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Posts Tagged ‘Quotes’

Édouard Vuillard – Landscape at Saint-Jacut

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To say that a thing is beautiful is simply an act of faith, not a measurement on some kind of scale.

–Édouard Vuillard

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If you asked me about my favorite painters, Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940) is not a name that would come to mind. In fact, I never even gave much thought to his work and didn’t have much of an opinion on it. I knew a little bit about the interior scenes for which he is well known but if you asked me to name or even describe his best known work, I would be at a loss.

But the more I look and the more I see of his work, the more of a fan I become of Édouard Vuillard. There is such a wide array of style in the body of his work that shows his exploration and growth.

The interior scenes I once shrugged over now seem to be wonderfully dense explorations into abstraction, pattern and color. There is so much to latch onto in each piece that a cursory glimpse doesn’t often suffice. I now see his work with a bit of a sense of awe and can honestly take that leap of faith and say that I see them as beautiful.

I even like a few of the things from him I have read, like the words at the top. Beauty is indeed subjective, not measurable with any set scale. My sense of beauty may well differ from yours. You may be moved by things that do nothing for me and vice versa. I don’t know that there is any one things, any one piece of art, that is absolutely beautiful to everyone.

Maybe there is. Who knows? Certainly not me.

He also wrote: I do not belong to any school, I simply want to do something that is personal to my self

These words depict that need to create something that is only mine, not something instantly attributable to a school or movement or any other artist, that has always been the driving force behind my own work. I don’t know that I have always been successful but I can say that Vuillard definitively did create a distinct body of art, beautiful work that is all his own.

Just good stuff. Here are a few examples from a sea of choices.

 

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Peter Doig- Swamped 1990

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I sometimes wish I had never had to sell a painting. Every painting you make represents the time it was made and how you were feeling and what your influences were… You are never going to feel that way again, so you can never repeat it…

–Peter Doig 

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I shouldn’t make such a blanket statement but I doubt that most of you out there know the name of the contemporary artist Peter Doig. I know that I wasn’t fully aware of him until a decade or so back and even then only on a passing basis where I would stop and examine his work when I would come across it in an article. The piece at the top always made me stop and look a bit closer.

But the fact of the matter is that the Scottish born Doig (b. 1959) is perhaps the most sought after living artist working today with works selling for the tens of millions at auction. Of the 9 paintings shown here, only one sold for less than $10 million at auction. The most expensive sold for over $ 28 million. I won’t tell you which is which. There were many others on the auction sites that sold for between 1 and 4 million that I didn’t include.

These prices always open up a debate with lots of questions on the relative value of artwork. What makes a work worth $28 million? Does the auction value of the work determine its importance or does its importance determine its value? Is the working and thinking process of this artist that much different than that of an artist that sells for tremendously less?

You might think from the direction this seems to be heading that I am decrying Doig’s work selling for what I believe are ludicrous sums. I am not. I very much like and admire his work. I can see those elements in it that make it distinct. It is good and great work and might very well be among the most important work from this time. If his work can bring in that kind of money, I applaud him.

I am, if anything, criticizing myself for not having the ability– or knowledge or audacity– to command such prices. I know that the price of a piece of art sometimes determines how serious collectors view it and that a great piece can be overlooked simply because it is too inexpensive, at least by the standards of collectors.

That has happened to me at times.

In some galleries, my works sits at the top end of their market and in others, in the middle or near the bottom of their price ranges. While I am satisfied with that, I firmly believe that my work is greatly undervalued across the board, that it should be demanding much higher prices.

Now, that sounds like confidence, doesn’t it? Maybe even overconfidence?

Actually, it is the opposite of that. It is a lack of confidence and a bit of fear that keeps the prices of my work in the range where they are and have been. While I have the belief in the relative value of my work, I just don’t have the guts to make that jump.

I have been poor in my life and it wasn’t that long ago that I was dead broke and I think that tempers my ambitions, as far as pricing my work is concerned. I like to have my work sell and make a living from it. I take pride in being able to live off of the product of my own thoughts and imagination. And I find a sense of security in being able to provide what I consider high quality work at prices that make it obtainable for more people than if it were in a much higher range– it’s undervaluation generally means that the work will sell eventually.

Maybe I am too comfortable and seeing Mr. Doig’s prices just nudges me a bit, telling me to be less comfortable, to be more proactive.

I don’t know. Just thinking out loud this morning. I wrote this because much of what I have read about and from Doig jibes with my own experiences, including the quote at the top. For all the talk about prices, every real piece of art represents a certain time and place for that artist, one that is distinct and not repeatable. I know that I will sometimes look at a piece and remember the days I spent in front of it while painting it. That time, that thought process is burned into my psyche and will never happen again in the same way.

Anyway, lets’s push aside thoughts of money for now and just look at the paintings of Peter Doig a bit more.

Peter Doig- Rosedale 1991

Peter Doig– Red House 1995

Peter Doig– Island Painting 2000/01

Peter Doig– Grasshopper 1990

Peter Doig — Daytime Astronomy 1998/99

Peter Doig– Charley’s Space 1990

Peter Doig– Forestia 1996

Peter Doig– Almost Grown 2000

 

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The Seven Social Sins

1- Wealth without work.
2- Pleasure without conscience.
3- Knowledge without character.
4- Commerce without morality.
5- Science without humanity.
6- Religion without sacrifice.
7- Politics without principle.

–Frederick Lewis Donaldson, Westminster Abbey sermon, March, 1925

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The list above has been attributed for years to Mahatma Gandhi who published this same list later in the year in 1925 but it first came from a sermon given by Anglican priest, Frederick Lewis Donaldson, at Westminster Abbey in March of that year.  Gandhi published it in his newspaper, Young India, in October, stating in a very short commentary that the list was sent to him by a “fair friend,” adding “Naturally, the friend does not want the readers to know these things merely through the intellect but to know them through the heart so as to avoid them.”

Though Gandhi may not have originated the list, his reputation sent the message worldwide.

Reading the list early this morning, I was struck that the entirety of the list could be applied to many of those who wield the power of government, most notably the person(?) who sits in our white house. He is devoid of all the positive social attributes on the right side of this list, existing without conscience, character, morality,humanity, or principle. Nor is he unwilling to work or sacrifice anything of his own to make the world better for those beneath him in the social pecking order.

Based on his comments stating that traumatic head injuries suffered by our soldiers weren’t real wounds, I think you can throw empathy and a few other positives into the list of things missing from his being.

In short, he is a hollow man.

A husk.

And the more we follow his lead, giving in to his twisted and selfish worldview, the more hollow we become as a nation. You can easily see it in the way he has affected the republican party which has many members in power who, like him, are crossing off more and more items on the list above. They have become a husk of a political party, one without conscience or principle or shame of any sort, all too willing to carry the water for the hollow man.

As a result, he is going to be acquitted in this trial. That’s a forgone conclusion.

As Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote over two thousand years ago: “Here is a man whose life and actions the world has already condemned – yet whose enormous fortune…has already brought him acquittal!

Some things remain the same. That doesn’t make it right nor does it undo the harm already done and the damage yet to come.

And the more hollow we become as a nation, the more of these sins that we normalize, the less able we will become to recover when that damage fully arrives.

We must ask more of our leaders. And ourselves.

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Vincent Van Gogh- Memory of the Garden at Etten 1888

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My aim in life is to make pictures and drawings, as many and as well as I can; then, at the end of my life… looking back with love and tender regret, and thinking, ‘Oh, the pictures I might have made!’ But this does not exclude making what is possible…

–Vincent Van Gogh

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Love this painting from Vincent Van Gogh with its wonderful color and the abstraction of the forms that comes from eliminating the horizon line. It was a piece that came to mind when I ran across this passage from Van Gogh. The words reminded me of something else, a thought that has been on my mind in recent times.

I was asked at my Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery this past September if I ever had thoughts of retiring from my painting career. I think I made a bit of a joke about it, saying that I would no doubt die working away at a painting.

And that’s most likely true. I couldn’t imagine ever saying I am done as a painter.

It goes back to Van Gogh’s words above. I still see my artistic future brighter than my past, still envision important projects and better works to come. I still see my best work as being in the future, not dwelling in the distant past.

I can’t imagine that feeling ever changing. I can see myself on the day of my death, if I am capable of taking a moment to reflect on that day, will have that same regret that Van Gogh expressed: Oh, the pictures I might have made!

That being said, I must get to work. I am not retired yet and there are pictures to be made. The future is calling.

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GC Myers  1994 Early Work Illustrative Styling

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To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.

~Henri Bergson

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If you have read this blog for some time, you probably have noticed that I periodically like to revisit old work, especially those early pieces from when I was still in the process of finding voice. It’s an interesting period for me to look at because the changes were coming fast, sometimes on what seemed to be a daily basis, as new things were tried, some sparking new directions and some being quickly set aside.

It was a much different set of circumstances than the way I currently work. It was a period of fast and furious fireworks, little pops and crackles with every step forward where today it is quieter for periods of time followed by louder booms. I don’t know if I can explain that any better and am pretty sure it means nothing to anyone but that is the nature of this whole endeavor– trying to make sense of something inexplicable.

I was looking at some early pieces and stopped on this one at the top for a bit, looking at it closely for the first time in many years. It’s from around 1994 and was at a point where I was still trying to figure out things. It was very illustrative– I could see it being used in a kid’s book– but there were things I took from it. The treatment of the sky, for instance, presaged the way my process evolved. It’s a pleasant little piece but it is far from where I wanted to be and even back then I knew it when I finished it then set it aside. It was not an emotional carrier for me at the time and that was what I was seeking.

The piece below, Into the Valley, was from around six or seven months later, in early 1995, and shows the changes that were taking hold in my work.  It is simpler in construction yet seems to say more for me, seems to have some more fundamental thought and feeling in it. GC Myers Into the Valley 1995

I usually take something from these little visits back in time. The changes become more evident as the style matures then levels off, becoming a bit more subtle, less drastic but more confident. But always changing, always recreating itself as it matures.

Or so I hope…

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Wassily Kandinsky- Couple Riding 1906

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The true work of art is born from the Artist: a mysterious, enigmatic, and mystical creation. It detaches itself from him, it acquires an autonomous life, becomes a personality, an independent subject, animated with a spiritual breath, the living subject of a real existence of being.

–Wassily Kandinsky

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Leave it to the great Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) to so well describe that sense of life I am looking for in my work and about which I have often written here. When it is real, it takes on a life of its own. It still possesses the personality and psyche of the artist but grows, adding layers and dimensions that take it well beyond the reality of the artist.

These two sentences from Kandinsky hit the mark squarely — animated with a spiritual breath, the living subject of a real existence of being–and are just perfect for how I see this process.

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“I’ve spent a good part of my life painting trees. Naturally I’ve gotten pretty well acquainted with them. Excellent friends they are and, for me, the most fascinating ‘sitters’. Trees are a lot like human beings; rooted men, possessing character, ambitions and idiosyncrasies. Those who know trees see all their whims; see their struggles too; struggles with wind and weather; struggles to adjust themselves to their society. For nature will not allow them to run amuck, heedless of their neighbors; their individual propensities must conform to the cosmic laws within their own democracy. Thus there is a certain rhythm in a wood; a flow between parts, a give and take that is rigidly observed.”

–John F. Carlson, American Artist interview, 1942

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To the artist, the forest is an asylum of peace and dancing shadows.

-John F. Carlson (1875-1947)

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You may not know his name, but the Swedish born American painter John F. Carlson had a big influence on generations of modern realist painters. He wrote a book on landscape painting in 1928 that is still well regarded today and his work is included in the collections of most major museums. You probably see echoes of his work in painters you see working today.

Beyond that, I like, and agree with, his thoughts on trees and forests, those places where I spend much of my days.

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“No one, it seems to me, can really paint trees without being extremely sensitive to their rhythm and all that is going on in the woods, without indeed having considerably more than a casual acquaintance with sylvan society.”– John F. Carlson

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Take a look for yourself.

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