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Posts Tagged ‘Red Tree’

I finished this new painting a couple of weeks ago and it has been a piece that I’ve spent a lot of time looking at since its completion. It satisfies me on many different levels and simply raises a certain contentment within me. I guess that would be the textbook definition of what I am trying to do for myself with my work.

When I look at this piece, following the river upward where it converges with the sky with the sun at the center of it, I see a winged angel-like figure. This was not by design and it has become the focus of the painting for me. Perhaps this even adds to my engagement with this piece.  That and the overall warmth of the colors and the pull towards the center created by the sky and sun.

There’s just a quality of attraction and completion in it for me that keeps me looking at it.

I was trying to name this piece while I was looking for a suitable bit of music for this Sunday morning selection. While I am not sure this will end up being the final title for this painting, I thought that the title from a somewhat obscure Bruce Springsteen song might fit.

The song is Lift Me Up and it was written in the late 90’s for a film, Limbo, from filmmaker John Sayles.  The song is a quiet, almost pleading, song that features Bruce singing throughout in a falsetto that takes on a lovely and mesmerizing quality as the melody engulfs it.

I think it’s a nice fit for this painting, at least for this morning. I also threw in a companion song this morning.  It’s a beautifully quiet version of If I Should Fall Behind that brings most of the other band members, including the late Clarence Clemons, forward to solo on the lyrics. Nice stuff. Have a good day…


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I wrote the post below back in 2009.  I’ve revisited the use of multiple images a few times since but only on a limited basis.  Maybe once or twice a year. But it’s a concept that appeals to me and just seeing these images again always sparks something.

I was looking through some older images on my computer, searching for a painting that I had completed several years back.  As I scanned through the paintings, I noticed several pieces through the years that were different from most of the work I’ve been doing recently.  They were multiples, such as Peers, shown here.  They were  paintings with several windows with a new scene in each, although most of the scene were very similar to the others.

It was a format in which I really enjoyed working and one that I have not revisited in a couple of years.  I really don’t know why. They have a very graphic appearance and really stand out on a wall, making them pretty well received as a rule.  I guess in the past few years I’ve been focusing more on working on texture and heightening the color, as well as working in the Archaeology series, so that I haven’t even thought of revisiting this format.

I remember some  of the early ones very well.  One had 48 cells and had a great look, the result of overlaying the paint with layers of chalk and pastel.  Another was the same number of cells with 48 individual small paintings,  each window having a separate opening in the mat.  It was a pretty difficult piece to mat and frame but it also popped off the wall.   I will have to go through my slides from that time (pre-digital) and see if I can wrangle up a few shots.  I would like to see them again to see how they really hold up against my memory.

Maybe I will revisit the multiples sometime soon.  I often run across things that have slipped from the front of my painting mind when I go back looking for something else.  It may be a format such as these multiples or may be a small compositional element.  It’s always interesting for me to try to re-insert this older element into the new work, to see how the inevitable evolution of the work will change this older concept.  We’ll have to see what this brings…

Fourfront  - GC Myers 2003

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“Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude!- ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’- that is the motto of enlightenment.”

― Immanuel Kant,  What Is Enlightenment?

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Sapere Aude!  From the Latin for Dare to know.

I came across the passage above from the 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant and felt immediately that it was a great match for this new painting.  In fact I am calling this piece, 11′ by 15″ on paper,  Dare to Know (Sapere Aude!)

The Red Tree here is removed away from the influence and shading of the other trees and houses in the foreground, out of darkness and into the light.  There is a light about the Red Tree and a sense of freedom in the openness of the space around it. It is free to examine the world, free to seek the knowledge it craves, and free to simply think for itself.

It’s a great idea, this concept of enlightenment and one that we definitely could use today.  Too many of us form our own base of knowledge by relying on the thoughts and opinions of others, often without giving much consideration as to their truthfulness, motives, or origins.  Or we shade our base of knowledge with our own desires for  how reality should appear, holding onto false beliefs that suit us even when they obviously contradict reality.

In short, there is no enlightenment based on falsehoods, no way to spin darkness into light.  Enlightenment comes in stepping away from the darkness of lies and deceptions to see the world as it is, with clarity.  It means stripping away our own self defenses and admitting our own shortcomings, prejudices, and predispositions.

It may not always be what one hoped for but it is an honest reality. And maybe that is enlightenment, the willingness to face all truths with honesty.

To dare to know.

Sapere Aude!

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GC Myers- Balance (Known/Unknown)We have to balance the lineality of the known universe with the nonlineality of the unknown universe.

Carlos Castaneda
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I am calling this new painting Balance (Known/Unknown).  It is a 14″ by 32″ canvas and will have a slightly different edge detail that I will shown at a later date.

The Carlos Castaneda quote above just reached out to me when I was looking at this piece. The Red Tree here seems to be standing at the edge of the known, the terrestrial world that is defined here with earthy color, solid forms, and dark lines– the lineal universe.  Beyond it the non-lineal universe beckons, represented by a nebulous sky and a sun that acts as an unblinking eye.

It all is very much a metaphor for the purpose of art and that is to act as an intermediary between the known and the unknown, the go-between for that which is of our five senses and those things that go  far beyond those senses.

Things that we feel in an emotional sense.

And that is what art often does, putting the deep feeling of that which we cannot see onto those things that we do see.  It makes the intangible tangible.

That said, I like this new piece and have been enjoying my time with it. Every day I find a new angle within it that gives me pause, that excites me, and sets me thinking. And that is all I hope for in my work.

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I thought I’d share a post from several years back where I showed a painting at several stages in its progress.  It was finally titled Game of Life and remains a favorite of mine.  Below is the blog entry that was based on the beginning of he process.  At the bottom are several photos that show it in progress.

gc-myers-feb-2013-1

This is a new piece that I started over the weekend.  It’s a fairly large canvas, 24″ by 48″, gessoed and blackened before I began to lay out the composition in the red oxide that I favor for the underpainting. I went into this painting  with only one idea, that it have a mass of houses on  a small hilltop. That is where I began making marks, building a small group of blocky structures in a soft pyramid. A little hilltop village. From there, it went off on its own, moving down the hill until a river emerged from the black. An hour or two later and the river is the end of a chain of lakes with a bridge crossing it. We’ll see where and what it is when  it finally settles.

I like this part of the process, this laying out of the composition. It’s all about potential and problem-solving, keeping everything, all the elements that are introduced, in rhythm and in balance. One mark on the canvas changes the possibility for the next. Sometimes that possibility is limited by that mark, that brush of paint. There is only one thing that can be done next. But sometimes it opens up windows of potential that seemed hidden before that brushstroke hit the surface. It’s like that infinitesimal moment before the bat hits the pinata and all that is inside it is only potential. That brushstroke is the bat sometimes and when it strikes the canvas, you never know what will burst from the rich interior of the pinata, which which is the surface of the canvas here. You hope the treats fall your way.

One of the things I thought about as I painted was the idea of keeping everything in balance. Balancing color and rhythm and compositional weight, among many other things, so that in the end something coherent and cohesive emerges. It’s how I view the process of my painting. Over the years, keeping this balance becomes easier, like any action that is practiced with such great regularity. So much so that we totally avoid problems and when we begin to encounter one, we always tend to go with the tried and true, those ways of doing things that are safest and most predictable in their results.

It’s actually a great and safe way to live. But as a painter who came to it as a form of seeking, it’s the beginning of the end. And as I painted, I realized that many of my biggest jumps as an artist came because I had allowed myself at times to be knocked off balance. It’s when you’re off balance that the creativity of your problem-solving skills are pushed and innovation occurs.

It brings to mind a quote from Helen Frankenthaler that I used in a blogpost called Change and Breakthrough from a few years back:  “There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about. ”  

 You must be willing to go outside your comfort zone, be willing to crash and burn. Without this willingness to fail, the work becomes stagnant and lifeless, all the excitement taken from the process. And it’s that excitement  in the studio that I often speak of  that keeps me going, that keeps the work alive and vitalized.

It’s a simple thing but sometimes, after years of doing this, it slips your mind and the simple act of reminding yourself of the importance of willingly going off balance is all you need to rekindle the fire.

This is a lot to ponder at 5:30 in the morning. We’ll see what this brings in the near future.  Stay tuned…

gc-myers-feb-2013gc-myers-feb-2013-wip gc-myers-feb-2013-2wip gc-myers-game-of-life-small

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GC Myers- The ConversationWhat did the tree learn from the earth
to be able to talk with the sky?

Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions

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I think that much of my work has to do with asking questions.  Not necessarily about getting answers, mind you, but about making inquiries about those motivations and meanings of the world, both inner and outer. About trying to create a dialogue, a give and take between the worldly and the ethereal.

And that questioning, that conversation, is what I see in this simple, small painting.

Will there ever be an answer?

That can only be answered with another question: Who knows?

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GC Myers- Freed ThoughtThe omnipotence of evil has never resulted in anything but fruitless efforts. Our thoughts always escape from whoever tries to smother them.

Victor Hugo

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I call this new painting, 10″ by 20″ on panel, Freed Thought.

Like many people, I am concerned with what is happening in this country and around the world as ideas such as nationalism and authoritarianism take hold in more and more places.  That is a scary thought when you consider the horrors that took place in the first part of the last century–world wars, civil wars and genocide– as a result of these ideologies.

Perhaps we are just far enough removed from that time that we allow ourselves to conveniently forget that bit of history. Or think that it doesn’t apply here and begin to believe that this time will be different, somehow treating us to a much more pleasant result.

I think a lot of people fall into that second category, the It Can’t Happen Here camp. That is easy to understand and easy to swallow, not requiring much work or thought.

Keep your head down, don’t make waves or ask too many questions, and it will all be fine.

Unfortunately, that is the fodder for those with evil intent.  To those who seek control, who want to rule over— not govern–people, this unquestioning attitude is as enabling as the ardor of their most loyal adherents.  They are the most easily managed and most easily convinced because they don’t want to stand out alone, away from the others in any way.

Those with evil intent then try to keep this easily led herd away from those who disbelieve, who choose to remember history and see the ghosts of the past in the actions of the present.  Those who would stop them from achieving their goals– both publicly stated and those whispered in the darkness. This is done by controlling the message, creating false realities and fostering doubt in one’s own observations and beliefs.  Destroy trust in all institutions and all information except for that coming from the singular ruling voice.

Oh, it can happen here.

But I take some solace in the words above from Hugo and from history itself. Every movement, however powerful and far reaching, that is based on the darker angels of greed, deception, and exclusion eventually fails. An empire based on falsehood is unsustainable and will eventually succumb to truth. Truth and thought can never be fully controlled. They will always find a way to break free.

The downside in all of these cases is that many, many people are ultimately hurt along the way. And I worry that this is the direction in which we are headed.

That is why it is so important to come clear of the other trees that shade your views.  Stand freely and ask the questions that need to be asked and answered.  Remember that every evasion from a question is a step away from the truth. The truth has nothing to hide, doesn’t need to be concealed or evaded.

A thought based in truth will always stand tall and will not be obscured.

So, for god’s sake, ask the questions and demand the answers. But most of all, use the power of thought and think.

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