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GC Myers-  Symphony of Silence  2021



Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

― Rumi, 13th century Persian poet



The new painting at the top, titled Symphony of Silence, is an 18″ by 36″ canvas. This weekend, it is headed down to the Principle Gallery as part of my solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4th.

I have written in the past about what I see as the connection between painting and music, how I see some of my pieces as simple songs and others as more intricate compositions. Perhaps symphonies or concertos.

This, in my eyes, is one that seems simple at a first glance. It is sparse and without great details. But the more I look at it, the more I see in it. How each element and color plays off the next and how they are fortified by each. It feels like there are rhythms and melodies running through it, from side to side as the terrain flows and up and down with rise of the moon.  There is inward and outward movement with the light of the stars and the undulation of the trail. The blocks that make up the night sky seem to swirl and rotate in all directions. The far mountains appear almost as sound waves. 

There is seemingly constant movement throughout the landscape and the skyscape. Almost a cacophony.

Almost.

It is silence.

Somehow the movements, the rhythms, and contrasts all run together at some point.

Harmony. Made up of the stars in motion countless lightyears away and the ancient wisdom contained in the stillness of the land and water. Always there but in silence. 

It is a simple piece but one that constantly shares something more than it lets on with a mere glance.

Here’s a piece of music to accompany it, a longtime favorite of mine and one that has played a large part in how I came to view my own work. It’s from composer Arvo Pärt and his composition Tabula Rasa. This is the second movement, fittingly titled Silentium. It feels right with this painting.



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GC Myers- Under the Blue Moon sm



Now I’m standing in the wake of forty years
And from this prison I have broken free and clear
And I’m praying that the morning won’t catch me here

— Full Moon, Peter Bradley Adams



The small painting above is called Under the Blue Moon. It’s headed to the Principle Gallery for my annual show there which open June 4. This year’s show is titled Between Here and There and is my 22nd show at the Alexandria gallery.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 22 years since my first solo show at the Principle. So much has changed in the world. My work has also changed but it is an incremental thing, one that I would like to believe maintains a consistency even as it changes.

This piece is a good example of it, painted very much in the same style with a similar process to the work I was producing back at that first Principle Gallery show in 2000. But while it maintains its recognizable features, it has changed, with colors that are more intense and a bit more layered and complex. The suns and moons in my work have grown in size over the years, as a result taking on a more prominent role in the composition.

That’s definitely the case here. This piece just feels good for me with the colors and angles of the forms triggering a lot of different responses within me. It has a feeling of the vulnerability of a confession for me, the Red Tree standing in the wide open beneath the unwavering and all-knowing eye of the bluish moon.

What hasn’t it seen? What doesn’t it know?

Makes me wonder and that’s all I ask of it.

Here’s song to go with it. It’s from singer/songwriter Peter Bradley Adams, whose songs, which are classified as being Americana which is a term that says a lot without saying much about what the music really entails in subject or form.  I have just recently started exploring Adams’ work and this song felt right this morning. It’s called Full Moon.



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Vincent-van-Gogh-Whaet-Field-with-Cypresses.-Image-via-wikimedia.org_



A few days back, I shared a video from composer Barnaby Martin that concerned the work of Wassily Kandinsky and how color related to music. I thought I’d share another of Martin’s videos this morning, this one again about the role of music and its relationship to painting, this time focusing on the work of Vincent Van Gogh.

This interests me because I have thought many times about how painting is related to music and how I often view my paintings as musical compositions. Many are simple tunes but some take on the grander aspects of a concerto or symphony.

I notice this more in recent years as many of the paintings take longer and longer to finish. I would have finished many of these paintings much sooner in earlier years but they would have remained simple tunes. And that’s fine. Who doesn’t love a simple that stays with you long after hearing it?

But time has shown that the once simple tune can often expand and deepen, growing into something that speaks to larger universal concepts.  The extra time spent now on these paintings is used in deepening and expanding the range within itself. Finding extra rhythms and harmonies within the colors. Adding dissonance and consonance, small counterpoints and contrasts that may not even be noticed to the casual viewer.

It’s not something I intended to do with my work. It just evolved as I saw more and more room to grow within the work. A lot of that comes from working in the way this video describes the process of painter Eugene Delacroix who had an influence on Van Gogh. Much of Delacroix’s work dealt with repetitions of subject and form. This allowed him to focus on fully exploring color and its effects.

This is something that I understand very well. I have used similar compositions many times through the years and each is significantly different than the others. Differences in color, tone, shading, contrast, texture and other color qualities give each piece its own unique emotional feel and voice.

Every artist works a bit differently and has different aims for their work. They have their own reasons for doing what they do. To be honest, I don’t really know why I do things the way I do. Maybe I look at the works and writings of others with the hope of finding some illumination into my own motivation and rationale.

Maybe it’s just my way of making music in the only way I know. Who knows?

Anyway, hope you’ll take look at this video from Barnaby Martin. It’s worth a few minutes of your time.



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GC Myers- Shared Joy sm



This is the true joy in life: the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

-George Bernard Shaw



The painting above is a new piece from my June show at the Principle Gallery. It’s a 12″ by 12″ canvas that feature my Baucis and Philemon inspired trees. There’s a brightness to it that gives me a true feeling of joy which most likely led to its title, Shared Joy. It reminded me of a blogpost from back in 2016 where I was describing another piece that brought up similar feelings. I thought I would share it today along with this Sunday Morning music which is a jazzy version of On the Sunny Side of the Street from Esperanza Spalding. It’s from a 2015 White House performance and it showcases her virtuosity on the double bass. Nice version with a lot of joy in it.

Here’s the blogpost from 2016 followed by On the Sunny Side of the Street. Enjoy.



After describing a painting that I found joyfully appealing, I continued:  There was just a feeling of realized joy and happiness throughout it, the kind that Shaw described above in his play Man and Superman.

I think the feeling he describes must be one of the greatest joy in this world: to find a purpose into which you can fully throw your whole being for all of your time on this planet.

A purpose that gives you a place to stand and rise above the selfishness and pettiness of those, including yourself, who would drag you down.

A purpose that allows you to tap into some greater force in order to gain energy for your toils.

A purpose that lets you deny the cynicism that sometimes shows up in abundance in this world.

A purpose that serves you endless joy in what seem to be empty moments.

A purpose that even finds the joy in tears.

I think there is a purpose for each of us. Finding it is not always a simple matter and some of us will never find the one purpose that is truly our own. We may not be willing to give enough of ourselves to something that is beyond our own needs and desires. We might still find some joy in our life but it will no doubt be short lived.

For me, it has been painting. At first, I found this surprising because I often viewed it as being selfish in nature. It was my perspectives. My emotions. It was even called self-expression.

But I found that there is purpose in it and that this came from having others find comfort and happiness in their reactions to my expression.

Their joy fed my joy, even more than my own satisfaction and joy from the work.

But there are days when I still find myself losing sight of this purpose, when it is a struggle both in the studio and in the outer world and I feel drawn back down to less positive feelings. But I will be somehow reminded of that purpose and that joyful feeling returns.

That happened the other day. A gallery owner called and told me of a person who had bought a painting of mine that they had desired for quite a long time. In fact, this person had come into the gallery for this painting and it was gone, having been returned to me. I sent the piece back to the gallery and when the person returned to get it, they started crying in joy. I can’t even express how this makes me feel outside of saying again that their joy fed my joy, their tears became my tears.

Those moments make my time alone in the studio seem more special and filled with purpose. They make me that joyous one, if only for a while.

And that is good enough for me…

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Georgia O'Keeffe- Blue and Green Music



Lots to do this morning so I am just going to share a favorite painting from Georgia O’Keeffe and a piece of music whose composition was influenced by that same painting.

The painting is Blue and Green Music which was painted by O’Keeffe during her years in New York, somewhere around 1920. It is her attempt at translating music into visual form. I think it works on that level but even without knowing that this was her aim, I would be enthralled by this piece. The use of contrasts of colors, light and dark, and hard and soft edges along with the rhythmic curl of the bright organic form that occupies the center of the picture makes this an absolute feast for the eyes.

Or, maybe I should say, a symphony for the eyes.

I know that it sets off all sorts of sparks in me.

The piece of music is titled, of course, Blue and Green Music, and is a composition from the contemporary composer Samuel Hazo. I believe this piece is from somewhere around 2010 or 11. From the number of videos of this piece on YouTube, I would guess this has become a popular piece for high school and college concert bands and orchestras.

It’s a lovely piece of music. Taking a few minutes to listen while pondering Georgia O’Keeffe’s brilliant creation is not a bad way to kick off the morning.



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GC Myers- In Radiance sm

“In Radiance”- Now at the West End Gallery



gnossienne – n. a moment of awareness that someone you’ve known for years still has a private and mysterious inner life, and somewhere in the hallways of their personality is a door locked from the inside, a stairway leading to a wing of the house that you’ve never fully explored—an unfinished attic that will remain maddeningly unknowable to you, because ultimately neither of you has a map, or a master key, or any way of knowing exactly where you stand.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

*************************

I don’t have much to say this morning. I just wanted to share a little music from the French composer Erik Satie, someone whose work has always spoken to me in its elegant spareness. It was a great influence on some of my earliest works. In fact, I even titled an early piece or two after the composer but I can’t locate the images at this point.

I thought I’d share his  Gnossienne no. 1 as played in this fine video from the contemporary Italian pianist/composer Alessio Nanni. The word gnossienne was created by Satie.  He sometimes created new terms or appropriated terms from other fields to describe his compositions. Gnossienne is generally thought to simply denote a new form although I like the alternative definition at the top from the website The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.  It seems to fit the composition very well.

I ran this in a post several years back but since I am busier than expected this morning and didn’t want o spare the time to write too much, thought it was worth sharing again, if only to point out the The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows website. Well, and to couple the beautiful Satie piece with the painting, In Radiance, at the top.

Now, off to a very full day.



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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.





GC Myers- October Sky detailGC Myers- October Sky detail20180415_07492420180415_07490820180415_07485920180415_072615



 

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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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