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Posts Tagged ‘Painting’

Several years back, I wrote here about the late Croatian painter Ivan Generalic (1914-1992). I don’t really know how his work is categorized. He mixed folk art, rural Eastern European village life and folklore, and allegory in a painting style that was richly colored and inviting. It was most often painted on glass which increased its vibrancy and glow. It had a certain charm that reminded me of the jungle paintings of Henri Rousseau.

I thought I’d share a video this morning that features his work set to music, “Raindrops Prelude” by Grupo Pedagógico Infantil. It’s a nice and interesting watch. I urge you to take a few minutes and give it a look and a listen.

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I have been busy in the studio preparing for my upcoming shows and find myself working on a new piece on a canvas measuring 16″ high by 40″ wide.

After the canvas has been prepped with multiple layers of gesso and a layer of black paint, I compose the painting by laying in the elements of the picture in red oxide paint.

This is my favorite part of the process, the time when I can just let my mind fall into the picture and roll around all the possibilities that it offers. Every stroke is a decision and most are made instinctively, letting the surrounding elements and the underlying texture dictate the next move.

As the piece progresses, the painting takes on its personality in a warm glow of varying reddish tones. At this point I decide where I want to place the focus for the painting.  Here I want it to be all about the sky. Painting the sky at this point is not always the norm. Sometimes I go to work on the landscape first, letting it tell me how I will treat the sky. But on this piece the sky comes first, so I begin to lay in colors radiating from around the sun. Or moon. Nothing is really set in stone- or paint-at this point.

As the sky progresses , I veer off momentarily to lay in a little color on the houses and the flat fields that occupy the middle of the painting. I am now at a point where I still have work to do on the sky but the painting is beginning to speak plainly to me.  I know what it is and have a fairly good idea of where it can go. I say fairly good because there is still a lot of decisions that will affect the final version. The colors of the landscape, for example, and their intensity and tones.

I am almost always at my most deepest level of infatuation with the piece when I am at this point in the process.  The moodiness of the red tones have a shadowy effect that pleases me, that makes the sky contrast a bit more than it may after the colors of the landscape are added.  I find myself asking this morning if I should forgo the colors I normally add and focus on creating a tonal composition based on the red oxide. It would be a darker piece than my normal work but if it works as I hope it might, it would carry that feeling that always hooks me as I am working.

So this morning I am sitting here looking over at the easel and deciding if I will spend the day in bright color or in shades of russet.

I like a job where that might be the hardest decision that must be made today…

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I wrote the post below back in 2009.  I’ve revisited the use of multiple images a few times since but only on a limited basis.  Maybe once or twice a year. But it’s a concept that appeals to me and just seeing these images again always sparks something.

I was looking through some older images on my computer, searching for a painting that I had completed several years back.  As I scanned through the paintings, I noticed several pieces through the years that were different from most of the work I’ve been doing recently.  They were multiples, such as Peers, shown here.  They were  paintings with several windows with a new scene in each, although most of the scene were very similar to the others.

It was a format in which I really enjoyed working and one that I have not revisited in a couple of years.  I really don’t know why. They have a very graphic appearance and really stand out on a wall, making them pretty well received as a rule.  I guess in the past few years I’ve been focusing more on working on texture and heightening the color, as well as working in the Archaeology series, so that I haven’t even thought of revisiting this format.

I remember some  of the early ones very well.  One had 48 cells and had a great look, the result of overlaying the paint with layers of chalk and pastel.  Another was the same number of cells with 48 individual small paintings,  each window having a separate opening in the mat.  It was a pretty difficult piece to mat and frame but it also popped off the wall.   I will have to go through my slides from that time (pre-digital) and see if I can wrangle up a few shots.  I would like to see them again to see how they really hold up against my memory.

Maybe I will revisit the multiples sometime soon.  I often run across things that have slipped from the front of my painting mind when I go back looking for something else.  It may be a format such as these multiples or may be a small compositional element.  It’s always interesting for me to try to re-insert this older element into the new work, to see how the inevitable evolution of the work will change this older concept.  We’ll have to see what this brings…

Fourfront  - GC Myers 2003

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GC Myers- The Singular HeartYou do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

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A while back, a person interested in my work sent me the poem above, Wild Geese.  It was written by the esteemed Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver. This person wanted to know if I would be interested in translating this poem into into one of my paintings for them. I replied that when I had some time I would gladly do that as I think the poem strikes a chord that very much resonates in my work.

After a short while, this person contacted me again and said they had been looking at my work and had found a painting that they felt captured the spirit of the poem. The painting is the one shown at the top, The Singular Heart.

I was thrilled by the choice. It had the feeling and message of the poem without being absolutely literal.  It’s exactly how I wanted to portray it. And the message and title of the painting fell perfectly in line with Oliver’s poem.  The Red Tree stands, singular and alone, with the realization that it has a unique place, as does every being, in the family of things.

I told this person a bit about this painting and an experience I had with it that stuck with me.  Once it hung in my home area gallery, the West End Gallery, and I met with a local college art class there. One of the questions was which of the pieces there was my favorite. I normally don’t answer that question because I have always felt that any painting that I decide to show has something unique to it, some quality that makes it special to me. Kind of like a parent with their kids.

But on this occasion I didn’t hesitate and pointed at this painting.  I told them if I were to try to describe in one painting what I wanted to say with the body of my work and what I hoped for myself as a person, that this piece would summarize it perfectly.

I told this person that I felt it was perfect choice and was pleased when they chose this painting to represent the poem in their home. It means a lot when any painting finds a home but is even more special when I know that it resonates on many levels with its owner, that it goes deeper than the surface.

Here’s a clip of Mary Oliver reading her poem, Wild Geese:

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GC Myers- Tower of LiesHow long can you stand on a tower of lies?
How long can you endure on a tower built with  lies for posts and boasts for beams ?
How long before you see the folly in reinforcing one lie with another?
How long before the foundations come apart and fail?
How long before truth comes as gravity to pull this tower down?
How long can we tolerate you standing brazenly atop your tower of lies?
How long until the inevitable collapse comes?
How long until we begin to tally the casualties from the fall?
How long before we begin to build a straighter and stronger tower?
How long can you stand on this tower of lies?

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

This is a new small painting that I hope to expand into a limited series based on what I call towers of folly.  We’ll see how that progresses…

 

 

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Never Was Land

GC Myers- The Lost Painting 2014This painting doesn’t exist anymore, only in this digital image shown above.  Well, here and under several more layers of paint of a completely different painting that now lives on the canvas that it once occupied.

It was a piece that I spent several days on in the studio a few years back.  I had an idea of how I wanted it to look in my mind and as the days passed, it just kept moving further and further away from how I thought it should look.  I worked feverishly at it, pulling out every trick I could think of in order to make it have some sort of sense of rightness, something that would make it acceptable to my mind.

More and more frustrated, I got to the point that I could barely look at this piece. The colors were wrong, not what I was sensing.  The surface didn’t seem right to me. And I couldn’t see its rhythm at all. It just felt wrong on so many levels to me. Finally, at one  particular moment on my fourth day of toiling to make it right, it reached what I felt was total failure.

It had beaten me down and I stepped away from it.  I knew the only brush I would put to it again would be one charged with black paint that would obscure the sight of this damned thing.

I have written about failure here before– in fact, I will replay one of my favorite posts tomorrow on just that subject– and have failed at many things in my time here on this planet so I am familiar with the feeling.  But this one really bugged me.  Looking at it in the studio seemed like a form of punishment, one that mocked me.  I couldn’t wait to get rid of it and within several days had blacked out the image.  A few days later there was another painting in its place, one that had that sense of rightness and life that I’d hoped for in this piece.

I still dislike this painting for not being the thing that I needed it to be at the time. But over the years I have come to find a bit of affection for it whenever I stumble across it in my files. It actually comes across pretty well on the screen, much better than it did in person–kind of the reverse of how my work normally fares.

Do I regret covering it up?  I don’t know.  It definitely felt right in the moment and has remained so the time since.  But, when I can put aside what I thought this painting should truly be, part of me likes this digital  image just a bit.  A goofy little bit.  At least I don’t hate it in the same way nor does it feel like the abject failure that it did when I was working on it. So I am glad I at least captured the image minutes before I covered it up.

Since it doesn’t exist, I think I will call this image Never Was Land.

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9913217-fragments-sm“All there is, is fragments, because a man, even the loneliest of the species, is divided among several persons, animals, worlds. To know a man more than slightly it would be necessary to gather him together from all those quarters, each last scrap of him, and this done after he is safely dead.”
Coleman Dowell, Island People

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

It’s been hard finding footing lately in the studio.  It’s been hard to just get started on most days.  There are plenty of factors that play in to this, some external and some internal, some that I can control and some I cannot.  But the end result is the same: I am left feeling fragmented, broken into shards that don’t want to reassemble easily in the form of my work.

I am not worried however.  This is not the first time I’ve felt so fragmented nor will it be the last.  I know that I come apart at times and have to bide my time, just continuing to try to put myself back together so that I may uncover what I know is waiting there for me.

It’s there. It may seem an awfully long way away but I can see it and I know that while it may take time and much effort, I shall be together with it again.

The painting above is a piece that has been with me for a while now.  One of the orphans that come home to reside for a bit.  I wrote about it last year when I thought I might change its name to Dimming of the Day but it still remains under its original title, Fragments, in my mind.  And I suspect it will stay that way.

This painting is based very much on this feeling that I am experiencing at this moment and when this feeling emerges, I often think of this painting.  There is darkness and distance here.  The space between the Red Chair and the house has a certain weight that makes me feel as though there is something more than physical distance at play here. The sky, a confetti-like blend of thousands of little fragments of brushstrokes that gave the painting its title originally,  represents, for me at least in this piece, the world falling out of harmony.

Dark, distant and coming apart.

Yet despite that I find this painting very comforting.  I think that goes back to what I said above, that I know this place well from past experience .  I know how to navigate it and know that the distance is not so great nor the darkness too deep.  And I know that the parts are still in place to come together again in the future if I simply exercise patience and don’t give in.

It’s funny how that works.  I walk by this painting several times a day in the studio and it’s often without a thought as my mind is preoccupied with something else.  But every so often I stop before it and suddenly all of these feelings flood back on me when I look closer.  I’m glad it works that way, actually.

Here’s a nice version of the Richard Thompson song whose title, Dimming of the Day,  I was thinking about renaming this painting.  It’s a strong yet tender version from Tom Jones.  Have a good day…

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