Posts Tagged ‘Native Voice’

GC myers-Sanctuary A couple of days ago I wrote about the theme behind my upcoming Home+Land show at the West End Gallery, briefly describing that feeling of feeling at home in a place.  This homing instinct has been noted by others including a passage in the book Desert Solitaire from late author/environmentalist Edward Abbey.

Written in 1968, the book tells of his time as seasonal park ranger at Utah’s Arches National Park in the 1950’s and has been compared to Thoreau‘s Walden for the philosophical ruminations that run alongside his stories of working the park.  I read it probably well over thirty years ago and had forgotten this short passage until running across it on another site.  It fit so well into the other day’s post that I thought I would share it:

Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.  A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic  farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome—there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment. Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from up above, in the cold black outback of interstellar space.

I know that this homing instinct, the need to be peacefully at ease in a place, has been a prime motivator in many parts of my life and it shows itself in my work on an a regular basis.  The example at the top very much reflects this sense of home and is called, fittingly, Sanctuary.  It is part of my show Native Voice which hangs now at the Principle Gallery and ends July 6.




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paul-gauguin-the-alyscamps-in-arlesDo not paint too much after nature. Art is an abstraction; derive this abstraction from nature while dreaming before it, and think more of the creation which will result than nature.

-Paul Gauguin


Although I wouldn’t probably call Paul Gauguin one of my favorite artists, I do admire and respect much of his work.  More importantly, there are a lot of things I’ve taken from his work over the years, including the advice offered in the above quote.  The idea that the painter could paint the landscape not exactly as it were before them but, rather, in how they felt they saw it was a mind expanding thought.  It meant that the artist could take liberties with color, space and form to find their own expression of nature.

Another thing I culled from looking at Gauguin’s paintings was his use of multiple colors within his surfaces.  I remember seeing an exhibit quite a few years ago at the MFA in Boston.  Looking closely at some of his Tahitian scenes, I noticed that while one would say the overriding color of each piece might be green there were other colors among the greens of the tropical landscape, most noticeably large flecks of vermillion, that gave the overall color so much more depth and interest.  I knew that I needed to increase the complexity of my own colors.

I’ve also talked quite a bit about Native Voice, about painting in a way that was purely natural and distinct like a signature to the artist.  Gauguin’s work is to me a perfect example of this native voice.  His ease in being himself on his surfaces made it easier for me to be myself.  Whenever I get a chance to look closely at his work I take the opportunity because I almost always find something in it that helps me in my own work.

 It always has something to say and share.  And that in itself is an influence and a hope for my own work.

Paul Gauguin A Farm in Brittany

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GC Myers WIP in Studio 2015 JuneThere wasn’t much of a break after getting back from last Friday’s opening of my show, Native Voice, at the Principle Gallery, which hangs there until July 6th.  No, there was another deadline waiting for me when I returned to the studio: the July 17 opening of  my annual show at the West End Gallery, this year titled Home+Land.  The last week has seen me fall right back into the groove that was formed in prepping for the Principle Gallery show.

This is not an unusual pattern.  This is the 13th year that my West End show has began right on the heels of my Principle Gallery show and  in that time I have developed a way of coping with the tight schedule: heavy drinking.  Not really but there are days sometimes that feel like that might not be such a bad idea, especially those ones where the creative thread seems to disappear briefly and a bit of panic rises in me.  And believe me, that does happen from time to time.

Yesterday, for example.  I had finished a new painting ( the one at the top) and was still in that piece in my mind and not ready to move on quite yet.  I checked out my calendar to see where I was in relation to the opening and it just seemed, in that moment when my mind was still not yet moving on to the next task, that there was so much to do and so little time in which to complete it. A horrible ball of tension built within me and I found myself paralyzed with panic for a while.  My mind just stalled with that calendar imposed on it.  I paced around the studio for quite a while, trying to gain footing and move past this.

I knew that I could and that I would.  The experience of having been through this so many times before calms those nerves and lets me keep my eyes on what is in front of me rather than fretting about what is ahead.  And that is the secret to overcoming the pressure of a deadline such as this– staying focused in the moment.  Clearing the mind of worries about things that may or may not occur in the future and immersing yourself in the task at hand.  And luckily for me the task that I normally face is one, by its very nature, that normally calms my anxieties.

So I moved immediately to the paint and within minutes of the first brushstroke the anxiety seemed to ease.  The mind cleared.  The calendar seemed trivial and distant. All I saw was the scene that began to take shape in front of me and all of my thoughts were simple reactions to what I was doing on the canvas.

All was well again.

That being said, there is still much to do for the upcoming show and I am sure there will more incidents like yesterday in the next month.  But I am prepared and the show thus far looks and feels very good to me, which in itself is a calming agent.  I just thought I would give you an inside look at one of the parts of the process that sometimes gets swept under the rug– you don’t see it but it’s often there underneath the surface.



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GC Myers- Twixt Home and the Horizon smSunday morning and I’m back in the studio after a couple days down in the Alexandria/DC area.  And even though it was a very enjoyable time and a great opening for the Native Voice show, it is, as always, truly wonderful to be back in the studio this morning.  Back to my center.

I thought the work for this show looked very good on the walls of the Principle Gallery.  There’s more warmth in the wall color than the photos that have been posted show and the work seemed to really stand out against it.  This show consisted mainly of works on canvas because I wanted those solid blocks of color to dominate and push out into the space rather than have matting around the image soften the impact and put distance between the viewer and the painting.  I think this was the right decision based on the very enthusiastic response to the work.

2015 PG Show GC Myers-The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Of course, the best part of the evening is seeing friends, old and new, and catching up a bit.  The theme this year seemed to be the next generation, with a number of new additions to families making their first visits to an opening.  I love hearing how small children respond to the colors and forms in the paintings. Plus I like the idea that these paintings will in some small way be a part of the environment that influences their lives in the years to come.  Hopefully, they will prove to be positive influences.

Thank you to everyone who came out on Friday evening.  Some traveled some distance and for that I cannot be more appreciative.  It is that sort of enthusiasm that inspires me and makes my job so much easier.

And of course, very warm thanks to Michele, Clint, Jessica and Pamela at the Principle Gallery for  both your tremendous professionalism and your friendship.  Both equally mean the world to Cheri and me.

So, as I settle back into my treasured routine on a Sunday morning, it is once again that time when I play a little music here on the blog.  Today I am in the mood for something mellow and nothing is better at that than the voice of the great and ever elegant Nat King Cole.  Here is his beautiful version of Hoagy Carmichael‘s classic Stardust.

Thanks once more and have a good Sunday…


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2015 Principle Gallery June GC Myers3The work has been hung and all that remains is to head down to the DC area a little later for tomorrow’s opening for my show Native Voice at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.  My friends at the gallery sent me a few shots of the show in the minutes after they finished the hanging yesterday and I am pleased at the way the work presents itself.

With the salon-style hanging, with the paintings presented densely packed and filling the wall , there is a real concentration of color and the work comes off the wall in a manner that might befit stained glass windows.  And that is a comparison that I don’t mind at all.  You can see it well in the photo above with Jessica hard at work at her desk in front of the paintings.

Native Voice is my 16th show  at the Principle Gallery‘s Alexandria location and it opens tomorrow, Friday. June 5.  The reception runs from 6:30  until 9 PM and is open to the public.  It’s a casual affair so please stop in and say hello.  I look forward to seeing you there.

2015 Principle Gallery June GC Myers

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GC Myers- Native Voice smThis is the painting, a 24″ by 48″ canvas, that spawned the title of my show, Native Voice, that opens this Friday at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

I’ve been struggling to describe what I mean by the term native voice.  I think we all have a native voice, a quality that reflects the true self that comes out of us naturally, unguarded and without thought.  It is in the way we speak with family and friends, in the rhythm and manner of our words.  It is in our local accent and vernacular.

It reflects the people and places and events that shaped us, all blending together in one unique package that bears our unique fingerprint and signature.  We might be able to mask these things temporarily but our native voice is always near the surface, ready to emerge.

Applying this to painting, I see this native voice as being the way an artist naturally fashions a painting, in how they perceive the world and describe it to others through their work.  It is that state of being when pretense is put aside, conscious thought diminished, and the process becomes intuitive and reactive, each reaction coming naturally.  I would describe it in the way a child might paint when left to their own devices– pure and expressive.

I think this show bears this title well.  I know that it feels natural and true to myself.  I tried to not focus on concepts or themes as I painted, just let the work fall out as it would.  As a result, when I delivered the show this past Saturday, I had a hard time describing much of it to the folks at the gallery.  How do you describe something that is just a part of you, something that just is?

Now I doubt that this comes anywhere close to expressing what I see in that term Native Voice.  But like talking to friends or family, if you are attuned to what I do with my work  you’ll probably understand my native voice.  If not, you’ll most likely think I’m that strange guy walking down the street muttering to himself.

And that’s okay, too.



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This is a short video previewing some of the work that is part of my Native Voice show that is opening this Friday, June 5, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.  The opening reception runs from 6:30 until 9 PM and is open to the public.  This is a show that has some real visual oomph in its colors and textures and while I think the work shows well on the computer screen, it definitely comes across better in person.  So if you’re in the DC/Alexandria area on Friday evening, please stop in and see the work in person and say hello.

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GC Myers-  Nova Harmonia smThis painting, a 16″ by 40″ canvas, is another piece from the Native Voice show and is titled Nova Harmonia.  That loosely translates as New Harmony but it doesn’t really anything to do with the short-lived 19th century Utopian community of that name in Indiana although the utopian aspect might apply.

The feeling and theme of the piece is very much about the concept of living in harmony with the forces of the world around us and that might seem like some far-fetched utopian concept to some.  And that’s  a shame because this coexistence we share with the earth should be something that we naturally accept and make part of our lives.  Far too many think of the earth as being something that we dominate, a servant– no, a slave– that provides us with a never-ending supply of fuel, food and everything else we can strip from it.

But that is so wrong in so many ways, mainly in its hubris, greed and short-sightedness.  We are temporary tenants here on a world that has seen many species and civilizations come and go before us. one that will be still revolving around that sun long after we are but a distant memory.

Instead, it should be viewed as our partner or our ward, something that we watch over with care and respect in exchange for the great bounty it has provided.  Perhaps it will allow us to inhabit its richness for a bit longer that way.

That’s the message I glean from this painting.  It has an optimism and unity that I find reassuring and hopeful.  In short, this painting makes me feel good.

As I said above, this piece is at the Principle Gallery for my Native Voice show which opens Friday, June 5.

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GC Myers- Clair  de Lune smI was going to take a day off from the blog.  After all, it’s the final day in the studio for the work in my solo show, Native Voice,  that will be heading down to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria tomorrow.  This is always both a day filled with stress and great relief.  There is still much to do on this day but in what seems like an instant it is suddenly done and I let out a great sigh of satisfaction in that the task has been completed, which is always easier when I feel good about the work that I am doing and that is the case with this show.

So the idea of taking the day off on this busy day was appealing.  But I wanted to really show this piece, a 24″ by 30″ canvas that I call Clair de Lune after the famous DeBussy piece.  I was searching for a title for this painting and was stuck, wanting to steer it away from references to the blue hues in it, when this song came up on the Pandora station to which I was listening.  It was a version by pianist Michael Dulin.  As the music played , I could almost see it meshing with the colors of this painting, the calming tones of the music resting easily in the blues and greens of it.

It just felt right. It fit.  So give a listen and take a look.  Maybe you’ll see what I saw.  Now it’s back to work for me– much to do before I travel tomorrow.

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GC Myers- The Anmating Presence smSometimes I am a little hesitant in showing certain paintings here on the blog.  Sometimes their photographed images just don’t fully convey the impact or depth of the work.

Take the painting shown above for an example.  Titled The Animating Presence, it produces a strong  initial impact with its large size– 20″ by 60″ on canvas— and its deep colors and textures.  The photo captures the colors (although not the depth within the colors) and a mere fraction of the texture but the  power in its size is lost on the smaller screen.  It is still a strong image but most people would be surprised at how truly different the actual painting comes across in person.

I showed this painting here a few months back in an early stage, shown now at the bottom.  The landscape was laid out in the red oxide paint I use for my underpainting and the sky with its first several layers of color, the emotional atmosphere of the piece beginning to take shape.  Many, many more layers produced the sky as it now looks above.  There are layers that are almost completely obscured, perhaps with only a tiny glimmer of it coming through here and there.  Looking at it, you may not be aware of it but its presence is vital to me, giving the whole thing the depth and life force that I seek in it.

And maybe that last sentence is a good way of explaining the title, The Animating Presence.  The more I worked on this piece, the more I began to feel as though the Red Tree was in some sort of communion with a greater power in this painting, represented by the light breaking over the horizon.

This is always a hard thing to explain for me.  As I have explained in the past, I was not brought up with religion of any sort.  I was never indoctrinated in any sort of system of faith, never led to have either belief or disbelief.  I was just here, neither a believer or an atheist.  But looking at the world I had a sense that there was something more, some unseen source of power that sparked all life and consciousness.  It wasn’t a benevolent god sitting on a throne in some heaven pulling the strings on human events and listening to our prayers.  No, it was more a matter of physics and light and energy, an unseen force that permeated everything– an animating presence.

Now, a couple of hundred words can’t really sum up the whole of  what I am describing or even what I see in this painting.  But it is this struggle to come to terms with this idea of that presence that I see in this painting.  That like those unseen layers of paint in the sky which give depth to the painting, one’s life is given meaning by an unseen force that we may never fully know or understand.

You can see this painting at the Principle Gallery at my Native Voice show,

2015-gc-myers-wip animating presence



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