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Posts Tagged ‘New Painting’

I finished this new painting a couple of weeks ago and it has been a piece that I’ve spent a lot of time looking at since its completion. It satisfies me on many different levels and simply raises a certain contentment within me. I guess that would be the textbook definition of what I am trying to do for myself with my work.

When I look at this piece, following the river upward where it converges with the sky with the sun at the center of it, I see a winged angel-like figure. This was not by design and it has become the focus of the painting for me. Perhaps this even adds to my engagement with this piece.  That and the overall warmth of the colors and the pull towards the center created by the sky and sun.

There’s just a quality of attraction and completion in it for me that keeps me looking at it.

I was trying to name this piece while I was looking for a suitable bit of music for this Sunday morning selection. While I am not sure this will end up being the final title for this painting, I thought that the title from a somewhat obscure Bruce Springsteen song might fit.

The song is Lift Me Up and it was written in the late 90’s for a film, Limbo, from filmmaker John Sayles.  The song is a quiet, almost pleading, song that features Bruce singing throughout in a falsetto that takes on a lovely and mesmerizing quality as the melody engulfs it.

I think it’s a nice fit for this painting, at least for this morning. I also threw in a companion song this morning.  It’s a beautifully quiet version of If I Should Fall Behind that brings most of the other band members, including the late Clarence Clemons, forward to solo on the lyrics. Nice stuff. Have a good day…


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Scientific views end in awe and mystery, lost at the edge in uncertainty, but they appear to be so deep and so impressive that the theory that it is all arranged as a stage for God to watch man’s struggle for good and evil seems inadequate.

Richard P. Feynman
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We live always on the edge of certainty and uncertainty.

We know what we know and that sometimes seems like an unending body of knowledge. But we also know that there is much that we don’t know and perhaps will never know. And that seems even more vast and overwhelming.

There is so much we wish to know so that we can put our uncertainty to rest. So we strive, we seek, we explore, and we observe, always searching for the next answer, the one that will bring it all together.

But the next answer poses new questions and opens new frontiers of discovery. We gain knowledge but our certainty is shaken.

But the only thing we know to do is to continue onward, forever seeking certainty.

That’s what I see in this new painting, a 20″ by 44″ canvas that I am calling The Restless Edge.  For me, the thought behind this piece is about living in a world that straddles that line between certainty and uncertainty.  Between truth and untruth. Between belief and non-belief. Between wisdom and ignorance.

About living in and coming to terms that allow you to find moments of peace on that restless edge.

And that’s what I see here.  You may not see it and that is as it should be.

One man’s uncertainty is another’s belief. Or something like that…

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“Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude!- ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’- that is the motto of enlightenment.”

― Immanuel Kant,  What Is Enlightenment?

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Sapere Aude!  From the Latin for Dare to know.

I came across the passage above from the 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant and felt immediately that it was a great match for this new painting.  In fact I am calling this piece, 11′ by 15″ on paper,  Dare to Know (Sapere Aude!)

The Red Tree here is removed away from the influence and shading of the other trees and houses in the foreground, out of darkness and into the light.  There is a light about the Red Tree and a sense of freedom in the openness of the space around it. It is free to examine the world, free to seek the knowledge it craves, and free to simply think for itself.

It’s a great idea, this concept of enlightenment and one that we definitely could use today.  Too many of us form our own base of knowledge by relying on the thoughts and opinions of others, often without giving much consideration as to their truthfulness, motives, or origins.  Or we shade our base of knowledge with our own desires for  how reality should appear, holding onto false beliefs that suit us even when they obviously contradict reality.

In short, there is no enlightenment based on falsehoods, no way to spin darkness into light.  Enlightenment comes in stepping away from the darkness of lies and deceptions to see the world as it is, with clarity.  It means stripping away our own self defenses and admitting our own shortcomings, prejudices, and predispositions.

It may not always be what one hoped for but it is an honest reality. And maybe that is enlightenment, the willingness to face all truths with honesty.

To dare to know.

Sapere Aude!

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Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.

Marcus Aurelius

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I am not sure that I am 100% sold on these words from Marcus Aurelius.

I think it’s a wonderful idea to think that you have the ability to retreat to an inner sanctum of peace, a safe haven that isolates you from the troubles and turmoil of the outer world. But is it so? Can you retreat inward and leave the outer world behind?

Can you climb onto that island and pull up the ladder behind you?

I think there must be folks who can do this, can block out the world and find the tranquility of the soul described by Marcus Aurelius. I think they must be either much more evolved than me or foolhardy because I’m just not sure that it’s in me at this point.

I would love to set my worries, fears, and furies adrift and climb that ladder, never to see them again.

But that’s not the way I am nor is it the way of the world.

Chaos finds a way of always drifting back to our shores.

But maybe this island of retreat is not about completely isolating oneself, not pulling up that ladder forever.  Maybe it’s in climbing up for a brief period of time to discover those moments of silence and absolute stillness that allow those wounds inflicted by the world to heal.

The world is still out there and will soon return but perhaps there is balm in the quiet of the present moment.

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The painting here is a new 6″ by 12″ canvas that I am calling Retreat.

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GC Myers- Balance (Known/Unknown)We have to balance the lineality of the known universe with the nonlineality of the unknown universe.

Carlos Castaneda
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I am calling this new painting Balance (Known/Unknown).  It is a 14″ by 32″ canvas and will have a slightly different edge detail that I will shown at a later date.

The Carlos Castaneda quote above just reached out to me when I was looking at this piece. The Red Tree here seems to be standing at the edge of the known, the terrestrial world that is defined here with earthy color, solid forms, and dark lines– the lineal universe.  Beyond it the non-lineal universe beckons, represented by a nebulous sky and a sun that acts as an unblinking eye.

It all is very much a metaphor for the purpose of art and that is to act as an intermediary between the known and the unknown, the go-between for that which is of our five senses and those things that go  far beyond those senses.

Things that we feel in an emotional sense.

And that is what art often does, putting the deep feeling of that which we cannot see onto those things that we do see.  It makes the intangible tangible.

That said, I like this new piece and have been enjoying my time with it. Every day I find a new angle within it that gives me pause, that excites me, and sets me thinking. And that is all I hope for in my work.

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dscn0027sm

Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I’m borrowing energy from the ideas themselves.

Ray Bradbury

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Yesterday I wrote briefly about the Aboriginal art of Australia, work that really stirs me up in a lot of ways. As I was looking at the Aboriginal paintings while writing the blog, different ideas for my own work were running through my mind. There was a rhythm and a pattern that kept biting at me and by the time I got to my own painting I had a sense of what I was hoping to see, as far as forms. The color would evolve as the painting moved along through the process.

Using a 12″ by 36″ piece of masonite prepped with gesso and a layer of black paint, I began and moved quickly.  Like late author Ray Bradbury said in the quote above, the idea was creating its own energy and I was feeding off it. At these times, the painting is absolutely effortless.  As the painting is finally all blocked in,  begin to see the final finished version come to form in my mind.

Layer after layer of color are applied quickly, each layer slightly altering the overall feeling of the piece and moving it by steps closer to what I am now seeing concretely in my mind. After a final pass through, I stop and feel satisfied.  That’s what you are seeing at the top of the page.  I am satisfied in the moment but am still spending time taking it.

Sometimes when I paint like this, the energy from the actual act of painting hangs with me for a while.  I have learned that I need to give these pieces a little more time so that I can see them without the influence of the energy created in the process.  Sometimes after a bit I might see that some colors need to be deepened or brightened in order to move the energy in the painting.

Looking at the piece now I can see the synthesis from the work I was looking at yesterday morning into the finished piece above. I took in the shapes, colors, rhythms, and patterns of that work and tried to translate it into my own visual voice without imitating or copying it in any way.  It is more about appropriating the energy and rhythm of that work.

Now without the context of yesterday’s blog, you might look at this piece and simply see my work.  But artists are, at their core, synthesizers that constantly take in information and imagery and sounds and movements then shape them into a unique form that fits the vision they have for the world. This is one very basic and direct example of that synthesization of influence.

So, gotta run– there’s some synthesizing to be done!

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GC Myers- The ConversationWhat did the tree learn from the earth
to be able to talk with the sky?

Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions

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I think that much of my work has to do with asking questions.  Not necessarily about getting answers, mind you, but about making inquiries about those motivations and meanings of the world, both inner and outer. About trying to create a dialogue, a give and take between the worldly and the ethereal.

And that questioning, that conversation, is what I see in this simple, small painting.

Will there ever be an answer?

That can only be answered with another question: Who knows?

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