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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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Folk Blues- LeRon's Yellow Guitar -GC Myers 1994



This morning, I thought I would combine another old piece with this week’s Sunday morning musical selection. The painting above is one of my earliest pieces, completed in early 1994.

It was at a point before I had what I considered then and now to be a breakthrough with my work. I was still working with watercolors solely and using them in as close to a traditional manner as someone who is self-taught can. I still find the qualities of that medium really appealing and use many of them– in a manner that is adjusted to fit the way I think– in much of what I call my transparent work with inks.

This piece was titled which meant that I saw something in it that deserved a name. That’s one way I judge some of this earliest work. There are some pieces in my files that don’t have titles which means that while I may like the piece or see something of value in it, I don’t feel it is complete and whole.

I think I saw this piece as being whole even though at the time I didn’t feel it was good enough to exhibit. Maybe it wasn’t that I didn’t think it was good enough, maybe it was more that by the time I was showing my work a year after this my work had changed, moved away from this style.

It’s titled Folk Blues/ LeRon’s Yellow Guitar. It certainly has flaws but there is much in it that I like.

Anyway, thought this would pair up with an old blues tune written and first recorded in the 1920’s, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out. This version is from early blues artist Scrapper Blackwell who is an interesting case.

Blackwell was born in South Carolina in 1903 and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana as a child. He built a cigar box guitar and taught himself to play, becoming a performer in the Indy/ Chicago areas as a teenager. Around this time he met and partnered with pianist Leroy Carr. In the late 1920’s until around 1935, the two were very successful as songwriting and recording artists. One of their best known songs was Kokomo Blues which was later transformed into the song most of us know as Sweet Home Chicago.

The duo lived pretty large at that time with lots of drink and partying. However, Carr died from physical complications from this lifestyle in 1935. Blackwell floundered for a couple of years before dropping out of the musical scene altogether. He settled into an obscure life in Indianapolis as a manual laborer in an asphalt plant for the next 20 years. In the late 1950’s he reemerged as a musician, recording several albums of his early blues over the next few years. The song below was recorded during this period and is pretty poignant in that at that time he truly knew the highs of stardom and the lows of poverty and obscurity.

His renewed career was taking hold at a time when the blues were undergoing a revival in the early 1960’s when he was shot and killed while being mugged in an Indy alley in 1962. He was 59. As a result, his influence in the blues revival never really extended out to the wider audiences that other blues artists were able to tap into in the mid 1960’s. Most of you have most likely never heard of Scrapper Blackwell.

This is a really nice recording of an old blues song. The kind of song LeRon at the top would feel right at home with. Give a listen to Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.



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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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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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GC Myers- Far Away Eyes



Seems like a recurring theme lately with me starting most posts by saying that I am busy and eager to get to work. That’s actually a good thing for me. That eagerness to get to it is something that is not just there. It is cultivated, a result of previous actions. It usually means I am doing the right things (at least, for me) in my creative process.

So, while I wish I were willing to spend more time writing this morning’s post I am glad to want to get to my work.

But I wanted to share the painting above, Far Away Eyes, that is currently at the West End Gallery. I wrote about this piece last July and rereading that post reminded me of the struggle that I had with it. It was one of the first pieces I worked on during the early days of the pandemic. I had no momentum, no energy, little inspiration nor any eagerness to be at work. My mind was wholly distracted.

This piece though fought with me and made me work. Made me shut out the outer world for a time so that I could focus my mind on it, to become part of it.

To put it plainly, it didn’t come easy. That’s probably why this piece resonates so strongly with me. I think we all appreciate those things that make us struggle, that make us be at our best. We might be frustrated and demoralized during the battle but the result, the overcoming, makes us forget that. I know that the struggle in this piece had slipped my mind until I read the post that was written soon after this painting was completed, when the battle was still fresh in mind.

I now appreciate it for what it is, the force it possesses and not for what it provided in its creation.

As it should be.

The title for this song  was borrowed from an old Rolling Stones song from their 1978 Some Girls album. I didn’t mention it in the original post about the painting because I didn’t think the song itself fully lined up with the piece but its title did. But now, I’m not so sure.

Give a listen and you decide.



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Short on time this morning. Things are swinging along well in the studio and I feel like I need to be at it before that momentum says “see ya’ later” as it heads out the door. But I thought I’d share an old piece from around 1995 that I am pretty sure I haven’t shared here yet.

Not that it’s a great piece. It’s one of those pieces that never made it out of the studio, never even titled, so I obviously had determined at some point that I didn’t want to put it out there. I guess I am comfortable enough in what I am that I don’t figure it can hurt my reputation now by sharing it.

Actually, it’s a piece that I always stop on in order to take a better look. I always thought that it lacks something but there seems to be something in it, some intangible feeling to it, that I like. Maybe it’s just for me, in my own secret language that only I recognize.

I don’t know. But it felt good pondering it for a moment this morning.

Here’s Richard Thompson song, an acoustic take on his I Misunderstood. That might be what the guy standing in the doorway is thinking. 

Who knows?



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We sprung forward in time tonight. An hour just swept away which for me at this time of the year always gets me a little on edge, especially on this first morning. Actually, to be fair, anything that gets me out of my routine gets me a little on edge but losing time of any sort affects me the most. It’s one of those tics that seem to get more and more pronounced with each passing year.

Time!

Came in this morning an hour later and wanted to write the blog quickly to save a little of this precious stuff, this time. Of course, my computer is running oddly and my internet connection seems to be an hour behind still, it’s running so slow. So, my time-saving has gone awry as I reboot this and reboot that. 

Darn you, time!

This is still not going well, technology-wise. Everything is glitchy as I write this so instead of fighting it and getting even more frustrated, I am going to wrap it up and introduce this week’s song for Sunday morning. It is, of course, Time from Pink Floyd off of their classic Dark Side of the Moon album. I realized this morning that I never play anything off this album, as much as I like it, or from Pink Floyd at all.

It’s probably a deep reaction to how ubiquitous this music was in the 70’s and 80’s. You couldn’t go a half hour on any FM station that played rock music without hearing a song from Dark Side of the Moon— or Hotel California, Free Bird, or Stairway to Heaven.

After awhile, you develop an aversion to even those things you like when you are exposed to them all the time. It’s like I really enjoy hot fudge sundaes but I wouldn’t want to have that same thing every hour of the day. Bad example. I could totally eat hot fudge sundaes day in and day out. 

But now I am excited to hear these songs again since time– yes, time– has cleansed away that stench of ubiquity.

So, if you have time, give a listen. If not, get to it. You have time to make up.

I know I do. See ya’.

 



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I came across this old piece the other day. I was sure I had shared it here before but after a couple of searches, discovered that I had not. This surprised me because this little piece never fails to make me smile. Just kind of goofy. Maybe not Dracula Hates Killer Icicles level goofiness but it’s on the scale.

This piece is titled “I Don’t Feel So Good”- Darwin’s First Mardi Gras and was painted on or about September 1, 1994. This is one of those pieces that started as just blocks of color, most likely with the intention of eventually becoming a landscape. I can’t remember what happened that set it off in a whole different direction but at some point I began to see an almost abstract figure. It looked to me like someone on their hands and knees, perhaps wearing a colorful cape, a pointy cap, and a mask, one of those half face things. 

With that info in mind all I could think was that someone in that getup on their hands and knees was either looking for a lost contact or was perhaps feeling the effects of a night that was a wee bit too wild for them. The background easily transformed from a sky to a city wall with cracks and stains. The perfect milieu for an epic knees-to-the-pavement hurl.

Thus, the title, “I Don’t Feel So Good”- Darwin’s First Mardi Gras, was born. 

I like this piece a lot, as I said, mainly for its goofiness. But I also like it for its semi-abstract qualities and look. There are forms and colors within it that really draw my eye and remind me of things I wish I was still using but have long neglected. 

As I have said before, there’s almost always a lesson in there somewhere.

Here’s a song that also a  forgotten throwback in time. It’s Nervous and Shaky from The Del Fuegos in 1984. I mentioned them in a post a few months back but most likely they are not a name many of you remember. That is a great commentary on potential and the difficulty of really making it. The Del Fuegos were a hot band from  Boston in 1984, a favorite of a wide swath of critics. Their first album was acclaimed, they had one of their songs used on  nationally distributed TV ad for beer, and they looked like a can’t-miss act. But the two brothers that were at the core of the band had an uneasy, contentious partnership which eventually blew up the group by the end of the decade. As one of the brothers said, “The ’80s were over, we were over.”

I was an early fan of their first album and this song comes and goes in my consciousness every so often, especially when I am little nervous and shaky myself. Give a listen, if you’re so inclined. I bet Darwin felt a little nervous and shaky back at his first Mardi Gras. Could have used some Del Fuegos to get him through the rough spots.



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