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Posts Tagged ‘Ray Bradbury’

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“Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge.” 

Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

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I have completed a number of paintings in my Multitudes (or Masks or Faces or whatever the hell I am going to call them) series in the past couple of months and I still can’t quite put my finger on what they truly are or what purpose they serve for myself. As I’ve said, many of these faces have lived with me for most of my life.

They are absolutely familiar. Maybe even going to the base of the word, they seem like family.

The overall effect from these pieces for myself is not a stirring of one single emotion. They are a compendium of feelings. Some are benign and some are very kind faces. Some are worried and fearful. Some seem lost in thought and some just seem lost. Some are angry and some even contain a bit of menace and hatred.

The massing of them tends to balance the emotions for me.

This seems less so in the piece shown above, an 18″ by 18″ canvas that I originally called The March. It’s a piece that I find very appealing in so many ways, especially in the glow its colors produce in any kind of light. The colors, especially the orange/red of the flags, seem to pop off the surface and at a glimpse it seems almost festive. Maybe a celebratory parade?

But the more I look, the more it frightens me, seemingly capturing some innate dread of mine. I see in it a reflection of some of the craziness that is in great abundance around the world at this juncture in time. Waking this morning to hear of the 49 people slain by a white supremacist as they worshipped in their mosques in New Zealand only reinforces this sense of dread and looking at this piece, I see in it the willingness of people to join in, to sacrifice self and sense to become part of a mass movement to march under a banner that divides more than it unites.

The joy and snap of the banners that I first saw in this painting have become something else. They now represent a emboldened expression of feelings and beliefs that is sanctioned by the crowd. Most had been rightfully restrained in shame for decades and centuries but have now been unleashed. They now seem to me like banners of ignorance and stupidity, of racial hatred and blind allegiance to dead ideals.

It was never intended to be so. I just painted it as it came to me, delighting in the colors and forms as they came together. It came easily and freely, giving me great pleasure and joy as I painted it.

But now when I look at the faces and bodies with their uniform shade of color, I see a parade of old white men marching to protect that which they see as their god given sense of entitlement. Even the poorest among this crowd believes that the earth is their’s alone, that they reign supreme over all races and species. In it I see this crowd as believing this is their last ditch effort to maintain this imagined supremacy. That now is the time to take this world back.

And in the world outside this painting, I sense the same. It is a worrisome and dangerous time. We must be vigilant against this parade of fools. And after writing this this morning, maybe that is what the title should be.

Parade of Fools– that will be its title, after all.

Funny how the perception of a piece can change with time and circumstance.

 

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We are at a crucial time in this country and, maybe as well, the world as a whole. I think even those who refuse to pay attention are beginning to see that something very wrong has taken place and there is an effort to find the truth behind it. If this situation were a painting, it began with an underpainting of a scene based on lies. But each new day brings more and more strokes and color in the form of facts and truths that expose the underlying falsehood, the illegitimacy of the scene painted for us two plus years ago.

With each day, the final painting is becoming clearer and clearer.

I could go on but that would most likely be overkill. Too pedantic and preachy.

Instead, I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes– I do love a good quote— dealing with lies and liars. A page of lies. Actually, not lies but about lies. As a liar myself, I can attest to the veracity of most of these but you would have to take my word for that. And, believe me (the liar’s favorite phrase, by the way), you don’t want to do that.

Though I think these are all pertinent, the most applicable to the current situation might be the last from Ray Bradbury‘s dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451. Most people will not be told, will not dare to extrapolate into the future. They only see the present moment and even then, it is seen with a subjective sort of vision, the kind that only sees and knows what is in its immediate reach. But once the fallout from this hits them, they will ask how this could have possibly happened, even though they themselves enabled it with their lack of attention.

The Albert Camus quote is also a favorite. The projection of self by the liar is most illuminating.

But don’t trust me, take a look for yourself.

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This morning, I am taking the advice below from Ray Bradbury and simply doing things.I can tell you from my own experience that his words ring true. All too may times I have started a painting based on an idea, some novel concept that was I believed to be well thought out. Those paintings are usually the ones that die on the easel. The best work, the stuff that seems to have its life force, comes outside of thought. So, my thinking goes on a hiatus starting now. Here’s a replay of a post from several years back on the subject.
ray-bradbury-on-creativity-famous-quotes

I came across this quote from famed sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury on a post on the  TwistedSifter site that featured quotes on creativity. This struck close to the bone for me as I have proudly not thought for years now. I have long maintained that thinking usually inhibits my work, making it less fluid and rhythmic.

It’s a hard thing to get across because just in the process of doing anything there is a certain amount of thought required, with preliminary ideas and decisions to be made. I think that the lack of thought I am talking about, as I also believe Bradbury refers, is once the process of creating begins. At that point you have to try to free yourself of the conscious and let intuition and reaction take over, those qualities that operate on an instantaneous emotional level.

I can tell instantly when I have let my conscious push its way into my work and have over-thought the whole thing. There’s a clunkiness and dullness in every aspect of it. No flow. No rhythm. No brightness or lightness. Emotionally vacant and awkward. Bradbury’s  choice in using the term self-conscious is perfect because I have often been self-conscious in my life and that same uncomfortable awkwardness that comes in those instances translates well to what I see in this over-thought work.

So what’s the answer? How do you let go of thought, to be less self-conscious?

I think Bradbury hits the nail on the head– you must simply do things. This means trusting your subconscious to find a way through, to give the controls over to instinct.

And how do you do that? I can’t speak for others but for myself it’s a matter of staying in my routine. Painting every day even when it feels like a struggle. Loading a brush with paint and making a mark even when I have no idea at hand. Just doing things and not waiting for inspiration.

You don’t wait for inspiration– you create it.

So, stop thinking right  now and just start doing things.

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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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Ray BradburyYou can’t think a story — you can’t think, “I shall do a story to improve mankind.” It’s nonsense! All the great stories, all the really worthwhile plays, are emotional experiences. If you have to ask yourself whether you love a girl, or whether you love a boy, forget it — you don’t! A story is the same way — you either feel a story and need to write it, or you’d better not write it.

Ray Bradbury

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I grew up reading Ray Bradbury stories–The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine and so on.  They were categorized as science fiction but they were really just stories of great humanity in different settings and times.  Every time I read a quote from Ray Bradbury  or read an interview, I like him more and more, if only for that same humanity that runs through his books.

A case in point is found in a short bit of an interview that he gave in 1972 during a drive with two students, Lisa Potts and Chad Coates, who had picked him up at his home in LA and were taking him to deliver a lecture at their college in Orange County.  This part of the interview is animated by Blank on Blank, which produces great animations of  rare found interviews from notable people.  Check out their site.

The quote at the top is from this interview and I think pretty much applies to the emotional experiencing of any creative work.  I have heard people say after looking at a piece of art that they don’t know anything about art, which to me implies that they don’t like it but don’t know whether they should say so because they might somehow be wrong in doing so.  But you often know instantly whether something hits or misses your emotional buttons, whether or not you say it aloud.  You have to learn to trust your own reaction.

But enough said, take a gander at the short film with Ray Bradbury.

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I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.
― Ray Bradbury

Zen and the Art of Writing

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GC Myers- Out of Line smI am in the final stages of preparing work for my show, Into the Common Ground, that opens December 5th at the Kada Gallery in Erie.  Final touches on the last few paintings. Framing. Packing.  Details, details, details.

  It is  both my favorite time and least favorite time in the studio.  Favorite because if things go as normal, the work peaks right about this time and the show’s personality and feel really shows through.  I can now see the work as a group hanging in my mind and witnessing it as it comes together is a wonderful feeling that repels the ever present self-doubts that creep in from time to time– still.

It is my least favorite because of the all important detail work that takes place.  This week will be filled with last brush strokes, the smell of varnish and stain in the air and the dust from freshly sanded frames coating my clothing.  It’s not that I mind doing this work–it’s exhilarating to see a piece sometimes transform when it is framed.  It’s just that mind is moving ahead of my body.  I am already seeing in my mind new work inspired by the flurry of the last work from this show but can’t act on it as my body is busy on the details of the show.  There’s a weird tension between the relief of being done with a group of work and wanting to keep going that puts me a bit on edge during this time.

The piece above is one of the later pieces from this group.  It’s a 12″ by 36″ painting on canvas that I call Out of Line.  It is obviously, or so I think, that this is a piece that deals with our singularity as individuals.

For many of us, stepping out of line or expressing our individuality is an uncomfortable thing.  We don’t have the comfort and protection of the crowd to hide our flaws, our quirks.  But for some, it is just a matter of being.  They accept and even celebrate their own flaws and quirks because they make them who they are.  And that is as it should be.

Or so I think.

I don’t think I need to go any further on this painting– it speaks very well for itself, thank you.

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Don’t Think

ray-bradbury-on-creativity-famous-quotes

I came across this quote from famed sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury on a post on the  TwistedSifter site that featured quotes on creativity.  This struck close to the bone for me as I have proudly not thought for years now.  I have long maintained that thinking usually inhibits my work, making it less fluid and rhythmic.

It’s a hard thing to get across because just in the process of doing anything there is a certain amount of thought required, with preliminary ideas and decisions to be made.  I think that the lack of thought I am talking about, as I also believe Bradbury refers, is once the process of creating begins.  At that point you have to try to free yourself of the conscious and let intuition and reaction take over, those qualities that operate on an instantaneous emotional level.

I can tell instantly when I have let my conscious push its way into my work and have over-thought the whole thing.  There’s a clunkiness and dullness in every aspect of it.  No flow.  No rhythm. No brightness or lightness.  Emotionally vacant and awkward.  Bradbury’s  choice in using the term  self-conscious is perfect because I have often been self-conscious in my life and that same uncomfortable awkwardness that comes in those instances translates well to what I see in this over-thought work.

So what’s the answer?  How do you let go of thought, to be less self-conscious?

I think Bradbury hits the nail on the head– you must simply do things.  This means trusting your subconscious to find a way through, to give the controls over to instinct.

And how do you do that?  I can’t speak for others but for myself it’s a matter of staying in my routine.  Painting every day even when it feels like a struggle.  Loading a brush with paint and making  a mark even when I have no idea at hand. Just doing things and not waiting for inspiration.

You don’t wait for inspiration– you create it.

So, stop thinking right  now and just start doing things.

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