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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Louis Stevenson’



For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.

Hosea 8:7



‘Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences’

— Robert Louis Stevenson



I don’t usually use Bible quotes to open my blog but this was such an obvious equivalent in meaning to the Robert Louis Stevenson words above that I originally intended to use that I decided to go with it in conjunction with the other. 

Actually, the Stevenson quote is not a sentence he has ever put to paper or spoke, to the best of my knowledge. It’s one of those online citations that catch on and become forever attached to a personality.  This misquote is, however, distilled, from words that Stevenson really did write, this from an 1887 essay, Old Mortality.

This is the bit from which the misquote is derived:

Books were the proper remedy: books of vivid human import, forcing upon their minds the issues, pleasures, busyness, importance and immediacy of that life in which they stand; books of smiling or heroic temper, to excite or to console; books of a large design, shadowing the complexity of that game of consequences to which we all sit down, the hanger-back not least.

In the essay before this excerpt he speaks of an older man walking through a graveyard, looking at the monuments, wondering if that was all that remained of a man’s life when he was gone, the only shadows of lives lived. He then above points out that our creations are the real shadows of our lives, that they speak better and with greater complexity of the part we play while alive. The part where he points out that nobody is exempt from participating in that game of consequence called life. Even those who try to stay in the shadows, the hanger-backs as he calls them, are engaged in this game.

Through the years, Stevenson’s game transformed into a banquet which is basically saying that we must eat the meal we prepare.

We reap just what we sow.

Actions have consequences.

And today we may witness a singular day of great historical consequence. The actions of the past four years, the past year, and the past few weeks may come to a head this day, bearing the consequences of the actions of this past period of time.

It may not be an endpoint and it will no doubt have actions that will have consequences of their own but for now a mighty wind has been sown and its whirlwind approaches.

The banquet table may be finally set and we must eat the meal we have put together.

Every one of us.

We will get through this. 

Here’s song from Rival Sons that is basically paraphrasing both these quotes as far as karmic hammers go. It’s Get What’s Coming. It might be  setting the tone for today and the coming weeks for those who will be called on to answer for their actions: When it comes back around you’re get what’s coming.

Pay close attention. It’s going to be a day.



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“The Fulfillment”- Now at the West End Gallery

 

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“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.”

Robert Louis Stevenson, Familiar Studies of Men and Books

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I was organizing one of the rooms in my studio this weekend, shuffling around boxes and stacks of books and papers, trying to make it look less like  a tornado had touched down in that room. I came across an old journal with only a few pages that contained any writing. It was from about thirty years ago, from a time when I was going through a lot of things in my little world.

I read the few pages that were there and it was painful. It was like looking back at another person, one who was deeply flawed and recognized some of these flaws. A person who desired a future but was lost and couldn’t see a way of getting there. This person knew they were lacking something but didn’t even know what that was which was an agony for them.

It would have been painful reading the words of this person, even if I didn’t know that they were my own words, my own predicament.

Nearly thirty years have passed and that person seems like a distant memory on most days now. I don’t think I would ever want to go back to that time or to be that person, even with youth and the accompanying energy and health it would bring.

You grow. You learn. You gather bits of insight. You come to recognize your flaws and strengths.You realize that you have power over your reactions, that they are your decisions to make.

You change and hopefully move toward a state of fulfillment.

It takes time and real effort.

I suppose there are those who choose not to change, those who are always perfectly at ease with who they are or have been at any point in their life. Maybe they are the lucky ones.

Or maybe they are the unfortunate ones.

As always, I don’t know for sure. I know that I am grateful for the past thirty years and the changes that have come my way after the time and effort expended. I hope for thirty more and wish that the me at that time will look back on these words and say, “Oh, how much I have changed!

Wishing you all fulfillment. Have a good day.

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“Always having what we want
may not be the best good fortune
Health seems sweetest
after sickness, food
in hunger, goodness
in the wake of evil, and at the end
of daylong labor sleep.”

― Heraclitus, Fragments

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GC Myers -Fulfilled smTo be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.

-Robert Louis Stevenson

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To me, this new small painting, a piece about 7″ square on paper that is titled Fulfilled, feels totally peaceful.  The road with its winding tracks that disappear over a small rise signifies a journey at its end for me and the Red Tree that appears on piece of land across the water represents the intended  destination that is reached.  The horizon here feels as though it might represent time or eternity.

Whatever the case, it has a great feeling of tranquility, one that feels very satisfying to me.  Fulfilling.

This was one of those pieces that came easily, as though it fell from my hand without any thought or struggle.  This is a sensation I have described in the past, saying that when it occurred earlier in my painting life I would not trust the ease with which it came.  I still felt that struggle was necessary.  Little did I know that what I sought required no struggle,  In fact, this inner wrestling only took me further from the desired end, confusing me and obscuring the destination.

No, what was required was an acceptance of the moment and what I was.  And am.  And in this simple, quiet painting I think I see that.

PS– This painting, Fulfilled, is going to the Kada Gallery in Erie as part of my upcoming solo show there, Alchemy.  The show opens  Saturday, November 16th.

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Treasure Island

People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.

–St. Augustine

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GC Myers- Treasure Island  This is a new painting, a 12″ by 36″ canvas that is titled Treasure Island.  For me, this has nothing  to do with the Robert Louis Stevenson book of the same title  with Long John Silver and his pirate crew.  Oh, there’s an element of treasure in this piece, from the golden tones of the crown of the central figure of the island tree to the rich and regal  color of the sky.

But what I see in this piece is really more about introspection and the discovery of  an inner wealth.  It’s a theme I often see in my work, this idea of finding what we are and are not , celebrating those qualities we possess rather than lamenting our deficiencies.  This evaluation of self creates a sovereign realm within us, one that is a safe haven from the intrusion of the outer world, one that lets our strengths flower and grow in an unfettered way.

That sounds like a lot of mumbo-jumbo and maybe it is. But I do see this as a painting that speaks about inner strength and celebrating what we are on our own terms.  About controlling those things we value in ourselves and not letting others define us.  We are all small islands containing all different sorts of wealth, if only we would take the time to look.  Look inward then let your own wealth shine outward, whatever it might be.

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NC Wyeth The GiantIn an earlier post I talked about the great American painter Andrew Wyeth on the day after he died.  His father was NC Wyeth who was the preeminent illustrator of the early 20th century, illustrating some of the great books of the time.

Throughout his life, he wanted to be known not as an illustrator but as an easel painter, a fine artist.  There seemed to be this fine distinction that because an illustrator brought the scenes and ideas of others’ stories to life that they were somehow below the work of those who painted solely their own ideas.  I never understood that concept because it was still Wyeth who composed the paintings and created the colors and brushstrokes that distinguished the work.  Wasn’t this very much the same as many Renaissance artists who painted many of their great works for the Church?  Are they not considered fine artists?

NC Wyeth- Rip Van WinkleI’ve always been attracted to the work of NC Wyeth having seen it innumerable times in print.  There was a real dynamic quality, punch, in his paintings.  However, it wasn’t until I saw his work in person that I truly appreciated how beautiful his work truly was.

He treated many of his illustrations as fine paintings, with glorious paint appplication that created beautiful surfaces within the painting.  His colors were complex, hardly ever a pure single color.  His blues often had glazes of red, his whites tinged with yellows.  All of his colors had an  earthy base that gave them a dark edge and weight. His compositions were bold and inventive, highly contrasting and dramatic to best illustrate many of the adventure stories on which he worked.  In person, many of these paintings are even more stunning than on the printed page.

NC Wyeth Last of the MohicansHis non-illustrative work was much more mundane, less dramatic but well executed.  His real spark seemed to be from the stories he was bringing to life.  The Arthurian legends, the Leatherstocking tales of Cooper, the pirates of Robert Louis Stevenson–  all seemed fresh and new in his paintings.  Unlike many artists, I think being freed from having to create a narrative of his own actually gave him the opportunity to fully exploit all the knowledge of technique and composition he held.  As though having the decision of what to paint taken from his hands allowed that energy that would be expended to be used on making the painting stronger.  Whatever the case, whether you choose to call it fine art or illustration, the resulting work was memorable and deserves a nod.  It continues to inspire to this very day.

NC Wyeth Blind PewNC Wyeth

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