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Posts Tagged ‘Little Gems’



All my troubles will be over
When I lay my burden down
All my troubles will be over
When I lay my burden down



It’s a tired morning, this Sunday morning. Still dark and icy cold outside as I sit here in the studio.

I think I am feeling the toll of the last year’s stresses. The worries, the outrages, the fears, and just the general sense of disconnectedness and chaos that seemed so pervasive– it all feels like it came to bear inside of a few days. I just need a break, I guess.

Lately, I have been toying with the idea of stepping away from the blog, at least for a short period of time. Maybe take a small break to recalibrate, to take the focus, as little as it is, and put it towards some other efforts and projects that need my attention.

Perhaps to find the inspiration that I have been shoving away because it requires more work and focus than I have been willing to offer.

It’s not easy stepping away for even a short time. After all, this has been a habit that has been embedded deeply after over twelve years and over 3,750 posts. I am such a creature of habit that I feel out of sorts without sitting sown to do this each morning.

It has become a treasured burden.

But maybe I must step away for a bit and try to try to find what I really need right now.

Lay down this burden.

We’ll see. I will most likely, if I choose to take a break, do so in a few weeks after the opening for the Little Gems show at the West End Gallery on February 12. I will continue to show my new work through that time. 

For example, the new small piece shown above is from the Little Gems show and is titled– surprise, surprise!– Lay My Burden Down. It has the feel of the end of a day of work, of looking back on what you’ve done with a mixture of pride in the job done and relief that the toil is over for at least awhile. 

The title is taken from a wonderful old gospel tune that has been done by a number of folks in different ways. For this Sunday morning, I have opted for a solid version from Will McFarlane, who is best known as being the longtime guitarist for the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. I like his voice and the arrangement with his guitar on this version. It fits the morning.

Lay down your own burden for a bit and have a good day.



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Think about
Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me larger voices callin’
What Heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten

Southern Cross, Stephen Stills, Rick and Michael Curtis

 



I have a lot to do this morning so this will be brief. At least, that’s my intent. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

Just wanted to show a new small piece at the top, Steady As She Goes, which is headed to the West End Gallery for their annual Little Gems show which opens on February 12. I love doing my boat pieces even though I am not a sailor. And even though the romance of sailing free on the wide expanse of the ocean under endless skies is powerful, I know that will not be a sailor in this lifetime.

My loss, no doubt.

But the boats themselves offer great symbolism for me that translates well in paint and speaks to the non-sailors like myself who understand and envy those who respond to the lure of the open sea.

I thought that a fitting song would be the Crosby, Stills and Nash song, Southern Cross, especially with a video that features the lyrics. Interestingly, Stephen Stills wrote this song with the Curtis Brothers, Rick and Michael, basing it on an existing song from the Curtis Brothers called Seven League Boots, which they had recorded several years before with members of Fleetwood Mac.

Stills explained how their collaboration on Southern Cross came about:

“The Curtis Brothers brought a wonderful song called ‘Seven League Boots,’ but it drifted around too much. I rewrote a new set of words and added a different chorus, a story about a long boat trip I took after my divorce. It’s about using the power of the universe to heal your wounds. Once again, I was given somebody’s gem and cut and polished it.

Well, he did a fine job in polishing it and I like how it attaches to this painting.

Give a listen and have a good day.



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“One never reaches home,’ she said. ‘But where paths that have an affinity for each other intersect, the whole world looks like home, for a time.”

-Hermann Hesse, Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth



The painting at the top, Home in Sight, is a new small piece that is headed to the West End Gallery for their annual Little Gems show which opens in February. The words above are from a Hermann Hesse book that holds a special place in my heart, a book that served a very important purpose for me when I was struggling at my lowest point. 

It helped me find my way home. 

Often, when I employ the concept of home in my work, that book comes to mind. And I am always so grateful then for what it did for me then. And now because without it there may well not have been a now.

And that’s sort of what I see in this little gem.

Let’s leave it at that today.

Have a good day wherever your home may be.

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In the beginning
You really loved me, oh
I was too blind
I could not see, now

But now that you left me
Ooh, how I cried out, I keep crying
You don’t miss your water
‘Till your well runs dry

You Don’t Miss Your Water, William Bell



The painting at the top is a new piece, 9″ by 12″ on canvas, that is headed to the West End Gallery for next month’s annual Little Gems show, which opens February 12. After it was completed, I was really looking deeply at it as I tried to discern what it held so that I could title it. I felt that the scene in it was from the dawn  of the day, the start of the new day.

I normally see this time symbolically as a beginning filled with great potential and optimism, brimming with energy. But there was something else in this piece that didn’t seem to be looking forward. Instead it felt almost remorseful, looking back. For me, I sense this in the Red Tree’s posture toward the rising sun and in the tone and density of the sky’s color.

It’s like the character represented by the Red Tree is trapped between the duty of the coming day and lure of the past and what has been lost.

The feeling of this piece brought to mind a favorite song of mine from Otis Redding, You Don’t Miss Your Water. The first verses are at the top and the first 10-15 seconds of the recording, after the distinct opening chords when Otis first sings “In the beginning,” always sends chills down my spine. Glorious chills.

That’s where the title for this painting originated for me.

The song was originally written and recorded for Stax Records by William Bell in 1961, four years before the Otis version. Bell’s version is wonderful but Otis took the song to another dimension. Interestingly, Bell wrote the song in NYC and it was actually more about his homesickness for his Memphis home than lost love.

And maybe homesickness and the remorse for what is lost in the past plays a part here in this painting. I can’t say for sure and only time will reveal it’s true meaning. Maybe it will take on a whole new demeanor as time passes, as sometimes happens.

That’s the way of art. It is often never fully one thing forever.

But in the beginning…

Anyway, here’s the immortal Otis Redding and You Don’t Miss Your Water.

Have a good day. Keep hope alive.



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When men sow the wind

it is rational to expect

that they will reap the whirlwind.

–Frederick Douglass

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Amplified consequence.

In his 1892 essay, Lynch Law in the South, Frederick Douglass used the proverb from biblical book Hosea, to illustrate how man often sets things in motion that have results that extend far beyond– and often in stark opposition to– their intended goals. Douglass wrote that the deadly violence being shown against the black citizens of the south at that time would eventually come back to haunt those that perpetrated the deed or stood idly by, complicit in their silence.

The biblical proverb in Hosea was about how the the citizens of Israel of that time ( ca 725 BC, I believe) took to idolatry, the worship of false idols, and how their actions brought down upon them the wrath of God. In that book the author uses the concept of farming to make his point, that a  a single seed of grain sowed by a farmer returns to him many times over.

An amplified consequence.

Of course, the farmer can usually tell what the result of his sowing will be. X amount of seed will allow him to reap Y amount of grain at harvest under normal circumstances. Predictable.

But that same degree of predictability doesn’t apply to all other actions man sometimes sets in motion. While we might initially think we control the outcome, we sometimes put actions into motion — sow our seed– that we cannot control, that return to us with such amplification and intensity that we are overcome and sometimes decimated by the result.

One small, seemingly insignificant action, such as not paying attention to a rising dangerous wind, can sometimes turn into a maelstrom of destruction that we never saw coming.

Take that for what it’s worth, given the events in recent days in this country.

The painting at the top is called Into the Winds of Change and is part of the West End Gallery‘s annual Little Gems show that opens tonight with an opening reception from 5-7:30 PM. Hopefully, like the Red Tree here, we can stand against and overcome the whirlwind that may soon be upon us.

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“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”

Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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In times like these, it is even more important to consider the words above from the classic book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. In days that often filled with anger, anxiety and sometimes despair, we must remember to take in the simple wonders that surround us, to pay notice to the beauty and magic of the natural world surrounding us.

As the death of the great actor Kirk Douglas yesterday reminds us, how much time is guaranteed for any of us here? Do we want to leave this world not having paid attention to the simple wonder within our reach?

I’e been in my current studio for over twelve years now and have looked out its windows tens of thousands of times. But even after all that gazing I still am able find new things to see. Trees I have never noticed. The way the sunlight comes through and hits certain limbs at a certain times. The way the wild turkeys gather under the maple trees beside the studio when its raining and face the house, sometimes gobbling at it as though they believe I can come out and shut off the rain.

If I could, I would do that for them.

Small things. Simple things. But wonders nonetheless.

I find myself sometimes stopping in the woods and looking around, taking notice of the small wonders within my sight. I try to take a snapshot in my mind of that place in that moment, thinking that if I were to suddenly pass away, I would have as an image to carry with me from my last day.

You would be surprised how much comfort I take in that little moment, standing still on a woody path.

This is the gist of what this painting at the top of page is saying to me. Titled In Simple Wonder, it’s part of the Little Gems exhibit at the West End Gallery that opens tomorrow evening.

 

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When I finished this small painting, the term Seventh Heaven quickly came to mind and bound itself to it as its title. There was a quality attached to it that evoked that phrase that I’ve heard thousands of times, mostly describing a time and place of immense satisfaction.

Bliss.

But in all those times I never thought about what Seventh Heaven really meant or where it came from. It was just a phrase that was thrown around easily without thought.

Turns out it has beginnings and attachments to the ancient Greeks, the Kabbalah of Jewish mysticism and in Hindic and Islamic belief.

The Greeks’ believed there to be seven classical planets beyond our earth —Mercury, Venus, the Moon, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn— each having its own heaven.

In the Jewish Kabbalah, there are seven levels of heaven, each ruled by an angel. For example, Shamayim is the first heaven, governed by Archangel Gabriel. It is the closest of heavenly realms to the Earth; it is also considered the abode of Adam and Eve. The seventh heaven here is called Araboth. Under the leadership of the angel of Saturn, Cassiel, it is the holiest of the seven heavens, housing the Throne of Glory attended by the Seven Archangels and serves as the realm in which God dwells. Beneath the throne itself lies the abode of all unborn human souls. It is also considered the home of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Hayyoth.

The Islamic seventh heaven is similar in many ways to that of the Kabbalah, comprised of a divine light that is incomprehensible to mortal man.

Hinduism divides the material universe into fourteen worlds, seven of them being upper and seven being lower. Brahmaloka is the highest of the seven upper worlds, the highest of the joyful worlds a person might attain. It is the home of Lord Brahma.

There’s more but we’re going to keep this shallow today. It comes down to all of the different forms of  Seventh Heaven denoting a place of ultimate joy.

That description fits this little piece, with its seven rows in the field of the foreground, for me.

It is a seventh heaven by itself.  Even if it brings me only a moment of bliss, that’s I all I can ask for here on this earth, I suppose.

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This piece, Seventh Heaven, is part of the Little Gems exhibit at the West End Gallery which opens Friday, February 7 with an opening reception that runs 5-7:30 PM.

 

 

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The annual Little Gems exhibit opens this coming Friday, February 7, at the West End Gallery in Corning. This is the 26th year that the West End has hosted this show and I am fortunate to have been along for the ride, going back to that first one in 1995 at their second story old gallery space.

That was my first experience showing my work publicly. I had no idea what to expect when I stood there, anxiously trying to blend into the background as people milled around the gallery, on that night of the first opening. But based on the past 25 years, things seem to have worked out okay.

For me and for the Little Gems show which has turned out to be a perennial favorite for fans of the West End Gallery. It is the most popular show there, year in and year out. It’s fun for most of the artists to make small work and perhaps try out new things. There are plenty of small but mighty paintings created for this show which allows attendees, be they avid or first-time collectors, to attain original and high quality pieces of art at obtainable prices.

This painting above is called Riding High. I haven’t looked back but I think a boat painting is part of my contribution for this show most years. It’s a theme and an image that translates well to a smaller scale, maintaining its full impact. By that, I mean that it seems bigger on the wall than it actually is.

A lot of the work throughout this show have that quality.

So, hope you can make it to the show this Friday, February 7. The opening reception begins at 5 PM and goes to 7:30. The show is hanging if you want to stop in for a preview and to claim a little gem for yourself.

Here’s a song from the late June Carter Cash‘s final album that I think lines up well with this painting. It’s a lovely old Carter Family song called Sinking in the Lonesome Sea.

Have a good day.

 

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“I’m not sure this will make sense to you but I felt as though I’d turned around to look in a different direction so that I no longer faced backward toward the past but forward toward the future. And now the question confronting me was this: What would the future be”

― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

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This small painting that is hanging as part of the Little Gems exhibit at the West End Gallery (opening Friday, February 7) is titled Memoir.

The thought behind that title was that that while the future seems uncertain as we look forward, our pasts as we recall them are often just as uncertain.

Our personal histories are a patchwork, like the sky in this painting, of half memories and dimly lit stories. Faces and names fade. Words once spoken are lost in the void. We have grainy snips and snaps of what we recall as significant moments and some surprisingly sharp images of insignificant moments that puzzle us, leaving us to wonder why they remain so clear.

Do they mean something more and we just don’t see their true meaning?

I looked at this small piece and wondered what I would include in my memoir. What would I pull from that haphazard patchwork that I would want to share now and into the future?

After sifting through the shards of broken memories, I come to the conclusion that I don’t want to write a memoir. Let my memoir show itself in my work, let my story be told in paint and line and shapes, a crude group of hieroglyphs that will no doubt go untranslated in generations to come.

Let the future, if it is so inclined, write my past. That shall be memoir enough for me.

For this Sunday morning music, here’s a song to go along with this painting. It’s the Nick Lowe pop classic, When I Write the Book.

Have a good Sunday.

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The world was on fire and no one could save me but you
It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do

Chris Isaak, Wicked Game

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Another piece headed to the West End Gallery for their annual Little Gems exhibit, opening next Friday, February 7. It’s called Wicked Game after the title of the Chris Isaak song from 1989. Wow, hard to believe it’s been that long. But that opening line– The world was on fire…— was the first thing that came to mind when I finished this little piece.

It fit the painting.

As does the second line– It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do…– which fits the time, this particular moment in history as we watch a Republican party so fixated on their desire to maintain power that they will turn a blind eye to the corruption of our system that has taken place in the open for us all to see. The question of whether they will ever stand up for truth and justice, against those wrongs we know have been done and those we expect will be done in the future, seems to leaning toward a big and emphatic NO.

Doing that which is right even when it doesn’t personally benefit you or goes against your personal interests is a noble and honorable thing.

Don’t expect to see such a thing anytime soon.

Like the song says: It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do. Put on your seatbelts, folks. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Here’s the original from Chris Isaak.

 

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