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Posts Tagged ‘Recent Paintings’

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When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.

― Ralph EllisonInvisible Man

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I think of many of the paintings that I do with the Red Tree situated very much front and center as being a portrait of sorts. I see a face and head and shoulders set against the background. Sometimes I see the familiar faces of others in them and sometimes they feel like self-portraits.

I definitely this painting, a 36″ by 36″ painting on canvas that is titled Find Your Light, see as a self-portrait. If someone asked for my picture I would prefer giving this image rather than an actual photo of myself. Maybe I am being vain in thinking that it resembles any part of me but I can at least hope it represents the better part of me because there is a lot that l like in this painting.

I like the field of colors that acts as a garment shrouding the chest and neck of this portrait. I like the burst of brightness that comes from the center set against the multitude of deeper colors that surround it. And I like the bands of blue-green hills that seem like a coat loosely draped on the shoulders of the portrait’s subject. And the layers of color within the clouds and the soft glow of blue that surrounds them.

All these things combined with the impact of the painting’s size give it a quality that appeals to me, one that feels like a sense of self being clearly and confidently stated. That’s a quality that I hope for myself and for my work. I guess that is why I see it in some way as a self-portrait.

Maybe you see yourself in it? That would equally please me.

This painting, Find Your Light, is now hanging at the West End Gallery as part of my solo show, The Rising, which opens Friday, July 13.

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Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.

–Stephen Hawking

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I’ve been working on a series of paintings recently for my June show at the Principle Gallery that feature fragmented skies with stars appearing at their junctures. Some are very geometric and angular while some– like the one, In the Stars, shown here–have more organic shapes with more randomness in their arrangement.

Both satisfy some part in me, in their creation and in the appreciation for them I feel once they reach a point of completion. Maybe it’s that there is a meditative stillness in both aspects. Painting them definitely creates a deep sense of quietude for me that I also find in studying them after they are done.

It is the kind of stillness that spurs wonder and curiosity, the kind that makes one look into the night sky with hopes that extend beyond our present time and place. Are we alone in this vast universe or are we the end-product– the flowers, perhaps — of one of those shining stars?

I don’t know and most likely will never know. But I will always have the need to wonder…

 

 

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GC Myers- The Introspective MindIntrospection, or ‘sitting in the silence,’ is an unscientific way of trying to force apart the mind and senses, tied together by the life force. The contemplative mind, attempting its return to divinity, is constantly dragged back toward the senses by the life currents.

Paramahansa Yogananda

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I often consider my landscapes as being deeply introspective even though by their very nature they are outward looking.  They are most often scenes where the central figure– the Red Tree in most cases– finds itself in a moment and place where the inner and outer, the mind and the senses, converge.

It is a moment of calmness, one that allows the mind to expand and soar outside itself, to see the world and itself from new perspectives.  It allows it to see all that it is and is not.  To see all possibility, paths that are open but not yet visible.  Perhaps even a return to divinity as the words of the great Hindi yogi Paramahansa Yogananda states in the quote above.

I like the idea of this juxtaposition of contrasts, the inner and the outer set side by side, each strengthening the other so long as they stay in balance.  I can’t say that I go into a painting with that as a goal in the front of my mind.  I think it’s just one of those things that when you recognize it in the final product realize that it was what you were looking for even though you didn’t know it at the outset.

And perhaps letting it slip from your consciousness was the key all along.  Trying too hard to find something so elusive usually ends in failure.  But just letting things go without placing too much emphasis on any aspect sometimes brings what is important to the forefront.

I know that in this new painting, a 15″ by 30″ canvas titled Introspection, that how I see it now had little to do with where I initially thought it would go or say.  At its start I never gave a single thought as to leading it to the message that it now holds for me.  I just let the paint work, let my mind move freely in the forms and color to release what it ultimately held.

So maybe that is the key– to free the mind from the senses as Yogananda says.  Easier said than done…

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The painting above, Introspection, is included in Part of the Plan, my solo show opening October 29 at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA.

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GC Myers-The Patient Heart smOnly a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness.

–Pablo Neruda

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We are living in a crazy time.  Every week, every day, brings us news of some new atrocity around the world– Nice, France is just the latest of all too many– and we find ourselves gripped with feelings of anger, fear and confusion.  We want answers and solutions yet we don’t really know what are the real questions being posed before us.  We just want action, or should I say reaction.

We seem to react, raging and flailing, to every situation without thought.  We take little time to consider our words or actions and their consequences.  It is all now, now, now.  And this unsettled impatience makes us willing to look to those people who offer us quick and easy answers with little substance to back their claims of what they can do.  This path ultimately comes at a much greater expense than we could ever foresee in our haste to react.

There are no quick and easy answers to the questions and problems that lay before us.  The immediate future requires, as Neruda puts it above, a burning patience.  Our first reaction is not always our best and taking a long moment to contemplate our actions is generally a wise move.

That being said, I have to say that the last few weeks have proved to me that my work has a real purpose, at least for myself.  This has been a time of real stress in the world and with every day’s dose of awful news I found myself looking closer and closer at my work as I was getting ready for the upcoming show.  At certain stressful moments, I found myself really going into the work, being absorbed by the harmonies and rhythms.

These moments were like little meditative breaks where I felt the chaos of the outside world was blocked off, only a dark mass well beyond the boundaries of the world I was now in.  It brought on an energizing calm, one that allowed me to not react with anger or despair.  It reinforced my burning patience.

And that was just what I needed from it.

The painting above is titled The Patient Heart and is 4″ by 16″ on paper.  It is included in my show, Contact, at the West End Gallery in Corning, which opens next Friday, July 22.  The show has been delivered and is now in the gallery for previews.

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GC Myers- Purified Solitude smSolitude is the place of purification.

–Martin Buber

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I have found myself painting quite a few islands lately, much like the one shown here in this new piece.  This small 12″ by 6″ painting on canvas is titled Purified Solitude and is part of my show, Contact, at the West End Gallery which opens on July 22.

Maybe the islands have come about because they are simply interesting compositional elements.  But part of me thinks it’s most likely an emotional response to the tensions of the world, an inner desire to pull away and find some peaceful solitude in a place where the bang and thrum of the outer world can’t reach me.

Of course, that is only possible on a short term basis.  We are formed in this world and are part of this world and can never fully break away.  The world is always with us.  But those moments when I find myself on that island of solitude do much to reinvigorate me, to make me feel strengthened to come back into the world once more.

That’s what I see in this little piece– a temporary refuge where the light can fully surround and cleanse me, purifying and washing away the confusion, the anger and the despair that builds up after time spent in this world.

Thankfully, I know that island is always there, waiting for me to arrive.

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GC Myers- Icon: Joe H.Here’s my latest entry into the Icon series, a 12″ by 12″ canvas piece that is titled Icon: Joe H.  He is my 3rd great-grandfather and his name was Joseph Harris and he was born in the Lindley (the town named after our common ancestor, Eleazer Lindsley,who was among the first Icons) area south of Corning in 1833.

He led a fairly typical life for the time and place, serving in the Civil War and raising a family.  He worked primarily as a blacksmith and a sawyer ( I have a lot of lumbermen in my family– maybe that’s where my affinity for trees comes from) in his early years, working for a number of years in the then booming timber business that was taking place in northern Pennsylvania and western NY.   It was there that his wife, Emeline Whitney, died just a year or so after the end of the Civil War.  Later in his life, he returned to the area of his birth, settling in as a farmer  just over the border in Pennsylvania where he died in 1922.

That was about the extent of his life for me, at least what I could find of it in records.  I did discover that he married his step-sister, Jennie, who was twenty years younger, as his second wife.  But it was my research into local newspapers that gave me a better sense of him.

Looking at records gave no indication of anything but the basics but in his 1922 death notice printed in the Wellsboro Agitator ( I love the name of that paper!) the headline lists him as a “Skilled and Noted Musician.”  It goes on to say that he had been the one-time Banjo Champion of the United States.  He very well may have picked up the banjo from his Civil War experience as it’s popularity in the time after the war is often attributed to many people being exposed to it for the first time during their service.  I could never find anything to document a championship which was no big surprise as it most likely occurred somewhere in the 1870’s or 1880’s and whatever group sanctioned the competition is more than likely no longer in existence.

But I was pleased to know that music played a big part in his life and I later found an item that confirmed this.  It stated that his son, William Harris, was working as a musician in one of the  oilfield boom towns in northern PA in the 1890’s when he tragically took his own life by shooting himself at the hotel where he was living.  As is often the case, you find a lot of tragedy when you look backwards so it’s some consolation to know that there was a bit of music and joy mixed in there somewhere.

I did visit Joe’s gravesite a while back.  It is a bare-boned and flat plot of land that sits next to a harsh little trailer park visible from the new interstate.  Standing at his grave you looked into the backyard of several trailers, the kind of yards scattered with kids toys, spare tires and oil drums.

It made me a little sad but then, I guess a guy who lived through the Civil War, endured the death of his first wife and several of his children before him and lived to see the first World War, this wasn’t all that bad.

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GC Myers- Where the Winds GatherSometimes I will get an image in my mind that seems all fleshed out and full.  It’s just a matter of moving that image from the inner workings of my consciousness into the outer world of reality.  Sometimes, it goes smoothly and the final painting matches that first thought of it.

But more often, that trip from thought to reality produces something completely unlike the original vision. And sometimes that is not so good.  The work shows the struggle in trying to force the vision into reality and the whole thing looks forced and without rhythm.  But occasionally, one slips out that is not at all like the original vision but somehow finds its own rhythm and comes to life on its own.

I think that is what happened with the painting shown above, a small 9″ by 12″ canvas that I call Where the Winds Gather.  I’ve had an image of this painting in my mind for a few weeks and as I would be doing other things it would often bounce through my mind.  But it looked much different than this painting.  The color was not the same nor was the manner in which the whirls of wind in the sky were painted.  Some of that is the result of working in a smaller size which restricted the type of marks I could make with my brush.

There was a point when I was well into this piece that I could see that it had strayed far afield from my original concept and I began losing my enthusiasm.  For a while I wanted to just set it aside or simply call it a day and paint it over.  But I decided to push through and see if it could evolve into something more.  And slowly it did, at  least in my own eyes.  There’s an interesting balance of rough and soft in this and the pattern in the sky came together much better than it appeared in its earlier form.

There’s just something I like in this piece.  Maybe it’s just the fact that it came to life despite my own original misgivings.  I know that I admire that kind of determination from someone in overcoming the low expectations placed on them.  Grit.

Maybe that should be the title– Gritty Determination.

 

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