimal moment before the bat hits the pinata and all that is inside it is only potential.  That brushstroke is the bat sometimes and when it strikes the canvas, you never know what will burst from the rich interior of the pinata, which which is the surface of the canvas here.  You hope the treats fall your way.

One of the things I thought about as I painted was the idea of keeping everything in balance.  Balancing color and rhythm and compositional weight, among many other things, so that in the end something coherent and cohesive emerges.  It’s how I view the process of my painting.  Over the years,  keeping this balance becomes easier, like any action that is practiced with such great regularity.  So much so that we totally avoid problems and when we begin to encounter one, we always tend to go with the tried and true, those ways of doing things that are safest and most predictable in their results.

It’s actually a great and safe way to live.  But as a painter who came to it as a form of seeking,  it’s the beginning of the end.  And as I painted, I realized that many of my biggest jumps as an artist came because I had allowed myself at times to be knocked off balance.  It’s when you’re off balance that the creativity of your problem-solving skills are pushed and innovation occurs.

It brings to mind a quote from Helen Frankenthaler that I used in a blogpost  called Change and Breakthrough from a few years back:   There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about. ”  

 You must be willing to go outside your comfort zone, be willing to crash and burn.   Without this willingness to fail, the work becomes stagnant and lifeless, all the excitement taken from the process.  And it’s that excitement  in the studio that I often speak of  that keeps me going, that keeps the work alive and vitalized.

It’s a simple thing but sometimes, after years of doing this, it slips your mind and the simple act of reminding yourself of the importance of willingly going off balance is all you need to rekindle the fire.

This is a lot to ponder at 5:30 in the morning.  We’ll see what this brings in the near future.  Stay tuned…

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By the way, this is the end product of the painting started above, Game of Life.

GC Myers- Game of Life 2013

GC Myers- Game of Life 2013

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GC Myers- The Way of the Master  smMy paintings lead  much more interesting lives than I do, many having made their way to every corner of this country and around the world, to all the continents save Antarctica.  They have traveled from Kathmandhu to Kampala and many points in between and beyond.  Well, yesterday brought the news that another painting has just began a new journey abroad.  The new American Ambassador to Kuwait, Douglas Silliman,  has chosen The Way of the Master , seen above, to hang in the American Embassy in Kuwait City.

This marks the third time that my work has been chosen by an Ambassador to hang in an embassy and it is always an honor.  There is always a feeling of representing the United States, even if it is only in a small way, to those visitors who might come across the painting in the embassy as well as representing some form of home and comfort to the Ambassador.  And in the region of the world where this painting is headed, that could serve a valuable purpose.

It’s a purpose that I think fits this painting very well.  In a post I wrote about this painting back in May, I spoke of this representing the end of a journey, one that has culminated in a higher sense of being as a result of immense effort and dedication to the journey.  And those are both things that will be needed to reach some sort of peaceful future for the region.

I would like to thank Ambassador Silliman for having chose this painting.  It is an honor that I greatly appreciate and I hope that it serves him well in what may be the difficult days ahead.  I wish him the best and hope that he does his best in this assignment in such a critical area of the world.

As I quoted from Confucius in that earlier post:

“There is one single thread binding my way together…the way of the Master consists in doing one’s best…that is all.”

 

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