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I am in a real hurry this morning but wanted to at least share my Sunday morning song and I thought that my choice this week fit this particular painting very well. This painting, The Way of the Master, has spent a couple of years in Kuwait being displayed at the American Embassy there. When Ambassador Silliman’s appointment changed to being Ambassador to Iraq, the painting returned to me. It was a favorite of mine from the time I painted it and I was thrilled to have it back. It’s showing at the West End Gallery as part of my Self Determination show.

I am sharing what I wrote about this painting a few years back. The accompanying song is Tomorrow Never Knows from the Beatles, off their classic 1966 Revolver album. Give a listen and have a great Sunday.

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GC Myers- The Way of the Master

“There is one single thread binding my way together…the way of the Master consists in doing one’s best…that is all.”

– Confucius 

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I originally had a different title in mind for this new painting,which is 24″ by 36″ on canvas. I saw it as being about the end of a journey, about coming to a point that marked the highest level of emotional  and spiritual development. But then I remembered this quote from Confucius and it had immediate resonance.

It all comes down to effort in the end. Everything that comes to us, everything we desire and value,  ultimately depends on the amount of effort we choose to put forth.  Things done half-heartedly and with little attention never prosper or develop. Those things you take for granted never grow into something more.  They only diminish with less attention. You can witness  this in every aspect of your life. I know I can see it in my own. Everything I value– my marriage, my work and my peace of mind– requires hard work and maintenance, my very best effort.

This full effort ultimately leads to a deeper sense of connection with those things we value, emotionally and spiritually, and I suppose that’s what this piece signifies for me. I believe that any thinking person wants to reach their highest point of development, wants mastery over their own physical and spiritual life. This painting reminds me that it is obtainable if I am willing to give my very best.

As Confucius says: and that is all.

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I came across this blogpost from four years back and it made me go over and closely examine the painting about which I was writing. It’s one of those things where you walk by it every day and after a bit, you fail to really see it. But looking at it reminded me of how much it bolstered me at the time it took its little prize.

I haven’t entered a painting in a competition for many years now. I never liked the idea of judging one painting against another as though there was some objective scale on which to judge them. Plus the idea of a group of judges trying to get a grasp of your work with 10 seconds exposure to it seemed kind of unfair in some way. Not that I didn’t have successes in the competitions I did enter. I took third place in a national competition and had a couple of Best in Shows along with a couple of other awards in regional events. But it never felt good to me and when I felt like it no longer served my needs I stopped entering them. 

But those competitions did wonders for me early on in my development and I may not be writing this today if not for them. Here’s what I wrote a few years back:

GC Myers-The Sky Doesn't Pity 1995smI was looking around my studio, taking in some of the work hanging on the walls throughout the house.  There are pieces from other artists, including some talented friends and young fans along with some notables such as David Levine and Ogden Pleissner.  But most of it is older work of my own.  There are a few orphans, paintings that showed extensively but never found a home.  In some I see flaws that probably kept someone from taking it home but most just didn’t find that right person with which to connect.  Most of the other hanging work is work that I won’t part with, work that somehow has deeper meaning for me.  Work that just stays close.

One of these paintings is the one shown here, The Sky Doesn’t Pity, a smallish watercolor that’s a little over 4″ square.  It was painted in 1995 after I had started publicly showing my work for the first time at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY, not too far from my home.  The gallery has been what I consider my home gallery for 18 years [22 years now], hosting an annual solo show of my work for the last eleven years.  This year’s show, Islander, ends next Friday.

But when this piece was done I was still new there, still trying to find a voice and a style that I could call my own.  I had sold a few paintings and had received a lot of encouragement from showing the work at the gallery but was still not sure that this would lead anywhere.  I entered this painting in a regional competition at the Gmeiner Art Center in Wellsboro , a lovely rural village in northern Pennsylvania with beautiful Victorian homes and gas lamps running down Main Street.

It was the first competition I had ever entered and, having no expectations, was amazed when I was notified that this piece had taken one of the top prizes.  I believe it was a third but that didn’t matter to me.  Just the fact that the judges had seen something in it, had recognized the life in it, meant so much to me.  It gave me a tremendous sense of validation and confidence in moving ahead.  Just a fantastic boost that opened new avenues of possibility in my mind.

I still get that same sense even when I look at this little piece today, a feeling that would never let me get rid of this little guy.  I can’t tell you how many times I have glimpsed over at this painting and smiled a bit, knowing what it had given me all those years ago.

It encourages me even now.

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If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.

Henry Miller
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We often search and search, moving from place to place, trying to find that certain something that we can’t quite name. We have it in our minds that it is a physical place, a tangible object, that will satisfy our need to wander.

New people to meet.

New streets to explore.

New landscapes to surround us. New hills to climb.

But maybe what we seek is just a new way of seeing ourselves, of a new opportunity to unleash the person we desire ourselves to be. Or, more likely, a chance to see ourselves as we really are, something that becomes obscured in the familiar. Being anchored, as Miller infers above, in the repetition of  day to day life has us showing ourselves always in the same light. We lose touch with aspects of who we are that are never allowed to come to light.

The search allows us that new perspective. While we remain the same we see ourselves from new angles, new vantage points, allowing us to feel new. Different.

Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not, exposing perspectives on ourselves we would rather not see and may have hidden for a long time. But hopefully unveiling the truth of all that we are will somehow  make us feel comfortable in our wholeness.  Knowing our shortcomings as well as our strengths make us more real, more human.

What we seek is always with us.

You might not view it the same way but that’s what I am seeing in this new painting, an 8″ by 16″ canvas, that I call Destination Seen. It is headed to the West End Gallery for my upcoming show, Self Determination, which opens July 14.

 

 

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This is a painting that is part of my Truth and Belief show that begins this Friday, June 2 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. It is 16″ by 20″ on panel and is titled Called Home.

This was one of the first paintings started for this show many months ago, actually back into 2016. It was also one of the last pieces finished in just the last couple of weeks. The two blocks of color, the graded blue-green of the sky and the dark red of the foreground, that make up the bulk of the picture were in place and in my mind the piece felt complete, already communicating emotion.

The interaction between the two large elements and their textures and colors already satisfied me. It was very much like a lot of my earlier work that solely relied on these factors.

I set it aside many months ago and would look at it day after day. I was hesitant to move beyond where it was by adding anything, fearing that it would alter the strong feeling it already emitted for me. I wanted to add elements that would complement that feeling and make it more apparent and accessible for the casual viewer.

I thought about going to my default icon, the Red Tree, that has a variety of meanings in itself.  But it just didn’t seem right for this piece. I settled on one of the Red Roof structures but a taller and more angular version, one that would seem to be trying to break the grip of gravity and reach upward toward infinity. The Red Chair and the path pulled a narrative together for me, one that very much falls in line with how I was seeing the painting in its early stages.

The new elements actually seem to fortify that feeling for me and now when I look at this painting, where I once only fixated on the sky and the foreground, I now see the unity of all the elements in pushing forward an emotional feeling that resonates for me.

It’s all I can hope for in my work…

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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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