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Posts Tagged ‘Red Tree’

20210331_055939 The Memory of That Time sm



I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.

― Virginia Woolf, Diary, March 18, 1925



This new painting at the top is titled The Memory of All That and is part of my upcoming solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery. The show opens June 4, 2021.

This piece has held the feeling of deep memory for me since it was completed. Maybe it’s the burnished edge of darkness that runs around its perimeter, like looking through an old film cell that has aged and darkened. You hold it up to the light and the brightness from behind brings the central image to life once more while seeming to put the peripheral imagery in shadows. They’re still there, just not as distinct.

The Virginia Woolf quote at the top seems especially applicable here. I see the Red Tree taking on  the role of a being who returns to the their past, gazing at the old homestead. The memories that flood in take on an emotional feel that is often deeper and more pronounced than was evident at the actual moment being remembered.

The present is often incomplete. It sometimes lacks the context which comes from pertinent future events that add the emotional depth and flavor we feel when we later revisit it as memory.

I know that this is something I often see in my own memories. Even those that had emotion at the moment in which they occurred are often deeper and many times felt with completely different emotions upon recall. For example, take some incidents of the petulant anger of youth. I might remember the initial incident and anger but the memory now might contain a bit of embarrassment at my lack of self-control, naivete and wrongheadedness.

Or what might have been a fun moment then now contains feelings of familial love or even a sense of loss.

As I said, the present is seldom complete. And future events– changes within ourselves and in the circumstances our lives–will continue to change our memory of it.

That’s what I am reminded of in this piece. The Red Tree will grow larger and its perspective will change, as will the homestead and everything around it. Our memories sometimes seem like they are set in concrete but they often shift and change in ways that we barely perceive.

After all, we live in an impermanent world. Memory sometimes gives us the feeling of permanence, even though it may only illusory.

Okay, enough. I have lots to do today and its time to get to work.



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GC Myers- From a Distance  2020

“From a Distance”- At the West End Gallery



Wanted to just share a poem and an animation of it that features it being read by the poet, Gregory Orr. I chose this one because of a line in it — No purpose but what we make— that made me think about the nature of purpose. We often speak of finding purpose in ourselves but is it something to be found? Or might it be something that we create for ourselves, something that we actually choose?

I have to think on that for a bit. In the meantime, please take a look at the short reading of the poem.



This is what was bequeathed us

This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
And, leaving,
Left to us.

No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.

–Gregory Orr (b. 1947)



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If you can’t dig this, you got a hole in your soul– and that ain’t good.

–John Lee Hooker



On some Sunday mornings, the day I always choose a song to feature, it’s a struggle trying to find what i consider is the right song for that morning. I want it to reflect how I am feeling and maybe set the tone for the rest of the day. 

This morning I was in the studio at 5:30, wanting to get an early jump on my day of painting. I began looking for a song that I though might match with the painting above, River Angel. I thought of a couple of other songs with river in their titles but when this song clicked in my head, I knew it was the one.

River Deep, Mountain High as sung by Tina Turner in 1966, produced by Phil Spector. He was crazy and dangerously despicable but, man, he made some great records. Immortal recordings.

This is one of those.

It only takes about 30 seconds for Tina to reach full emotional intensity. And she never lets down from point on. It just roars and soars above the high mountaintops.

I just love this recording. My day feels like it off to the races already. Like the late great John Lee Hooker says at the top– If you can’t dig this, you got a hole in your soul– and that ain’t good.

Hope you dig it.



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GC Myers- Rest Stop sm

“Rest Stop” – Currently at the West End Gallery



A man must find time for himself. Time is what we spend our lives with. If we are not careful we find others spending it for us. . . . It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?’ . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one’s time—the stuff of life

― Carl Sandburg



This painting, Rest Stop, which is at the West End Gallery in Corning, is a favorite of mine. It might be in the colors or textures, those elements that often reach out to me, but it’s more likely because it’s message speaks clearly to me.

We all need to periodically stop the busyness of our lives, if only for a few moments. A short spell to pause everything and appreciate where we are in the present, to ponder how we came to be there, and to imagine where the future will take us.

An interlude to see how the past, present and future exist within us.

That’s the message I get from this painting. Now, doing such a thing is another animal altogether. For many of us, just stopping everything seems an impossibility. Or many may think such a thing is simple foolishness with no real purpose. Or some might feel that the prospect of actually thinking about anything, especially anything to do with their own life, is too tall a task.

But for some of us, these moments of ponderance are a necessity. They simply make life bearable. They create reason and meaning in a world that often seems to lack both. Those are the moments that define purpose at times when we need to know there is indeed purpose.

I get all of this with a glance at this painting. And I think that’s why I place so much stock in this piece– it speaks volumes with a so little effort. That’s the opposite of my writing or any form of expression with words.

Even this short re-examination of this painting is a form of pausing, of reflecting on what is now, what was then and what will will be. And maybe that’s the purpose of this piece and of art, in general.

Got to think about that…

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The other day, I wrote about a new piece, Shadow of the Red Eye. I wrote that the feeling I was getting from the painting was very much like the tone of my recent dreams. Almost like a premonition of some sort.

This prompted a response from a friend who wrote about how his work in construction  often has him having strange and troubling dreams that take place in worksite settings, often dealing with huge problems arising in the middle of a building project. He said he would wake in a panic then go back to sleep only to reenter the same dream. He said he usually could shake them off after finally fully waking but this very morning of the post about dreaming premonitions he had such a dream, one that had him rattled, one that he couldn’t just shrug off.

He wanted to know if I had such dreams about my painting, Maybe one where everything goes awry, where nothing works. It made me think.

I certainly know the kind of dreams he was experiencing. I think anyone who has waited tables has had those recurring nightmares of waiting on an ever expanding section of a full restaurant where you don’t know where anything is located or how anything there works, all the time more and more tables being seated in your station. I hated those dreams. I actually had one several months ago and in the middle of the actual dream I found myself saying that I I wasn’t a waiter anymore, that I didn’t have to put up with this. I woke up and laughed then went on to sleep soundly.

I am sure I had them but don’t remember my dreams, good or bad, when I ran my swimming pool business. Any nightmares I would have had most likely paled to the reality I was living. I was working 100+ hours a week and was usually so exhausted and frazzled by the time I went to be that dreams of any sort didn’t register much.

There have been other freaky, scary dreams through the years, many that lingered with me for decades– most of my life, actually– and reside within me even now.

But painting dreams?

There have been painting dreams but few have been of that frantic, things-going-wildly-wrong sort that he was having. The closest thing  was a dream I had abut a year before I went fulltime as a painter. The dream even had a name– the Van Gogh Spiral. Set in a darkened museum-like space, I came in the dream to a doorway at the center of the space. I was warned not to enter it by a person who I couldn’t make out. They warned that behind the door was the Van Gogh Spiral. As I entered, there were these bursts of rich, deep colors that all came together in the form of a downward spiral, and I descended the spiral as one might go down a large spiral staircase. As I came around the bend in each new layer, imagery would flash before my eyes becoming stranger and stranger the further I descended. I saw it as a sort of symbolic descent into some sort of madness, some nether region, perhaps an place that had drawn Van Gogh in his final days.

It was a strange and troubling dream that felt like a warning of some sort. Still don’t know what to do with this but it remains pretty vibrant with me even nearly 25 years later. 

But for the most part, my painting dreams are usually somewhat good dreams, showing me paintings that I feel I need to paint, paintings that feel perfect to me. The problem is that usually the moment I awaken, that image is gone. The memory of dreaming it  and responding to it is still there but the image itself is absent. Frustrating, to say the least. But it makes me feel like it is still in there if I can somehow work it out. 

Some painting dreams have to do with showing my work. Some are positive, with the work there beyond what I have done to this point. Again, images gone when I wake up. Some are not as good, with me struggling to get people to look at my work on the wall as they walk by with total indifference. I guess that would be as close to a bad work dream as I get.

Now, the painting at the top, Not Quite an Island, from 2013, was the result of a dream. It came to me one night and I woke up a little before 4 AM with its image in my head. One of the rare times when the image lingered. Instead of going back to sleep, I headed over to the studio and was soon working on it in the early morning darkness. It actually came out very much as I dreamed it which in itself is an oddity as any pre-visions I have of a painting seldom match up with the final work.

The conscious mind usually edits the subconscious. It’s sometimes good, sometimes not. I am trying to stop this process.

In this case, the subconscious persisted.

That, along with its symbolic implications, might be why this painting holds a lot of meaning for me. Plus, the folks who gave it a home are some of the best people I know.

If all my painting dreams could be like this one, then  would be very happy.

Okay, got to work on a non-dream painting now. Wish me luck and have a good day.

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I too am not a bit tamed,
I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp
over the roofs of the world.

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself




I finished this smaller piece the other day (it is headed to the West End Gallery today) and with the Red Tree appearing to hover above the Red Roofs both near and far, all I could think of were the lines above from Uncle Walt. That’s Walt Whitman, actually, but I always think of him in familial terms not that he was anything at all like my own uncles.

These lines from Song of Myself have rang in my ears for decades and are at the core of my desire to paint and in the formation of my voice as an artist.

Before I even thought of beginning to paint, I tried my hand at wood carving. I did a number of bas-relief carvings that were fairly crude in a folksy kind of way. I was untrained and just went at it, much as I did later on with my painting. I believe that the painting worked out much better but the carving had a part to play for me at the time.

One of the first things I carved was a rough-hewn face with the four lines– poorly executed– from Whitman next to it. It was nothing to write home about, carved as it was from the end of an old 2×12 pine board. I am not particularly proud of it as a piece of art but it has great meaning to me and stays near me in the studio.

I have described what these words have meant to me in the past like this:

…the four lines above have been a guiding beacon for me throughout the past 25 years as I have tried to be an artist. These words instructed me to be only myself, to openly and boldly express my feelings without fear or shame. To not hide my scars, my fears or my weaknesses because they are part of my wholeness and keep me in balance. To not be underestimated or devalued by myself or anyone else. To claim a foothold in this world and bellow out the proof of my existence in my own voice:

Here I am.

There are paintings that I do that are meant to represent this thought, paintings that are meant to be plainly expressions of that Here I am. I consider them icons in my body of work, pieces that fully represent my work and what I want from it. This painting definitely falls in that category. It’s simply put but not a simple expression.

When I look at this painting I personally see myself and all my hopes and aspirations, all that I am or desire to be.

What I hope for this painting is that someone else sees that same here I am in it for themselves, that they see in it those things that make them a whole and perfectly imperfect person with a place in this world and a voice that demands to be heard.

Is that asking too much?

I immediately thought looking at this new painting that it fit into this category, that the Red Tree here represented my own need to let out my barbaric yawp, to announce my existence in this world. I am calling it I Sound My Barbaric Yawp.

It might not be quite as roughly finished as the carving but the yawp is the same.

Sound your own yawp in the world today. Have a good one.

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“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”

― Fernando Pessoa



This is another piece from the Little Gems show that opens Friday at the West End Gallery. Its title is What Might Have Been which comes from the feeling of regret or nostalgia or, at least, retrospection that I feel in it. Those are feelings that I think most of have dealt with in some form. Hopefully, they don’t overwhelm our lives in the present.

For all my psychological foibles, glitches and tics, I don’t live with a lot of regrets. I understand that the consequential decisions– good and bad– that I have made in my life were my decisions and were made with the belief that I had the best information available in making those decisions. Of course, I was wrong in some cases, but that doesn’t change the fact that I accept the blame and responsibility for the results that came from my decisions. 

I am here now and that’s all that matters. 

Spending too much time on what ifs and what might have beens seems like a giant waste of time and energy. And the amount of time and energy I wasted early in my life might be the main regret I have when looking back. So why waste more looking back and fretting over it?

But I have to admit that I do look back. It’s not out of remorse or nostalgia. It’s more out of curiosity, to discover the patterns and flows that brought me to this point. To observe and learn the lessons that are undoubtedly there so that I don’t repeat the mistakes and can possibly build on the successes.

And to try to figure out where I came from and who and what I am.

That is, of course, my perspective on the past and on this painting. It’s based on my own life and experiences.

Your own experiences might draw you closer to the past, might fill you with more regrets and remorse for what has taken place in that past. We all deal with the world and our place in it in our own way and if revisiting your past fills your days, it is not my place to tell you to not do that. That is your decision. 

But I would advise you to try to live at least equally in the present time, trying to leave the traumas behind and to glean some lesson from that past to bring forward with you to make your future days more livable. 

Funny how a small painting can open so many gateways to thought. There’s so much more I could write about what I take from this simple little painting based on the cues it engages within me. And, if it is a successful piece that comes to life, it engages the feeling and minds of others.

Maybe that’s the purpose of art, to create a shorthand of emotion that speaks to a wide variety of people and their own distinct experiences without relying on the specificity of language.

I don’t know. I have work to do so I am not going to dwell on it now. 

Have a good day.



The quote at the top is from the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, whose work I have only become aware of and a fan of in the past few years. I have written about him a couple of times here, most notably in reference to my Multitudes series a couple of years back.

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Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

The Ballad of East and West, Rudyard Kipling



Showing another new Little Gem from the West End Gallery show, this one titled Across the Divide.

The title refers to the the river that separates the two opposing shores. There is a political commentary implied in the blue and red of the two shores representing the colors of the political divisions here in the US.

There’s a lot of talk about the need for unity, about how we need to come together as a nation, but it seems as though there is a wide and mighty river between us, one that may never be traversed.

Like the opening line from the Kipling poem– and never the twain shall meet.

I would like to think that there is common ground that we share as citizens of this nation but it’s had to see at the moment. That river looks pretty darn wide.

I was about to start on a spiel about the need for compromise but I am going to skip it. Most of you out there who read this are intelligent people who understand compromise and how important its place is in big country with a wide variety of people. You know that everybody doesn’t get exactly what they want all the time, that we all have to sacrifice at some point for the greater good.

Sometimes we give and sometimes we get, depending on our needs and situations. 

And that is a simple, workable concept until you factor in ignorance, racial hatred, and greed.

Then things go awry and you get to this point where we are now, with a wide and deep river running between us. 

I still have hope and I see it in this piece. There’s too many things here that unite us if we only allow to set aside our biases, judgements, and prejudices.

I know that’s asking a lot but is it, really?

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All my troubles will be over
When I lay my burden down
All my troubles will be over
When I lay my burden down



It’s a tired morning, this Sunday morning. Still dark and icy cold outside as I sit here in the studio.

I think I am feeling the toll of the last year’s stresses. The worries, the outrages, the fears, and just the general sense of disconnectedness and chaos that seemed so pervasive– it all feels like it came to bear inside of a few days. I just need a break, I guess.

Lately, I have been toying with the idea of stepping away from the blog, at least for a short period of time. Maybe take a small break to recalibrate, to take the focus, as little as it is, and put it towards some other efforts and projects that need my attention.

Perhaps to find the inspiration that I have been shoving away because it requires more work and focus than I have been willing to offer.

It’s not easy stepping away for even a short time. After all, this has been a habit that has been embedded deeply after over twelve years and over 3,750 posts. I am such a creature of habit that I feel out of sorts without sitting sown to do this each morning.

It has become a treasured burden.

But maybe I must step away for a bit and try to try to find what I really need right now.

Lay down this burden.

We’ll see. I will most likely, if I choose to take a break, do so in a few weeks after the opening for the Little Gems show at the West End Gallery on February 12. I will continue to show my new work through that time. 

For example, the new small piece shown above is from the Little Gems show and is titled– surprise, surprise!– Lay My Burden Down. It has the feel of the end of a day of work, of looking back on what you’ve done with a mixture of pride in the job done and relief that the toil is over for at least awhile. 

The title is taken from a wonderful old gospel tune that has been done by a number of folks in different ways. For this Sunday morning, I have opted for a solid version from Will McFarlane, who is best known as being the longtime guitarist for the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. I like his voice and the arrangement with his guitar on this version. It fits the morning.

Lay down your own burden for a bit and have a good day.



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This is Possessed in the Light, one of my Red Tree paintings which is up for auction today as part of a fundraiser to benefit The Kramer Foundation and Abby’s Paws For a Cause, two local organizations that that do great work and have my support. The fundraiser/auction is being conducted at this link on Facebook Live today from 4-7 PM EST. Bids are accepted at any time today and the bidding ends promptly at 7 PM.

To make your way to this and other auction items, go to the link then click on Discussion which lists the auction items as individual entries. For this painting scroll down to Auction #2. You simply leave your bid in a comment for this entry.

This painting, Possessed in the Light, which is 10″ by 20″on canvas and valued at $1500 has a current high bid of $1200

I am happy that it will bring at least that $1200 amount for these two great organizations but I would be much happier if it gets much closer to its true value. Hope you can help us get there today. 

One of those benefitting from today’s fundraiser is the Kramer Foundation which is dedicated to fostering, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs that would historically be euthanized in shelters for behavior and/or health issues. They basically take dogs labeled as being troubled and transforms them into service, therapy, and search dogs for the lost and missing, as well as corpse-sniffing dogs. They also foster dogs for troops deployed overseas.

Abby’s Paws for a Cause advocates and operates programs in and out of local schools designed to encourage and expand local childhood literacy and discourage and reduce bullying. They employ dogs in their programs, using them as models for kindness and acceptance.

Both are local and are privately funded which means that this fundraiser is important for their continued effective operation. So if you can, please support them in some way.

For my part, it’s this painting. But there are plenty of other items and ways to help. 

Try to do something good today for two organizations that are doing good every day. It will be appreciated more than you will ever know.

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