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Posts Tagged ‘Painting’

Mesmerized

I was looking for an image to pair with the music I want to share today  and thought this old piece might work since I’ve been showing a lot of older unseen work lately. It’s a watercolor piece from 1995 or 1996 that I never felt secure enough about to show, one with a guitar dominating the front of the picture plane and a dark character propped in the doorway.

There are a few things wrong with this piece, most notably the way the fretboard  just ends at the body of the guitar. And the dark character is just, well… a little strange. He’s either smoking a cigarette or has been recently on fire–which might explain his charred appearance– and is still smoldering.

But even with these obvious flaws, for some reason I still find myself looking fondly at this piece and liking it. Still not sure about showing it to anybody but liking it, nonetheless.

The music I wanted this to accompany is from Australian fingerstyle guitarist Alan Gogoll who is being hailed for his technique that creates bell-like harmonic tones. I came across a couple of his videos and was drawn in by the way the filming focused on his hands. I am fascinated by watching the hands of musicians when they play and his technique has a grace and poetry in the movement of his hands.

He also has a series of short Instagram videos and one very long Youtube video in which the camera is inside the guitar facing out through the sound hole. You see his fingers picking and the vibration patterns of the strings as each string is plucked. Called Stringscapes, they are pretty mesmerizing.

I am showing a short song called Mulberry Mouse first, followed by the Stringscapes video. As I said, this video is long, coming in at 28 minutes. But it is worth at least taking a look for a minute or two. Or longer. Actually, while I was writing this I took a look and about four minutes passed. I said they were mesmerizing.

You can see more on Alan Gogoll’s website by clicking here.


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The Studio Barn at Sunny Point

As had been mentioned here in the recent past, I will be leading a workshop next week at Sunny Point on the shores of beautiful Keuka Lake here in the Finger Lakes of New York. Sponsored by the Arts Center of Yates County, this is a two day workshop that runs from about 9 AM until 4 PM on September 28 and 29, Thursday and Friday of next week.

This is my third workshop here and in the first two years we focused on my watercolor based method which is what I call a reductive process. You put paint on then take much of it off, creating the edges and transparency that define this style. It was a lot of fun and a little messy.

This year we are going to be working on what I call an additive process which starts with a dark surface, in this case a textured canvas with a layer of black paint. Layers of paint are added, each layer defining form and creating light. The piece at the bottom is an example of the kind of work we’ll be doing. It’s typically a bit slower process with a little more control, more meditative in approach. But we are going to be moving along at a pretty good pace which should make for some interesting work.

It should be a good couple of days in a great environment with the lake just paces away and the glorious fall foliage ablaze on the surrounding hills. All that with some hard work, good fun and a few surprises along the way. I don’t know how many more times I will be doing this type of event so if you would like to share some time painting with me, come on up.

More info can be had by clicking here.

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“I feel I change my mind all the time. And I sort of feel that’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.” 

― Malcolm Gladwell

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I am using these words from Malcolm Gladwell today because it fits well with my feelings on the painting I am showing here. By that I mean that this is a piece on which my mind has changed over the years, from feeling it was okay at first to loathing to grudging acceptance to now actually liking it quite a bit.

It’s a small painting, something like 7″ by 8″ on paper,  from 2006 that is titled In the Eye of Grace. When I first finished this piece it felt pretty good and evoked an emotion that hit a mark for me. It wasn’t blessed with that initial giddy excitement that often comes when finishing a painting but it felt right. It was good and I felt confident in showing it in the galleries.

So it was framed and sent out. It never found a home and came back to me a year or two later where it has been ever since. After being with it for a while, I began to actually dislike this painting. It bugged the hell out of me and I could never determine why that was the case.

I finally decided that it might be the way it was framed, set in a very wide mat and an extra heavy wide frame. It was a cumbersome setting for a small piece and I began to realize that I didn’t like– actually, I hated– the grandiose feeling of the frame for such a quiet small painting. It was like having a small simple gem placed in the middle of an overly large and ornate setting. Overwhelmed and eclipsed.

So I began to accept that I was letting my judgement be swayed by its setting. I no longer cringed when I came across it in the studio. It felt okay enough.

But in the past several months I placed this painting, still in its fat frame, in a place where I saw it while doing my morning workout. I began to really look at it and my doubts and distaste faded away. It was like I had disregarded the title I had given the painting years ago, In the Eye of Grace. It did have a simple grace that was easy to overlook.

It became a favorite in my morning ritual. I determined that I would change the frame to one that would let its grace shine through a little more easily. It’s funny how things sometime change, how even my own perception of a piece of myself can transform in several directions through the years even while that piece of self remains the same.

We are sometimes strange creatures living with moments of grace that we fail to see…

 

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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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